ARE YOU A WINNER OR A WHINER?

Posted on: January 15th, 2019 by
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Hiring managers who interview applicants for a job are very attuned to the way a candidate answers certain questions:  How they explain their responsibilities, describe their relationship with their boss and teammates, define their individual achievements, identify their team results, and clarify why they are looking for another job. All of the answers to these questions tell the hiring manager a lot about the candidate.

One of the things an experienced interviewer is looking for is the candidate who accepts responsibility for their actions, no matter what the circumstances or outcomes.  One of the ways to fall short as a finalist candidate is to say, “It wasn’t my fault that I missed the goal.  If it wasn’t for my co-workers I could have done much better.  They prevented me from reaching the team objective”.

What’s the difference between a whiner and a winner?  I’m sure you’ve experienced both, but my focus is on the job search and interview process.  A whiner tends to blame others for their shortcomings, deflects responsibility, or redirects accountability for a lack of results onto others.  Here are some examples of both a whiner and a winner using the same issues for both:

A WHINER:

  • “As a team, we could have reached our goal except for one of our members who kept dragging the work group down”
  • “My boss kept moving the goal post toward an objective that was unattainable”
  • “The organization did not provide the support or information that was required in order for me to achieve the outcome, on budget and on time”
  • “The competition prevented us from increasing market share by using unethical practices”

Let’s take the same issues and translate the response as communicated by a winner:

A WINNER:

  • “As a team, we reached 94% of our stretch goals in a difficult competitive market”
  • “My boss always encouraged us to outperform our goals. We succeeded in about 75% of the time”
  • “The organization had about 80% of the information to complete my project. 20% of the information was not available”
  • “We stabilized our market share and did not lose one major customer in spite of a competitive campaign of predatory pricing”

The difference between how an issue is communicated separates the whiner from the winner. The whiner talks about the negative aspect of an issue and projects it onto someone else.  The winner emphasizes the positive side of the same issue and objectively describes the situation, not the people.

What’s the morale of the story?  Whiners tend push the shortcomings of the work to the people around them.  Winners tend to put a positive spin on the results, the team, and are viewed as a contributor to the effort.

Winners get hired. Whiners get the opportunity to try their luck somewhere else.

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


WELCOME TO THE FUTURE!

Posted on: January 8th, 2019 by
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What are the jobs in jeopardy during the next 11 years, to 2030?  The first jobs to go are:

  • Jobs that sort, inventory, or pick products: Warehouse, distribution, catalog
  • Administrative support for Police, Fire Fighting, Bankers, Tellers, and record keeping jobs
  • Jobs that use driverless vehicles:Trucks; Taxi; Livery; Short or small deliveries; Shuttles
  • Jobs that are repetitive: Fast food; Data analysts who copy, record, sort, or audit data
  • Jobs that can be replaced with electronics: Security, medical monitoring activities

And the one that can affect you the most:

  • Jobs that use artificial intelligence for screening and interviewing job applicants

This last item should be of special interest to you.  Large companies are already using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to sort and “read” resumes, then perform an on-line “interview” to check out the knowledge and skill of the applicant.  Next on the horizon will be telephone screening calls by a robot!  The phone call will be automated to ask a series of pre-defined questions of all applicants.  Your answers will be recorded then compared to the position description along with all other applicants.  The hiring manager will then interview the top two or three candidates. Does that sound impersonal or lacking the human touch?  Welcome to the future!

So, how do you beat the robotic system?  Focus on the position description.  It’s the key.

Computers are programmed to look for key words on your resume that parallels the key words in a position description.  If you use the same words on your resume, the computer will view you as a viable candidate.  Use different words and your resume will be tossed.  Here are some useful tips:

  1. Use the exact words from the position description on your resume. If the company is looking for a civil engineer, using the word engineer may not cut it
  2. Usually there are 5 to 10 key words or phrases that describe the critical requirements the hiring company is looking for in a candidate: Job Title, degrees, certifications, experiences, industry, company names, computer programs or applications, and so on.
  3. These key words will be noticed quicker and ranked higher if they’re on the first page
  4. Multiple uses of key words increases the likelihood of a fit, especially from past jobs. Algorithms like repetition.
  5. Words like energized, talented, accomplished, loyal, effective and so on are meaningless. Words that are job specific are critical as they match the descriptors.
  6. If a cover letter is requested or required, focus like a laser beam on the key job skills and results that are most likely to get attention.  Personalizing a cover letter or hoping to charm a computer won’t work.

