Posted on: September 27th, 2016 by
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Some people fall short of their ultimate potential without really understanding the why or how. Each of us needs to know when we’re stalling out and what to do about it. Here are some thoughts:

TECHNOLOGY SHORTFALL – Of all the reasons why some people fall behind, this is one that can be easily fixed. Keeping up to date and ahead of your contemporaries is a sure way to maintain leadership in your field. There’s no faster way to become obsolete then to stop learning.

YOU DON’T FIT – Sometimes you feel like a round peg in a square hole. The culture or goals of the organization may be inconsistent with your values or contribution. You may have been hired for all the wrong reasons. However, you need to fix it by finding a more compatible fit, either somewhere else from within, or another organization. Find the best fit for you.

YOU DON’T PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS – Teamwork is a requirement for most hiring managers when filling an open job. If the candidate can’t work effectively with co-workers, problems will increase rather than decrease. If you’re an individual contributor, don’t seek a team-oriented job.

UNDERMINING YOUR BOSS – I haven’t met many people who intentionally undermine their boss, but some do it without knowing it. Make sure you know the expectations of your boss. Most of the “undermining” happens by conveying closely held or inappropriately shared information to others outside of the immediate work group.

YOUR PERFORMANCE UNDERWHELMS – An anemic performer is always vulnerable in the workplace. Make sure you have performance objectives you understand, with a time-line you can meet and the resources you need. Not knowing what is expected of you is the beginning of a problem performer

YOU’RE THE WEAK LINK – In a fast paced accelerating organization, achieving operating objectives is paramount. There’s always someone who is the weakest link to results. Find out what you need to do to become more productive and equal to the task. Let the spotlight shine on someone else as the drag on the effectiveness within the organization.

SHIFT FROM HARD TO SOFT SKILLS – As you move up the organization, your skill sets move away from the hard skills of hands-on implementation to the soft skills of supervision, management and strategy. Some make the transition with ease while others never make the shift and never understand why.

Many of today’s problems start as small deficiencies early in your history and can be remedied with small adjustments. The longer a fault lingers without correction, the more difficult it is to correct later on. So what can you do about it? Identify your shortfalls early and develop a plan to fix them. If you can’t, find ways to work around them. If you cant, settle in for the long haul as you aren’t going anywhere.

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Posted on: September 20th, 2016 by
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Sometimes I get philosophical about certain things. This is one of those times. So tune out if your not interested.

Why do some people overcome major obstacles while others fold early? It’s a subject I’ve thought a lot about over the years. Of course I have no definitive answer, but I do have some thoughts that I hope will be helpful to some as you seek to advance your careers.

Why do some very bright students ease up on studying and drift through their education while other less gifted students doggedly grind at their studies, and both end up with similar grades?   Why do bright students continue to pursue top grades without diminishing their standards for excellence, while other gifted students will give up without really trying? And everyone has read about students that go off the deep end and make disturbing headlines. Why?

I have experienced these characteristics throughout school, but also in small and large corporations, non-profit organizations, government agencies and the public sector: There must be a difference between individuals who push through adversity and those who wither when it’s not an easy fix. I’m sure you’ve heard the stories about an individual who grows up in poverty but succeeds in life and climbs to great heights. You’ve also heard of the privileged individual that has everything in life given to them only to have them squander it away. It reminds me of how hardship affects different people in different ways. It’s like fire:

  • Some will harden like steel
  • Some will burn up like paper
  • Some will cause warmth and light like wood
  • Some will cause lots of smoke but no flame

Each of us reacts and responds to life in a different way.

WHY? Why do some of us accelerate with hardships while others take their foot off the gas pedal? Some say it’s the stuff that you’re born with. Others say it’s the environment that you experience early in life. I say you’re born with a given potential on a blank sheet of paper, then your parents and the environment help to shape how you optimize that potential.

What I see as the role of a parent is to provide their child with the widest assortment of positive experiences along with encouragement to gain as much exposure and education as possible. From that base they will gravitate to their optimal potential and achievement, or not.

The wild card in this theory is the intangibles that can’t be measured in the usual way: Resolve, tenacity, determination, grit, persistence, willpower, diligence, doggedness. These seem to be the differentiators within each of us to extend the effort that moves you across the success line.

I like the way Winston Churchill expressed it. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It’s the courage to continue that counts”.

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Posted on: September 13th, 2016 by
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Thumbs Up For Good Resume Skills!


Little is written about the job search process from the candidate’s perspective: What a company needs to do to attract and retain high quality talent and allow them to perform at a high level. While companies have a hard enough time sorting through a pile of resumes to find the right candidates to interview then hire, so does the candidate have a tough time deciding on the right company for them. So what does a high potential candidate want from a company?

Most of the writings about the job search process focuses on what companies want: A resume, job requirements, specifications, certain experiences, high potential candidates, then multiple interviews, references and so on. But high potential candidates have a list of their own. Let me suggest such a list.


·      To remain highly competitive in skills, knowledge and abilities within their functional field.  They want to keep their skill sets at the highest level.
  • To increase and expand their technical skills, with opportunities for supervisor/management.   They want to improve their skills that will lead to the management ladder.
  • To improve long-term income and provide for financial stability. They want to be rewarded commensurate with their contribution over time. They want to beat the pay averages.
  • To gain the professional credentials needed for career advancement. They want to gain certifications, degrees, accreditations, and recognition for their work.
  • To gain a sense of personal satisfaction and achievement.   They want to enjoy their work and with the people they work: A collaborative experience in order to learn from others.
  • To be a part of an exciting challenge: A team environment toward common goals. They want a winning organization, work group and high performing people like themselves.


