Posted on: November 19th, 2019 by
Comments Requested

A shakeup can mean a number of different things:  Reorganization, demotion, termination, to name a few. The results of a shakeup are usually the same: Confusion, disappointment and deflation.  A shakeup can be very unsettling, but it’s not the end of your career.  In fact, your recovery can be the beginning of a new trajectory upward.  There are certain steps you must take if you plan to reengage and transcend your negative experience.  The objective now is to put the pieces back together again, then come out the other end better than where you were before.


To start, put the past behind you emotionally.  You must objectively assess why you were caught in the shakeup and what you might have done differently.  It’s not that you can redo history, but you can neutralize the affects and rationally help yourself defuse the self-doubt or guilt.  A shakeup does not define you.  It’s an event to learn from, then move forward with a positive strategy.


Second, you need to find a way to communicate the situation to others when they ask.  And they will ask, especially when looking for another job.  The interviewer will want to know what happened.  Your response to the question needs to be short and honest.  Keep your confidence level up and give your reasoning in as light a way as possible.  Be careful not to speak negatively about the organization or your boss.  If you lower your voice, eyes and posture, it’s a sure sign of blame.  To be caught up in a reorganization, merger or staff reduction is very understandable to most everyone.


The most difficult response is when an employee is terminated “for cause”, which usually means breaking a major policy or an illegal or immoral act.  Most companies don’t prosecute offending employees, but they do terminate without pay, which is the giveaway.


Third, keep your answers generic and at a high level like, “The culture was incompatible with my ability to perform.” or  “I was put in a situation without training or supervision and lacked the tools and experience to be successful.”  Then continue the discussion about the open job and why you are an excellent candidate.  Nothing is more convincing than citing your measurable results that demonstrate expertise, ability and potential.


Lastly, define those skills and experiences that make you an outstanding potential candidate for the new position.  Your job search strategy should focus on those attributes for which the hiring organization is looking.  Moving to a lateral position or even a lesser job is sometimes a better strategy than trying to move to a higher level.  Demonstrate success before taking the next step up.  The worse thing that can happen is if you’re not successful in your next job.  Then you have two negative examples to explain.


Recovering from a shakeup is highly likely with the right attitude.  You’ll need a positive and dynamic strategy that works.  Examine alternative strategies with a coach.


For a FREE critique of your resume, send it to:


Posted on: November 12th, 2019 by
Comments Requested

References are usually the last documentation before an offer.  Make sure your references communicate what the hiring organization is looking for in a candidate.


Personal references should only be used if you have no work-related experiences. References that are not work-related have little value to a potential employer. All a personal reference can say is, “This is a nice person”.  One exception that could make sense is if the reference giver is well known by the hiring manager.


Professional references are directly related to your work experiences and past employers. References usually come from bosses.  The higher the level, the higher the value that others ascribe to it.  A good reference from a president is usually “worth more” than a good reference from a manager in the same organization.


First, always ask your potential reference if they are willing to provide you a favorable recommendation. Do not put a reference in the awkward position of a surprise telephone call from a potential employer about you, without their permission.  If you can, delay giving the names of your references until near the end of the interviewing process. You don’t want multiple companies contacting your references at the same time.  It could prove awkward.


Differentiate yourself through your references – Only references can provide valuable information to confirm the positive results you’ve achieved from your past experiences.  You need to help your references match the requirements of the new job to your past experiences.  Explain to the reference what you’re interviewing for and why.  In this way they have the background necessary to contribute value about you to the new organization.  Provide your reference with the key duties of the new job and how your prior work ties directly to the work you are seeking.  Offer to write up a brief list of talking points, along with the results you have achieved that will link to the job you are pursuing.  In that way, the information that your references provide are a direct connection to the requirements of the open job.  This will enhance your credibility and advance your candidacy if it’s done the right way, by the right person.


One last point:  Employers will usually contact prior companies to check out your documented compensation, dates of hire, separation and any other information they can get. Be careful not to inflate or fabricate information on your resume or during your interviews.  If your compensation is XXX, don’t say it’s XXX +10% in the hopes of negotiating a higher income.  You may come to regret it.  Some companies will Google your name on the web or go into your social media sites to see what’s there and how it compares to what they have been told. If the information is different, you may find it difficult to talk it away, especially if the dates of hire or cause for separation is dissimilar.


Great references can advance your candidacy.  Make them work to your advantage.


For a FREE critique of your resume, send it to:


Posted on: November 5th, 2019 by
Comments Requested

Most clients I work with are looking for a more rewarding and satisfying position, at a higher level, while working toward their career goal.  When I first work with a new client I ask standard questions to assess the basic facts, such as:

  • What are you doing now and why do you want to seek another position?
  • Are you open to a relocation? Where or where not?
  • What’s the total compensation you’re looking for in a new position?
  • What are your “must haves”, “nice to have”, and “avoids” in your next job?


The next requested information sets the tone and direction of the job search strategy:

  • Provide a list of the top 5 accomplishments you achieved over your entire career.
  • These will be the achievements that you are most proud of, where the results were outstanding in the eyes of the organization.


Usually these are the items most prominently positioned on the resume.  Why?  Our goal is to match high performance results from the past, that match the key needs of the hiring manager required for success in the future.  The value of a resume is to match these accomplishments with the items on the position description of an organization that is looking for someone like you.  You need to show that you can achieve similar results for them, only at a higher organizational level.  Those performance levels gain the attention of upper management and accelerates your career to higher positions.


