Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Should You Pause Your Job Search For The Holidays?

Author: John Hadley
              Career Search Counselor, John Hadley Associates, LLC

There is one good reason to pause a bit on your job search during the holidays:
"I want to clear my mind and really enjoy the season, so that I can start up fresh and positive in the new year."
There is also one very bad excuse:
"No one hires during the holidays, so it's a waste of time and energy."
Many candidates tell themselves that:
  • People are too busy with the holidays to meet with me.
  • Hiring managers' minds are on the holidays, not on openings.
  • It's impossible to land interviews before year end.
  • No one extends job offers over the holidays.
  • Budgets aren't refreshed until the new calendar year, so there aren't any funds available for offers.

If those 'facts' were true, then why would this be the case? I only work with a select number of clients at one time, and at the height of the recession, two of them received job offers between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

And the next year four clients were invited in for serious job interviews during this supposed dead zone.
Even if we do assume that there are fewer interviews granted and job offers extended than at other times of the year, this is still arguably the BEST time for networking. Why? Because:
  • So many job seekers fall for the bad excuse I laid out above that the competition level for meetings and interviews is greatly reduced.
  • Potential networking contacts are in a more friendly, open and festive mood.
  • There is a plethora of holiday events you can attend.
  • People you meet with tend to be in a more giving spirit, consistent with the season, and therefore are more likely to take the meeting, and to give you something out of the meeting.
  • Business people tend to travel less, and stay closer to home when they do, often making it easier to find them in the office.

The conversations you have during the holidays position you for the new year, so that you start out the new year a leg up on everyone who put their searches on hold.

Keep in mind that if I as a hiring manager have a critical gap in my unit, I'm not going to put my attempts to fill it on hold. And I may actually be faced with losing my current year headcount if I don't fill it, so that I might actually be incented to fill it BEFORE year end!

So go ahead and enjoy the holidays, taking whatever time off you need to recharge and attack your career search marketing campaign with a renewed vigor in the new year. Just don't use that as a bad excuse to miss out on all of the great networking opportunities that present themselves over the holidays!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Getting to WOW on Your Resume

Author: Michael Kaplan
              Proposal Writer

You’ve read the position description. You’ve adjusted your resume to fit the position description. All to impress the hiring manager reading your resume.

Yet before hitting the send button to whisk off your resume, ask yourself one last question.

Am I impressed?

In my over 20 years’ of working on business proposals, one of my major responsibilities was to write, and often re-write, resumes of company resumes for use in proposals, to help my company win important contracts.  Resumes would come to me in the form of “getting the job,” and I would then have to transform them to “win the job.” That is, transform them from an information document to a sales document. Not always easy to do. I’ve found that many people, especially those on the technical side of things, when they write their resume, just state what they did for their company, and that it. Just provide straightforward information.

That’s where I come in. I carry a keyboard (apologies to Joe Friday from Dragnet).

Upon receiving a job resume from an employee, I would then develop their company resume, based in the information provided by the resume, in the company format.  I would then interview the person, either via phone, e-mail, or (the preferred method) in person. Questions I would ask them would include the following:
  • Was the project completed on time?
  • Was the project completed on or under budget?
  • Did you receive any commendations, either verbal or written, from the customer for your work, or your team’s work, following the completion of the project?
Most of the time, these won’t be on a job resume, because many will not likely brag in their job resume. Yet it’s important, since the objective of a resume, whether it’s for a job or a proposal, is to sell the person, to get the customer excited to have this person working on their projects.

After working my magic, I then submit the new copy to the person whose resume I adjusted for their review. The reactions I have gotten included “wow, I did that?” and “it makes me look like I did something.”

When writing your resume, think of yourself as your own Hollywood Press Agent. How do you put yourself in your best light? Are you impressed with your accomplishments?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

How Resilient Are You to Change?

Author: Ellen V. Platton

              Learning & Talent Development Professional

"Nothing stays the same". "Change is good".

We've all heard those phrases before.  In fact, we have all faced changes in our personal or professional lives.  However, not all of these changes have been welcome.  There are changes that can be thrust upon us unexpectedly.  When we are faced with unwanted changes, how well do we adjust?  We all bounce back differently and on our own schedules.  We are faced with such emotions as fear, anxiety, sorrow, doubt, loss, worry and insecurity. 

