Posted on: July 21st, 2020 by
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The number of people working remotely has moved from the unusual to the expected.  The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way in which work is done.  The skill sets are different and the preparation for a successful interaction is dependent upon your ability to navigate work patterns that are totally different than before.  The question is “What can I do to make the remote work group more effective?”, rather than “How can I perform more effectively at the office as an individual?”  Here are some tips to consider:


DEFINE EXPECTATIONS:  Two quotes are appropriate: “Adapt or Die” and “Expectations are the Great Killers”.  The first quote states that unless you keep moving forward and adapt, you’ll fall behind. The second tells us if your expectations are different from your boss, co-workers, stakeholders, customers or spouse, success will allude you.  This second quote is most important when working remotely:  Make sure your expectations for a successful job matches the expectations of your boss and co-workers.  If not, you’ll be wasting time on irrelevant matters and fall short.


IDENTIFY KEY GOALS:  What is it that your supposed to achieve short and long term?  Setting objectives for the day, week, month or longer is imperative so everyone is working toward the same end. Then outline responsibilities for specific outcomes for each team member, subgroup or for the total group.  When completed, the cumulation of everyone’s efforts should result in the goal being met.  Define specific benchmarks.


COMMUNICATIONS:  If you don’t have effective communications between interactive members and as a group, the goals will be compromised.  Effective communications from the boss is critical.  If tasks are not clear and understood, then co-workers will be focused on different things.  When a task or process is unclear, it’s imperative to surface the issue for clarification during group discussions.  Communications while working remotely is many times more difficult.  Office work is easier because of the side-bar conversations, body language and subtle messages which are absent while being remote.  More time has to be devoted to interactions while working remotely.


INDIVIDUAL AND GROUP INTERACTIONS:   Make sure you understand the responsibilities, background, information needs, type of support, and strengths and weaknesses of each co-worker.  Bond individually with each co-worker so you develop an effective relationship with each one.  Establish a solid connection so the enviable bump along the way becomes a task to be solved and not an interpersonal issue.


CLOSE THE GAPS:  Inevitably there will be Items “falling through the crack”, but the group’s task is to keep them to a minimum.  Ask each team member to jot down questions they have, issues they see, comments needing discussion, information that might be helpful or impediments that require a group consensus for solution.  If everyone is open and engaging with each other, those questions or concerns will easily be resolved.


Successful remote work is a skill to be mastered.  Be patient with your co-workers and seek team accomplishments for a group success.


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Posted on: July 14th, 2020 by
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Do you want the security of the known or adventure into a totally new direction with high potential?  Those questions seem to be on the minds of many professionals and managers in dealing the after effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.  The overriding issue is:  Do you want to emerge from your current situation better and stronger?


The answer comes down to four factors:  Career goal, opportunity, risk and reward.  Before you try to answer these questions, take the time to assess your current job situation, your family concerns, what has been your history in dealing with major change, and your experience in dealing with uncertainty.  Those answers may help you assess your readiness and ability to determine the best course of action.


CAREER GOAL:  The first question to assess:  Is your career goal achievable?  If you’re a junior accountant in a major corporation at age 50 and want to be the CFO, that’s just a dream.  But if you’re an accountant in a small business and have the credentials and experience, a Controller’s job can be yours, maybe even somewhere else.  The factors to consider:  Current job level, number of years to retirement, education, special certifications, experiences, supply/demand of the function, and potential to grow.


OPPORTUNITY:  Different industries and functions have a distinctive pattern of job prospects.  When the economy is down, cost containment is a leading function.  When the economy accelerates, marketing and sales take the driver’s seat.  The same with diverse industries like consumer products, mining, aerospace, healthcare, and so on.  Each has a distinctive pattern that will affect your prospects.  Find the niche that parallels your passion and opportunity to excel.


RISK:  Whether you stay in place or jump to a new job in a new industry, each decision carries a different kind of risk.  The stay-in-place risk is to remain in a job too long without developing new skills and experiences.  Or falling behind technologically when better systems are introduced with your competitors.  The higher-risk job changer is dealing with a new situation, people and issues that must be overcome with high performance.  The new kid on the block is always under the microscope.


REWARD:  Rewards come in many different forms.  Some are more tangible like money, higher title, more responsibility, greater decision making, or a larger organization.  Other rewards are just as important but less visible like greater job satisfaction, the love of what you do, the impact of the things that are important to you, the passion you bring to the work.  Those of us who have experienced both of these types of reward at the same time are truly blessed.  Deciding which of these elements take priority over the others is a normal but critical judgment. Choose well.


Change during difficult times like now can be career making or career stalling.  An honest assessment of where you are, what you need to do and a reassessment of your career goal is critical.  Do it now.


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Posted on: July 7th, 2020 by
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There’s an interesting article of research from the Journal of Social Psychology, (Kowalski and McCord) May 2019 that you might find interesting. It’s an on-line survey of people over the age of 30 about what they regretted and what they might have done differently.  I’ve taken the core results and put it into positive actions you may want to consider.  Given the Covid-19 pandemic, I thought these insights were important.


Take a measure and assess how you might want to make adjustments:

  • Relationships – Probably one of the most important aspects to your career and life’s journey is your relationship with others. Relations with others become more important as you move up the organization.  If you can get those above you to pull you up, and those below you to push you up the organizational ladder, the faster you’ll move ahead.  The most important relationship you will have is the choice of a significant other.  The right mate is a precursor to a happy and satisfying life.
  • Education – This item usually determines what you do, how far you go, along with financial wealth. Those that find their direction early usually have more time to reach their ultimate goal.  Choosing the wrong major/college can hamper your direction, but not the outcome.  Complete your education as soon as you can, then add advanced degrees, special certifications, professional designations, and so on.
  • Listen to your inner voice rather than what others tell you about the path you should follow. Those that follow their passion usually excel at what they do.  You can’t please everyone, but you must please yourself. Professionals who are content and immersed in their work outshine those who are unhappy or dissatisfied.
  • Balance your time and energy between your life’s work and your life’s loves. Enjoy what’s around you, especially family and friends.  Seek out non-work interests, like a hobby, community service, travel, sports and maybe live in different places to experience diverse cultures, locations or even languages.
  • Be careful about money. Be more conservative with your finances and save for both the short and long term.  Make the assumption you will retire early and plan your finances around it.  Buy fewer cars, smaller houses, with less extravagances.  Reduce the number of depreciating assets, and increase the number of appreciating assets.  Prepare for the unexpected, like Covid-19.


Careers and life never move in a straight line.  There are dips and impediments. Optimize the positives and minimize the negatives and you’ll come out a winner.  Some mistakes are irreversible, while others can be fixed over time.  When you experience a negative, put an action plan in place to reverse the misfortune.


Get over regrets quickly.  Don’t look back and say, “I could have, should have….”.  Focus on what you need to do next.  Careers, as in life, are not on automatic.  It takes planning, preparation, and execution.  And yes, some luck.


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Posted on: June 30th, 2020 by
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The job search process can be frustrating to those who come up short as a finalist candidate.  Here are some thoughts that might help you in the future.


