Posted on: May 17th, 2020 by
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Working-from-home (WFH) is a new phenomenon for many people.  It takes some getting used to.  There are ways to make it more productive and lessen the problems both personally and when a working group.  My suggestions:


Communications – This is where most work-from-home strategies affect productivity and performance, both for the individual and the work group.  As an individual, social distancing affects the interaction that most people need.  We are social animals.  A certain amount of contact with others is necessary.  Keep your personal connections active.


As far as the work group is concerned, the word I would use is “overcommunicate”.  During normal working conditions you have face-to-face interactions that produces give-and-take conversations with a back-and-forth forum that provides clarity to questions, a discussion of issues, potential problems, and a dialog that is needed to understand the goal, objectives, strategies and results expected from each member of a group, and the group as a whole.  Points are made to unearth impediments, holes in the approach, or external influences affecting results.  Unless the boss is extremely articulate, and each member of the group is exceptionally insightful, most communications fall way short when using the written word.  Even electronic videos don’t provide the environment for a deeper meaning to directions, questions or concerns, unless the sessions are deep and convened often.  Even when someone thinks they understand, the piece that falls through the cracks may be the part of the work-product that is critical to its success.  Group interactions are imperative to WFH


Breaks – Take a break every hour or so.  You need to get the blood flowing again while creating a pause in your mental focus.  The break doesn’t need to be more than 5 minutes, but just enough time to re-think what your doing and readjust your passive positioning.


Every 3 hours or so take a longer break, maybe for a small lunch or snack.  The reason why I say “small” is since your mostly passive, it’s easy to gain weight you don’t need.  You may also find that in mid-afternoon a half-hour rest to read a book, watch the news or take a walk will do a world of good.  Some find that a mid-afternoon set of mild exercises give you the stimulation you need to finish the day with renewed energy.


Hours – Unless you have a deadline or get involved in a project, don’t work past your normal hours.  If your normal pattern is 8 to 5 with an hour for lunch, try to keep that schedule.  You’ll find it easier to adjust to a new pattern of work if your hours are similar to your pre-WFH worktime.  If you find that you work more productively in the early evening, no problem.  Take off the morning or afternoon time so you have two-out-of- three segments of work, and one segment doing different things you enjoy.


Define expectations.  Provide constant feedback.  Interact openly with co-workers.  Track progress and results.


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Posted on: May 12th, 2020 by
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We are in unusual times.  You need to take unusual actions to find an open position which will advance your career direction.  While some have been furloughed or moved to a lesser job, others are losing their developmental skills which reduces their marketability.  Here are ideas to help position you for the next step.


First, you need to be proactive and take a firm hand in your effort and time.  A passive response during this time period may set you back a year or more than your more active colleagues.


Redo you resume – Certain words have more impact than others.  The words you use on your resume need to do two things:  Match the skills and experiences that the hiring manager is looking for in a candidate, and show measurable results.  Your resume needs to be compelling so the hiring manager wants an interview to learn more about you and how you achieved your results.  Match the words and experiences defined in the position description with both hard and soft skills.  Make sure you validate the transferable skills and experiences from past jobs to the new one.


Critical skills – In the aftermath of the pandemic, organizations will be looking for those who can increase productivity, reduce cost or accelerate income.  Highlight your skills, abilities, experiences and results in those areas.  Hiring managers are not looking to maintain their status, they have to reverse the stall from the past half year to a higher level.


Upgrade your credentials – Determine what new skills or knowledge are being sought after within your function and industry:  Project Management?  New system or application?  Data Analysis?  Consumer behavior?  Market Trends and Projections?  Find an on-line course to upgrade your certification in the most asked for skills.  You can be one step ahead of all others when the marketplace opens up.  Volunteer in an area that will expand your experiences.  Supplement your core competencies with knowledge and abilities that will demonstrate your readiness at a new and higher level.


Practice interviewing skills – You should be at the top of your game while interviewing by telephone (usually the first contact), a video interview (social distancing) or a face-to-face interview (the last step).  The more you practice the better your results.  Take your resume and view it as would a hiring manager.  What questions will be asked?  Usually the key questions are, “What did you do?  How did you do it?  What were the results?”


Connect with others – People that you know, who are in the function or industry you are pursuing, can be your greatest asset.  They know what is going on, who is hiring, what skill organizations are looking for, when a job may open up, and sometimes, who is the hiring manager?  Make contact with those who can assist your efforts.  Ask for their help.


Preparation and practice are the keys to your next career step.  Take advantage of the time available to you now, before the rush.


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Posted on: May 5th, 2020 by
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Ever ask the question, “How do some people come out of a bad situation even better than they were before?”, or “Why are some people’s luck better than mine after a crisis?”.  Well, maybe it’s because their attitude and approach to the issue was different than yours.


My experience has shown that the difference between those who come out of a major or minor crisis smelling like a rose was dependent upon two factors:

  • Their attitude
  • Their preparation and execution during the change


ATTITUDE:  Your mental and psychological approach to problems affect how effectively you deal with adversity.  Those with a defeatist attitude will never be able to advance beyond being a victim.  Comments like, “I can’t, I’m being held back, I’m not prepared, I’m not as good as someone else, I don’t have the time”, and many more such views will inevitably lead to falling short.  Giving up before you start will keep you in the failure mode.


What you’re looking for is an encore performance to what you were able to achieve before the crisis.  You’ve already demonstrated a level of success prior to the event.   You were a contributor before the economic downturn of 2008, an illness, a financial loss, a slump in your industry, a layoff, or the current Coronavirus. Your attitude about the ability to accomplish the same or a better outcome than before the problem will dictate your results now.  Once your attitude and willingness to change toward a more positive direction is set, then it’s a matter of preparation and execution.