  • Decentralized decision-making or at least the ability to influence functional decisions. Autocratic management is dead for high potential and high performing employees.
  • Experience a cooperative, engaging, sharing atmosphere. Minimal politics or favoritism. They want a merit based system and the freedom to perform at their optimum.
  • Afforded flexible career opportunities: Multiple tracks, opportunities and alternatives. They are looking for multiple decision points in order to accelerate their careers and contributions.
  • Work in a more informal atmosphere, rather than a stuffy, formal, setting. They don’t want confining, limiting or dead-end jobs that will constrain their abilities. If so, they will leave.

These are not outrageous benchmarks for high potential individuals to pursue. However, the size of the organization may play a part in the level of autocracy and bureaucracy. Human resource and hiring managers, along with senior management, would be wise to consider the criteria that top talent candidates look for when considering an offer of employment.

The company’s future and competitive position may depend upon their response.


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Posted on: September 6th, 2016 by
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A number of years ago I had the honor of assisting in the design of a curriculum for a major business school. Our task was to assess what top companies are looking for, and then develop coursework and experiences to accelerate the knowledge, skills and abilities for our graduates and alumni. The goal? To become the first choice hires for blue chip companies. We were highly successful.

What I found most interesting was the critical factors hiring companies are looking for in top candidates, including mid-level management. In summary, there were three overriding themes:

  • Acquire functional skills to help the hiring manager solve today’s issues
  • Demonstrated potential for additional responsibilities in 2 to 5 years
  • A team driven ability to work effectively with others while fitting into the culture

Taking a deeper dive into the research, the key attributes broke out into two segments:

Situational attributes – Within your function, you have:

  • Mastered key skills; able to teach others; seek new approaches; work across functional lines
  • Know our industry, products, services, customers, regulations and competitors
  • Understand the global factors affecting our business and help change for the future
  • Contribute beyond your functional area; sees and understands the larger picture

Personal attributes – Skills beyond your functon:

  • Communications: Write and speak effectively; make presentations; influence decisions
  • Teamwork: Work effectively within a team environment; lead a team and mentor others
  • Leadership: Build partnerships; adapts and Improves; flexible; lead change for the better
  • Analysis and problem solving: Anticipate issues; develop potential solutions; solve problems
  • Strategic thinking: Think beyond the immediate job; influence and improve performance

So now ask yourself, “What can I do to design my resume and prepare for interviews that will leverage me as a finalist candidate? Here’s a checklist:

  • Key on the position description of the open position. Make a list of the experiences and results you have achieved for each and every item. Make sure they are prominently displayed on your resume and concentrate on them during your interview
  • Focus on your progressive growth in responsibilities, ability to mentor others, projects of teamwork and the mastery of the most important skill sets that the hiring manager needs
  • Have case examples of how you problem-solved issues, improved performance and developed solutions that were outside-the-box of your responsibilities
  • Be an effective communicator, using power words in your resume and speak with confidence, commitment and passion when interviewing

If you can’t meet at least 70% of the position description requirements or demonstrate competencies based on the lists above, then move on to another job opportunity. This one is beyond your grasp.

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Posted on: August 30th, 2016 by
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Here’s some information I found useful in researching job opportunities with my clients in various states and cities. It came from a 24/7 Wall Street article in July, 2016, by Doug McIntyre. It focuses on the total number of unemployed + underemployed by state. Underemployed people are those that are looking for full time work who may be working part time. If you add in those who are no longer receiving unemployment benefits, the percentage number may be much higher than stated.

Unemployed + underemployed = People looking for full time work. The top 10 states, in ascending order of percent, are:

#10 – Illinois 11%

#9 – Connecticut 11.1%

#8 – Oregon 11.1%

#7 – Mississippi 11.2%

#6 – Arizona 11.3%

#5 – West Virginia 11.4%

#4 – California 11.7%

#3 – Alaska 11.9%

#2 – New Mexico 12.4%

#1 – Nevada 13.1%

What surprised me was the top 10 states are not clustered, but are spread out across the U. S. Also, the list represents both large and small states, with only one state from the East Coast.

What does it mean? There are a few insights to this information.

  1. The economy will continue to be affected downward until these numbers begin to reverse
  2. These states may be a drag on their economy. People can’t spend money until they have it
  3. The job market in these states is tight. Your chance to find the right job is limited
  4. Unless you have special skills or have a function in high demand, look elsewhere
  5. The entire East Coast appears to be making the job-opportunity-turn the quickest.

So what do you do?

  1. Research your state to find out where you best fit. (Google: Underemployed in [your state] )
  2. Then research your nearest mid to large city. That will tell you what your chances are and the level of your competition. (Google: Underemployed in [a nearby or targeted city] )
  3. Then research your functional area: Finance, logistics, human resources, marketing, etc.
  4. If you have a subspecialty, dig deeper, like auditing, distribution, recruiting, sales
  5. You should have a pretty good idea about the marketplace when you’re finished.


  1. Tailor your resume to best fit the opportunities that are lacking potential candidates
  2. Contact recruiters who specialize in your field to see who is hiring for what positions
  3. Ask fellow members of your trade or professional association about the marketplace. If you’re not a member, join one. It’s a direct target for recruiting talent.

The marketplace is vey receptive to new job opportunities. You just need to know where to look.

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