  • Review the position description before interviewing so you can do two things: First, identify the skills or experiences where you come up short and prepare to respond positively to the question you know will be asked.  Second, see if you can take a basic on-line course before the interview.  Put it on your resume and say, “I’m taking a course on that subject and will be skilled in the basics.”
  • Most candidates successfully applying for a job aren’t 100% qualified. If you are 100% qualified, chances are you’re making a lateral move and are overqualified.  Being 75% to 85% qualified gives you room to grow.
  • If you’re asked about a skill or experience you don’t have, never say, “I’ve never done it before.” Simply describe a skill, experience or result that comes closest, or an experience to a similar job skill.
  • Another approach is to say, “I know you use Python in your operating system. I have used a Python equivalent and should have no problem with the transition.  My program mastery is high and just a complex as Python.”
  • If the job description is looking for someone with 5 years’ experience and you only have 3 ½ years, consider matching the results the hiring organization is looking for and suggest that your broad and deep experiences equally 5 comparable years. In other words, you’ve pack more experienced into a shorter time.
  • Or, take your 3+ year experience and add any internships, summer work in the function, additional courses and any major school projects that parallels the job specs which all adds up to the 5-year requirement.
  • Job descriptions typically define a hiring manager’s “perfect candidate”, who doesn’t exist except on paper. There is “wiggle room” for you except for highly technical jobs.
  • Filling in a new skill or experience can be partially overcome by a targeted certification in a specific functional area. There are many certifications available on-line.
  • Candidates are hired and paid for what they can produce and the results they can achieve, not for a specified number of years. Hiring managers know that some people have one year’s experience 10 times, rather than 10 years of experience with each one better than the one before.
  • The most difficult transition is to move from an individual contributor role to a supervisor. You can fill in the gap by providing similar experiences you may have had as a volunteer leader, team captain or chair a committee of a non-profit organization.  These positions of leadership have given you skills of organization, coordination of effort, guidance, influencing others, setting direction through persuasion and motivating others to achieve an objective.


Everyone comes up short at one time or another during their career.  It’s nothing to get upset about, but it is something for which to prepare.  Those who prepare are the winners.


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Posted on: June 23rd, 2020 by
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“How do I know what skills and experiences to emphasize on my resume?”  “How do I demonstrate my expertise better than others who are vying for the same job?”  Here are some answers for your questions, and some steps to take:


  1. First, understand that a single resume going out to multiple organizations is like trying to play golf with just a putter. You resume can’t fit all jobs you want.  Your resume must be tailored as closely as possible with the requirements of each position description.  If your resume covers 50% of the expectations of the hiring manager, and others are at 80% or more, why would you be considered?
  2. Scan the position description and write down the broad elements for which the hiring manager is looking. They are usually the first 5 to 8 items listed, because the hiring manager will initially list the most important items that are needed.


  1. Write down the key words that the hiring manager uses. Take those words and transfer them to your resume, hopefully near the top of the first page.  When a hiring manager scans your resume, you want those words to show up early.  If you can, put those key words in 2 or 3 different places.  Why? Because if a computer scans your resume, the more times those words show up the higher your resume is ranked.
  2. Illustrate the skills and experiences that parallels the needs of the hiring manager. There are three ways to match the hiring manager’s requirements:
    1. Define the skills or experience that comes closest to equaling the desired tasks
    2. Highlight a project or program that duplicates the experience, from another organization, situation or application
    3. Use numbers to demonstrate measurable results


  1. Make sure you have a combination of both soft and hard skills and experiences. Soft skills are relationship oriented, like team-work, collaborations, interpersonal support.  Hard skills are the physical or technical tasks, like web design, product training or process improvement engineering.
  2. Use metrics at every opportunity. Why?  It demonstrates that:
    1. You measure results so the organization can see progress
    2. It differentiates you from those who only give subjective, non-measurable answers
    3. It demonstrates a level of detail that hiring managers are looking for in a candidate


  1. Use action words to describe your activities, like “increased”, “decreased”, “improved”, not passive words like, “assisted”, “communicated”, “prepared”.
  2. If you need a certification or experience that you don’t have, sign up and state that you are currently enrolled in an on-line course to achieve the skills required


Hiring managers are looking for candidates that can help them achieve their objectives.  Make sure your resume highlights past skills and experiences in parallel with the position description.  It’s the first step toward being a top candidate.  Adding in metrics to show your direct and measurable contribution to the results, gives you an advantage over all other candidates.


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