Questions you may want to ask:  What has made me the happiest in my life and career?  What am I most passionate about?  What gives me the greatest satisfaction?  What am I able to change? What are my “drivers” (things that motivate me to be successful)?


PREPARATION and EXECUTION:  Once you’re squared away in your own mind, it’s time to help others understand what you’re capable of achieving, in their mind.  The following steps seem to be the sequence that’s needed.

  • Don’t make too quick a decision. Think it through. You want to be right, not fast.
  • Creatively broaden your vision. Where can you best redeploy your skills/experiences?
  • Be realistic about your direction, possibilities and financial support needed
  • Use a professional coach who understands the marketplace and your potential in it
  • Assess your greatest assets. What can you do, whereas others are less competent?
  • Define past accomplishments in measurable terms to achieve visible results
  • Take an on-line course or certification to bulk up your credentials
  • Create a compelling resume, that persuades a hiring manager to ask for an interview
  • Launch a broad network of contacts in your chosen field, including social media
  • Practice the skills of effective interviewing to move you ahead of your competitors
  • Test the marketplace with a professional coach to identify the best potential prospects


Major change is difficult to navigate.  Set your goal and strategy to succeed.


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Posted on: April 28th, 2020 by
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During an interview, you as a candidate want to respond to questions that:

  • Show that you have real solutions to issues they are experiencing, or
  • Define a result that you have achieved in a similar situation


If successful, you will move up the list of candidates.  Those candidates who answer questions with a generic, non-specific answer will move down the list.  The difference between the two, is that one provides examples of a potential solution to an issue while the other provides a pontificating philosophy, but no concrete answer.


Finding solutions and producing results represent critical aspects within any organization. The interviewer wants clear-cut examples that the candidate can do the job.  That can be very difficult during a 30-minute interview. It requires you to have a focused approach.


The experienced interviewer may ask a question like, “Give me a specific example of a situation in which you solved a major issue in your field of expertise. What was the issue and what did you do?”  Some candidates will say something nebulous about having great problem-solving skills and technical knowledge, but fail to give concrete facts.  Those are the candidates that lose credibility.  Other questions?

  • ‘Give me a specific example of an action you took that turned out to be a mistake. What happened and what did you learn from the mistake?”
    • Some will claim they cannot recall making a mistake. That is the worst possible answer. Those people are either lying or they are afraid to make decisions
    • Some will discuss a mistake, then slowly begin to shift the blame to someone else. This answer is the 2nd worse answer
    • Some will describe a specific error, accept full responsibility, plus what they did so it didn’t reoccur. That’s the answer you are seeking. It demonstrates someone who’s not afraid to identify and correct an error.
  • “Give me a specific example of your greatest accomplishment to date”. Candidate answers will be varied, but it gives the interviewer insights into your style, priorities, character and thoughtfulness.  Did you take all the credit or was it a team effort?  Was your achievement meaningful?  How was it accomplished?


So how do you best prepare for interview questions?  I suggest three steps:

  • Your resume is the only document they have, so something on it drew their interest. Take each line of your resume and with the position description identify what questions are likely to be asked?”  Prepare your answers before the interview.
  • Outside of the resume, there are about 50 most asked questions, from “strengths and weaknesses” to “why are you a better candidate than others?”. Use your imagination to figure out the questions and prepare your best answers beforehand.
  • Prepare, practice and improve your answers to questions you know will be asked. Each job may have a slightly different answer, but prepare, prepare, prepare.


My thanks to R. Johnson for some of the ideas within this article.


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Posted on: April 21st, 2020 by
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The marketplace is both “hot” and “cold” depending upon the industry, company and your job function. Technology, health care and data scientists are some of the hottest, while brick and mortar retail, journalism and transport drivers are the lowest demand and lowest paid.  So, what are the steps to getting hired no matter what the job.  The following list defines the general steps to take, but may need to be modified by job category.


  • Create a “compelling” resume – If you meet 70% of the job specs, go for it. The higher the percent the higher the probability of an interview if you have a compelling resume.  A compelling resume is where a hiring manager, after reading your resume says, “This is someone I need to talk to, as they have what I need!”


  • Test the marketplace – Find out what’s hot in your industry, function, location, and what is not. Find where the demand is highest and the supply is lowest. Search through the internet and a network of professional contacts.


  • Match your experiences with the job description – Check out the top 5 to 8 items on the position description of an open job. Those top items are the key areas of interest to the hiring manager.  Identify parallel experiences and results that will be of high interest to the hiring manager.  Show that you have results to the issues for which they are looking


  • Practice answers to questions you know will be asked – Assume you are a hiring manager. Look at your resume.  What questions would you ask for each item?  Every interviewer will ask, “Why are you seeking a new job?”  Practice your answers before they are asked.


  • Prepare for at least 3 different interviews – When you get a request for a telephone interview, it means you are one of the top 10 or 15 candidates. A request for the first one-on-one or group interview means you are one of the top 2 or 3 candidates.  A second interview means you are a finalist candidate.  A third interview usually means an offer will be made.


  • Questions you need to ask – When asked for your questions, focus on the results expected for the job, not questions about holidays, vacations, benefits and so on. Ask well thought out questions that will impress the interviewer, focusing on performance expectations, short term issues needing solutions, and concerns they may have.


  • Understand the offer – When an offer is made, make sure you understand all aspects of the functional responsibilities, expectations for results, reporting relationships, to name a few. Ask questions if you’re not satisfied with the offer, like, “The compensation looks low to industry standards.  Is there room to improve the starting salary?”


The timing is good for a job seeker.  It is especially good for those who are competent with state-or-the art skills, have a track record of high performances and results, and can fit in easily with the culture of the new organization.

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