We just recognized the 15th year since the events of September 11th, 2001.  Witnessing the emotions of the loved ones makes me wonder how they are able to move forward.  Fifteen years later and I am still moved by the reading of the names of those we lost.  There are some families that are still unable to visit the sight, while others have been quicker to take action.  We each have the capacity to recover, adjust or bounce back at our own pace, on our own schedule.  There are a number of factors which play into our individual ability to adjust and move forward.  Some people may just be quicker to bounce back.  Others may have been through a similar experience in the past.  Many take longer to go through the process.  Certain events such as losing a loved one, losing a job, not getting accepted to the college of choice, or simply a change to our daily routine each may challenge our resiliency.  We each progress through the stages of denial, mourning, acceptance and adjustment at our own rate.  So the next time you want to tell someone to "snap out of it", realize that we each recover or spring back at our own pace.

How resilient are you?  What have you learned from your experiences?  Please share your stories or comments.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Don’t Take No for an Answer

By Bob Sherby
      Financial Consultant

Many years ago when I was CFO for an investment management subsidiary of AIG, I thought I had a very good idea and went to the president of the company and suggested that we start doing securities lending to add incremental income to our investment portfolios. He said “Bob, I don’t want to put $100 million of securities at risk to make $100,000.”

I really had no answer for him at that time so I just said okay. I really thought it was a great idea but I didn’t know anything about how securities lending worked. I had several banks pitching the idea to me so I told them they had to teach me all about securities lending and the risks involved. Then I asked them how those risks could be addressed. When I was comfortable about all of the risks, I prepared a paper that identified the three major risks and how they could be addressed to mitigate any potential losses.

I went back to my boss and asked for some of his time. I explained that I still thought securities lending was a good idea and told him that I had identified the risks involved and how those could be addressed with our securities lending agreement. Eliminating the risks would cut some of the potential income but we could still make some good incremental income. He said, okay, you’ve convinced me. Do it.

I met with the portfolio managers involved and explained how it would work and that it wouldn’t restrict any of their trading as long as the banks got timely notice of the trades. I then met with the investment accounting people and explained the accounting to them.

After starting with one portfolio of assets, we made over $1 million in additional income the following year. After adding other portfolios, we ended up making over $8 million in the first three years of the program with no losses on securities.

If I had accepted no for the original answer, nothing would have been done. The value to me was the satisfaction that came with accomplishing something positive. Oh, and my boss added me to a bonus program that had been set up for portfolio managers.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Interviewing is Like Riding a Bike

Author: John Dix
               Trainer, Facilitator & Strategist

“Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill”, the theory was developed at Gordon Training International:
  • Unconscious Incompetence
  • Conscious Incompetence
  • Conscious Competence
  • Unconscious Competence
Think about when you were a child, never having been on a bike, watching your older sibling riding away, effortlessly.  You said to yourself, “sure I can do that”.  So you jumped right on and off you went, straight to the pavement!  You successfully demonstrated the first stage of learning a new skill- unconscious incompetence.  You were completely unaware that you lacked the skills necessary to successfully ride a bike.

Now think about your first interview for that job you were confident you were qualified.  It wasn’t until you were in the interview that you became aware that you lacked the skills necessary to be successful- unconscious incompetence.

Now back to riding the bike.  After you picked yourself off the pavement, attended to your injuries, you sought the advice of that older sibling who shared with you the basic skills necessary to successfully ride that bike.  Keep peddling, maintain balance and move forward.  With that advice you realized your own incompetence- the next stage of learning a new skill- conscious incompetence.
After the interview, you take notice of your failures, of the lack of skills to be successful and what you could do better to leave your interviewer with a better impression.  Perhaps you sought advice from a trusted friend or coach.

And you took those observations for riding the bike and doing the interview, the next time you attempted either activity and you consciously demonstrate them- conscious competence.
And you practice, practice and more practice- until it becomes second nature- unconscious competence.  Achieving an unconscious level of competence may be a far-fetched goal, but one that must nonetheless be sought.  And it will only come through practice, preparation and persistence.

For an interview:
  • Unconscious Incompetence - you are not aware that you lack the skills to succeed in creating a value statement
  • Conscious Incompetence - you recognize the gaps and seek advice and assistance in bridging the gaps
  • Conscious Competence - your next interview goes much better as you concentrate on your improvement opportunities
  • Unconscious Competence - after many interview, these newly learned skills are innate, effortless and really portray the value you bring to that organization.
Practice, preparation and learn from your mistakes.  You’ll land in no time!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Training for Knowledge Transfer

Author: Ellen V. Platton, Learning & Talent Development Professional


Training for Knowledge Transfer

Let's face it - most information will not be retained after training has been completed.  The fact is that most information will be long forgotten once our learners leave the training.  As trainers, we deliver material with the intent of making an impact on our learners.  How much will they remember?  Will they be able to repeat information remembered or will they be capable of transferring knowledge? We need to equip our learners with information that will be retained with the purpose of improving job performance.  

