DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF!

Posted on: October 27th, 2020 by
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Who ever thought that a virus would determine your work and career?  Professionals are forced to work away from the office, cut off from their coworkers, customers and managers, and in some cases unemployed.  Some careers are postponed for a year or so, while other careers are changed forever.

It’s time for some critical review and decision making.  Few of us like to critically assess our jobs, performance or career choices. But some of the highest paid professionals count on critical feedback to improve their performance.  Superstar athletes have a coach and fans that gives them immediate feedback, famous actors have a coach and an audience, apprentices and journeymen have a master performer to learn from, and successful business leaders usually had a mentor.

Critical feedback improves results to help achieve realistic expectations.  One way to learn is by assessing mistakes, then finding a new and better solutions. Insecure individuals may not want to hear negative feedback even though it could be information that would be the most helpful.  Successful people seek out those who will tell them the hard, cold truth, by which they can improve and thereby advance their careers.

 

Most high performers are seeking new and better ways to improve.  In that way, dissatisfaction is an asset. High performers set themselves apart from all others by being flexible to change.  This can take the form of a higher degree, additional certifications, seeking a career that is in high demand with a low supply, take on-line courses, join industry associations or study new techniques or applications in their field of expertise.

 

Those who are fully satisfied with their lot in life may not act to improve it. The problem with this approach to a career strategy, is that over time they fall behind, get stale with the same skills or doing the same thing and hope to get better results.

 

So, what differentiates you from all others?  What sets you apart?  It must be unique enough that only a small number of professionals can match.  When you apply to an open position, there is only one reason why you get hired and the others don’t:  You have a skill, experience, or result that the hiring manager wants, that other candidates don’t.

 

How do you find out what that “unique something” is?  The answer is to assess open job position descriptions.  First, you need to match at least 75% of the initial 10 items listed.  Second, your experiences need to demonstrate solutions to the issues of the hiring manager.  Both have to be demonstrated with measurable results from past jobs.  If you can’t add value, you’re not going to be considered.

 

You need to know what the differentiators are that set you apart from all others.  If you don’t know, you better find out.  Spend less time cultivating activities that are not needed. Focus on the outcomes that hiring managers require in order for them to meet their goals.

 

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


YOUR NEW JOB STRATEGY

Posted on: October 20th, 2020 by
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Did you know that even with high unemployment there are an equal amount of jobs that are going unfilled? There’s a mismatch between the skills that are needed and skills being offered.  You need to emphasize the skills and experiences that are in demand, not what you think is important. Tailor your resume to the job description of the position you want.

 

There are four basic actions you need to take:

 

  • Determine the skills and experiences that employers are looking for from position descriptions of jobs you want. Then describe a similar solution you have achieved. Identify your unique skills.  The hiring manager wants to know what you can do better than most others in your field. Organizations are hunting for talent that can help them solve their immediate and future problems. You need to be specific. Identify your major strengths, expertise and unique skills that you bring to a hiring manager.  What solutions have you implemented in a prior job that can be applied to the open job?

 

  • Write a compelling resume. Once you’ve identified what employers are looking for in a candidate, accentuate the results you’ve achieved on your resume.  Put a Professional Summary of Results at the top of your resume.  Give examples of accomplishments you have made along with the skills and solutions you will bring to an employer. Create a “compelling” resume by focusing on results from past jobs that match those on the position description.  Define your uniqueness and qualities that differentiate you from other candidates.

 

  • Expand your connect points: Don’t underestimate the power of networking when it comes to finding new opportunities. Join professional associations, connect with people in the field or company you’re interested in working for through LinkedIn.  Attend on-line conferences and social gatherings.  Although most people don’t like to network, focus on creating relationships and connections to help each other.  Ask each contact for at least two additional connections.  Expand your network at least 2 to 3 times its current size.

