Posted on: November 15th, 2017 by
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Your cover letter can be an asset or a liability. If it’s a liability that diminishes your candidacy by an ineffective presentation, don’t use one. It’s an asset if the hiring manager is motivated to review your resume. Some critical errors to avoid:


  1. Your cover letter lacks “potency”: Think of your cover letter as an “appetizer” to a terrific meal. If it’s dull and unappealing, the expectations for the resume will be low. View your cover letter as a strong “marketing” vehicle for what’s to come.   Many cover letters read like a book and are ignored or leave a bad impression. Convert it to a convincing endorsement.


  1. The cover letter is too long: Using the cover letter as a narrative about your career is a mistake. The cover letter needs to be short and strong. Match measurable results to the key items in the position description. If they’re looking for an experienced process improvement supervisor, use a bullet point, “A 12% increase in productivity through process improvement technology”. They’ll want to see the how you achieved that result in your resume.


  1. You miss the core of what they need: A generic cover letter misses the opportunity to make a positive impression. The position description will tell you what the hiring manager needs. Matching the critical elements with results will get you noticed. Usually the top 5 items on the position description are the most important. Match them to your measureable results with bullet points of achievement. That will get the hiring manager’s attention.


  1. Overexposure to the word “I”: One individual seldom achieves all results. Show yourself as a “team” player with a unique individual contribution. Focus on what the hiring manager is seeking. Done the right way, the hiring manager will see you as a contributor within a work group. Example: “Your goal of a high performance team reflects my management and operating style”.


  1. Don’t list irrelevant experiences: Don’t wander into side issues that take the hiring manager’s mind off of your competencies. Irrelevant material will draw the reader away from your primary objective. Never criticize your current company. The cover letter should make a positive impression as a prelude to your resume.


  1. Don’t use humor, inflated words or arrogance: Humor can work against you. Inflated words about how great you are can be worse. The worst of all is arrogance. When hyped-up words are used, your veracity is questioned, “How could all those accomplishments be achieved in such a short period of time?”

You’ll never get a second chance to make a good first impression. If the cover letter is not done right, you start from a weak position. In summary, the cover letter should:

    • Highlight three to five key result areas that directly parallels the open position
    • Translate how your experiences can create successes for the hiring manager.

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Posted on: November 7th, 2017 by
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Congratulations! The hiring manager must really be interested in you since you’ve gotten this far in the interview,. If you haven’t been given the opportunity to ask your own questions, your candidacy is over. Hiring managers who aren’t interested in responding to questions you have about the job or the company, isn’t interested in you as a candidate. Or better yet, you shouldn’t be interested in them.


So what are the questions you should ask that will make you a top candidate? Let’s start off with the questions you shouldn’t ask: Questions about compensation, benefits, vacation, moving allowance, bonuses, and the like. Why? These are the items you can discuss and negotiate after you get an offer, not before. When a hiring manager is convinced that you are the best person for the job, that’s the best time for discussion and negotiations.


The questions you should ask at this stage of the interview are those that position you as a competent contributor, who will add value to the organization and achieve results in the short and long term. How do you do that? By asking questions of the hiring manager like:

  • What are the issues that you need to find solutions for in the short term?
  • What performance is expected in order for key results to be achieved?
  • What are the strategies that need to be implemented in the longer term?


This type of question positions you as a results-oriented candidate wanting to know the expectations of the organization, and what you need to do to be a top performer.


The way in which the hiring manager answers these questions will tell you:

  • The depth, extent and complexity of issues you will be facing. Manageable?
  • The expectations of the hiring manager. Too high? Unrealistic time-frame?
  • Your potential success longer term? Opportunity for promotion?
  • The openness of the hiring manager to your questions? Skimpy or free-form?
  • The business acumen of the hiring manager. Can you learn from him?
  • How the hiring manager views your potential. Is he looking for alternatives from you? Does he ask how you would approach the potential solution? Can you translate your past successes to the issues of the open job?


If the hiring manager responds in this way, chances are that you are the top candidate for this position. If he can’t or won’t answer your questions, ask why.


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Posted on: October 31st, 2017 by
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Sometimes we hurt ourselves without really knowing it. A bad resume is one of those times. Here are some ways we hurt our chances of finding a better job, and what to do about it.


OVERUSED WORDS – Self-congratulatory words diminish your candidacy, like: Highly qualified, hard worker, problem solver, people person, self-starter, and so on. Your professional references should use these words, not you. Rather, define your achievements, like: Increased revenue by 10.2% within 15 months, or reduced cost by 3.7% through process improvement.



  • You don’t match up with the requirements of the open position. You can save yourself a great deal of disappointment if you parallel at least 70% of the position description. Anything less and your wasting your time. The higher the percent the greater your chances.
  • You don’t fit the culture. Everyone has a “sweet spot”: An industry and organization where they are comfortable and can contribute. The further out from your core, the more difficulty.
  • Your expectations are too high. Most hiring managers won’t take a risk with someone below a 60% chance of success, and only with someone who has been successful before.
  • Your resume reads well for the hiring manager but not for his boss. The bosses boss is usually looking for a longer term contributor which may not be on the position description
  • Your resume and your social media information are not compatible or say different things. The hiring organization won’t take the time to sort it out when they have other candidates.



