Posted on: May 23rd, 2017 by
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What’s the cost of making the wrong decision after accepting a job? What can you do about it?

For the company, making the wrong decision is an inconvenience. For the individual, the cost is extensive. It can take 3 or more years to make it up. You always have to explain it to future companies. So what can you do when you find out you’re in the wrong job or company? Here are a few options to consider:

1. Research the marketplace. What are the transferrable skills you have developed that are usable in a new or different role? How does your current compensation compare to the job you want to move into? Design an overall job search strategy so the time between jobs is as short as possible.

2. Sit down with your bosses. Not a pleasant alternative, but it may be the best one. The reason? If it’s obvious to you that it’s not working out, it’s also obvious to your bosses. Both you and the company want to make it as painless as possible. Some options to consider (assuming a termination is not “for cause”:

• Work out a transition plan for the next 6 months: You produce results while looking for another job. The company can begin their search early. This option will work some places, but not all.
• Move to another internal job or project where there would be value produced in the interim. You have to have a good and trusting relationship for this to work.
• Cut a deal for severance in cash, so you have the freedom to openly search full time, while having a financial cushion while you do it.

3. Contact your previous employer. They may not have filled your prior job and would love to have you back. This is assuming you left under very positive conditions and relationships. Of course if that alternative works, you will be leaving your current company in a lurch. This option can also have implications to your reputation in the industry. Be careful of any legal complications if you have access to proprietary or strategic information.

4. Go back to your job search strategy and reinvigorate your contacts. Many times there were 3 or 4 jobs for which you had been interviewing and they haven’t yet found the right candidate. Usually jobs come to you in cycles, with other job opportunities still in phase one of an initial contact. Re-contact these companies and continue on with the process. You only have a short period of time to determine whether you’ve made a mistake or not. It’s hard to go back to the marketplace and start all over again after more than 3 months.

Bad hiring decisions are costly to everyone involved. That’s why the hiring process usually takes so long. It’s why “fit” is so important, especially to the individual. Companies can usually recover much more quickly than you can.

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Posted on: May 16th, 2017 by
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Hard skills qualify you for a job early in your career. Soft skills dictate how high you’ll move up the ladder. In mid-career you need a balance of both. Why the differences?


HARD SKILLS: When in the early part of your career you’ll need a set of hard skills that are translatable into results for which organizations are looking. Unless you can contribute to the hands-on “doing” part of the business, you’ll be disadvantaged. Hard skills are also progressive over time: You’ll need more complex and a higher order of expanding skills. Learn to master your craft first. Without hard skill experiences, your future is dependent upon someone else’s knowledge and know-how (you won’t know if a task is being done correctly).


However, hard skills will only get you so far. Soft skills will get you the rest of the way


SOFT SKILLS: These are the skills that you’ll need as you interact with others. The interaction and communications can be with customers, bosses, subordinates, peers, work groups, shareholders or anyone else that you need to associate, connect, cooperate or negotiate. The soft skills are needed to effectively supervise and then manage people in a cooperative effort. Soft skills may be harder to master because unlike hard skills, there may be no one to give you instructions or provide you with objective feedback on your soft skills.


Senior managers have all learned soft skills at a high level, and they know the questions to ask around hard skills because they’ve already mastered many of the hard skills beforehand.


MID-CAREER: A BALANCE: Once you’ve mastered the hard skills in your function you start interfacing with others to achieve a higher-level result. The greater the dependence you have from others, the greater the need for effective soft skills. The manager of a department or the vice-president of a function can never achieve the results expected by operating as a sole contributor. Collective results are only possible through the combined efforts of others. It’s the soft skills of the manager that will get high performance, not the individual manager’s hard skills.


So what are the steps to accelerate career direction?


  1. Get as much education and experience in the mastery of a functional field
  2. Achieve the highest level as an individual contributor, along with as much awards, degrees and certifications as possible
  3. Receive as much training and development in the knowledge and skills within the art of supervision and the management of people
  4. Get an advanced degree if possible (MBA) or certification in a broad based application, like PMP (Project Management Professional) Lean Certification (a Black Belt or process management), Forensic Accounting, Logistics, SalesForce, etc…
  5. Practice your soft skills in all of your personal and professional life.       These skills are usable in most all situations.


Hard skills are easier to obtain, but soft skills will move your career to your ultimate goal.


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Posted on: May 9th, 2017 by
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Some job categories are projected to grow substantially in the next 10 years, while other job categories are shrinking. Women dominate some jobs while men dominate others. The jobs that are shrinking for men: Manufacturing and agriculture. They are projected to lose more jobs, although the Trump administration has vowed to bring in more manufacturing jobs.


For women: Telephone or switchboard operators and garment workers, especially operators of sewing machines, a typical starting point for low skilled workers.


Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs that are projected to grow at twice the rate are tilted toward female dominated work: Healthcare (nurses, occupational and physical therapists, personal care aides, home health services, physician assistants, etc…). For men, the fastest growing jobs are: Ambulance and emergency medical technicians, financial advisors, website or computer developers, brick masons and security related jobs.


Given this information, four strategies emerge that can affect your career decisions:

  1. Stay away from the job categories that are shrinking and focus on the job growth categories
  2. Concentrate on the categories that will grow the fastest for your sex: Male or female
  3. A counter-intuitive strategy: Go after the jobs that typically are dominated by the opposite sex, as you will be viewed as having a competitive advantage. Example: Male nurses.
  4. Those with more education tended to do better in the higher growth job categories, no matter what the job.


