Posted on: May 21st, 2019 by
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Let’s assume you had a great interview.  You answered all the questions in a comprehensive and professional way.  You would give yourself a score of 90 or better.  Then you get the call that they have chosen someone else.  What went wrong?  There are a lot of reasons that has nothing to do with you (like the boss’s son-in-law getting the job).  But there are behaviors that you may not be aware that can diminish your candidacy. They’re called “non-verbal blunders”. Many are unconscious, avoidable, but could negatively affect your results.


  • Weak or clammy handshake– Usually not critical, but it’s a feeble beginning.  You want to project confidence, vigor, and a positive attitude, not an insecure doubter.  Introverts may need some practice with initial meeting preparation.


  • Eye rolling – A sign of disbelief or hearing something you don’t want to hear.  It could be information about hours, pay, vacation, working conditions or something you find distasteful.  Try to remain neutral, then ask questions for clarification.


  • Crossing of arms – This position may be comfortable for you, but it projects a defensive pose, or one of resistance. You want to project that you are open to new ideas, so keep your body language open and responsive, rather than closed and resisting.


  • Slouching or stiff posture– Being too casual or too formal puts hiring managers off.  It can demonstrate disinterest or rigidity.  Be as natural as you can, while showing attentiveness with a listening attitude.


  • Jiggling your leg during a discussion – Nervous tension is sometime demonstrated in strange ways. Jiggling your leg is very distracting for the hiring manager who may read it as a desire for you to get out of the interview as quickly as possible.


  • Lack of eye contact – Ever talk with someone who won’t look you in the eye. People who lie are prone to look away when talking. Good eye contact shows you are interested and listening to what’s being said.


  • Head shake says “no”– It’s better to slightly nod your head up and down than shake it side to side. A nod indicates you understand or agree.  A head shake is the opposite.  A slight nod encourages the hiring manager to continue to talk about the subject.


  • Checking your watch – This non-verbal is very rude. It says that you are bored or have a more important engagement to get to. This non-verbal is one of the most serious blunders, especially if the interviewer asks, “Do you have somewhere else to go?”


  • Interrupting – If done repeatedly, your interview will be short. Terrific interviews tend to be expansive discussions whereby each party asks and answers questions of mutual interest. Interruptions stop the flow of information and negatively disrupts the interaction.


Non-verbal errors are easy to fix once you’re aware of them.  Ask a family member or friend if they have noticed these types of behavior.  You may be surprised by their observations. Practice can make a big difference in avoiding non-verbal blunders.


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Posted on: May 14th, 2019 by
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No matter how much you prepare, there’s always a question you’re not expecting during an interview.  When you put yourself in the mind of the hiring manager, what would you want to know?

These are questions that have no right or wrong answers, only some answers are better than others.  Always angle your answers two ways:  Respond to what you know is an issue the hiring manager is looking to solve (check the first 3 items on the position description).  Then respond with your strengths that show you are able or have solved similar issues.

  1. “Give me an example of a high-performance result in your last job?”  If you were a hiring manager, wouldn’t you want an answer to this question?  If the position description talks about opening new markets, then respond that you managed a major increase in revenue through your efforts in new products, customers and distribution. Or, how you contributed to a major effort to reduce costs. Or, improved productivity.
  1. “What do you have to offer that others don’t?”  Give this question some thought before an interview. What are the goals, direction and mission of the organization?  Research, then craft a response that is compatible and in alignment with the needs of the position that is open.
  1. “How would others describe you as a team member?”  Of course, there is no way for the interviewer to know if your answer is correct or not.  Hiring managers are looking for all new employee to “fit in” to the ongoing organization, are self-starters who don’t need a lot of supervision, can get up to speed in a short period of time, and can lead the organization to the next level. 
  1. “If hired, what would be your strategy to identify issues and potential solutions?”  The hiring manager wants to gauge your potential contribution and how you would go about getting results.  You want the hiring manager to know that by hiring you, productivity will improve, problems will be solved and you can create value. Identify how you would go about collecting the necessary data first, then define alternative strategies for solutions before decision making.
  1. “What is your ultimate dream job? How will you get there?”  State that you first want to be a high contributor in the new job, then learn and increase responsibilities in order to grow with the company.  You want a positive approach.  Don’t aim too high (I want to be President) or say you want the boss’s job. The hiring manager wants a supporter not a competitor.

No matter what the tough questions are, you need to research the industry, business and function to understand what they really want and need.  Get insights into their issues that require solutions.  Practice responding to these and other tough questions.  Your responses should position you to advance your candidacy over others who are less prepared for these questions.

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Posted on: May 7th, 2019 by
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A promotion can be internal or a change to a new company.  There are a few things you need to know or do in order to prepare for your next promotion:

  1. Be competent in all of the skills and knowledge required in your current position – If you aren’t a “master performer” in your current job, how can you expected to be considered for the next step up? Knowledge or skills missing now will haunt you later.
  2. Perform above average on your performance appraisals – A low performing employee who is promoted is usually the butt of jokes. Usually the person who is the model of excellence should be the primary candidate for promotion.  Is that you?
  3. Know what the next steps are and acquire some of the skills for those steps – Get a running start for the promotion by anticipating the knowledge, skills, certifications or experience by working toward them. Get some experience as a volunteer or on a non-profit board.
  4. Have a good working relationship with your boss, or hiring manager if external – 50% of the path toward a higher level is based on a good or great working relationship with bosses, peers, co-workers and subordinates. The other 50% is high performance.
  5. Have a clear understanding of the success factors and expectations in the next job – If you don’t know what they are, it’s hard to succeed. A famous quote I like is, “Expectations are the great killer”. When expectations don’t match, bad things happen.
  6. Develop a plan and strategy rather than waiting for a promotion to “happen” – Take control of your destiny or someone else will. Any road will get you somewhere if you don’t have a plan, but it may not be where you want to go.
  7. Give yourself a reasonable time frame for strategy steps toward your goal – How much time do you need at each step of your career for you to master the position?The higher the responsibility level, the more time needed to master.
  8. Find a mentor if you can. An advisor can guide you to the best path toward success. Treasure a mentor if you can find one.  They have already moved through the steps toward success and understand what needs to be done.  Listen very carefully.
  9. Prepare for your career discussion – Make sure your pitch is tailored to what’s in the best interests of the organization, not what’s only in your best interest. If you start out by saying, “I’ve been here the longest and deserve a promotion”, you just eliminated yourself from being a candidate.
  10. If you fall short, ask what you need to do for future consideration – Objectively assess your performance and chance for promotion. Define your past accomplishments as a return-on-investment through measurable results in the future.

Your future is determined by your past. If your past is mediocre and doesn’t change, so shall your future.

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Posted on: April 30th, 2019 by
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Let’s assume a hiring manager wants you. You’re offered the job. What do you do?


Usually an employer will outline the conditions of the employment offer in writing. Make sure it coincides with your understanding, then say, “Thank you very much for this exciting opportunity. I’d like to review the offer, talk it over with family and come back with questions.” Why?  You may have room for negotiations.  There are differences between “hard’ and “soft” changes that can be made.  Usually items that involve a third party (insurances, pensions, 401K’s and the like) are not negotiable. Soft changes are those that a manager can make, depending upon the organization’s flexibility.


If the salary is less than you anticipated, ask, “Is it possible to have a 6-month review with a potential increase?”  “Are there ways for you to expand my experiences and add new responsibilities later?”  “Are there developmental programs to help accelerate my career?”  The greater the out-of-policy request, the higher the decision level is made.  However, if you’re seen as the answer to their problems, you have a great deal more influence.


Research job comparisons.  Use websites like,,, or the salary is short of your expectations, ask:

  • “I was expecting a slightly higher salary. Do you have any flexibility?”
  • “Is there a reason why the salary is below or at the low end of the range?”
  • “I would like to accept the offer even though it’s below my expectation.  Can I expect an increase/promotion assuming high-performance?”


Here are some general rules or comments to help you with compensation negotiations:


  • It can be an expensive mistake to give a compensation number too early. Let them see your potential contribution and value through your measurable results
  • Delay the compensation question for as long as possible. The more they want your expertise, the higher the pay.  If you give a low number, the company may accept it.
  • After you have proven that you are the best candidate, you are at the highest negotiating position. Now is the time to test the compensation question.
  • One strategy to delay the compensation question is to state, ““Until I understand the complete compensation picture (bonus, incentive, benefits, costs to me) along with the expectations of the position and degree of difficulty for results, I would find it hard to provide you with a number right now. I’ll need time to digest all the information.”
  • Usually the response will either be, “The salary is set at this time”, or “There may be some flexibility that we can talk about later”.Research says that over 40% of candidates did not negotiate their initial compensation package.
  • Always get the final offer in writing. Always give your acceptance in writing. You never want to resign from your current position until the new organization is fully committed to you and your acceptance is locked in.


You only get one shot and negotiating your incoming salary.  It’s difficult to go back.


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Posted on: April 23rd, 2019 by
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What attributes do you need to achieve success?  What should you do differently?

Successful individuals are different from less successful ones.  If you can understand and pattern your behavior in a different way, you may be able to change the trajectory of your job and maybe your career.  What are those attributes? 

Successful individuals:

  • Are focused and concerned about results, contributions and achievement. Successful people are not too concerned about their title because the results of high performance will dictate their position of responsibility over time.  Meritocracy drives your future.  Take responsibility for your own actions without finger pointing when things fall short.
  • Are open minded to new information, ideas and opportunity. Successful people tend to have a wide expanse of alternatives to the job to be done and can objectively assess their place in it. They aren’t hemmed in by what they can’t do, but are willing to explore new and different ways to achieve higher results.
  • Are continually expanding their knowledge, skills and abilities.  Successful individuals increase their technology and functional skills, certifications, degrees, languages and generally explore areas of knowledge they may need in the future. They tend to prepare for what’s to come, in addition to their current necessity for an outstanding job.
  • Develop a self-confidence as they become more self-assured in the job. Successful people tend to look at work in a different way.  They consider issues needing solutions, alternatives and strategies to solve work impediments.  Successful individuals tend to look for issues before they become problems.  In the process, they avert performance issues early on.
  • Begin to take on leadership roles like project and task leaders, new ventures, and even leadership roles in the community that has value to transfer those skills that managers need. These are all relationship skills that becomes more important as you move up the ladder of success.  People-skills become the key ingredient to success.
  • Share success with those who helped to contribute to the outcome.There are very few things in life that we do entirely alone.  We all need support and effort from others.  Successful individuals tend to be humble and sharing, rather than a braggard. People choose leaders with whom they believe in and embrace their goals.
  • Will pull themselves up after adversity. Not all things work out the way you would like.  Successful individuals will figure out what the next positive step should be, puts a plan and strategy together, involves others in the execution and reverses the outcome.  They take control of their own destiny.  Waiting for things to work out, usually doesn’t.
  • Always celebrate achievements of the “team”, those who contributed to their success. Self-centered people are insecure in their abilities and are seen negatively by others. Successful individuals share the limelight, which positions them as the leader. 

Top management is always on the lookout for individuals who demonstrate these success strategies.  By demonstrating these attributes you help the organization, your work group, and yourself.

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