Posted on: November 29th, 2016 by
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Bill Kaufmann, President of My Greener Future

What do you do when you’re blocked in a job that is repetitious and constraining in your ability to learn new skills and expand your responsibilities? You have a few choices:

  1. Grin and bear it in the hopes that something will break open
  2. Look for a similar job in a larger organization
  3. Shift your function to a collateral area to expand your skill sets

One of the major career decisions you’ll make is whether to stay in a job, move up the career ladder as a specialist, or move laterally in peer functions then move up as a generalist. Each of these alternatives have both upside and downside implications.

GRIN AND BEAR: This is the easiest alternative by far; just wait around until an opening occurs. But wait. What if you remain stationary or someone else is chosen? Or worse. They bring in someone from the outside. On the other hand, it’s a stable position and who wants a bigger job anyhow?

SEEK A LARGER ORGANIZATION: In this way you grow your skills with a bigger company and continue your career trajectory. You’ll put yourself on the market, interview and compete with others and in return, the rewards are worth it. The better alternative is to request a move within your current organization to a larger job. The question is: Does your current company train and prepare you for greater responsibility? If yes, you’re golden. If no, you have a problem.

MOVE OVER: This option moves you from job to job within your current organization to gain experiences in a number of different roles within a similar discipline. Example: General accounting to cost accounting to accounts receivable/payable, and so on. In this way, you gain multiple experiences culminating in a supervisory or management role over time. This strategy can work for either same company or new company roles. The downside? It may take longer.

So, how do you decide which strategy is best for you? Some hints:

  1. First, decide if you want to move up the career ladder as a specialist or a generalist
  2. Assess your current organization’s philosophy: Do they primarily promote from within, or do they continually hire from the outside?
  3. How big a risk-taker are you? Can you put a robust job search strategy together? Move to another state? Risk learning another role?
  4. How much effort are you willing to expend? Time away from family? How ambitious are you?

IMPLICATIONS FOR EMPLOYERS: So what are the implications for employers? Employee development helps with hiring top talent, but also engage and retain existing talent for the future. A company that promotes employees internally becomes a drawing card for top talent.

Companies that don’t develop their own internal talent must go to the outside, with a result that employees will recognize they can only grow their careers somewhere else.

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Posted on: November 21st, 2016 by
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References are usually requested when you’re one of the finalist candidates. These references can make the difference between being hired and coming in second place. You want to guarantee the most favorable outcome. Follow the logic then follow the steps.

Hiring Managers want to know three things in talking with your references:
1. Is your resume information accurate and descriptive of your past achievements and jobs?
2. Do you have the skills and experiences needed for the new position?
3. Would they rehire you if they had a higher-level job?

Using these three questions as a guideline, your task is to:
1. Match each reference to the job description of the open position: Who is in the best position to talk about your skills and experiences paralleling the new job?
2. Make sure you have gotten approval from each reference to be contacted. Some people may not want to be a reference or are hesitant for competitive reasons.
3. Talk to each reference, telling them the name of the company, the title, and job duties for which you are applying
4. Provide them with a verbal “script”, defining what you did for them that matches what the hiring organization is looking for:
a. Actual duties that parallel the new job
b. Performance that may approximate the outcomes required in the new job
c. Examples of a team effort, hopefully one that you provided leadership
d. Awards or acknowledgement of high performance
5. Follow-up with an email, listing what you talked about, so they have a document they can refer to when the call comes in from the reference checker

A common-sense summary:
1. Professional references (past bosses) are better than personal references (your dentist)
2. Higher management may seem more powerful than your immediate past manager, but may not know your hands-on experiences, performance or results.
3. Try to wait before providing reference names as you don’t want to overwhelm your references with phone calls of companies that your really not interested in.
4. If you have a job and your conducting a “quiet” search, wait until the last minute for references
5. Tell your references the key functions of the new job and how your prior work with them ties directly to the work you are seeking.
6. Offer to write up a brief list of talking points and results you achieved that will link to the job you are pursuing. In that way, the information that’s provided become “talking points” and will be more powerful.
7. Once you’re hired, employers will usually contact prior companies to check out your documented compensation, dates of hire and other information. If it doesn’t check out, you could be terminated, so don’t fabricate data that isn’t true.

References can be a golden path to your future, or not. Exploit them to your best advantage.

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Posted on: November 15th, 2016 by
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Some people understand that in order to learn you have to listen, whether you’re in a discussion, or an interview. Others believe that in order to be noticed, they have to be in the spotlight, giving gems of wisdom to the great unwashed. The point is, the best way to learn what the hiring manager needs and how you can best present yourself is to mutually share information, listen very carefully and ask excellent questions.

During an interview, the hiring manager is going to ask you a series of questions about your background and experiences. He wants to find out if you match the critical skills that are needed to fill the open position. One of the best interview strategies is for you to ask this question as you’re sitting down at the beginning of the interview, “Just out of curiosity, what was it about my resume that you found of interest?” If the hiring managers answers that question, you will now know the key issue he is trying to solve. For instance, if he answers, “Your installation of a process improvement system that saved $1.2 million”. You can then discuss potential solutions to fit his issue.

Asking the right questions and doing a lot of insightful listening will pay dividends. If you spend most of the interview talking about your experiences without knowing the target, it’s a hit-or-miss strategy. You learn by actively listening for information that will advance your candidacy, then ask strategic questions.

