Ready For the Next Step Up?

Posted on: March 31st, 2015 by
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How do you know when your ready for the next step up the career ladder? If you think your ready because you can do your boss’s job, forget it. They’ll be looking for someone to take it to the next level, not just maintain the status quo.

If the company is preparing you for the next level, there should be a formal training program in place. How can you prepare for the next step?

1. Define the skills that are required at the next level – You should have an accurate position description of your next career move. If you don’t, you’re not ready. The template of responsibilities is your key to preparation.
2. Assess your current skills – Assess your skills against the template of the next level. Be harshly objective in your assessment. Some competencies you already have, others will be weak, and the rest of the competency skills will be missing.
3. Find someone who already is doing or has done the job you want. Ask them what it takes to be successful and what you need to do to prepare for the opportunity.
4. Develop a strategy to fill in the voids and beef up your weaknesses – Design an action plan to strengthen your weaknesses. Some can be achieved with courses and certifications while others may need “hands on” experience.
5. Put your strategies into action by talking with your supervisor, HR, or department head. One strategy is to move to a job at your same level in order to move up. Another: Assume the additional responsibility for a collateral function
6. Find supplemental funding to help you financially – Tuition reimbursement by your employer, a negotiated entry strategy with a new employer, a low cost loan for on-line courses
7. Take the first step with a reasonable time-line – Develop a time frame for each step in the strategy, then take the first step when you’re ready. The key is to begin the process.

A word about a graduate degree: Unless you feel very confident that you can reach the top of a functional area, i.e., Department Head, VP, or move into general management, it may not be worth the cost and time. Two years without an income while paying $100,000 or more over two years at a quality school will take at least 5 years to break even. On the other hand, is could put you at a senior level a few years later.

Whatever your career strategy, always remember:
1. Your only as good as your last success
2. Your competitors are also preparing themselves to move up
3. The marketplace moves quickly. Opportunities won’t wait for you.
4. Current skills have a shelf life. New skills will continually be required.
5. Look two moves out, not just one. Each job must link to another opportunity.
6. Have a back-up plan if your next dream job turns into a nightmare.

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You Have 15 Seconds — Convince Me

Posted on: March 24th, 2015 by
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Many job seekers who send in a resume don’t seem to realize that they have about 15 seconds to be noticed. Hiring agents scan 200 or more resumes and put them into 3 piles: A, B and C. Only the A resumes get read in detail.

So what does a job seeker need to do to get noticed and be put in the A pile? Design your resume so your major results and achievements are positioned at the top half of the first page. How do you accomplish that? Easy. Define your measureable results in a Summary Performance Statement right after your name and contact information. Here’s an example from a recent client of mine:

• 10.2% annual profit increase by implementing a digital marketing plan
• 22.4% annual customer growth over 5 years through innovative strategies
• 8.6% reduction of costs by implementing value analysis to the operating budget
• 83% increase in revenue by converting manual to real-time customer interactions

Why is this approach a powerful influencer to the hiring manager?
1. It summarizes multiple jobs and the results that were achieved
2. It documents the actual outcomes of the candidate
3. It communicates a serious, results-driven candidate
4. It positions the hiring manager to say, “This is someone I definitely want to talk to”

You’ve now gotten the positive attention of the hiring manager, who wants to find out:
1. How were these results achieved?
2. Can these results be duplicated in my organization?

These questions can only be answered through an interview. Of course, after this Summary Performance Statement are the individual companies, titles, dates, responsibilities and results of each employer. In that way the hiring agent can see where these results were achieved.

I’m sure you probably spent hours writing your resume, making sure that every detail was covered. But you probably focused on your responsibilities and activities but failed to document your results. If you assume 200 people are applying for this same job, probably 50% of them had similar responsibilities. The only thing that differentiates you from all others are the results you’ve achieved Without a measureable outcome, everyone else’s resume is a matter of judgment as to who can do the job.

You need to lead the pack of applicants in order to get an interview and become a candidate. Your results are the only indicator to a hiring manager that sets you apart from the rest.

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Ready to test the market? Email:

Become Extinct by Being Mediocre

Posted on: March 17th, 2015 by
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Let’s look on the negative side of a career blueprint. Ask yourself if one or more of the items below apply to you. If the answer is yes, then do something about it. Staying in a job may be a great strategy when there are things to learn or experiences to gain. But when you become complacent in a changing world, you’re not only vulnerable, but also expendable.

Ask yourself if the organization is describing you in the following way:

• Only do what’s expected, no more
• Don’t expand or increase your skills. Resist development
• Set your sights low to avoid disappointment

• Keep a very low profile and never volunteer
• Resist supervising others. You don’t want to be responsible for others.
• Limit your experiences to what you already know

• Don’t join professional organizations, so you won’t have to interact with your peers
• Avoid conflicts or new ideas. You may have to change
• Assume you’ll be in your current job until you retire

• Maintain a fixed comfort zone. Never try something different
• Overcommit, then underperform
• Don’t test out the marketplace. It may be scary

• Resist working in teams. You’re better off on your own
• Your last 3 performance reviews have been at the low end of “satisfactory”
• Never ask your customers or boss how to improve results. They may tell you

• Work your standard 40 hour workweek. No weekends or beyond 5 pm each day
• Try to avoid business trips to the field. You may learn something
• Don’t measure your results. If you don’t know, others may not know

Assessing your core assumptions may provide for a career breakthrough. But first, define what your real passion is, then decide on a course of action to move forward.

