Posted on: November 28th, 2017 by
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Have you been out of the job market for a while? Are you concerned? You can’t agonize over things you have no control over, but you can have a workable plan in place. Overcome your concerns through a strategy of steps to prepare you for re-entering the marketplace. The key is not to wait until the last minute to start your reentry, but rather design and execute your plan well beforehand.


Targeting: There are three steps in targeting. First, target your greatest skill or ability. What can you do better than most? If you were a hiring manager, what value could you add to the job? Second, target the kind of industry that needs your contribution: Where the supply of talent is low and the demand for results is high. Healthcare? Digital Marketing? Personal Services? Computers? Sales? Third, target the companies in your location that need people like you. Why target these three areas? With the economy turning upward, companies are hiring new talent to help them grow ahead of their competitors.


So how do you get ahead of your competition for an open position? Plan ahead: A year or two before entering the market identify the education, certification, requirements, experience, or preparation for the work you want, then sharpen your skills sets in those areas. It may mean night school, on-line classes, certification courses, intern hours, or volunteering at a non-profit organization. You will be a top candidate when you get some direct experiences in the work you want to do. It will also greatly impress the hiring manager.


When interviewing for an open job, show how you are uniquely qualified:

  • Present yourself as an experienced problem-solver. Show you’re a practiced hand.
  • Be a “cheerleader”: Support the goals and direction of the boss and the team.
  • Show you’re flexible: Give examples of quick responses to problems and multi-tasking.
  • A team player: Give examples of assisting others to succeed in a team project.


When making a hiring decision, a manager plays the percentages, looking at the candidate’s potential, cost and performance. Potential is viewed from past results; the marketplace will determine cost; and future performance is predicated on successes in similar situations.


How can you show you are worth the risk?

  • Demonstrate value: Results that have worked other places that are applicable here
  • Achievements: Success breeds more success. Show you can get things done
  • Communications: Be articulate. Show you can communicate up, down and across
  • Productivity: Research shows that older, more experienced workers are more productive
  • Make your boss look good: Give examples of how you made your prior bosses look good
  • What can you do that others can’t?: Emphasize your value. Help the boss with alternatives


Many talented people are out of the marketplace and want to get back in. Follow these steps and reposition yourself to regain traction in the job market.


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Posted on: November 21st, 2017 by
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I’ve been asked this question many times. Answer: It depends upon your ultimate job goal and the number of steps to get there.


First, define your objective. Examples: If you want to become the CFO of a major corporation, the number of job changes is different than if your objective is to be an accountant in a small manufacturing plant. The first number could be 10 steps; the second number may be 2.


Then you need to define your expectations, which changes with each generation.

  • Grandpa waited until his boss moved up or out. It could take 20 years.
  • Boomers changed jobs about 2 times in their first 10 years
  • Gen Xers averaged 3 job changes in 10 years
  • And Millennial’s are jumping 4 times in their first 10 years.


Why is job-hopping occurring faster and faster over time? Some reasons have to do with the highs and lows of the economy, companies that see employees as disposable, and changing skills needed in technology. Many employees don’t accept loyalty to a company, but rather they are loyal to their profession or themselves. Their first job is now called an entry-point and not the start of a career.


New graduates have always been more restless than those who are already in the workforce. They want to move up the ladder quicker. One way to do that is to change jobs, either within the company or to another company. If a talented individual doesn’t see a path for advancement or isn’t engaged in a development program, there’s no reason for them to remain in place while others move around them. A second reason is status and money. A move or promotion brings a higher title and more money (maybe 20%) than smaller performance raises (maybe 1 to 4%).


In order to move up the career ladder quicker, you must:

  • Accumulate knowledge, skills and abilities as rapidly as possible in each job
  • Learn to excel at your current job in a shorter period of time than others
  • Move up at the first chance, once you have mastered the job you’re in


So how do you manage your job change philosophy?


STEP 1 – Define your goal. But make sure you understand the impact of what you decide

STEP 2 – Define your expectations. Make sure they are realistic or you’ll be frustrated

STEP 3 – Find a model to follow: Someone who has done what you want to do

STEP 4 – Develop an initial strategy: Where do you need to be at each step, and when

STEP 5 – Get the education, certifications, experiences, skills and contacts you’ll need in order to reach your goal. Modify your career plan as you move forward.


One other caveat: The marketplace is changing daily, as is technology and new ways of doing things. Make sure you’re at the leading edge of that change in your field or your career plan isn’t worth a lot.


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Posted on: November 15th, 2017 by
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Your cover letter can be an asset or a liability. If it’s a liability that diminishes your candidacy by an ineffective presentation, don’t use one. It’s an asset if the hiring manager is motivated to review your resume. Some critical errors to avoid:


  1. Your cover letter lacks “potency”: Think of your cover letter as an “appetizer” to a terrific meal. If it’s dull and unappealing, the expectations for the resume will be low. View your cover letter as a strong “marketing” vehicle for what’s to come.   Many cover letters read like a book and are ignored or leave a bad impression. Convert it to a convincing endorsement.


  1. The cover letter is too long: Using the cover letter as a narrative about your career is a mistake. The cover letter needs to be short and strong. Match measurable results to the key items in the position description. If they’re looking for an experienced process improvement supervisor, use a bullet point, “A 12% increase in productivity through process improvement technology”. They’ll want to see the how you achieved that result in your resume.


  1. You miss the core of what they need: A generic cover letter misses the opportunity to make a positive impression. The position description will tell you what the hiring manager needs. Matching the critical elements with results will get you noticed. Usually the top 5 items on the position description are the most important. Match them to your measureable results with bullet points of achievement. That will get the hiring manager’s attention.


  1. Overexposure to the word “I”: One individual seldom achieves all results. Show yourself as a “team” player with a unique individual contribution. Focus on what the hiring manager is seeking. Done the right way, the hiring manager will see you as a contributor within a work group. Example: “Your goal of a high performance team reflects my management and operating style”.


  1. Don’t list irrelevant experiences: Don’t wander into side issues that take the hiring manager’s mind off of your competencies. Irrelevant material will draw the reader away from your primary objective. Never criticize your current company. The cover letter should make a positive impression as a prelude to your resume.


  1. Don’t use humor, inflated words or arrogance: Humor can work against you. Inflated words about how great you are can be worse. The worst of all is arrogance. When hyped-up words are used, your veracity is questioned, “How could all those accomplishments be achieved in such a short period of time?”

You’ll never get a second chance to make a good first impression. If the cover letter is not done right, you start from a weak position. In summary, the cover letter should:

    • Highlight three to five key result areas that directly parallels the open position
    • Translate how your experiences can create successes for the hiring manager.

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Posted on: November 7th, 2017 by
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Congratulations! The hiring manager must really be interested in you since you’ve gotten this far in the interview,. If you haven’t been given the opportunity to ask your own questions, your candidacy is over. Hiring managers who aren’t interested in responding to questions you have about the job or the company, isn’t interested in you as a candidate. Or better yet, you shouldn’t be interested in them.


So what are the questions you should ask that will make you a top candidate? Let’s start off with the questions you shouldn’t ask: Questions about compensation, benefits, vacation, moving allowance, bonuses, and the like. Why? These are the items you can discuss and negotiate after you get an offer, not before. When a hiring manager is convinced that you are the best person for the job, that’s the best time for discussion and negotiations.


The questions you should ask at this stage of the interview are those that position you as a competent contributor, who will add value to the organization and achieve results in the short and long term. How do you do that? By asking questions of the hiring manager like:

  • What are the issues that you need to find solutions for in the short term?
  • What performance is expected in order for key results to be achieved?
  • What are the strategies that need to be implemented in the longer term?


This type of question positions you as a results-oriented candidate wanting to know the expectations of the organization, and what you need to do to be a top performer.


The way in which the hiring manager answers these questions will tell you:

  • The depth, extent and complexity of issues you will be facing. Manageable?
  • The expectations of the hiring manager. Too high? Unrealistic time-frame?
  • Your potential success longer term? Opportunity for promotion?
  • The openness of the hiring manager to your questions? Skimpy or free-form?
  • The business acumen of the hiring manager. Can you learn from him?
  • How the hiring manager views your potential. Is he looking for alternatives from you? Does he ask how you would approach the potential solution? Can you translate your past successes to the issues of the open job?


If the hiring manager responds in this way, chances are that you are the top candidate for this position. If he can’t or won’t answer your questions, ask why.


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Posted on: October 31st, 2017 by
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Sometimes we hurt ourselves without really knowing it. A bad resume is one of those times. Here are some ways we hurt our chances of finding a better job, and what to do about it.


OVERUSED WORDS – Self-congratulatory words diminish your candidacy, like: Highly qualified, hard worker, problem solver, people person, self-starter, and so on. Your professional references should use these words, not you. Rather, define your achievements, like: Increased revenue by 10.2% within 15 months, or reduced cost by 3.7% through process improvement.



  • You don’t match up with the requirements of the open position. You can save yourself a great deal of disappointment if you parallel at least 70% of the position description. Anything less and your wasting your time. The higher the percent the greater your chances.
  • You don’t fit the culture. Everyone has a “sweet spot”: An industry and organization where they are comfortable and can contribute. The further out from your core, the more difficulty.
  • Your expectations are too high. Most hiring managers won’t take a risk with someone below a 60% chance of success, and only with someone who has been successful before.
  • Your resume reads well for the hiring manager but not for his boss. The bosses boss is usually looking for a longer term contributor which may not be on the position description
  • Your resume and your social media information are not compatible or say different things. The hiring organization won’t take the time to sort it out when they have other candidates.



  • If you send a photo or a “head shot” as part of your resume. The company is only interested in your achievements, not looks. However, Germany, France and Italy seek photos
  • Resumes that have large gaps in the work history. Unless you can explain “holes” in your resume, companies won’t take the time to hear your story.
  • Negative comments in your resume are poison to hiring organizations. You want to build a positive image of your achievements, not negative comments about bosses or employers
  • If you list your “demands” on the resume, chances it will be tossed, like: “I’m looking for a Directors title”, or a compensation level above the going rate, or other front-end demands
  • E-mail addresses that are frowned upon, like:, or Joker12 @….., or JustMarried@…… or BurningRubber@… and so on. Use an email address that projects a professional persona.
  • Paragraphs and narratives that run on too long without defining achievements or results. Just listing activities or responsibilities does not impress hiring managers. They usually find them boring and commonplace among all the other resumes. Yours resume must stand out.


Your resume and the words you use must project competence and potential. Identify your contributions, market your results, then minimize the things that diminish your image and you’ll do great.


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