Outsmarting a computer is easy, once you know the tricks. However, to succeed with a personal interview with the hiring manager takes a background with results that match the open position.  If you don’t have the background, you’ll have wasted everyone’s time and your own credibility.

For a FREE  resume critique, send it to:   wkaufmann44@gmail.com
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WHY DO WE QUIT OUR JOBS?

Posted on: December 18th, 2018 by
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There seems to be a major disconnect between what senior managers think is the cause of employees leaving for another company, and the real reason why employees quit. A recent Paycor report identified this disconnect and why employees “fire” their companies.

Executives tend to rationalize why employee’s leave for another job is based on their own prior experiences.  They view it as a career-building move.  While this may be true in some cases, it’s not the major reason, at least not in today’s workforce.  Senior management views the reasons that employees leave their company for another job:

  • To increase their compensation
  • To advance their career to the next level
  • The desire to add responsibilities and perform at a higher level

That may be partially true, but it’s not the main drivers as expressed by employees themselves.  Employees describe their reasons for leaving their job for very different reasons:

  • To get away from a bad boss and find a mentor
  • To become recognized and rewarded as a valued contributor
  • To get a better balance of life between the professional and personal, and avoid “burnout”

A senior manager’s perspective may view high turnover as having nothing to do with the lack of management skills of the people below them.  In other words, “We can’t be that bad for employees wanting to escape to another organization”.

Some executives may not understand the impact and cost of turnover.  Or if they do, may not have the numbers to show them that turnover is very expensive.  If an average employee makes $40,000 a year, and a corporation has 1,000 of them, with a turnover rate of 22%, and the average cost of a replacement is $15,000 (including recruitment, supervisors’ time, training time to get up to speed, lost productivity, the strain on employees who remain to take up the slack, and so on), then the total cost of turnover is at least $3.3 million, and that’s conservative.  Turnover of the most talented and productive employees is not only expensive, but also will significantly affect the results of the business. A turnover at higher levels of mid-management may be closer to $50,000 to $200,000 per change, including relocations.

So, what should be done?

  • Management should track, report and add up the cost of turnover, both voluntary and involuntary, including indirect costs.
  • Identify the root causes of turnover and the areas where high turnover is prevalent. Something is wrong when a supervisor continues to turn over employees consistently.
  • Trend turnover by department, company and comparable to competitors or the industry. How out-of-norm are you and for what reason?  Sometimes it’s a function (like nurses in a healthcare organization) or another supply/demand issue.

Ask yourself, “Do we have a turnover problem, and if so, what’s the cause?”  There is another turnover problem, and that’s when turnover is not high enough.  In other words, the company is retaining unproductive employees.  It’s called “deadwood”.  But that’s for another time.

For a FREE resume critique, send it to:   wkaufmann44@gmail.com


STOP UNPRODUCTIVE MEETINGS

Posted on: December 11th, 2018 by
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Do you find yourself sleepwalking through multiple meetings that you think are a waste of time?  And that time can be better used for more productive efforts?

During a consulting assignment for a large healthcare insurance company, unproductive meetings came up by employees in asking their top 5 impediments to performance. The results caused management to look for a way to reduce meetings by 10%.  The solution actually reduced meetings by 30%, and in some cased by 50%.  Starting at the vice-president level, senior management was asked to implement a new practice down through their organizations.

What was this remarkable revelation?  A lower level supervisor suggested a simple but highly effective approach.  (My experience is that most answers to performance issues are already known within the organization.  What does it take to find answers to barriers of results?  Ask the question of your employees within your own organization. The answers almost always come from the people closest to the problem!)