We want our learners to be more efficient and effective at their jobs, whether they are making widgets or managing those who are making the widgets. They must be capable of explaining a concept, a theory or logic.  We want them to be able to improve, sharpen or add a skill.  They may need to avoid, correct or fix an issue.  

What have you done to ensure knowledge transfer?  Please feel free to comment or share.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Successful Internal Auditor

Author:  Bob Sherby
             Financial Consultant – Accounting Management and Internal Audit

The Successful Internal Auditor

Talk to various financial managers about internal auditors and generally the first thing you’ll hear, is oh no, here comes the internal auditor.  If that is what you’re hearing, that auditor is unlikely to be worth what his/her company is paying for the services.  Why?  Because the auditor is not likely to get full cooperation and people will not be as open in providing information.

Having been on both sides of the desk in Controller and CFO roles and in my last position as Sr. Director of Internal Audit for a publicly traded company, I knew what I liked and didn’t like about internal auditors and I certainly wasn’t going to emulate the ones I didn’t like.  However, my advice could just as easily translate into how to be a successful manager as well.  Even in my last year as Sr. Director of Internal Audit, the people at the offices I visited were genuinely happy to see me as we had developed friendships over the years.  Despite those friendships, everyone that I dealt with knew that rule number one with me is that shown below in the footer, “trust but verify”.

To be a successful auditor, one needs to have the requisite technical skills but technical skills alone won’t help if the audit targets are wary of your visit or if your visit interferes with their priorities.  Below are the steps that helped keep me welcome throughout my last company during eight years as Director of Internal Audit:

Audit Planning
  • Determine the time you will need for the audit at the audit location and time period.
  • Outline the audit requirements and estimated time with the senior person at the office or unit being audited and ask them if there is a best time for the audit to take place.
  • Ask that the team members know of your visit and provide a brief of the type of information that will be required.
  • Schedule the audit for the best time for that unit.  Remember each person wants to help but they also have their own jobs to complete, and their jobs have a direct impact on their compensation.
Audit Execution
  • Ask for help, don’t demand it.  Request as much information in advance of your visit as possible.
  • Treat each individual in the subject unit with the same respect as you would the senior person.
  • When interviewing an individual who asks to reschedule due to priorities, give them available times and be flexible.
Audit Report
  • Don’t be a “gotcha” auditor.  When presenting the findings, provide the reason for the failure and present it as positively as possible. 
  • Present new cost effective controls or solutions that are likely to prevent future failures.
  • Thank all concerned for their help in completing the audit.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Benefits of Working with a Career Coach

By Alex Freund
Career Coach, Interview Coach - Makes people comfortable during the interview

I received a phone call from someone asking me whether I’m a career coach or a career counselor. I reversed the question to see whether the caller knows the distinction between the two terms. As expected, the caller did not. But that caller was not in the minority, because almost everyone uses the two terms interchangeably. In fact, there are even more such terms: career consultant, facilitator, mentor, and even manager-as-coach.
Marcia Bench in her book "Career Coaching: An Insider’s Guide" describes in detail the nuances of each term. However, for practical purposes and for the majority of people, the only question that counts is whether any of those people who hold the various titles can help clients get jobs or assist them with career changes. Of course there are also many other issues that any one of these professionals can help with.
What do clients want?
Clients look at a coach and expect the person to be someone who is confident and responsive. The coach needs to demonstrate knowledge of how to maneuver between the myriad job search strategies that are out there, and the coach must be current with rapidly changing platforms in, say, social media, for example. In terms of expectations about what clients can get from a coach, many clients come with certain preconceived ideas, and so a coach must stay open-minded and often call on intuition and experience in order to produce optimal results for a client.
An experienced coach develops an eye for clients’ strengths, innate talents, and skills but at the same time has to help clients face—and overcome—weaknesses. Everyone has perceived weaknesses; some don’t see them objectively and thus can’t deal with them effectively. Here’s where a good career coach can be potentially crucial. Working with a career coach definitely reduces job search time—occasionally, quite significantly. Above all, a good career coach has to be an excellent listener and know to ask probing questions.
What is a session with a coach like?
Similar to other professionals, each coach has an individual style with which the coach feels confident and effective with clients. Many coaches are generalists, meaning that they help clients with a wide variety of topics such as résumé creation, networking, social media, LinkedIn profiles, written and verbal communications, interview preparation, and salary negotiation. As an example, my subspecialties are interview preparation and salary negotiation, which is of course not to say I don’t help clients with all the other subjects involved in career coaching as well!
While doing interview preparation, we conduct extensive mock interviews. I videotape clients for a few minutes, and then we analyze the tape together. I also provide feedback on a client’s image and make suggestions for improvement.
What is the cost?
Career coaches’ fees vary widely. Most career coaches have Web sites, but not all of them list their fees there. Why? Sessions can last anywhere from 45 minutes to three hours. Some coaches charge by session; others charge a global fee in the thousands of dollars.
My suggestion is caveat emptor: let the buyer beware - and do a thorough evaluation with due diligence. Interview a coach before handing over your money, and above all, if there’s no chemistry between the two of you, run away and find someone else regardless of the cost.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