However, there are some downsides to watch out for:

  1. As more women enter jobs that are dominated by women, the pay tends to fall behind
  2. As men enter jobs that are dominated by women, the pay tends to move ahead
  3. The pay level between men to women tends to spread, although women’s pay tends to be higher than before.


So, what are some career strategies?

  1. No matter what your job category, get as much education as you can. It can only help you in the longer term with pay raises and promotions. Education not only includes diplomas and degrees, but also certifications, courses, advanced training, development programs, and outside exposure like toastmasters, non-profit volunteering and company activities.
  2. Focus on high growth industries, functions and jobs. Some higher paying jobs may be hidden in plain site and need talented people: Forensic accounting, technical sales, logistics analysts, home health care supervisors, personal aides, and so on.
  3. Consider jobs in a career that are dominated by the opposite sex:       Computers for women and healthcare for men. Most job categories that are dominated by one sex are looking to balance the male to female ratio. There are always situations that require either the male or female approach, whether it be selling automobiles or managing health care.


Do you homework, research your alternatives and be flexible when choosing a new or different career direction. Investigate the possibilities and keep an open mind.


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Posted on: May 2nd, 2017 by
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Everyone has a story about their job: Colleagues, bosses, competitors, questionable decisions, holiday parties, and the people you work with every day. But the most important stories are those that you tell during an interview for another job, hopefully a promotion. So which story is the best one? Which story positions you as a finalist candidate? What mistakes do you want to avoid?


THE BEST STORIES are those that show the differences between what the measureable results were “before” you assumed your current position and then “after” you increased performance results after a period of time. For example: “The department had a turnover of 20%. During my first month I held small group meetings to find out what the issues were, along with their ideas to problem-solve turnover, attitudes and performance. Within 18 months, turnover dropped to 7.5% and productivity increased by 12%. I am very proud of my unit and their teamwork in solving our issues.”


What does this little story tell your interviewers?

  • You focus on key issues of performance immediately with your work group
  • You are engaging and participative with your employees to solve departmental issues
  • You manage through a style of teamwork
  • You measure your results


Most everyone has a “before” and “after” story to tell but don’t know how to put it into words or put it together in a meaningful way. You need to have measureable results that you can validate and build into your “story”.


THE WOST STORIES are those that depict mitigating factors that prevent you from performing at a higher level: A boss, subordinates, peers, policies, politics, or constraints outside of your control. For example: “I could have been more successful in my current job if my boss would have given me more authority. He tends to be a micromanager, which is why I’m looking for another position where I can truly demonstrate my abilities”.


What does this story tell your interviewers?

  • They don’t know whether these reasons are true or a fabrication. There’s no validation.
  • Why doesn’t your current supervisor trust your judgment and watches your every move?
  • They would be taking a risk in hiring you. Can they afford to hire an unknown?
  • Other candidates are less of a risk.


My experience is that candidates who project their shortcomings on other people or events have a less than 50/50 chance of success. They usually don’t make it past the first interview.


When you have 3, 4 or 5 of the BEST stories ready for an interview, your chances for a second interview go up dramatically. However, be ready for the question, ”What specifically did you do to make it happen?” In other words, the interviewer will want to know what the specific steps you took, and how you achieved the results you said you obtained. If you can’t answer that question, your credibility goes down, along with your chances for a second interview.


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Posted on: April 25th, 2017 by
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You have a reputation, whether you want one or not. Basically, a reputation is what others think of you. What’s your “reputation”? How did you get it? How can a tarnished reputation hurt you?


There are many different types of “reputations” that professionals can get.   Some are good, while others are not. Make sure your reputation is first-rate and not tarnished by factors that you can’t control. Most all of your reputation is within your power to manage. You need to be aware of people, situations and conditions that add or subtract from that precious commodity called “your reputation”.


POSITIVE: Manage your reputation proactively, whether it’s with your current or past employers, association memberships, educational institutions and so on. The most obvious factor reflecting on your reputation is the references from past bosses. Keep those positive, as these references tend to stay with you for a long time. Professional associations are also points of references that are of value. The most accepted references to your reputation are from professional peers who can attest to your competence, potential, ability and interpersonal relations as a member of a productive team.


NEGATIVE: All the items in the Positive listing above can be turned into a negative: Current or past bosses, professional relationships with peers, or being a difficult person to work with. Of course it’s easier to manage these factors in real time rather than trying to fix an opinion after the fact. You can, however, influence some negative experiences by providing positive actions like: Letting them know about promotional jobs you’ve heard about, supporting ideas of peers you usually disagree with, make positive comments about their project within a group meeting. In other words, make nice.


MONITORING: Check on all of your social media profiles, even those of your friends. College classmates may have photos or stories that may be misunderstood by others. Your reputation can be compromised by a Tweet or Facebook post and cause an image management nightmare. Periodically check your LinkedIn profile to make sure it’s accurate, especially if you have a resume in the hands of a potential employer. Any differences between the two, especially dates, responsibilities or unaccountable time-lines will cause your candidacy to be stopped.   Also, make a copy of your personnel file. Know what’s in there.


CHANGES: It’s always better to anticipate changes that need to be made to your reputation than to react to events. Pre-solve a potential problem. Once an event takes place it takes an enormous effort to modify or reverse the effects to your reputation. On the other hand, anything that’s positive to your reputation, develop a strategy to expand the communication or enhance the exposure. Example: If you receive a professional award, send that information to your alumni association, local newspaper and put it on your resume.


You control about 90% of your reputation by managing it well and monitoring your public exposure

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