Posted on: May 1st, 2018 by
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How can something so simple to outline be so complex in reality.  Making career steps happen involve such things as:  Family considerations, compensation issues, relocations, functional skill to develop, job content to master, responsibility expansion, moving from individual contributor to manager, department head then executive, and many others.


Here are some of the considerations:


ULTIMATE GOAL? –  Define where you want to ultimately end your career, functionally. CFO?  Sales Manager?  VP?  Business Owner?  Dept. Head?  or a totally different direction?  Whether you’ll make it depends upon:

  • Where you are now? How much time before retirement?
  • Have you prepared the skills you’ll need for success?What’s your compensation?
  • Are you ambitious, very competent, with sterling references and yes, are you connected?


HOW MANY STEPS TO GO?– A Controller in a medium sized company, age 45, with requisite financial functions and a track record of success, can become a CFO in a private company, but may not have the experiences with shareholders, investment bankers, government regulators or boards of directors to become a CFO in a public company.  If you’re a junior accountant in a public company, age 28, you have maybe 8 moves in 4 or more different organizations and about 20 years before becoming a CFO.


TIMING AND CHANGES? – How long should you remain in one job before moving on?  The answer: As long as it takes to master each job. If your goal is the executive level, it means shifting to a new, higher role every 3 to 5 years, then add in an advanced degree. And if you’re thinking of changing to another function or industry, add another 5 years onto the total.


WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT YOUR NEXT STEP?  Are you ready to make the next step?  What have you done to prepare?  Do you have a plan or are you waiting for the phone to ring? Are you willing to move across to another department / organization or even down a peg in order to get the experience and credentials for a major step up?  How long do you have before getting the experience you’ll need to be fully competent?


ALWAYS BE READY FOR AN OPPORTUNITY –  At any stage of your career, opportunity may knock before you’re ready.  That’s when a judgment has to be made.  Do you risk falling short in a new role or do you take the risk and jump ahead of your plan? No one can make that decision for you. The risk is greater the higher you move.


HOW DO I BEST MARKET MYSELF? –  That’s easy.  The only way to achieve the next level in a career plan is by the results you attain in the prior job.  Only outstanding performance catches the eye of the hiring manager for the next higher position.  Mediocre performance means you’re not ready for the next level.  You can only demonstrate success by being successful.


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Posted on: April 24th, 2018 by
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A career error can be costly in time, money and opportunity. Making a major career decision for the wrong reason can set you way off course and affect your ultimate goal.

Here are a few of the deadly career mistakes to avoid.

1. Becoming too comfortable – Change is difficult, but necessary. When your job, personal or professional environment and routine become too comfortable, it’s very difficult to see the future. You may not see the brick wall coming your way, or the lost opportunities gone by. Be a realist. It’s the long road, over time, toward your ultimate goal that’s important.

2. Afraid of change – Fighting change is a losing proposition. Change is never static. Careers are destroyed when you’re blindsided by change. Look over the horizon and anticipate the changes that are coming. Be prepared ahead of the change. It’s better to influence the changes that affect you before the fact, than to be overwhelmed by them.

3. Incompatible values – Be careful about changing jobs with a company where your values will be compromised. Working under policies or practices that you can’t support is almost impossible to maintain. Your ability to modify the culture or practices is remote. It’s better to find another job or company than to suffer under values you can’t support.

4. Jumping too quickly – One of the things to understand is a recruiter can make a new job sound so terrific that you don’t ask the right questions of the hiring manager. The result is that the job offered is not entirely what you thought. Assumptions not clarified can be a career mistake that is very costly and could have been avoided.

5. Dollars or title over all else – Making a career change exclusively for money or title is a very bad idea. Careers are optimized through a long-term strategy of accumulated experiences and skills. Accepting a new position for money or title is short-term thinking. Ask the question, “Why am I being offered this title or dollars out of the average to the marketplace”?

6. Too small or large a pond – Two questions to ask yourself. 1- “Are my skills and experiences translatable across many organizations or to a narrower field?” 2- “Am I most comfortable in a very large or very small organization or somewhere in between?” The answers will determine your greatest value and target opportunities.

7. Not keeping ahead of technology – This career mistake is the most deadly of all. The rate of change in technology affects everyone. It’s the factor that decides who is offered a job and who comes in second place. Being at the forefront of your function technologically gives you the edge over all others. This is one mistake you can correct yourself.

Career mistakes are driven largely by emotion, not intellect. Do your research and think through the implications, thereby optimizing your ability to reach your ultimate goal.

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Posted on: April 17th, 2018 by
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If you find yourself in a difficult situation, don’t panic.  Smart workers will have a compelling resume and strategy prepared in file and ready to go.  If you don’t have a plan, then develop one now.  You can’t predict the future, but you can plan for change.


The primary questions that you need to answer are:  What do you have to offer that companies need?  What experiences do you have that others don’t?  If you’re in a “hot” industry and have proven results, then you’re highly marketable.  If not, you’ll need some help.  Here are some steps:


  1. Objectively assess your current skills, experiences and education – What are your greatest accomplishments? What is your unique contribution? What can you do that most others cannot do? You must differentiate yourself from all other competitors.
  2. Analyze the marketplace – What industries can best use your skills? What companies and functions are in a growth mode within different geographical locations?
  3. Assess your marketability – How can you upgrade your skills and knowledge to make yourself more marketable? How do you leverage your competencies to the next level?
  4. What’s your value to a new company? Research the compensation levels by function, title and location.  How do you compare?  Can you justify your compensation to a hiring organization?
  5. Look at your options – Develop a Matrix with information from #2, 3, & 4. Compare the marketplace, industries, functions and compensation to assess your greatest opportunities.
  6. Balance your marketing approach: Research job availability, by market.  Develop a Matrix of contacts:  Identify individuals who know your quality of work, are connected, and can refer you to others.  70+% of jobs are found through people you know or whom they know.
  7. Assess your readiness for the next step – Can you find a “model”: Someone who has already achieved what you aspire to achieve?  What were their steps?  How did they do it?
  8. Develop a powerful and compelling resume. Focus on what the hiring manager is looking for, and then parallel your results with their needs.  Every job has measureable results that can be documented on a resume to make it compelling.
  9. Identify the 3 to 5 most dramatic results you have achieved over 5 years. Convert those results into measurable statements that will catch the eye of hiring managers.  Examples:
  • 12% annual Increase in revenue over 3 years
  • 18% expansion of new products to new customers
  • 8% cost reductions through continuous improvement


Hiring managers want to know how you are going to add value to their results.  Show them what you’ve done, how you did it and what you can do for them.


Some people when confronted with a career setback, will fold-up, give up and settle for less.  Others will approach their careers with greater energy, with new vitality, and then accelerate their efforts.  What do you plan to do?


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Posted on: April 14th, 2018 by
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When a hiring manager screens a resume he’s basically looking for two things: What makes an applicant stand out and what knocks them out. This article will focus on the second part: Getting rejected quickly.


Weeding out applicants is easy: It’s the things that applicants do that are not appropriate, attempts to be funny, detractions from the resume content, or a lack of common sense. Here are some real life examples:


  • Hype – Most applicants will attempt to make their experiences look a bit better. That’s generally OK, but it can be too much and look suspicious. Examples:
    • “Increased the customer base by 200%” (If you went from 1 to 3 customers you’ll be found out quickly and discarded)
  • “Part of a merger team” (If you only got the donuts and coffee, you won’t get far)
  • Superlatives – This is where a lot of resumes get tossed, when exaggerations are thrown around without facts to back it up. Here are a few:
    • Excellent Communications and Organizational Skills (how do you prove this?)
    • Multi-talented Creative Professional (what did you do, how, for what results?)

When you use superlatives, be careful you don’t challenge your credibility. Be ready for concrete answers: What, when, where, who, how and why?

  • Inserting humor – Comical email addresses may be appropriate to college chums, but hiring managers usually are not amused., or should be used for friends or family (maybe). Create a professional email address.
  • Overly creative formatting – Marketing and graphic art resumes can sometimes go overboard with designs that take away from the content of the resume. It may overpower the results you have achieved. The same goes for unusual fonts or color. Either add an attached portfolio of your work or suggest that examples are available upon request.
  • Spelling or grammatical errors – You have complete control over these mistakes. With spellcheck and friends to edit, your resume should be error-free. If you can’t write a resume with good English and proper spelling, how is a hiring manager going to trust you with a project or report that is going to be distributed to management?
  • No dates – Nothing will add unanswered questions from hiring manager than a lack of dates for schools, employment or gaps in time that is silent. Almost any problem can be worked around, except a termination for cause. You need only to go back 10-15 years.
  • Too long with too little – Some resumes 3 or more pages and say very little about accomplishments or results. Keep it within 2 pages if you can. A list of responsibilities won’t help you stand out in a group of applicants. Make your achievements jump off the page: 20% sales increase in 18 months, reduced costs by 12% through process improvement, introduced a time-saving system.

Hiring managers have no time for careless or undeveloped resumes. Your competition is going to do it right, why can’t you?


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Posted on: April 10th, 2018 by
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Many an interview and job opportunity is lost because:

  • The candidate drifts off topic and doesn’t succinctly answer the question being asked
  • The candidate mumbles, stumbles or presents their ideas in an incoherent way
  • And the most egregious error, the candidate talks way too much about things the interviewer isn’t really interested in.They overkill the subject.


All of these problems stem from the candidate trying to overwhelm the interviewer with an enormous amount of information about their experiences.  They attempt to hit all of the possible talking points, all at once, responding to an interview question.


The solution to these problems is to use the “Mini-pitch”. What’s a mini-pitch?  It’s a 20 second response to each question that you knowwill be asked.  How do you know what questions will be asked? Simple. All the hiring company knows about you is on your resume.  Something on your resume has motivated them to contact you.  Their questions will revolve around each of the items on your resume:

  • What did you do?Answer by stating the issue causing the problem.
  • How did you do it?Answer by defining the action you took.
  • What were the results?Answer by identifying the outcome of your action


Responses to each question should be given in a 20 second mini-pitch.  Why?  You want to create a strong impression with your answer. Here’s an example:


THE SITUATION:  Your resume says you’re an Assistant Marketing Manager and that you increased revenue for a consumer products company


THE QUESTION:  The hiring manager asks, “HOW DID YOU GET THOSE RESULTS?”


THE MINI-PITCH RESPONSE TO THE QUESTIONis in 3 steps:  Step 1 – Define the issue. Step 2 – Define the action you took.  Step 3 – Define the results you achieved. Example:   “Our revenues had been flat for the past 2 years”. (3 seconds) We researched buying patterns, and compared new products against our in-house products.  We then introduced a new product to a new market”. (10 seconds) The outcome was a 12.2% increase in new orders from new customers over an 18 month period”.(5 seconds)


This 49-word mini-pitch is delivered in just 18 seconds.  It gives the interviewer a succinct answer to the question while providing the impression of a results-oriented candidate who can communicate with impact.  Over a series of questions and mini-pitch answers, you become a candidate rather than just an applicant.  You should have a mini-pitch answer prepared for each and every line item on your resume, practiced and smoothly delivered.


It’s essential that you understand, create and practice a series of mini-pitches for each item on your resume.  It separates you from other applicants who will not be as prepared as you.


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