Posted on: July 2nd, 2019 by
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What a terrible dilemma our young people face: Complete a college education while being burdened with a student loan averaging about $30,000 (with some in the $50K range or more). While the labor market is strong, it’s also very selective.  Some individuals must delay life events like getting married, starting a family, buying a house, or forced to take a job they don’t want but have to accept.


Here are some considerations that might be helpful:


  • Select a major in college or a job where the opportunities are greatest in the future, not what they have been in years past.  Jobs in some areas have shriveled dramatically, depressing opportunities and salaries as the supply/demand equation has dropped.
  • If you’re currently in a job that has an oversupply of candidates and an equally smaller demand, find a field that is tangential to yours and take courses or certifications that will take you in a better direction (like athletic trainer to physical therapist).
  • A small percent of companies (about 4% and growing) will help you pay off students’ loans for a commitment to stay with them for a period of years. What a great recruiting tool for the forward-thinking corporation.
  • The younger workforce is more interested in getting out from under a cloud of debt than add to a retirement plan.  They may need to catch up later, but short-term issues must be solved first.
  • Here are some of the hot jobs and industries that can be converted into higher demand and paying jobs through additional education, courses or certifications:
    • Healthcare: Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioner, Nurses, Certified Nurse’s Assistant, Medical Technician, Physical Therapist, Home Health Aide, Personal Care Assistant
    • Technology: (without a college degree) Computer support specialist, Junior data analyst, Computer network specialist, Digital marketer, Cyber security analyst, Web developer
    • Technology: (with a college degree) Computer programmer, Systems analyst, Network engineer, Aerospacetechnician, Cybersecurity analyst
    • Other high demand jobs, by sector: Skilled trades (carpenter, plumber, electrician), business and administration, hospitality, solar and wind energy technician.


New graduates to mid-level workers need to look out 10 years to where the jobs of tomorrow will be, not what the jobs have been over the past 10 years.  Progress and a change in the skills needed in tomorrow’s world are forming now.  What a freshman in college today sees as the future may be a dead-end by the time graduation comes around.  What are some of the jobs that are fading fast?  My observation:  Journalism, environmental sciences, jobs that can easily be automated (even professional jobs like retail pharmacists may be a thing of the past in 5 years), local delivery and warehousing businesses (ever hear of self-driving vehicles?).


New and mid-career employees need to be aware that artificial intelligence (automation) is claiming many jobs. Start moving your skills to a higher level where brain-power is more important; where computers and programs cannot replace you.


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Posted on: June 25th, 2019 by
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Summer is a great time for vacation, kicking back a bit and just enjoy the fruits of your labor.  It’s also a good time to assess where you are in your career, where you want to be, and what you need to do in order to get there.  It’s not heavy lifting, but it is heavy thinking.


So, what can you do during the summer to prepare for the year ahead while you enjoy the summer months?  Here is a list of some “what” and “why”:

  • Read a mix of fun stuff with self-instructional material – Catch up on the latest information about technology advances and new approaches in your job category. What’s the latest wave of solutions to issues in your field?  Find out if you’re ahead or behind the skills you’ll need in the future.
  • Join a regional association in your function.  Make contact with peers and higher ups to find out what’s going on in your field.  Which companies are expanding or consolidating?  Where will the opportunities be over the next 1-2 years? Are you in the sweet spot of demand or in a periphery role?
  • Take an on-line course to sharpen your current skills. You may want to learn a new set of practices or expand the capabilities in your function. Get a certification that can be acknowledged on your resume.  A certificate shows a desire to improve performance through advanced knowledge.
  • Give a call to old co-workers, bosses, and subordinates to catch up where they are and how they’re doing. It’s not a call for help or job search.  It’s to stay in touch so if they need you or you need them at some point, you’re there for each other.


Now, during the summer, is the best time to catch up on the world around you and prepare to review your career plan and strategy. Why? Because after Labor Day the marketplace begins to heat up and you don’t know what the future will bring:

  • Businesses that are expanding want to staff up in order to get a jump on new goals.
  • Organizations are looking to fill open positions that have remained open but must be filled soon. Hiring managers don’t want to lose a staff slot.
  • Employees that left during the summer need to be replaced so as not to lose the continuity and performance increases to date. No one wants shortfalls.
  • Hiring managers will add staff when developing their budgets for next year. You want to be on their short list to contact as soon as budgets are approved
  • Hiring managers that are increasing staff want to know who is available and interview them during the Fall. You will go into the “hot” file earlier than your competitors, so if there is an immediate opening you’re already there.


It’s better to prepare for the future when you have the time rather than try to catch up, only to find out your too late.


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Posted on: June 18th, 2019 by
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What happens when an organization’s leadership changes with a different management style, expectations, or cultural norms?  How can you identify the stages of major change and best respond to the confusion around you?  The answer depends upon three factors:  What were the expectations, management style and culture beforehand, what is it changing to, and what do you need to do to succeed?


Some people need a great deal of direction and supervision in order to perform to expectations. Many others need a lot less hands-on direction.  For some employees, a heavy-handed manager will cause their performance to deteriorate.  Effective management must complement and support the needs of all members of the work group.  Results of the entire unit may deteriorate with the wrong kind of leadership.  You need a simple analytical tool to help assess what’s going on around you.


Major change, if communicated and managed well, can be implemented with a minimal amount of confusion, angst or performance decline.  On the other hand, a lack of planning, engagement and coordinated effort can lead to a series of performance deteriorations with a loss of energy and momentum.  Here are some thoughts about the management of change within an organization and its impact on the individual.  It’s a simple diagnostic tool to identify the stages of change so you are ahead of everyone else.


In an organization where top management is clumsy, non-communicative and insensitive to the needs and feelings within the organization, the results can lead to a meltdown of performance.  These are the stages of organizational change:





STAGE-IV:  COMMITMENT AND LOYALTY, or if not managed well, RESISTANCE AND CONFUSION (back to Stage l and ll)

Given a situation where the mind-set within an organization remains unchanged at STAGE-I, chaos, politics and a lack of productivity can exist for a very long time.


Individuals, on the other hand, will behave in different ways depending upon such factors as the chance of survival, competence, marketability, and so on.  If you understand these stages and are flexible in your approach, you can manage each step in an appropriate manner and move performance and productivity more rapidly to a higher level.  The following are common stages that the majority of individuals will move through:


STAGE I:  SHOCK/DENIAL- (This can’t be happening to ME/ us !!)

STAGE II:  ANGER- (Who do they think they are!!!)

STAGE III: DEFENSIVENESS/ DEPRESSION- (I don’t know if I want to do this)

STAGE IV:  RATIONALIZATION – Maybe it won’t be that bad if …)

STAGE V:  ACCEPTANCE- (This may turn out better than I originally thought)


Change can be positive or negative depending upon your attitude and how the change process is being managed.  You control how you view and manage the change progression. Understanding what is going on around you is the first step.


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Posted on: June 11th, 2019 by
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When accepting a job in a new organization, you’re always asked to sign forms:   Registering for healthcare, federal and state tax forms, and other benefits or insurances.  You may also be asked (required) to sign an employment contract, or forms that you will not compete when you leave (non-compete), forms that you will not contact customers or current employees (non-solicitation) , or forms that you will not disclose company information (non-disclosure).


Here’s an outline of what you need to know:


Company benefits:  These are standard forms that enroll you in company programs.  Read the manuals so you know what is included and how much it will cost.


Employment contract:  If you are high enough in the organization to receive a contract, enlist the services of an attorney.   Most contracts are complicated and requires scrutiny.


Non-compete:  Most documents will say you can’t compete in a similar business, within so many miles from your location.  Be careful here: How is “a similar business “defined? By product or by industry?  What if it’s a competitor but your job is different? How many miles away?  Will you have to move to another state get a job?  How long do you have to wait until you can work for a competitor?  What if you want to start your own business?


Non-solicitation:  Most will say that if you move to another job you can’t recruit employees from your current employer nor contact customers. What’s the definition of solicitation?  Can you send information without soliciting? What if a co-worker asks you to pass on their resume?  Or at your going away party, 10 employees give you their resume before you’re an employee of the new company?  What if customers ask you to have a representative contact them?  What do you do?


Non-disclosure:  Most will say that you cannot give any information about your work, policies or practices to anyone else.  Of special concern is sensitive information about patents, pricing, costs, customer lists, business strategies, competitive analysis, and so on.  A big no-no.


You need to understand that these documents are not designed to protect you, but rather to protect your current employer from you. If you are given one or more of these documents to sign, talk with an attorney who specializes in this area. Signing without reading the documents is foolhardy.  You may regret it later on.  Lastly, most documents are negotiable.  Find out what the minimum requirements are first, then try to limit the scope of time, distance and information.


Never:  Never, ever consent to pay your old employer’s legal fees if you are challenged.  Never believe someone who says, “It’s just a formality.  We never pursue a violation”.  Never use a company computer for personal use.  Never use social media, including LinkedIn, to communicate anything about your past employer.  Never assume they won’t find out.  When you’re caught it will be very expensive, time consuming, and will directly affect your career, but not in a good way.


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Posted on: June 4th, 2019 by
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As a consultant, I’ve worked with many companies to help them design an effective organization, solve management issues, identify impediments to performance and define the culture/values to achieve desired goals and objectives.  One such company stands out among the rest.  They were able to solidify all the pieces into a strong, coherent and resilient place to work.

The initial consulting assignment was to assist with the merger of three distinct companies, integrating them into a unified and highly effective corporation.  The goal was to create an entity that could produce outstanding results that neither of the three businesses could achieve by themselves. After the merger, their quest for excellence started by articulating the core values about people, how they wanted to manage their new combined business, and how to achieve optimal results over time.  In other words, to create a new and powerful culture to manage the organization and meet their accelerated growth goals.

The top 8 people began by describing what they saw as their optimal core culture (It was their initial definition before clarifying, expanding and making operational):

  • We will have a company where anyone can influence decisions, regardless of position, level or length of service: To contribute to results by competence, not by their title.
  • We will become the employer of choice. When people in our industry search for employment, they come to us first, due to our reputation and how we engage talent.
  • All of management will share in the responsibility of an individual’s performance. If results are falling short, management either didn’t hire correctly, didn’t train properly, didn’t supervise effectively, or didn’t support appropriately. We own our results.
  • We will help each other succeed, as individuals, as a work team, and as a company


When talking about an operational philosophy, senior management began by articulating their beliefs about people and the environment they wanted to create.


We believe in the value of our people and will provide an environment that:

  • Will develop the talent of our employees so they can perform at their highest level
  • Constantly recognize and reward outstanding performance
  • Limits opportunity only by the growth of our company, availability of positions and the ability or talent of the individuals that we have hired, trained and developed for greater responsibility
  • Will be free of harassment, intimidation or any action that hinders or impairs an individual’s ability to perform or opportunity to advance
  • Will foster a “team” approach while optimizing the individual’s contribution
  • Will recognize unique contributions, innovations, ideas for cost reductions, increased quality or service levels that sets a new standard of productivity.


Top management sets the tone, culture and “rules” by which an organization is managed.  It’s their responsibility to articulate to the employees what they are, and “walk the talk”.  Check out your company’s latest annual report to see what they say about how they’re doing. Compare that to your experience.  Is it consistent?


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