To accelerate your career toward your passion, list your greatest achievements over the past five or more years. Put a compelling resume together with a powerful job search strategy. Get professional help if you find it overwhelming.

Your efforts will be rewarded, but time is not your friend.

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Ready to test the market? Email:

Time for a Change

Posted on: March 10th, 2015 by
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When people change jobs, what do they normally say? Something like, “I couldn’t afford not to”, “I got a better title”, “The stress is less”, or “I’ve got the job of my dreams”. You can probably add another 10 responses that you’ve heard. But the real question is: Why do you want to change jobs in the first place?

My experience over 40 years tells me that there are three factors to consider: Professional and Personal Growth; Responsibility and Compensation; Freedom to Perform at Your Optimal.
Let’s take a look at each of these.

Professional and Personal Growth
As a professional: Have you increased your skills and abilities, learn higher levels of complexities, engage with management at a higher level, expand your business and functional knowledge that continue to position you on an upward trajectory? Do you supervise others?
As an individual: Are you growing in confidence, maturity, interpersonal relationships, experience, exposure, visibility, credibility, influence, and other personal attributes needed for the tasks ahead? Do you have a development plan approved by management?

Responsibility and Compensation
Responsibilities can expand by additional roles, tasks or projects, inclusion in higher-level groups that will advance you within the organization. Are you increasing your functional responsibilities while expanding your compensation?
Compensation is a measure of how the organization values your contribution. It can be in performance increases above the norm, a bonus for a job well done, or stock. Non-financial rewards are also an indicator of appreciation, like being recognized by the “big boss” in an open meeting. Are you advancing in comparison to your peers in other organizations?

Freedom to Perform
How tightly are you supervised? Have you been given the freedom to develop the strategies and execute an approved plan to achieve stated results? If however, you’re micro-managed or spoon-fed; it’s time to ask why. Freedom to act is extremely important as it demonstrates the confidence the company has in you. The higher in management you go, the greater the freedom of action you should have. The longer you remain in a position, the greater the freedom of action you should be given. An athlete cannot become an Olympic gold medal winner in figure skater by practicing on a block of ice.

These three factors are the building blocks within a career plan. Each point is integrated into the steps leading to your ultimate career destination. If you don’t have a career plan, you may be moving in a direction that will take you off course and possibly be unable to recover.

Consider each job change with cold and honest objectivity based on all three factors, not just one. A false move can cost you five or more years to recover from a bad decision.

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It’s Not Your Fault!

Posted on: March 3rd, 2015 by
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I can’t tell you the number of times over my career I interviewed as a finalist candidate and didn’t get the job. What was wrong with me? It wasn’t until I was a Vice President that I understood why I might not have gotten those jobs earlier.

It wasn’t me… it was them! They changed the rules of the game. Let me give you two personal examples and then some ways hiring companies sometimes cause the issue:

I was the Corporate Director of Organizational Development completing a very successful reorganization of a mid-sized corporation with a sterling reputation, well respected in the profession and in demand. A major corporation looking for Directors for two of their divisions recruited me. I interviewed for one of them and was offered the position. I declined the offer, but suggested combining the two divisions into one job. The EVP was overjoyed that he could get a major contributor for both divisions for a few dollars more. He verbally made the offer and I verbally accepted.

I immediately tried to set up a meeting with my current boss to resign my position while the written offer was to be sent to me for my signature. My vice-president was on vacation so I scheduled the meeting for two weeks out. A week later I called the offering EVP to ask where was the letter of offer? He apologized that the offer couldn’t be put together because an internal candidate heard about the job combination and wanted the new job for himself. Needless to say, I cancelled my impending meeting to resign. Moral of the story: Never accept a verbal job offer. You can be badly hurt.

Another time I interviewed at a Fortune 50 company to find out later that they only wanted to “pick my brain” to find out how I solved a similar problem that they had.

Here are some other reasons why it’s not your fault if you don’t get the offered job:

• Your compensation falls over the mid-point for the position. The hiring manager thinks it may cause issues with peers
• Because of your obvious competence and high potential, others see you as a competitor for higher level jobs during the interview and vote for someone else
• You may scare the manager to whom you’ll report. Too much horsepower to manage
• The manager assumed the budget for the position would be approved. It wasn’t.
• The corporation, business or function was reorganized, changing or eliminating the job
• You were interviewed as “the model”, but were never considered as a hire
• You got caught in a political web. Someone in power wanted someone else.

I’m sure you can identify other reasons why it’s not your fault. The important thing to remember: Life isn’t fair. The job search process may not be fair. But when you connect with your dream job and the organization appreciates your value, it will all be worth the journey.

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Ready to test the market? Email: