HAVE YOU HIT THE (CAREER) WALL?

Posted on: May 15th, 2018 by
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Everyone has a bad day once In a while, but a job or career that goes off the rails is a different problem.  No matter what the cause, a job or career mistake can usually be corrected with the right approach.  It takes some thought, determination and the right attitude to come out ahead.

 

My experience is that job derailments come from an expectation that you, your boss or the organization has, that fails to materialize.  This could be a promised position not received, objectives not met, a difference of opinion about performance, a job description that turns out to be misleading, or a boss that takes your achievements and passes the failures down to you.

 

The problem isn’t the issue, but what you do about it?  I see seven steps:

 

  1. Focus on the future, not the past– The worst thing you can do is obsess over the past. What’s done is done, but your action steps will determine your career outcome.   The longer it takes you to straighten out your attitude, the more opportunities that will you pass by.  Hiring managers can sniff out anger.  Put your best face on with a positive outlook.

 

  1. Continue to perform at your best – Don’t let your disappointment affect your performance.If your performance slumps, then your current job will be at stake.  Use your job’s high performance to be your launching pad to a new and better job somewhere else.

 

  1. Assess your most marketable skills and experiences– High performers with skills and experience in areas that other companies want is your path to success. What are hiring managers looking for in a candidate? If you can increase revenue or reduce cost you have a special talent that others want.

 

  1. Define your achievements by measurable results– Having skills / experience is only half of the equation. You must be able to quantify your contributions.  Anyone can say, “I am good at what I do”.  But you should say, “I increased productivity or reduced cost by X%”.

 

  1. Identify where your talents are most valued– Organizations going through rough times, or wanting to improve profits, or grow a new business are looking for employees who can increase productivity, decrease costs or improve margins.That’s your target.

 

  1. Develop a strategy to find your next position– Most jobs are found through people who know you and can sing your praises to others. They know where the job openings are, the companies that are hiring, or can refer you others who can introduce you in.

 

  1. Execute your plan – Once you have the right attitude, assessed your marketability, defined your measurable results, developed your strategies and targeted your opportunities, you are ready to make it happen.Determination and faith in your abilities will see you through.

 

Be your own best supporter.  No one can push you into success.  It comes from within.

 

For a FREE review of your resume, send it to:  wkaufmann44@gmail.com


INTERVIEW QUESTIONS TO CONFOUND YOU

Posted on: May 11th, 2018 by
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Interview questions can be tricky and sometimes responding to them can be difficult.  The simplest answer to a question is usually the best.  Complexity can get you into a tangle of conflicting replies.  Here are a few confounding questions with some alternate answers:

 

  1. TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF – Be ready for this one! Provide a crisp but positive response.  The hiring manager is looking for key knowledge, skills and abilities that will get results. Connect your achievements to the position description. Stay away from personal items.

 

  1. DO YOU WORK BEST AS AN INDIVIDUAL OR AS A TEAM MEMBER? – Careful here! State that you work best as a part of a team effort where you can also contribute as an individual. Cite examples of your team contributions, how you’ve gotten results as an individual, then as a leader of a team effort.  Make sure your answer is credible.

 

  1. WHY SHOULD WE HIRE YOU OVER ALL THE OTHERS? – Match your most impressive results with the needs of the organization. Connect new ideas and alternatives.  Identify experiences you had in solving problems that the organization may have currently.

 

  1. TELL ME ABOUT YOUR PROFESSIONAL DISAPPOINTMENTS– Be ready with a story or two around promises or expectations that didn’t happen. How you handled it and what you learned. Don’t put down past bosses as the “bad guys”.

 

  1. TELL ME ABOUT PROBLEMS YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED WITH SUPERVISORS – This is a tricky question, as you don’t want to lash out, but rather indicate how you worked it through. You might say, “I’ve been lucky to have supportive supervisors, but there were times when I’ve had to work extra hard to help meet my bosses objective”.

 

  1. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH PRESSURE AND CRITICISM?– Pre-knowledge of the company’s work environment would be helpful. The interviewer is looking for your attitude toward pressure and how well you respond to it.  Criticism of a work product is different from a personal criticism. Each should be managed differently: People versus things.

 

And finally a curveball question that can kill an interview that has gone very well so far:

 

  1. WHAT DO WE NEED TO KNOW THAT HASN’T BEEN ASKED? WHAT ARE WE MISSING? Be prepared for this question.  Caught unaware, most will answer in the negative because it’s almost an accusatory question like, “What haven’t you told us?”  However, don’t be put off balance.  Don’t’ say, “Nothing, We covered everything”.

There are two options:

  • Fill in a major achievement that you haven’t covered that you want the hiring manager to know, especially if it affects the ability for you to do an outstanding job
  • Cite accomplishments that parallel the interests of the company, like community activities, industry associations, and service clubs, especially as a leader.

 

Be ready for any question, even strange ones, likes, “What’s your favorite color?”

 

For a FREEreview of your resume send it to:   wkaufmann44@gmail.com


CAREER STEPS – NOTES

Posted on: May 1st, 2018 by
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How can something so simple to outline be so complex in reality.  Making career steps happen involve such things as:  Family considerations, compensation issues, relocations, functional skill to develop, job content to master, responsibility expansion, moving from individual contributor to manager, department head then executive, and many others.

 

Here are some of the considerations:

 

ULTIMATE GOAL? –  Define where you want to ultimately end your career, functionally. CFO?  Sales Manager?  VP?  Business Owner?  Dept. Head?  or a totally different direction?  Whether you’ll make it depends upon:

  • Where you are now? How much time before retirement?
  • Have you prepared the skills you’ll need for success?What’s your compensation?
  • Are you ambitious, very competent, with sterling references and yes, are you connected?

 

HOW MANY STEPS TO GO?– A Controller in a medium sized company, age 45, with requisite financial functions and a track record of success, can become a CFO in a private company, but may not have the experiences with shareholders, investment bankers, government regulators or boards of directors to become a CFO in a public company.  If you’re a junior accountant in a public company, age 28, you have maybe 8 moves in 4 or more different organizations and about 20 years before becoming a CFO.

 

TIMING AND CHANGES? – How long should you remain in one job before moving on?  The answer: As long as it takes to master each job. If your goal is the executive level, it means shifting to a new, higher role every 3 to 5 years, then add in an advanced degree. And if you’re thinking of changing to another function or industry, add another 5 years onto the total.

 

WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT YOUR NEXT STEP?  Are you ready to make the next step?  What have you done to prepare?  Do you have a plan or are you waiting for the phone to ring? Are you willing to move across to another department / organization or even down a peg in order to get the experience and credentials for a major step up?  How long do you have before getting the experience you’ll need to be fully competent?

 

ALWAYS BE READY FOR AN OPPORTUNITY –  At any stage of your career, opportunity may knock before you’re ready.  That’s when a judgment has to be made.  Do you risk falling short in a new role or do you take the risk and jump ahead of your plan? No one can make that decision for you. The risk is greater the higher you move.

 

HOW DO I BEST MARKET MYSELF? –  That’s easy.  The only way to achieve the next level in a career plan is by the results you attain in the prior job.  Only outstanding performance catches the eye of the hiring manager for the next higher position.  Mediocre performance means you’re not ready for the next level.  You can only demonstrate success by being successful.

 

For a FREEreview of your resume, send it to:  wkaufmann44@gmail.com 


SEVEN DEADLY CAREER MISTAKES

Posted on: April 24th, 2018 by
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A career error can be costly in time, money and opportunity. Making a major career decision for the wrong reason can set you way off course and affect your ultimate goal.

Here are a few of the deadly career mistakes to avoid.

1. Becoming too comfortable – Change is difficult, but necessary. When your job, personal or professional environment and routine become too comfortable, it’s very difficult to see the future. You may not see the brick wall coming your way, or the lost opportunities gone by. Be a realist. It’s the long road, over time, toward your ultimate goal that’s important.

2. Afraid of change – Fighting change is a losing proposition. Change is never static. Careers are destroyed when you’re blindsided by change. Look over the horizon and anticipate the changes that are coming. Be prepared ahead of the change. It’s better to influence the changes that affect you before the fact, than to be overwhelmed by them.

