Who Decides Your Career?

Posted on: September 2nd, 2014 by
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What’s your next move?  Where? When?  How?  Why?  If you don’t have a career plan, any decision will get you somewhere, just not the best place.

 

One of the more difficult transitions is from the military to a civilian search.  Why?  It’s a totally different world.  While in the military, many decisions are made for you.  The civilian marketplace is different.  You have to decide what you want to do, where, plan a strategy, target and contact potential employers, convince them that you’re the best person, interview, negotiate an offer, move to a new location and take the risk you’ve made the right decision.  It’s a daunting time.

 

In the private sector, you have to take the initiative. Your boss is most interested reaching his or her goals, not yours.  You come secondarily and only if it supports the short-term objectives of the department.  The boss is not primarily focused on your career.  Counting on your boss to manage your career is not a good idea.  The boss has goals for his or her career and you may or may not fit those plans.

 

You need to answer the fundamental question, “Where do I want to be in 5 or 10 years?  Doing what?”  Once you have a general idea, then define the steps you need to take, no matter how many, to achieve that goal.  Then zero in on the next step to begin the climb.  The progressive steps may shift over time, but the direction will become clearer. Generally speaking, from ages 20 to 30 your exploring different jobs and career possibilities.  From ages 30 to 40 your getting the responsibilities and performance results that set you up for the big push.  Between ages 40 to 50 you have maybe one or two more shots at achieving your optimal career goal.  After that it’s more luck than strategy.

 

Be careful you’re not following what your parents years ago determined was your best career.  What was thought to be a “safe” job or function when you were in college may not be the place for you 20 years later.  Most successful and satisfied people follow their passion and do the things that they love.  Those are the things that you are most likely to be highly successful in doing.

 

What’s your passion?  What’s your next step forward?  Who can help achieve it?

 

Want to talk about your next job & coaching?:   wkaufmann1@cox.net

Want more information?  www.mygreenerfuture.com

 


Your Next Job

Posted on: August 26th, 2014 by
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How many jobs do you look out into the future?  If you don’t plan for the next 2 or 3 jobs, you’re making short-term decisions at the expense of your long-term goal.  These next few jobs should prepare you to advance your career in the most expeditious way.

 

Always look ahead to your next move, even though that move may be years away.  It concentrates your activities to optimize the experiences you need to take you to the next level.  Your next move might be in your current organization, another department, a different company or another industry.  Prepare yourself.  Here are some simple rules to follow:

 

Stay aware of the marketplace:  Know what’s going on in your field while keeping your name and background accessible through your social media vehicles.  Look for trends that can leverage your career.  Understand the direction of the marketplace over the next few years.

 

Keep your network alert:  Make the connections to those “in the “know” that you are available for the right position.  These are past bosses or those at a level who can influence a hiring decision.  Join associations and attend conferences where you can expand your network.

 

Understand your value:  Keep your finger on the pulse of the value you bring to a company.  Pay is almost always tied to contribution.  Have the evidence of your ability to impact the financial results of the business, whether through revenue, cost, efficiency or performance.

 

Look 2 or 3 jobs out:  Your next job, whatever it is, is the entryway to a higher responsibility.  Make sure it’s not a “dead end” job or one that will take you away from your ultimate goal.  Are you looking to deepen your career (vertically) or broaden your career (horizontally)?

 

Get credibility then plan strategies:  Staying in a job too long makes you stale; while too quick a move shortens your experience.  A rule of thumb is to collect all the skills, knowledge, abilities and results that are possible in your current role to establish your credentials, then develop the strategies to move on.

 

Target your specs:  Assess the best kinds of companies for your skill sets.  If your target companies are in the industrial sector and you’re currently in the consumer sector, consider how to best make the switch.  Know which companies in your field are expanding versus contracting, or those that are searching for added strength in a specialty field like yours.

 

Focus like a laser beam:  Don’t be pulled off course by offers that look good short term but will delay or prevent your ultimate goal.  A high paying job in a remote location can be a trap.

 

Your career direction and pace are yours to optimize or impede.  Make sure you have the longer-term strategy in place and working to your advantage.

 

Want to talk about your next job & coaching?:   wkaufmann1@cox.net

Send comments or questions to:  Mygreenerfuture1@cox.net


Forget Buzzwords

Posted on: August 12th, 2014 by
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What are buzzwords?   When it comes to resumes and interviews, a buzzword is a word or abbreviation that has meaning to you, but may not have meaning to the reader/listener. In those cases, the hiring person/organization may have no idea what you’re talking about.

 

Some buzzwords have industry or functional definitions like CPA, PMP, or MBA and may not need to be spelled out.  But to be on the safe side it might be helpful to just once write it up like this:  MBA (Masters of Business Administration).  It’s kind of like using a belt and suspenders at the same time.  On the other hand, abbreviations like ABA, UMAT, CNC or similar designations may be totally irrelevant if the reader has no idea of the connection with the open position and your background.

 

Buzzwords that begin a sentence about your activities can also be irrelevant or misleading.  Words like motivated, innovative, talented or dynamic can obscure your experiences and diminish a hiring manager’s interest in you.  Why?  Because you’re declaring yourself a  judge of your own performance in place of an objective external reference.  The real question is:  What did you contribute to a past employer?  Self-appraisals seldom work.

