Posted on: July 31st, 2018 by
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When you come right down to it, hiring managers are looking for people who can:


  • Help them solve an immediate problem
  • Help them reach longer-term goals and objectives effectively
  • Work harmoniously with the boss, co-workers/staff and customers


Put more succinctly, hiring managers are reallylooking for someone who can find solutions to current issues, prevent future problems, and advance the function to its full potential. So, what can you do on your resume or interview to convince the hiring manager that you can contribute to his success? Here are a few ideas:


FIND SOLUTIONS:  Nothing will warm the heart of hiring manager more than a candidate who has achieved results in a prior organization, similar to the results that is needed. The candidate who has successfully completed a high priority task somewhere else, has a higher probability of success than a candidate that has not.  When creating your resume or during the interview, make sure you focus on results or solutions that you have attained that parallel the top five items on the position description.  You’ll increase your potential candidacy if you do.


EFFICIENCY/EFFECTIVENESS:  Document your achievements in a way that impresses the hiring manager.  The best way to do that is with numbers, percentages, ratios or metrics that demonstrate your high level of performance.  Most candidates use a narrative like:  “Improved revenue through the introduction of a new product”. When the hiring manager asks what was the improvement, this candidate doesn’t know the answer, only that it was better.  As a candidate, you should be able to answer:  “My new product introduction improved by 8% in the first quarter and 12% after 6 months”.  You should also be able to document savings in the same way:  “Reduced administrative cost by 4% through process improvement”. Hiring managers will ask, “How did you do that”?  Candidates that don’t know their measurable results are left behind.


WORK HARMONIOUSLY: If a hiring manager believes a candidate will cause their results to suffer, that candidate will be dropped.  So how do you project a team orientation to the hiring manager?  Use words and examples from your experiences that demonstrate “teamwork”.  Give examples of successes you’ve had as a team leader, or from a cross-functional project of which you were a part.  During the interview, the more times you use the word “I” versus “we” gives the impression that you only work alone.  Combine both individual and group success. Example:  “We grew our sector by 20% over a 2 year period by working as an interactive team, with my contribution as the project leader responsible for strategy”.  In this way you’ve positioned yourself as a team member while describing your individual contribution.


Hiring managers want people who find solutions and advance their performance rather than those who find ways to continue past performance.  You need to find ways to be the bosses “go to” person.


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Posted on: July 24th, 2018 by
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Many applicants are apprehensive with a telephone-screening interview.  It’s awkward:  You can’t see the person your speaking with, there are no physical cues as to how you are coming across, the time is limited, the conversation is usually one sided and you can’t ask a lot of questions. Also, you’re probably not talking directly to your potential boss.


However, telephone-screen interviews are here to stay and are being replaced with an electronic interview like Skype that can be even more intimidating.  Telephone screening gives the employer an inexpensive and quick way to talk with a great number of people.  So if all of your peers are being interviewed by phone, the question is: How can you interview better than everyone else?  Here are five tips to consider:


  1. Defer your conversation. Most interviewers will call or email to set up a mutually convenient time to talk.  If the interviewer wants to talk immediately, have reasons why now is not a good time.  Get a time-certain when they will call back.  Use the intervening time to prepare your research for the interview. Make sure to get their name, company and phone number.
  2. Research the company, industry and people. Once you know the company name, research the sector, industry, financials, products, competition and other key information. You want to know as much about them as they know about you (as they have your resume).  Google the key people to find out where they came from, what they did and the issues the company faces.
  3. Prepare your technology, notes, and environment. Use a landline telephone if possible, as it’s more dependable and clearer.  Practice interviewing by phone with a mentor. Take the top 5 items on the position description and match them with your results that demonstrate your competence.  Use “Post-its” and put them on your computer screen to act as a script.  Make sure you’re in a quiet environment without distractions. 
  4. Responding to questions.The basic questions are: “What did you do?”  “How did you do it?”  “What were the results?” for each item on your resume.  Give examples that reinforce your experiences. Within 30 seconds, outline the issue you encountered, the action you took, and the outcome you achieved. Talk about alternatives they might consider for a solution.   Become a problem solver in their eyes.
  5. Ask questions of your own.Prepare at least 2-targeted questions to impress the interviewer, like, “What are the expectations for this function in the first year?” or “What are the issues that need to be solved?”   You now become a businessperson looking for results to contribute to the goals of the department or company.


Lastly, be upbeat and positive with a can-do attitude.  The screener can detect an applicant that projects confidence and competence.


Take control of your destiny.  Be a candidate rather an applicant.


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Posted on: July 17th, 2018 by
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A close friend was about to be “repositioned”, but instead he decided to terminate the company. He waited for months while a major global corporation was acquiring his international company and kept saying it wanted to keep the work group intact.  They gave employees no direction or encouragement. Then his boss said they were “thinking” of transferring certain workers to the cold and snowy North (from the warm and sunny South).  At that point he “repositioned” his own career to a world-class and highly respected company within the same state.  He took control of his own destiny.


This case is not unusual. When you’re told you may be repositioned, the question is, are they giving you:

  • A subtle message to move on?
  • A positive career alternative?
  • A chance to show your loyalty by transitioning to another job?
  • A clear signal that you are going to be terminated?
  • Or what???

Being unclear to employees, no matter what the level, has a dramatic affect on the workforce:  Low morale, reduced performance and unsettled and often hostile feelings.