 

  • Reach out for new contacts by introducing yourself and explain that you’re interested in learning more about their industry and what’s going on. Ask for information, not a job. Use a series of questions like, “What’s going on in your industry?”  Who is growing/ shrinking?”  Who is looking for talent?  In what areas?  For people you haven’t contacted for a while, ask them if they would like to catch up and maybe help each other.

 

Ask questions of potential employers to make sure it’s the right fit for you. Questions like:

  • “What are the expectations for results in the first 6 to 12 months in the new position?”
  • “How is performance measured?” “What are the benchmarks for progress?”
  • “What do you see as the impediments to high performance?”

 

A job search can take three to five months on average.  One of my clients took 36 days.  We found the right job, at the right time, for the right person.

 

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


IMPROVE YOUR INTERVIEW

Posted on: October 13th, 2020 by
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How do you improve your interviewing skills?  First, you have to want to improve.  Second, you need a plan.  Third, you need to practice to become proficient.  There are three primary ways to assess your interview performance in order to improve:

  • Self-analysis – Video tape or record a practice interview with a coach or mentor, with answers to questions you know will be asked (see below)
  • Feedback from job interviews – If you get turned down after an interview, thank the interviewer and ask for feedback: Were you missing a skill or experience?  Were you not a fit?  Was there an internal candidate?  Many times, they will help you.
  • Sit down with a coach, mentor or role model and review the questions you were asked and your answers. Review and modify your answers.  Many times, the questions from interviews will be similar or repetitive.  Assess and refine your answers for the next interview that will position you better.

 

There are a number of different interview opportunities:

  • Telephone interview – From a check-list of key experiences paralleling the job specs
  • First one-on-one interview – In-depth questions into your background/experiences from your resume, and non-resume questions around strengths and weaknesses
  • Second interview – Usually to find out if you fit the culture and operating team
  • Third interview – Meet the boss’s boss, other key players and maybe an offer

 

Here are some of the questions you need to ask yourself after the interview:

  • How far did you make it through the interview cycle? Why not further?
  • What went right / wrong? What questions gave you the most trouble?
  • What would you do differently? The approach?  The content?  The relationship?
  • How can you better prepare? There are about 50 most asked questions that are non-resume related.  Make a list of what you think will be asked and practice your responses.  Take each line of your resume and ask, “What will be the questions about this line item?”  Develop your answers before the question is asked.

 

Don’t take a turndown personally.  Usually when you come in second, it’s because:

  • An internal employee was chosen – less risk for them, but potentially less reward
  • A recommended candidate was chosen – more risk and potentially more reward
  • A hire from the outside – the most risk and potentially the greatest reward

 

Add to your skills set:  Experience a TED talk; research new approaches to your function; take a free online seminar; get an on-line certification in your field; take an on-line course in your functional area; attend industry events on-line; join an industry/functional association; network opportunities; expand your network; seek referrals; contact the alumni and career offices from university.  They may know or have contacts that you can use.

 

The greatest gift you can give yourself for your job search is to create a compelling resume and improve your interviewing skills.  Then practice the best answers to questions you know will be asked.  Your next job is waiting for you.

 

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


ARE YOU STILL RELEVANT?

Posted on: October 6th, 2020 by
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With Covid-19, there seems to be a split in today’s marketplace.  In fact, there appears to be two.  First, some group of workers are making a lot more money while another group is making a lot less.  Second, some jobs are accelerating and are in great demand with less supply of talent, while other jobs are being eliminated or reduced with less demand and more supply. What’s going on?

 

Part of the answer is the result of the pandemic.  A survey commissioned by Amazon found that 61% of Americans are on the lookout for new jobs.  Why?  Some jobs aren’t well suited for working remotely or workers don’t have the skills or temperament for remote work.  Some workers are on furlough because they are in a shrinking industry.  Whatever the cause, there is a major shift between the “haves” (those that have the skills and experiences in the right industries to thrive) and the “have-nots (those who don’t).

