EXPAND YOUR CAREER ADVANTAGES

Posted on: June 13th, 2017 by
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If competitors for a job you want can do everything you can do, what’s your career advantage? How do you differentiate yourself? When everything else is equal, it basically comes down to motivation, attitude and approach.

 

There’s no such thing as a “perfect” candidate. All you can do is prepare for the opportunities that come your way. Some personal assets outside your direct function may set you apart from the pack, and provide you with that “something special”. Here are some tips to consider:

 

  1. Engage and involve others – The more people you bring into your circle of influence, the greater your impact. Whether through mentoring others, being mentored by coaches or providing support to others, your career is dependent upon positioning you for success. Asking for help is a sign or strength, not weakness. The opposite is also true: Pushing help away moves you outside their circle of influence.

 

  1. Support the efforts of others – Benjamin Franklin had a favorite saying, “If you want to make a friend, let them help you”. When you voluntarily help someone else, they usually want to reciprocate. Look at it as an investment that provides dividends over time. You never know when you may need their help or they will need yours. Develop those kinds of relationships multiple times and you have a network of mutual support members.

 

  1. Never rest on your laurels. Very few things of substance come easily. Usually it takes hard work, time, the right strategy and a lot of persistence.   Sometimes, the “winner” is the person who outlasts all others, and makes sure the goal is reached through persistence. Sometimes that means putting in more time and effort than others. The corollary to “the early bird gets the worm” is “whoever sticks it out to the end usually will come out ahead”.

 

  1. Focus on the long term. When problem solving an issue, ask yourself two questions: First, what’s the best outcome you can hope for, and second, how much time is available? Why? The amount of time you have available will determine the strategy you use and therefore the degree of success. Strategies will change with the amount of time available. Quick decisions may not be the best decision, but if you have time on your side, longer-term strategies can provide you with the best alternative result

 

  1. Fit into the culture. Most people either don’t get the job or aren’t successful on the job because they don’t fit in. That could be good or bad news. Good news in that you turn down a job because your smart enough to sense you’ll be an outlier. Bad news if you take the job, not because it’s right for you, but because it has the right title or higher pay. Finding the right job with the right fit will do more to advance your career than big bonuses or a company car.

 

For a FREE review of your resume, send it to: wkaufmann44@gmail.com


HOW TO CONNECT IN AN INTERVIEW

Posted on: June 7th, 2017 by
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What is a “connecter”? That’s someone who immediately establishes a strong and positive relationship when meeting someone new. Connecters have a huge advantage over those who struggle with their connection skills: The ability to bond with the hiring manager right from the start. Want some tips on how to connect better? Here are a few ideas.

 

First, look at the types of jobs that are dependent upon success by making a favorable first impression: Actor, top salesperson, politician, receptionist, CEO, and so on. Most are all relationship-oriented jobs, so think of the interviewing process as establishing a rapport with the hiring manager to demonstrate the expertise needed to succeed in the open job. Ponder what these relationship jobs do to ingratiate themselves to those they meet:

 

  • Smile (not only your mouth but include your eyes)
  • Project a warm, engaging and friendly persona
  • Look them in the eye and slightly nod when they talk (but not too much)
  • Choose words that are complementary like. “I’m very pleased to meet you” rather than “hello”
  • If there is a connection with another person, phrase it is a positive way, “I’ve heard so much about you”. or “I’ve been looking forward to meeting with you”. This almost always will cause the other person to ask, “What have you heard?” or “From whom?”
  • If there is a connection with another organization, you might say, “I’m aware of your outstanding work with the Cancer Foundation”, or “I’ve been very impressed with your writings”, which again prompts a response like, “Oh, which one” or “What article was the most meaningful?”
  • Of course, anytime you cite a person, place or activity, be ready with a credible and complementary reply to their follow up question.
  • Maintain an upbeat, positive and optimistic attitude, but not overly bubbly
  • Use minimal hand gestures and never point or wag your finger at another person

 

Why are these skills necessary? Research has shown that the ability to establish an initial positive rapport will carry over to the interview itself. Those first few minutes will set the tone for the rest of the interview, either by telephone or person-to-person conversation. If you don’t get a callback after a telephone interview, either you didn’t come across as a warm individual who could fit into the team or your experiences don’t match what they’re looking for. If you get a one-on-one interview you know your experiences match the open position, then its more important than ever to establish yourself as a “connecter”.

 

You can normally sense if the interviewer is not a “small talk” person. They’ll not look you in the eye, questions or responses are short, and the interview moves along rapidly. In this case, don’t take the small talk too far. By all means respond in kind by giving short yet focused answers to questions and make sure your questions are task oriented around the issues to be solved.

 

For a FREE assessment of your resume, send it to: wkaufmann44@gmail.com


HATE YOUR JOB? JOIN THE CROWD!

Posted on: May 30th, 2017 by
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Gallup did an interesting study recently. It said that half of the 100 million full-time employees are not truly engaged in their work and tend to perform at a much lower level. Imagine the productivity loss from those 50 million employees each year.

 

What makes it worse is that another 16% of the workforce is in a neutral position: Not fully engaged and have gripes that their needs aren’t being met, nor do they understand their job expectations. Unhappy employees show their disenchantment is many ways. Some are overt while others are invisible: A negative attitude, absenteeism, high turnover, declining performance, a low energy level and limited interactions with the boss or peers are a few indicators.

 

What’s the problem? The question is better asked with “Who is the problem?” There are actually two causes: The boss and the company.   The boss, for not understanding the different needs of their employees and missing the skills, knowledge or experiences to effectively supervise others. Nor do they have the ability to manage the issues as a day-to-day supervisor. The company, on the other hand, usually doesn’t train, develop or mentor their supervisors in how to manage an effective work group.

 

Think about how supervisors are chosen. Usually it’s a successful sales person that becomes a sales manager, or a good accountant becomes an accounting supervisor, or a customer service representative is now supervising 25 people. What made them a terrific performer may be the reason they’re not a good supervisor: Shifting from a high performer to a supervisor means changing from an individual contributor with a personal success path, to a supervisor whose objective is trying to affect success in others. New supervisors are usually chosen because they’ve been around longer and have shown results in their prior job. Should that be the requirements of a new supervisor? I don’t think so.

 

The question that begs to be answered is: What would happen if an organization was able to raise the level of those highly engaged from 50% to 75%? Here are some potential implications:

  1. A 25% higher level of performance than before with the same number of employees
  2. An organization would need 25% fewer employees to obtain the same results
  3. Costs would go down
  4. Productivity would go up

 

So, what does an enlightened management do to increase performance, engage their employees and prepare them for their future responsibilities?

  1. Provide employees with leadership opportunities early in their careers: Task groups, problem solving teams, and so on. Find out who has the ability to lead others.
  2. Provide employees with initial training in leading a work group. Nurture growth.
  3. Provide supervisory training, both content and process (the “what” and the “how”)
  4. Make sure employee expectations are clearly defined.

 

If your organization doesn’t train you, get it on your own. It’s your future we’re talking about.

 

For a FREE resume review, send it to: wkaufmann44@gmail.com


ACCEPT THE WRONG JOB?

Posted on: May 23rd, 2017 by
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What’s the cost of making the wrong decision after accepting a job? What can you do about it?

For the company, making the wrong decision is an inconvenience. For the individual, the cost is extensive. It can take 3 or more years to make it up. You always have to explain it to future companies. So what can you do when you find out you’re in the wrong job or company? Here are a few options to consider:

1. Research the marketplace. What are the transferrable skills you have developed that are usable in a new or different role? How does your current compensation compare to the job you want to move into? Design an overall job search strategy so the time between jobs is as short as possible.

2. Sit down with your bosses. Not a pleasant alternative, but it may be the best one. The reason? If it’s obvious to you that it’s not working out, it’s also obvious to your bosses. Both you and the company want to make it as painless as possible. Some options to consider (assuming a termination is not “for cause”:

• Work out a transition plan for the next 6 months: You produce results while looking for another job. The company can begin their search early. This option will work some places, but not all.
• Move to another internal job or project where there would be value produced in the interim. You have to have a good and trusting relationship for this to work.
• Cut a deal for severance in cash, so you have the freedom to openly search full time, while having a financial cushion while you do it.

3. Contact your previous employer. They may not have filled your prior job and would love to have you back. This is assuming you left under very positive conditions and relationships. Of course if that alternative works, you will be leaving your current company in a lurch. This option can also have implications to your reputation in the industry. Be careful of any legal complications if you have access to proprietary or strategic information.

4. Go back to your job search strategy and reinvigorate your contacts. Many times there were 3 or 4 jobs for which you had been interviewing and they haven’t yet found the right candidate. Usually jobs come to you in cycles, with other job opportunities still in phase one of an initial contact. Re-contact these companies and continue on with the process. You only have a short period of time to determine whether you’ve made a mistake or not. It’s hard to go back to the marketplace and start all over again after more than 3 months.

Bad hiring decisions are costly to everyone involved. That’s why the hiring process usually takes so long. It’s why “fit” is so important, especially to the individual. Companies can usually recover much more quickly than you can.

For a FREE resume review, send to: wkaufmann44@gmail.com


HARD VERSUS SOFT SKILLS

Posted on: May 16th, 2017 by
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Hard skills qualify you for a job early in your career. Soft skills dictate how high you’ll move up the ladder. In mid-career you need a balance of both. Why the differences?

 

HARD SKILLS: When in the early part of your career you’ll need a set of hard skills that are translatable into results for which organizations are looking. Unless you can contribute to the hands-on “doing” part of the business, you’ll be disadvantaged. Hard skills are also progressive over time: You’ll need more complex and a higher order of expanding skills. Learn to master your craft first. Without hard skill experiences, your future is dependent upon someone else’s knowledge and know-how (you won’t know if a task is being done correctly).

 

However, hard skills will only get you so far. Soft skills will get you the rest of the way

 

SOFT SKILLS: These are the skills that you’ll need as you interact with others. The interaction and communications can be with customers, bosses, subordinates, peers, work groups, shareholders or anyone else that you need to associate, connect, cooperate or negotiate. The soft skills are needed to effectively supervise and then manage people in a cooperative effort. Soft skills may be harder to master because unlike hard skills, there may be no one to give you instructions or provide you with objective feedback on your soft skills.

 

Senior managers have all learned soft skills at a high level, and they know the questions to ask around hard skills because they’ve already mastered many of the hard skills beforehand.

 

MID-CAREER: A BALANCE: Once you’ve mastered the hard skills in your function you start interfacing with others to achieve a higher-level result. The greater the dependence you have from others, the greater the need for effective soft skills. The manager of a department or the vice-president of a function can never achieve the results expected by operating as a sole contributor. Collective results are only possible through the combined efforts of others. It’s the soft skills of the manager that will get high performance, not the individual manager’s hard skills.

 

So what are the steps to accelerate career direction?

 

  1. Get as much education and experience in the mastery of a functional field
  2. Achieve the highest level as an individual contributor, along with as much awards, degrees and certifications as possible
  3. Receive as much training and development in the knowledge and skills within the art of supervision and the management of people
  4. Get an advanced degree if possible (MBA) or certification in a broad based application, like PMP (Project Management Professional) Lean Certification (a Black Belt or process management), Forensic Accounting, Logistics, SalesForce, etc…
  5. Practice your soft skills in all of your personal and professional life.       These skills are usable in most all situations.

 

Hard skills are easier to obtain, but soft skills will move your career to your ultimate goal.

 

For a FREE resume review mailto:wkaufmann44@gmail.com