  • If you send a photo or a “head shot” as part of your resume. The company is only interested in your achievements, not looks. However, Germany, France and Italy seek photos
  • Resumes that have large gaps in the work history. Unless you can explain “holes” in your resume, companies won’t take the time to hear your story.
  • Negative comments in your resume are poison to hiring organizations. You want to build a positive image of your achievements, not negative comments about bosses or employers
  • If you list your “demands” on the resume, chances it will be tossed, like: “I’m looking for a Directors title”, or a compensation level above the going rate, or other front-end demands
  • E-mail addresses that are frowned upon, like:, or Joker12 @….., or JustMarried@…… or BurningRubber@… and so on. Use an email address that projects a professional persona.
  • Paragraphs and narratives that run on too long without defining achievements or results. Just listing activities or responsibilities does not impress hiring managers. They usually find them boring and commonplace among all the other resumes. Yours resume must stand out.


Your resume and the words you use must project competence and potential. Identify your contributions, market your results, then minimize the things that diminish your image and you’ll do great.


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Posted on: October 24th, 2017 by
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Ever wonder why your career isn’t getting the kind of traction you need? You may be making mistakes that automatically put your career in a stall. Assess your career against some of these common errors to see if you can ignite a new outcome.


#1 – Your Start Point – Careers are sidetracked because they’re started by what’s convenient rather than what’s strategically smart. Some jobs are easy to acquire but get you nowhere. Your career direction is hard to change once you’re in it.

#2 – Passion – Many talented individuals find themselves in a job, company or industry that they don’t find energizing and for which they can’t develop a passion. Very successful people have a passion for what they do. Lacking passion means a lack of success.


#3 – Point of Focus – Focus on a high level of performance or you’ll fall short of expectations. Your energy has to be centered on what you can do for the organization, rather than what they can do for you. It’s a relationship based on mutual results.

#4Shorter-term Steps – Don’t start by looking at an ultimate long-range goal that may be out of reach, without obtaining shorter-term objectives as stepping-stones. Every dream is achievable through a series of successes that take you to the next step forward.


#5Key Results – Hiring managers want to know what makes you different. Is it a long list of your responsibilities? No, because everyone has those. Is it your pay level? No, because you may be overpaid. It’s your results! No one can replicate your achievements.

#6 Poor strategy – You may stay too long in an industry or job and fall behind or not have enough time to gain the experience you need for the next level. If you’re in the wrong industry, get out as soon as possible. Too much time and you’ll be pigeonholed.


#7Underestimating Your Value – Value is determined by expectations, contributions and time. High performance must be defined, measured and communicated.

#8Articulation – If you can’t effectively communicate your contributions, how can a potential boss see your value? You must “market” your experiences, value and your worth.


#9Lack of a Network – Most jobs are found through people you know and who understand your potential. Others need to help you find the next job. Networking is critical.

#10 – Never, Ever Give Up – As they say, “It only takes one”. You may apply to 100 job openings, but the one that is tailor made for you has to be discovered. Keep digging.


In summary:

  • Take time to discover your passion/strengths and what you really want to do
  • Design your strategies and focus on the next two steps
  • Learn how to present your value in a way that is relevant to your targets
  • Align yourself with the companies that best fit your career direction and style
  • Find a mentor to pull you up and mentor those below who will push you up your career


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Posted on: October 17th, 2017 by
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Having a career plan is essential to achieve your career goal. A flexible career plan should:

  • Target your ultimate goal
  • Identify where you are now
  • Define the multiple steps and the skills needed at each step to get to your ultimate goal
  • Outline the range of months or years needed at each step


You should also understand the “stall points” that indicate if you need to recalibrate your dream. Maybe your current job turns out to be a disaster or you can’t find the perfect job at the next step. Other times you may need to change your industry. Each example will impede your career plan.

So, what are the key questions you need to ask of yourself? Here are a few:

  • Do I see opportunities where I am, or somewhere else? Will I stall out if I stay?
  • Do I have unique skills that are in demand or have the same skills as everyone else? You must differentiate yourself from all others.
  • Do I have the educational background or certifications to position me above the rest? In a tie, the one with the most credential usually wins.
  • Are your strengths pushing you up the ladder or are your weaknesses pulling you down? Lead with your strengths but shore up your weaknesses.
  • Are you still energized at day’s end or worn-out? Passion and the love of what you do are the drivers of any career plan.
  • Is the company and your boss supporting you? Support has to come from somewhere.
  • Look for the signs of success or lack thereof. Just like a baseball batter, you may keep fouling off the ball, but you’re still at bat. Striking out a dozen times is a pattern of concern.
  • You can’t change functions or industries without a cost in time and momentum. Moving from finance to marketing or mining to consumer goods is very difficult and costly in time lost.


What do I do if my dream becomes unreachable?

  • First, check it out to make sure it can’t be reached:
  • Talk with someone who is either at the step above you or a person who has achieved your ultimate goal. They should be able to give you some insight about your alternatives.
  • Talk to friends, family and colleagues that you trust. It could be very simple like a needed certification, the way you dress or your current compensation (too high or too low).
  • Adjust your ultimate goal. Instead of a CFO position for a Fortune 500 company, it’s a CFO position in a mid-sized corporation or a division CFO of a large corporation.


Take a deep breadth and objectively assess your current situation. Talk with a recruiter in your specific field. A recruiter knows how you stack up against your competition. But be ready for information that may be difficult, as your self-assessment may fall short of what you want to hear.


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