Good Ol’ Harry

Posted on: November 26th, 2014 by
Comments Requested

In most organizations there are at least two performance models. One model is the best performer that management hopes everyone looks up to for outstanding performance. Some employees do use this model for themselves. Some don’t. Management is kidding themselves if they think it’s the only model. The second model is, of course, the worst performer. Let’s call him Good Ol’ Harry.

Who is Harry? Harry is a made up name, but he’s in every organization I’ve ever seen, read about or experienced. He’s probably in your organization. Harry is the worst performing employee in your department or organization, whether you are in the for-profit, non-profit or governmental sector. Harry represents the marginal employee who never seems to be terminated, even though everyone knows he can’t do the job. He always seems to make it to the next year of his tenure. He is the person that continually drags the department or company down. He misses goal, affects overall performance and ultimately impacts your career and compensation.

Why is that important to you? Simple. Let’s look at a fictitious organization where one-third of the workforce are high performers, one-third are average performers and one-third are the lowest level performers. When there is a visible employee like Harry, employees can say to themselves and co-workers, “As long as I’m a better performer than Harry, I’m safe. I don’t have to work any harder as long as Harry’s around”. Translated into action, that means that one-third of your employees use Harry as their model. Just think of the untapped potential that is being wasted.

Jack Welch was the Chairman and CEO of GE and a revered manager. He had a 20-70-10 rule that said 20% of your people are top performers, 70% are average and 10% are your bottom performers. Each year find a way to get rid of the bottom 10%. Jack says, “You want to tell them ‘This is not the place for you. Take some time, take several months, we’re not firing you today.” His philosophy and results were driven by a simple concept: THE TEAM WITH THE BEST PLAYERS WIN.

The question to be asked is… Do you sacrifice the future of your organization for the bottom 10% performers? If the answer to the question is “yes”, I’d seek another company, one that wants to be the best. If the answer is “no”, then what’s the plan for the Good Ol’ Harry’s that are all over the company?

Want a free review of your resume? Send it to:
Want more information?

So… Tell Me About Yourself

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by

One of the most dreaded questions for a candidate: So, tell me about yourself! How do you best answer that question when asked at the beginning of an interview?

There’s never a perfect answer, but there are some helpful guidelines: Always try to be positive and crisp with your answers. Focus on your work experiences, with special emphasis on your measureable results with past jobs. Focus on recent accomplishments, especially those that parallel the position description for which you’re interviewing.

Usually an interviewer will not ask personal questions, but if they do, you have a choice to make: Answer the question as it relates to the open position or ask the interviewer how the question relates to the position, as personal questions are, in fact, personal.

If you assume the question is going to be asked, you can practice your answer beforehand until you have a mental script of the best response. Don’t lose yourself in the answer by focusing on your life’s story or babble on about items of little consequence, like when you were a lifeguard at a country club. Here are some ways to give the best response to the question:

FIGURE OUT HOW YOU ARE UNIQUELY QUALIFIED – Usually the first 3 to 5 items on the position description are the most important and the hiring organization identifies as critical. Focus on your results in those areas. If you can show you can solve their issues, you’ll be higher on their list. If you don’t know your unique capabilities it will show.

DEMONSTRATE YOUR ABILITY TO DO THE JOB – Demonstrate your result in the key areas, but also show confidence in your knowledge, skills and abilities. Discuss potential solutions to short-term issues, but also highlight your longer-term potential strategies. Don’t be boastful, but identify the actions you took to get the high performance results. It will speak for itself.

GIVE EXAMPLES OF ACHIEVEMENTS FROM THE PAST, PARALLELING THE JOB – Nothing can “sell” your candidacy better than giving them examples of your results in similar situations that parallel the job for which they are interviewing. If you’ve successfully done it before, the chances are you can do it again at the highest performance level.

STAY FOCUSED AND CRISP LIKE A LASER BEAM – It’s easy to get sidetracked when story-telling. Don’t forget that the interviewer is not only listening to what you say, but how you say it. A rambling story demonstrates an inability to organize your thoughts into a coherent sequence. Think in bullet point terms while communicating in a logical step-by-step way.

Open-ended questions are a trap for the unprepared. Yes or no questions are easier, but you can’t market yourself with one-word answers.

Want to investigate a compelling job search? Contact:
Want more information or articles? Contact:

Compelling Reasons to Hire You!

Posted on: November 12th, 2014 by
Comments Requested

A record 92,269,000 Americans 16 and older did not participate in the labor force in August, 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What does that number mean for you? It means there are a heck of a lot of people looking for work, some of them looking for the same career-advancing job that you are.

So how do you distinguish yourself? There are 5 basic points that make you one of the top candidates for the job you want next. Each of these points need to be compelling, so if you can’t quantify them, neither can a hiring organization and you’ll come in second best.

What are hiring organizations looking for in a compelling candidate? Here are the 5 reasons that hiring organizations chose one candidate over all others:

1. PAST TRACK: Your function, organizational level, responsibilities, skills, industry, and experiences must all come close to paralleling what the hiring manager is looking for. Those who come the closest will have the best chance of being considered. Conversely, the further from the “perfect model”, the lesser the chance of consideration.

2. RESULTS: You can have all of the elements of past performance, but if you can’t demonstrate that you achieve results, you won’t get very far. The best results are quantifiable with numbers, i.e., 10% increase in productivity in 12 months. The least impactful are descriptive words that are generic, i.e., reduced cost of goods over time.

3. DIFFERENTIATION: Your competition for the same job will all have a similar background. Usually 5 to 10 finalists will be screened. The top 2 or 3 will have something special that the others don’t have and will be interviewed. The critical expertise that the hiring manager needs will most likely win out, if the fit and longer term potential is apparent.