The baloney factor: Here are some quotes when a key person leaves:

  • “He wants to spend more time with his family” Subtext:  He was fired but we want to make it look like it was his decision. He will spend time at home, with his family, looking for a job.
  • “He wants to pursue other business interests” Subtext:  We had a major disagreement about who was going to run things. He lost.
  • “He wants to be his own boss and start a new business” Subtext:  He thought he could do a better job than us.  Now he has the chance.
  • “He wants to pursue a new and different direction” Subtext:  We argued about the future and he disagreed with the decisions we made.  I hope we’re right.
  • “There was a philosophical difference that couldn’t be overcome” Subtext: He thought our management style was inconsistent with his and he couldn’t continue under a dictator.


Some of the more creative ways of terminating people are:

  • We’re not firing you, we’re repositioning your job
  • We’re reorganizing the company, and your position is being absorbed
  • Your function is being consolidated with others
  • We’re cutting redundant positions… yours
  • You have three choices: Early retirement, a downsized job or termination.

What’s my point?  Things sometimes aren’t what they seem.


On the other hand:  Companies have a tough job.  Because of privacy laws they can’t say a lot about an individual, nor can they publicize strategic decisions.  During an economic slowdown businesses have to find ways to cut costs:  Automate, reduce staff, increase performance, reorganize or minimize expenses.  The last thing they want to do is lose talent they’ll need in the future.  What’s the moral of the story?  Manage your own career.  You have the most to gain or lose.

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Posted on: July 10th, 2018 by
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Think about the interviewing process as a sliding scale, where each of your answers to an interview question will either advance or diminish your candidacy.  How you respond to the interviewer can be tricky, especially when the questions are problematic for you.  Here are some thorny questions and alternative ways to respond to them.


Why are you seeking to leave your current job? Be ready for this question.  Don’t talk about anything negative.  Paint a positive picture, like, “My current job is in a maintenance mode.  I’m looking for more responsibilities to broaden my scope so I have more opportunity to perform at a higher level”.


What are you most proud of in your prior work?   The answer may or may not be on your resume.  It’s a great chance to talk about things the hiring manager is looking for in a candidate:  One of the top 5 items on the position description, a team leader or a technical expert.  Make sure you have results that are measureable and can cite.  Your chances of hitting the target are high.


What’s your 5-year goal?  Prepare some realistic expectations that are achievable.  Don’t space-out and mumble a boring script.  If you understand what the hiring manager is looking for and why, focus on alternatives that fit their longer-term goals.


What’s your passion?  The interviewer is looking for the things that excite you, because those are the areas where you excel.  Think about the position description and the items that are of particular interest to you. Make it credible, like:  “Getting involved with a group of co-workers and having the freedom to to figure out how to increase productivity or reduce costs that can add value to our departmental goals”.


How do you handle the “What would you do if….” questions?   These questions are less about the answer than how you handle yourself. There usually isn’t a correct response.  A rationale approach by talking about the collection of data, the generation of alternatives and the development of strategies is usually a safe course of action.


How do you resolve a disagreement?  Usually they are looking for people, communications and problem-solving skills.  A safe answer might be, “I try to find what the facts are and the assumptions that drive each position to discover the differences and similarities to ascertain a potential solution”.


What questions do you have of me?  The interviewer wants to know what’s important to you. If it’s about the number of holidays or vacation time, you’re diminishing your interview. If you ask about the results expected in the first six months, you’re advancing your candidacy.


Your curiosity about expected performance is a great indicator to the interviewer that you are achievement and results driven.  The hiring manager is interested in three things:  Can you do the job?  Can you perform at a higher level over time?  Will you fit in with my “team”?    


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Posted on: July 3rd, 2018 by
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It’s always a difficult decision to move back a step in position or salary, but there are situations when your longer-term career is better served if you do. Here are a few examples of circumstances that you may want to consider moving back a step in order to accelerate forward later on.  Whatever your decision, think through the implications and strategy to make sure it’s the right thing to do.


  • You’re in the wrong industry, function or job– It’s easier to move out of the wrong job earlier in your career than later. Hiring organizations are typically looking for someone who has already achieved the objectives they want. You may need to move over and down a half step in a new organization in order to move up to larger responsibilities later.
  • Downsizing options – During a reorganization or acquisition, you may be given an opportunity to receive separation pay or be offered a different role. It’s usually easier to find another job when you have one, so think strategically, when alternatives are provided.
  • The organizational “fit” is incompatible – You may have a mismatch with your boss, the management style or your core values. Those issues will affect your performance.  It’s better to make the change before your results or reputation is affected.  Find a compatible organization and let your results move you up the organizational ladder.
  • Check out your “total compensation”, not just salary – Figure out how much your benefits are worth: All of them.  Now add it to your salary.  That’s your total compensation.  Sometimes the larger salary and bonus is less income to you after all benefits and taxes.
  • Your prospects for growth are blocked – Which alternative would you choose: A fast growth company with promotional opportunity, but initially at 10% less pay. or a company that is downsizing, but will pay you 10% more?  Tough call. The question to ask is, “Where will you be in 5 years and which opportunity will help you get there quicker?”
  • External factors dictate a change – Here are a few to ponder:
  • Family considerations – a working spouse, children’s schooling, proximity to relatives
  • Time demands/travel requirements – How important is quality and balance of life?
  • You lack company sponsored training, development, education or certification for your growth
  • Compatible management style is missing – What’s your comfort level?
  • Is your current industry, company or function going to accelerate, stabilize or decline in the next 5 to 10 years?


Career decisions have a different formula for each of us.  There are, however, three basic questions to answer:


  • What is my ultimate career destination and am I in the successful track?
  • How much time, effort and the number of steps needed? Do you have an overall plan?
  • What are the strategy steps at each stage in order to achieve each objective?


Sounds simple, yet life tends to get in the way sometimes.


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