3. Incompatible values – Be careful about changing jobs with a company where your values will be compromised. Working under policies or practices that you can’t support is almost impossible to maintain. Your ability to modify the culture or practices is remote. It’s better to find another job or company than to suffer under values you can’t support.

4. Jumping too quickly – One of the things to understand is a recruiter can make a new job sound so terrific that you don’t ask the right questions of the hiring manager. The result is that the job offered is not entirely what you thought. Assumptions not clarified can be a career mistake that is very costly and could have been avoided.

5. Dollars or title over all else – Making a career change exclusively for money or title is a very bad idea. Careers are optimized through a long-term strategy of accumulated experiences and skills. Accepting a new position for money or title is short-term thinking. Ask the question, “Why am I being offered this title or dollars out of the average to the marketplace”?

6. Too small or large a pond – Two questions to ask yourself. 1- “Are my skills and experiences translatable across many organizations or to a narrower field?” 2- “Am I most comfortable in a very large or very small organization or somewhere in between?” The answers will determine your greatest value and target opportunities.

7. Not keeping ahead of technology – This career mistake is the most deadly of all. The rate of change in technology affects everyone. It’s the factor that decides who is offered a job and who comes in second place. Being at the forefront of your function technologically gives you the edge over all others. This is one mistake you can correct yourself.

Career mistakes are driven largely by emotion, not intellect. Do your research and think through the implications, thereby optimizing your ability to reach your ultimate goal.

For a FREE review of your resume send it to: wkaufmann44@gmail.com


STRESS TEST YOUR CAREER STRATEGY

Posted on: April 17th, 2018 by
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If you find yourself in a difficult situation, don’t panic.  Smart workers will have a compelling resume and strategy prepared in file and ready to go.  If you don’t have a plan, then develop one now.  You can’t predict the future, but you can plan for change.

 

The primary questions that you need to answer are:  What do you have to offer that companies need?  What experiences do you have that others don’t?  If you’re in a “hot” industry and have proven results, then you’re highly marketable.  If not, you’ll need some help.  Here are some steps:

 

  1. Objectively assess your current skills, experiences and education – What are your greatest accomplishments? What is your unique contribution? What can you do that most others cannot do? You must differentiate yourself from all other competitors.
  2. Analyze the marketplace – What industries can best use your skills? What companies and functions are in a growth mode within different geographical locations?
  3. Assess your marketability – How can you upgrade your skills and knowledge to make yourself more marketable? How do you leverage your competencies to the next level?
  4. What’s your value to a new company? Research the compensation levels by function, title and location.  How do you compare?  Can you justify your compensation to a hiring organization?
  5. Look at your options – Develop a Matrix with information from #2, 3, & 4. Compare the marketplace, industries, functions and compensation to assess your greatest opportunities.
  6. Balance your marketing approach: Research job availability, by market.  Develop a Matrix of contacts:  Identify individuals who know your quality of work, are connected, and can refer you to others.  70+% of jobs are found through people you know or whom they know.
  7. Assess your readiness for the next step – Can you find a “model”: Someone who has already achieved what you aspire to achieve?  What were their steps?  How did they do it?
  8. Develop a powerful and compelling resume. Focus on what the hiring manager is looking for, and then parallel your results with their needs.  Every job has measureable results that can be documented on a resume to make it compelling.
  9. Identify the 3 to 5 most dramatic results you have achieved over 5 years. Convert those results into measurable statements that will catch the eye of hiring managers.  Examples:
  • 12% annual Increase in revenue over 3 years
  • 18% expansion of new products to new customers
  • 8% cost reductions through continuous improvement

 

Hiring managers want to know how you are going to add value to their results.  Show them what you’ve done, how you did it and what you can do for them.

 

Some people when confronted with a career setback, will fold-up, give up and settle for less.  Others will approach their careers with greater energy, with new vitality, and then accelerate their efforts.  What do you plan to do?

 

For a FREE review of your resume, send it to:  wkaufmann44@gmail.com