4. VALUE: The questions from the hiring manager looking for value will be: Who can solve the immediate issues that are causing me pain? Who is going to create the greatest value for me short and long term? Who can potentially take my place as I move up the ladder? Who can provide the leadership I need to strategically move the organization forward?

5. FIT: Only someone who can more smoothly fit into the organization and contribute to its success will be the finalist candidate. A problem child will not make it. There is a big difference between a “team player” and an “individual contributor”. Which one are you and what does the hiring organization need?

As a potential candidate, you’ll need to pass through at least 3 hurdles in a compelling way: Your resume, the initial phone screening interview, the face-to-face interviews with the key decision makers. Do you present yourself in a persuasive way? You need to be able to articulate your strengths and value to the organization that positions you as the top candidate.

If you’re not compelling in presenting yourself to a hiring organization, someone else will.

Want to talk about your job search?:
Want more information or articles?

Types of Interviewers

Posted on: November 5th, 2014 by
Comments Requested

Your interview preparation consists of three elements. Be prepared to:
1. Research the company, industry, competitors, and so on
2. Approach your interview with a strategy based on the position description
3. Plan and practice to engage different kinds of interviewers

This last element of preparation for different kinds of interviewers is usually the one that trips up most candidates. Expecting one kind of interviewer only to be confronted with another can affect your results. Here are some examples of interviewers:

UNPREPARED: This interviewer may be seeing your resume for the first time, doesn’t know your name, or thinks you’re someone else. If it’s your potential boss I’d be concerned. Take the lead and review the highlights of your past results that parallel the stated needs defined in the position description. Market yourself to the unprepared interviewer so you’ll be remembered.

SPHINX: This interviewer doesn’t talk much but will ask key questions, then listens. Answer t the question as crisply and focused as you can. Always insert a positive result that positions you as understanding the issues with potential solutions.

MACHINE GUN: This interview will fire off questions even though you haven’t finished answering the prior question. Be succinct using bullet point answers. If they want more information they will ask. Usually their questions are looking for specific things that can be answered in 10 words or less. DO NOT TRY TO BE CHATTY. It won’t work.

OFF THE WALL: This interviewer may jump around to different subjects or ask questions outside of the position description. If they jump around, jump around with them. Show that you can flip from subject to subject smoothly. If asked an “out of bounds” question, ask your own question, “How does it relate to the job?”. That usually stops the inappropriate questions.

THE YAPPER: Even though they talk a lot, be friendly. Smile while nodding your head to indicate that you hear and understand what they are saying. This interviewer needs to be the center and in control. Encourage them by inserting comments like, “Interesting point”, “Good approach”, “Nice to know”, and “Very helpful”. You may learn more about the interviewer than they learn about you.

TYPICAL: This interviewer has a set pattern – 1-Let me tell you about the company (This is where you listen and ask few if any questions)… 2-Tell me about your past experiences (This is where you focus on the results that parallel what they are looking for)… 3- Let me tell you about the position… (This is where you ask a great deal of questions about short-term issues and longer-term strategies and insert the things you have accomplished).

Interviewing is a success skill that can be learned. You need to be flexible and adapt to the interviewers and their needs. When done well, the interviewer will see themselves in you.

Want to talk about your next job? Send your resume to:
Want more information?

What About the Money?

Posted on: October 28th, 2014 by
Comments Requested

When interviewing, you’re bound to get these two questions: What is your current compensation? What compensation are you looking to get? If you’re not prepared for these questions, you’re bound to give weak or wrong answers. Here are some suggestions:

What is your current compensation? You need to remember, after you are on the new job your employer will check your past record: Compensation level, work history, title and your employment status. If you’ve falsified any information it’s cause for termination. So why not give them the information, but tilt it to your advantage: Provide them with your TOTAL compensation not just salary. Total compensation may include salary, incentives, bonuses, benefits, and other added value features you may have gotten. In that case, a $75,000 base salary may be worth over $120,000 in total compensation.

What compensation are you looking to get? Here is where you can be more circumspect with your answer. My suggestion is to never give a specific number, but rather, provide a range of minimum to maximum. Qualify your answer saying, “Compensation would depends upon a number of factors that I would need to consider”, like:
• A base salary range of between $85,000 and $125,000, depending upon:
• Bonuses and/or incentive compensation. Based on objective results or subjective factors of someone’s opinion?
• A good moving policy to relocate my family to the new location
• Benefits that are equal to or greater than my current benefits at less cost to me
• A 401k or retirement programs that are competitive to what I currently have
• The difficulty or simplicity of the job to be done, both short term and longer term
• The stability of the corporation (are they a prime target for acquisition or a turnaround?) The higher the risk the greater the total compensation and/or a buyout.
• The expectations of management and are they possible?
• The quality / talent of subordinates (are they inexperienced or short staffed?)
• The parameters of freedom (are there unproductive employees that can’t be changed?)
• Add your own factors or conditions dependent upon the situation

By providing a salary range and factors affecting total compensation you are setting the guidelines for negotiations, while giving the widest range of pay.

Your negotiating position. By giving a range between X and Y, you provide options that can position yourself better for negotiations. Accepting an increase of 10% or less is foolhardy, especially when you discount taxes, benefit increases and relocation to another city. Usually for that amount you will fall behind financially unless it’s a half step to a major promotion.

Money is important, but needs to be combined with opportunity, fit and ability to perform before making a decision that will affect you for a long time.

Want to discuss your job search strategy? Contact:
Want a free assessment of your resume?