 

Rather than describe yourself as creative, why not demonstrate with an example of a project on a resume or a “story” during an interview that proves it.  Example:  “Increased revenue 10% by creating a new ‘consultative marketing plan’ for new customers in a new market”.  The words you use creates a “word picture” of who you are, what you have done, and how you are uniquely different from all other candidates.  Focus on the professional achievements and experiences that are specific to you and the job to be done.

 

The hiring manager wants to know the skills you bring that will assist the organization in reaching its objective.  Profile yourself in a way to match or exceed the requirements set out in the position description.

 

Don’t use words that the hiring agent is tired of looking at and has no meaning:  Proactive, energized, committed, engaging, creative, and so on.  Your resume and interview must give the hiring manager confidence that you can do the job.  That is accomplished by using action verbs followed by a metric that demonstrate results.

 

To the hiring manager, you should be able to do achieve results, not give empty words.

 

Want a coach?:   wkaufmann1@cox.net  Send comments to:  Mygreenerfuture1@cox.net.

Want more information?  www.mygreenerfuture.com


The Perfect Fit

Posted on: August 5th, 2014 by
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How do you find out if you’re a really good fit with a company during an interview?  What questions can you ask?  Is there a foolproof way to guarantee a perfect fit?

 

First, there are no foolproof answers, only carefully prepared steps to get a sense of the culture.  Why aren’t there better ways to get more definitive answers?  Simply because all organizations have multiple departments managed by different managers with distinctive operating styles.  No two managers are exactly the same, even with a common philosophy.  The “perfect” manager that hires you today may move on shortly after you move in.

 

Here are some helpful strategies.

 

Interviewing:  There may be a difference between what an interviewer says and what your potential manager does.  The key is for you to ask the hiring manager (your potential boss) questions like:

  • “How would you describe your management style?  What kind of employee are you looking for in this position… an initiator or someone only implementing your decisions?”
  • “ Describe a highly successful relationship between you and the chosen candidate”

The more targeted your questions the more specific the answers should be.

 

If you don’t feel comfortable asking these kinds of questions, you’ll not get the answers you need.  You also need to respond to questions honestly and not answer what you think they want to hear.  You might fool them during an interview, but not day-to-day in the job.

 

Research:  Find out what current or past employees have experienced.  You have that opportunity through the interview process or research on LinkedIn, Vault and Glassdoor.   These are unedited comments from people who may have valuable insights into the organization.  The more information you can acquire from people who are or have been in the organization will give you the best sense of your fit.  If you’re an active, achievement driven person and find a passive, reactive organization, make sure you’re being hired to create a new environment or you’ll be dragged down to the norm of the work group.

 

No one can accurately determine how or if you’ll fit within any organization as there are too many variables:  Competitive peers, organizational change, management pressure points or internal politics.  You’ll only get a few insightful snapshots into what lays ahead.  It all comes down to a gut level, “Do you sense a bond between you and your potential boss?”  If your not comfortable during the interview, the chances are slim that it will become a job made in heaven.

 

Want a coach?:   wkaufmann1@cox.net  Send comments to:  Mygreenerfuture1@cox.net.

Want more information?  www.mygreenerfuture.com


Stages of Change

Posted on: July 29th, 2014 by
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Negative change comes  in many forms:  A termination, the merging of organizations, a bad performance review, a reorganization, to name a few.  You may not be able to control a negative change, but you can control how you respond to it.  But first you’ll need to understand how individuals and organizations typically react to change.  If you can understand the dynamics of the change process, you can position yourself in a positive and proactive way.

INDIVIDUAL REACTIONS: Individuals behave in a different ways depending upon how they are affected: Is your job at stake? Are you highly marketable? Are your skills critical to the organization? Are you highly paid? Are you close to retirement? No matter what the cause, there are common stages that most individuals will move through.

As an individual, moving through these stages more quickly can position you as an early supporter and leader, versus a detractor and impediment.  As a supervisor, if you understand these stages and are flexible in your approach, you can move performance and productivity of your group to a higher level more rapidly.

The following stages of major change are credited to psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, supplemented by Bill Kaufmann’s experiences:

STAGE I:  SHOCK/DENIAL- (This can’t be happening to ME / us !!)

STAGE II:  ANGER- (Who do they think they are!!!)

STAGE III: DEFENSIVENESS/ DEPRESSION- (I don’t know if I can do this)

STAGE IV:  RATIONALIZATION – Maybe it won’t be that bad if …)

STAGE V:  ACCEPTANCE- (This may turn out OK after all)

ORGANIZATIONAL RESPONSES:  Organizations respond to change in somewhat predictable ways.  The following stages tend to be sequential. However, depending upon how the changes are managed will determine if the next progressive stage is reached.  In other words, where top management is clumsy, non-communicative and insensitive to the needs and feelings of the organization can lead to a situation where the behaviors of STAGE I remain for a very long time.

STAGE I:  RESISTANCE TO CHANGE

STAGE II:  CONFUSION AS TO DIRECTION OR LEADERSHIP

STAGE III:  STRUCTURAL INTEGRATION

STAGE IV:  COMMITMENT AND LOYALTY

To understand how people and organizations respond and react to bad news is a valuable asset.  Effectively managing change is a skill and career accelerator.

Want a coach?  wkaufmann1@cox.net    Want more information? www.mygreenerfuture.com

Send comments to:  Mygreenerfuture1@cox.net.