My experience is if you love what you’re doing, you’ll achieve high performance.  On the other hand, if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, your performance will show it and others will move ahead of you when promotions are handed out.  That’s why it’s critical that you be in the right position, for the right reason, and be able to be a high performer in the right organization.


Other than high performance, the second characteristic for which a hiring manager is looking is someone who will integrate or “fit” nicely into their organization.  If you don’t fit the culture of the new organization, both you and the hiring manager will regret the hiring decision.  A highly participative individual who expects to be involved in a team effort may find themselves with a bureaucracy and autocratic management that prevents working together.  You will be unhappy and significantly less productive.  Being out of synch with the organizational culture forces you to either change your most effective operating style or fight the system. Fight or flight.


Pride in your work requires a number of factors:  Results that are noteworthy within a compatible culture to achieve success.  The two primary keys to reach your career goal are past results and finding the right culture that supports high performance


For a FREE critique of your resume, send it to:


Posted on: October 29th, 2019 by
Comments Requested

Want to learn about higher level jobs and how to reach the next rung on the career ladder?  How do you get information without the stress of actually pursuing an open job?  It’s called an “informational interview”.


Informational interviews provide you with candid feedback to questions you have about your next higher job from those who would know:  People already in the position or those who manage the position to which you aspire.


Your first question might be, “Why do I need an informational interview?”  Two reasons:

  1. You’ll get useful material and answers to questions without applying for a job
  2. The more information you receive about needed skills and experience, the better prepared you will be and the more practiced your interviewing skills.


CONNECTING – You can learn a great deal from those already in the job to which you aspire.  They are in the best position to be a potential source of information.  You probably know a few sources or your contacts know them.  Make a list and prioritize them by industry and company, as they should be the greatest interest to you. Reach out and connect with them by email.


THE APPROACH – Making contact with those you know is easy.  For new contacts, start out by referencing your mutual contact (if you have permission to do so).  If not, simply state, “Your name came to me as someone who is successful and understands what’s going on in your function.  I’m interested in learning about the work you do and the skills I may need to achieve the next stage in my career.  I am NOT looking for a job, just information.  I promise not to take more than 30 minutes during a morning coffee, lunch, or a quick phone call.”  Mention something about your background/experiences so they have a gauge as to where you are in your career.  Suggest some alternative dates or times to meet, or connect by phone, then ask for their help.


QUESTIONS TO ASK – Be prepared with focused questions and not a random walk.  Do some research about the industry, company and/or function so as not to sound like a neophyte.  Questions like:  What career path did you follow?  Given where I am now, what skills or experience should I pursue in order to be ready for the next level?  What are the satisfactions and frustrations of the job?  Don’t ask for a job.  If you do, then the reason for your meeting would be a dishonest one.  However, if you’re asked about your time-line, say that you would entertain a move within the year for the right job.


STAY CONNECTED – If your meeting was successful, ask if you can stay in touch.  If yes, a note once in a while to mention where you are in your career and time-line.  It could lead to information about where the jobs are or an actual job opening.  Those kinds of connects can work both ways over time.


A network of higher-level professionals in your industry or function is never a bad thing.


For a FREE critique of your resume, send it to:


Posted on: October 22nd, 2019 by
Comments Requested

Most career narratives talk about what to do to be successful.  I’d like to take an opposite approach:  Identify issues to avoid or manage effectively so your career isn’t stifled.  The following list may be helpful.


  • PERFORMANCE – Why would anyone want to hire an under-performer? Your past is a prelude to your future.  Ideally, a hiring manager wants to hire someone who has successfully achieved the needed results from somewhere else to apply to their job.
  • LACK OF ADVOCATES – If you don’t have a network of supporters, referrals, or connections into the marketplace, half of your job search strategy is eliminated. Your connections from past relationships are a major conduit to your next job.
  • FAMILY ISSUES – A family that refuse to relocate limits job opportunities to only the local market. If you’re in a big city, the chances to find a competitive job is higher than in a small isolated town. Unhappy spouses affect careers. I’ve been lucky.


  • WRONG SKILLS – Skills that only apply within a certain industry that is in decline will lack opportunity. A journalism major who is writing obituaries for three years may not see promotional opportunities. A supply of talent must be in demand.
  • WRONG INDUSTRY / COMPANY / FUNCTION – Care should be given when a job is open in a declining company. Opportunities shrink. A wrong job decision can cost you time, energy and a misstep that will take you off your career path.
  • ECONOMIC CYCLE – When the economy is up, jobs for growth will flourish. When the economy is down, cost saving jobs are in demand.  Being out of synch can devastate a career plan.  Be ahead of the curve no matter where it goes.


  • EDUCATION / CERTIFICATION – The trend is your friend. Don’t be hoodwinked with the latest fad. Don’t get an education in a field that will be out of favor by the time you graduate.  Look out 10 years for the projected trend in your field. Look at the current and projected supply/demand equations.
  • JOB HOPPING / INDUSTRY CHANGE – Moving to a higher-level job is expected. Moving to four different jobs in four years at the same level is a red flag to hiring managers.  Find a skill that few competitors have, and your career will advance.
  • WAITING TOO LONG / TOO COMFORTABLE – Lastly, the most common cause of career block is with those who want opportunities to come to them without an effort, rather than managing their own careers. Some become too comfortable with their job, lifestyle or status.  Then something happens in the marketplace (a downturn, acquisition, competitive expansion) and they’re in a panic.  The problem is they may no longer be at the cutting edge of their function and are vulnerable.


Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but don’t work against yourself.  Be smart.  Manage your career to your advantage rather than wait for the phone to ring.


For a FREE critique of your resume, send it to: