Posted on: September 11th, 2018 by
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Without good or great employees, organizations can’t be good or great.  Success of any organization is limited to the talent and quality of its people.  So what should a hiring manager be looking for in the best candidate for an open position?  And what does this mean for you, a candidate who is looking for the right job?  Let’s take a quick review.


Beyond the basic elements of honesty, conscientiousness, dependability, and respect, hiring managers need an answer to the overall question, “What will you be able to do for me?”  The answer is usually found through a series of questions:

  • Do you have the skills I need to solve my immediate problems?
  • Will you give me high performance over time with issues to come?
  • Will you effectively fit into the current workgroup and produce as a team member?


So what are some of the factors the manager is looking for when making the hiring decision?  Here are at least five of them:


PASSION – Candidates who aren’t passionate about their work aren’t usually high performers.  If you can’t show a passion for your past results during the interview, you probably won’t become a finalist candidate.  You can demonstrate that passion by the energy and the enthusiasm you show when describing past projects and a high level of interest in the open position.


DRIVE TO PERFORM – Candidates can only demonstrate high performance through experiences that has relevance to the hiring manager. Those experiences must also be supported by measurable results that the hiring manager expects.  Those results are best communicated by metrics of productivity or reduction of costs.  A narrative about your accomplishments without substantiation of how your results were achieved, is useless.


FITS OUR CULTURE – Whether the culture is autocratic or participative, you need to show that you can smoothly fit in.  If your results are achieved through collaboration, but the culture is competitive and political, be wary.  The opposite is also true.  You may be able to act the part for a short period of time, but it’s almost impossible to maintain the act over the long term.  The culture must fit your own values and philosophy or it may be difficult to succeed.


FLEXIBILE – Rigid people usually succeed in rigid organizations. Most organizations today reward those who can adapt to different environments as the business, organization or marketplace changes.  Organizations and functions will shift with both controllable and non-controllable forces. Your ability to move with these forces will determine your success.


TECHNOLOGICALLY CURRENT – Why should you be considered as a finalist if you aren’t up to date in the technology within your function?  It shows a lack of initiative or desire to advance your skills. Hiring managers shouldn’t need to train you in functional systems or technical skills that are standard requirements for the open position.


Hiring managers are impressed with candidates who are knowledgeable about potential solutions, can fit the culture and have the energy and enthusiasm to achieve required goals.


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Posted on: September 4th, 2018 by
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Career drivers are the motivational forces that propel you forward.   When I look over my career I uncovered three career drivers for me:  Growth (both personal and professional); increased responsibility and compensation; freedom to perform at a high level.


Identify your own career drivers, and then assess them against your drivers.  Do this by creating a scale from 0 to 100 whereby a 50 on the scale is “Minimally Adequate, a 75 rating is “Acceptable” and anything above 75 indicates you are making progress.  The higher your rating the greater the progress.


Next, take a look at the drivers to your career success and apply them against your scale.  In my case, there have been three drivers throughout my career.  You may have different drivers so you need to figure that out.  Mine are:


  1. Personal and professional growth – As an individual:  Are you growing in confidence, maturity, interpersonal relationships, experience, exposure, visibility, credibility, influence, and other personal attributes needed for the tasks ahead?  As a professional:  Have you increased your skills and abilities, learn higher levels of complexities, engage with higher management, expand your business and functional knowledge that continue to position you on an upward trajectory?  What’s your assessment: Less than 50 / 60 / 75 / more?


  1. Responsibility and compensation – Are you increasing your functional responsibilities while expanding your compensation?  Responsibilities can expand by additional roles, tasks or projects, inclusion in representative groups that will advance you within the organization.  Compensation is a measure of how the organization values your contribution: Performance increases above the norm, or a bonus for a job well done.  Non-financial rewards are also to be counted, like being recognized by the “big boss” in an open meeting.  What’s your assessment: Less than 50 / 60 / 75 / more?


  1. Freedom to perform – How tightly are you supervised?  Are you given the freedom to develop the strategies and execute an approved plan to achieve stated results?  If you’re micro-managed or spoon-fed, it’s time to ask why.  Freedom to act is extremely important as it demonstrates the confidence the company has in you.  The higher you go, the greater the freedom of action. What’s your assessment: Less than 50 / 60 / 75 / more?


Take your career drivers, rate them, and then add them together.  If your Total Satisfaction Index is 150 or less, you have a major problem.  A total number of 225 means you are making reasonable progress. Over 240 is terrific.  The combination is also important, like a 90 in one category and a 40 in another. The caution flag is when all three categories range in the 60’s or low 70’s.


If your scores are not acceptable to you, talk with your boss. Explain what you need in order to achieve your greatest performance.  Your current organization should be able to help with your career drivers. If not, then you’ll know it’s time to look at the marketplace.


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Posted on: August 25th, 2018 by
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Each of us has a primary persona that makes up our personality. Some people like to work alone, while others are more comfortable in a group setting.  The question is, “How does the mix and balance of these operating personas affect your job search strategy?”  Let’s look at just three of them.