 

Why would Amazon sponsor a survey like this one?  Well if you read the news, Amazon is looking to fill 33,000 jobs of skilled and experienced workers that pay on average $150,000 a year.  These jobs fall into the category of those who are in high demand but have low supply.  There is a skills and experience gap that Amazon is trying to fill.

 

The other side of the marketplace are those who don’t have the relevant skills or experience in the high demand jobs.  Over 25% of those surveyed are foretelling that their jobs will be gone within the next 5 years.  These are the workers who must develop a new set of skills, either through their own initiative (on-line, tech centers, courses at local schools) or through training programs (provided by larger companies, state or local agencies or the federal programs).

 

So, what are the industries that have a high need for workers but a low supply?  Technology of all kinds is one of the major areas of need in almost all industries.  Healthcare workers of all kind are also a high need industry.  Workers or managers who enjoy and are successful working remotely in industries that want to transition away from the office environment, like project management, sales, customer relations, or new business development.

 

What are the industries to stay away from?   Brick and mortar retail at this point in time (while on-line retail is flourishing), the travel and related businesses (airplanes, buses, stop-overs, hotels/motels, restaurants) and to a lesser degree the service business (however, services that are required like plumber, electrician, or delivery are maintaining their relevancy).

 

What does all this mean for you?  Common sense should drive you in the right direction. Assess what industries are in demand, what skills you have that might apply, how and where can you improve your skills and experiences and develop a strategy to get you to where you want to go to be successful.  Design your future for tomorrow’s work world, not yesterday’s.

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


HANDLING A KEY QUESTION

Posted on: September 29th, 2020 by
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BOSS:  Can you lead as a manager and not be popular at times?

CANDIDATE:  I work well with teams, have high performance and get results

BOSS:   I need someone who can kick butt and take names

CANDIDATE:  There may be other ways to get better performance

BOSS:  As a leader, like me, are you willing to be disliked?

CANDIDATE:  You must be a GREAT leader!

 

Some bosses may not like the answers to their questions.  It’s better if you’re prepared for the questions that you know will be asked, and are ready with the best answer possible.  One of the questions that is almost always asked is: “Why are you looking to leave your current job?”

 

Here are couple of guidelines to follow, then some examples of potential answers:

  • Don’t ramble as it sounds like your making something up on the spot. Keep it short.
  • Never go negative on your current boss or organization. Never assign shortfall performance as the fault of others.  It shows a lack of taking responsibility.
  • Talk about the goals you want to attain and how you want to move toward greater responsibilities. Maybe you’re limited in expanding your current role.
  • Focus on the qualities that you bring to the new organization, especially past experiences that can be applied to this open position.

 

Depending upon the persona you want to present, these examples may help:

  • “I haven’t been looking for a new position, but was contacted by a recruiter (or another professional) who thought I’d be a good fit. It matches my skill sets and experiences. The opportunities for added responsibilities was very attractive.”
  • “I’ve been testing the marketplace because I don’t see a great deal of growth in my field with my current employer. I want to contribute at a higher level.”
  • “My skills and results are best utilized in a growth mode, as my high-performance record shows. Currently we’re focused on only maintaining our competitive position.”
  • “I’ve been with ABC Company for 6 years with great performance reviews and major contributions to the company’s success. I don’t see a career path opening up and am looking for a new opportunity to contribute at a higher level.”

 

One word of caution:  Be careful not to say anything that can be challenged or your unable to verify through documentation.  If you say that you, “Improved performance of your unit by 10% by changing the way the company does business”, the response will be questions like, “What did you do?”  “How did you do it” “Were you a part of a team or by yourself?”   “How much did it cost” “How do you know you improved performance by 10%”. Be prepared to answer these questions.

 

When you look at your resume, do three things:

  • For each line of your resume, what questions would you ask as a hiring manager?
  • Prepare answers for each of those questions
  • What 2 or 3 follow-up questions is the hiring manager bound to ask?

 

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