Once you have some knowledge of the issues, communicate similar achievements in other organizations that can be translated to success here in the open position. That only works if you can identify the issues. You can only define the issues by asking the right questions.

One other strategy that works to your advantage: Make sure there is a balance of information sharing so each party is giving and receiving important knowledge. Whoever is doing the most talking during an interview is learning the least. If you or the interviewer dominates the discussion the interview will be less effective.

When the interviewer asks, “What questions do you have for me?” usually at the end of the interview, there are a few questions that will place you at the top of the list of candidates. This type of question will not only give you critical information, but also position you as a results-oriented achiever looking for ways to contribute to the objectives of the hiring manager. The questions are:

  • What are your expectations for results from this function in the first 6 months?
  • How can I contribute the greatest value to you and your organization in the first 12 months?
  • What are the objectives for this job to be a high performer to your organization?

Knowledge is power. You can only gain that knowledge through others.

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Posted on: November 8th, 2016 by
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Are you ready to test the market? Learn the strategy and steps, contact me today!

How many interviewers will ask the question, “Why do you want to work here?”. To be on the safe side, create an honest and positive answer beforehand. If you can’t, then I question why you’re interviewing for this job in the first place?

There are two different ways to answer the question of “Why?”: For your own personal reasons and then the reasons to tell an interviewer:

For your own personal reasons

  • This is the kind of organization for which you have been looking for a while: Larger responsibilities, growth industry, compatible culture, a promotion, opportunity to advance, ability to significantly contribute to results, the style of management, total compensation package, warmer climate, or other positive, personal reasons
  • Find out what’s going on in the marketplace, other opportunities, or competitive positioning
  • Need to sharpen my interviewing skills with more practice, but not sure about the job itself
  • I need to get away from my current situation: It’s stifling, heavy-handed, confining, dead-ended and just a negative situation
  • My spouse and children are unhappy: Too far away from family, education, social connection

For reasons you would tell an interviewer:

  • This position is what I’ve been looking for as a growth experience: Right job, organization, boss, and exciting opportunity
  • This position is right for me to both contribute in a meaningful way, but also learn and expand my capabilities
  • I can see my experiences and skill sets being used in a significant way to help support the growth of the organization
  • The reputation of the corporation as a good place to work is consistent with my values: People are treated with dignity and respect; promotion based on merit; with fair personnel policies; and integrity of senior management.

The lists above give you some examples of both a personal and professional rationale in response to the question of why you want to work at an organization for which you are interviewing. There are many more answers, but it’s more important for you to define the reasons for yourself. If you have trouble answering the question, you’ll be stuck for an answer when asked by an interviewer. Then you have to answer, “I don’t know”, or make something up on the fly. Both responses are a sure way to flub your chances to be a finalist candidate if for some reason it turns out to be the job you really want. In this competitive environment, you don’t want to leave anything to chance.

Preparation is the key to any interview. For my clients, I have a list of the 100 most asked questions, including “tricky questions”, that we practice for the most positive answers that cover about 90% of screening interviews.

In that way, you’re ready with the perfect answers before the questions are even asked.

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Posted on: November 1st, 2016 by
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Here are some facts, realities and common sense approaches to increase your chance of success.

  • You need to target jobs where you meet at least 75% of the requirements. Anything less, you’re wasting your time because others are better qualified. If you design your resume correctly you’ll receive a response rate of about 50%. Anything less and your not targeting correctly or your resume is faulty.
  • Of your responses, half should result in a telephone interview, meaning you’re in the top 10 candidates. Face-to-face interviews mean you’re usually one of the finalists. After a second interview, you should be receiving an offer.
  • Each step needs a carefully crafted strategy designed specifically for that job opening. Using the same approach for different jobs is like rolling the dice with a blindfold on.
  • Hiring organizations will inquire about your work experiences, past companies, skill sets and education. Your objective, through your resume and interviews, is to match your background and experiences with the open job description as closely as possible.
  • The higher the organizational level and more complex the job skills, the longer it will take to find the job of your choice. Lower levels with little job skills take the shortest time. It’s better to wait for the right job. Don’t accept a job that isn’t a good fit for you. It will end badly.
  • Your network is the best way to find out what’s going on in the marketplace and find jobs where you can be introduced into the hiring organization. People who know you and what you can achieve are your greatest advocates to others. Networking should produce many of your job opportunities.
  • Even though you’re in final face-to-face interviews and are sure you’ll get an offer, don’t take your foot off of the accelerator and stop networking or following up on leads. Once you stop your job search momentum it’s hard to get it back up to speed. It’s time lost.
  • Never take rejection personally. There are reasons why a company hires someone else when you believe you’re the best choice. Keep moving forward and mentally erase the disappointment. Many applications will be ignored. Never, ever lash out in a demonstrative way. A rejection of yesterday may turn out to be an opportunity tomorrow in a different channel.
  • When a hiring manager asks you if your interviewing with other companies it means: 1- that they are very interested in you, and 2- there is a sense of urgency on their part.
  • Job opportunities will sometimes come “out of the blue”. Sometimes you’ll get help from people you hardly know. Other times people you’re counting on will not help much at all.

When things are going great everyone’s your friend. It’s only when things are in the dumpster that you’ll find out who are your true friends.

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