Here’s what this organization implemented across and down the organization. For each and every meeting that is called, ask these 5 questions.  If any answer comes back negative, then cancel the meeting until all answers are positive.  The questions are:

  1. Is the objective of the meeting clear to all participants? (What do you want to achieve?)
  2. Have you succinctly and clearly defined the issues to be discussed or resolved?
  3. Is all the information necessary to make a decision available to all parties?
  4. Is everyone that is affected by the decision involved in the meeting and fully briefed?
  5. Will all of the potential alternative strategies and implications of the ultimate decision be presented for discussion, and ready for implementation?

One of the added benefits to this approach was the reduction of “politics” around decisions, as everyone has the same information as everyone else. The meeting discussions are open, with an informational format, and no hidden agendas.  Four factors, however, may determine your degree of success:

  1. The group has the authority to make the decision at hand
  2. The group has a common goal, shared by all: To achieve mutually beneficial results.
  3. Everyone gets along reasonably well and can work together
  4. Cell phones or other distractions are not allowed

Who should be the “champion” to implement this kind of process to reduce or stop useless meetings?  Of course the higher the level within an organization, the better the result.   If the top executive implements this process, the chances of success are wider and deeper than at lower levels.  However, experience has shown that a supervisor, manager or director who implements this practice within their unit will be more productive.  They will have a higher performance because of the efficiency of decisions and the effective use of time, as opposed to wasted time in unproductive meetings.

No matter what level you are within an organization, if you’re in charge of a meeting you can become a model for others to follow.

For a FREE resume critique, send it to:   wkaufmann44@gmail.com


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WHAT’S YOUR MARKET VALUE?

Posted on: December 4th, 2018 by
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Are you being paid fairly?  When looking for a higher-level position, how should you answer the compensation question? Your market value has a number of different components to it:  Industry norms, supply/demand, past titles,experiences, geography, the company size and practices, and many more.  Some companies pay at the mid-point of industry averages while others target the 60thpercentile or above, and some are below the 40thpercentile.

 

So how do you go about figuring out your marketplace worth?  Start by accessing four different data points:  One from government, two from surveys and one from colleagues.

 

Government:  There’s an online database from the Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. It has general but useful information for over 800 different occupations.  It will be less specific than other resources, but you’ll get an overall sense of the marketplace and a view of compensation parameters.

 

One online resource:  Glassdoor has an excellent program that will give you information once you input some of your data points such as the job, years of experience, and where you would like to work.  You can modify some of the criteria and play with alternatives, but you can get a fairly good insight into compensation factors.

 

Another online resource:  PayScale is a similar online tool that gives you a useful estimate about what you should be paid, by using the criteria listing of job, experience and location.  The information is gathered by data from users of the system: Those who already have the job for which you are looking, so it’s real-time records.

 

Colleagues:  Talk with your contemporaries who have similar jobs to the one you are searching. Your network of associates, family, neighbors, friends and co-workers all have contacts that may be helpful. What you’ll collect is an assortment of information that needs to be sharpened to best fit your need.

 

In a general sense, your market worth is dependent upon what an organization is willing to pay for what you know and can do for them.  If you have a special skill or experience that few people have, you will be worth more to them.

 

When in an interview situation, I suggest a dual strategy when you’re asked the compensation question, assuming you’ve researched the marketplace data:

 

  • Most jobs that are posted give a position description and a salary number. When asked, “What salary are you looking for”, never give a number. Always give them a range, from X to Y. In that way you have a better negotiating position.
  • You might also say, “I can’t give you a fixed number because I need to compare my total compensation with an offer, including incentives, bonuses, health and other insurance costs, complexity of the work, expectations for results, advancement opportunities and fit.”

 

Your worth in the marketplace is dependent upon many factors.  The greatest factor is your ability to contribute to the success of the job for which you are interviewing.  Demonstrated results are your best negotiating position.

 

For a FREE resume critique, send it to:   wkaufmann44@gmail.com