  1. The Eagle– This person is primarily a go-it-alone type individual who acts as a solo contributor while usually interacting with others only if necessary
  2. The Team player– Primarily an integrator, who interacts with others to organize and make sure things are done through the right people.
  3. The Stabilizer– Primarily this person is a detailed person within the group, who keeps track of everything once the direction is defined


Let’s take a look at them one at a time:

  1. The Eagle usually is a sole contributor who works best on his or her own. Give them a task that is not highly dependent on others’ interaction, and then leave them alone to produce a result.  In sales, give them an area that needs growth or new business and turn them loose with specific expectations. If you make them a manager, they are now dependent upon the work of others.  Some can’t make the transition and may tend to micromanage. They need goals and objectives.
  2. The team coach or player interacts up/down and across organizational lines and can participate or lead groups around complex tasks. They make the best managers. They provide the interaction between functions and tasks that are critical to the performance and results of the business. All companies need a number of these types of employees, well placed and competent in their function.
  3. The stabilizers help to develop and execute the work plan and are good at what they do. They need a manager who can communicate effectively and has high standards. Don’t expect great insights or new improved processes, however. These are important contributors who usually form the backbone of the business.  These are the “doers” within the organization.  They get the details done while others move on to the next step.

We all have attributes in all three categories, but usually we gravitate to one or the other.  So, which one are you?  All three are needed in any organization. It’s the balance of where they are and what they do that’s important. The decision-maker, however, has to figure out how to put together a high performance work group given each individual contributor.

When you’re interviewing for a new position, the group is already established and set. The question is how and where will you fit in?  If you’re working with a group of Eagles, the issues will be very different then if they are mostly Stabilizers.

Work groups have a persona just like individuals. Some are high performers while others are not.  Having insight as to their needs and make-up is important for you to know.

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Posted on: August 24th, 2018 by
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Why should a hiring manager choose you?  Is it your charm and wit?  Nice try.  Maybe it’s your past experiences?  Now we’re getting a bit warmer, but not quite.  What are the differentiators that set you apart?  If you don’t know, you better find out because that is what separates success or failure in the marketplace.


There is only one reason why you get hired and the others don’t. You must have something that the hiring manager wants. What are they?  Results!  You must have a pattern of achievements through your past experiences that demonstrate a level of results to set you apart in a way that the hiring manager can visualize higher performance to accomplish organizational objectives in the future. Let’s parse these words in a way that will give you more meaning.


You have a pattern of achievements…  Make a list of accomplishments that succinctly summarizes your contributions at each stage of your career, especially those that parallels the top items of the position description.  What have you achieved?  List those things that you are most proud at each stage of your career to date.


… through your past experiences…   Begin with your schooling and move forward until today, but spend the most time and emphasis on the most recent two or three jobs.  Show progression of knowledge, skills and expanded responsibilities.


… that demonstrate a level of results…  Focus on the outcome and less time on the activity.  Anyone can implement a project, but it’s the measureable resultsthat count.  Define the metrics of your performance before and after your engagement.


… to set you apart…  It must be unique enough that few can match.  What is significantly better because of your involvement?  Separate out your individual performance first, then add in your work team, department, or company


… in a way that the hiring manager can visualize a higher level of performance…  Connect your performance to the function they’re looking to fill. Excite and energize the hiring manager’s view of what’s possible if you’re hired.  You have to project yourpotentialvalue.


… to achieve organizational objectives in the future. This is a key to crystalize your uniqueness. If you can’t add value to reach their objectives, you’re not going to be hired.  Look both short-term and longer-term.  The future is now.


What does that all mean to you?  Even before the interview, identify the key issues the organization must solve.  Develop mini-pitches around those issues.  Market your potential value to the hiring manager, based on the needs of the business, supported by your past achievements.  Those are your differentiators.  Use them well.


Make yourself distinctive in the marketplace by separating yourself from the rest: Measureable results that the hiring manger must have to succeed.  If you can’t, then describe your responsibilities.  If you can’t, then discuss your skills.  If you can’t, then move on.


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Posted on: August 14th, 2018 by
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First, a definition:

  • Visionaries see over the horizon and set the direction of a unit or organization
  • Translators interpret the vision and develop strategies to accomplish the objectives
  • Implementers execute the actions necessary to achieve the results desired


Each individual has varying degrees of skills and abilities in each one of these three areas, depending upon the subject and context. You may be a visionary in technology, but a translator when it comes to business strategy and an implementer in auditing:  Different abilities in different situations.


In assessing the readiness for your next career step, do you see yourself as a visionary, translator or implementer?  Are you a 10% visionary, 20% translator and a 70% implementer?  Or would it be 50/25/25?  Or maybe even 10/50/40?  No combination is right or wrong, except when you compare it to what the organization needs? If your next step is with an organization that needs someone who can develop a vision and strategy for the next 5 years, and you are an 80% implementer with 10% visionary and translator skills, the requirements are opposite from your potential contribution.  That doesn’t mean you can’t do the job.  It only means that your risk factor is higher versus someone who has an 80% visionary profile.


What’s the best combination?  It sometimes depends upon your place in the organization.  Sometimes if your boss is a visionary, a translator might be needed.  If your boss is a translator, an implementer could be best. Or sometimes a visionary may want another visionary on staff as a sounding board.  There is no “one size fits all”, but understanding how you function within your environment is critical.


Usually the Visionary is at or near the top of a unit.  It could be the President, a department head or the leader of a small group.  It’s difficult to be a visionary from the bottom of an organization.


Translators take the vision and evolve it into operational strategies.  They are the ones who determine the actions that need to take place to achieve results. The Translators then integrate all of the pieces into a coherent whole.


Implementers are just that…  those who execute the strategies into results for the success of the enterprise.  They are the “doers” of the organization, executing the strategies to accomplish the vision.  Without excellent implementers, the best vision in the world is useless.


So, if I was interviewing you for a position, I’d be looking at how you’ll best fit into the organization, the level that you’ll be performing, plus look at your potential to perform in these different roles.  It’s a question of matching and balancing these elements to achieve the objectives of your unit.


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