Author:  Joseph Beim


Hiya, Friends. You say you lost your job and your last copy of your resume has glitter glue spilled all over it and the interview that was scheduled for Thursday conflicts with your yoga session and your unemployment check is five weeks late and you find the caterpillars had a field day on your best suit and the haircut you just got turned green?

Is that what’s troubling you today, Bunky?

Well welcome to the wide, wonderful life of the UNEMPLOYED! Yes, that wild, supercilious, world of Mac & Cheese suppers, making five year employment projections and OPPORTUNITY! Yes, you’ve climbed the ranks of iced tea instead of wine. Polyester instead of silk. Walking instead of cruising. YOU REACHED THE TOP! Top of the Heap! You have the control to take your life on ANY PATH YOU WANT! We take the first step to bringing you to the next stage of your life…one that YOU decide where it goes. But now the big news. YOU ARE NOW A SALEMEN! (Or saleswoman…we will keep the masculine because it’s easier and I really don’t care).

The only difference between selling cars and the Job Seeking Method is that YOU ONLY HAVE ONE PRODUCT…YOU! You HAVE to promote yourself and sell yourself as if you were made of fine Corinthian leather. You have to package yourself as being one notch above the best…note with due passion, I said PROMOTE yourself, not BE the best. It’s the selling which counts.

What is the difference between being a guru and being one of the ordinary? SELLING YOURSELF AS A GURU, my friends. You must COME ACROSS as someone that the buyer (the employer) WANTS, not puts up with. You must have THE edge, not AN edge.

Make him DROOL for you. That’s all job seeking is. Selling YOURSELF.  Period. But doing it right is a skill. A skill you can learn. We will take that journey together.

That is what this program is all about. SELLING YOURSELF. Your Accomplishments. Your MANNER. Your DESIRABILITY. Working together, we will get to know YOU. Your fine points. Points you never gave yourself time to put together and SELL. It works.
You will be amazed how good you have been. We just have to pull the pieces together. And it won’t take forever. Magic.

You are in a desert at night. You are the only person out there. Someone steps out of the darkness and sees you. He wants you. He needs you. With you, he has hope to return to civilization. All you have to do is point…he is placed in that crucial position…the ENLIGHTENED PERSON. See…it doesn’t take much, but you positioned yourself to change the life of an unknown person with a little knowledge he did not have. Are you entitled to payment for service rendered? YES. Cash in.

YOU HAVE MADE YOURSELF VALUABLE. You ARE valuable. And with proper resume/CV writing, promotion, selling techniques, YOU WILL BE!

Future blogs will tell you how. How to package yourself so the prospective employer will DROOL for you. Not consider you one of the ‘bunch.’ How to be 101%, not 99%.

See you next time.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

How do you engage the "forced" learner?

 Author:  Ellen V. Platton, Learning & Talent Development Professional

How do you engage the "forced" learner? 

How do you engage the "forced" learner? We've all had the adult in the classroom who has been "forced" to attend our training.  Either the training was "recommended" or the course was a mandatory requirement.  Regardless, she/he does not want to be in our classroom.  This person feels out of place, does not say much and their body language sends the message that she/he is not interested.  As the trainer, how do you engage this learner without disrupting the class? 

What has worked for me has been to encourage conversation.  Telling stories, referencing current events, asking questions, and using analogies are all informal ways that have led to classroom conversation. Once one person speaks, before long a number of people are engaged in a conversation, even the "forced" learner.  The "forced" learner has become interested and involved.  This person's body language now sends a different message.  Sometimes quoting a line to a popular show, movie or song (where appropriate) has allowed the learner to feel safe enough to get involved because I've now become relatable.  Asking questions is a sure way to start a conversation:  Has anyone ever experienced a similar situation?  Can anyone tell me a time when....?  How would you have....?...Who has an example of.....?  What worked?  Does anyone......?  Why do you think...?  Once the learner can relate and has an opportunity to share their story, she/he eases into the conversation. Telling stories, using current events, and analogies have worked for me.  
As trainers, we want to engage the learner while at the same time provide valuable information.  Everyone has something to say, has a question to ask, or just needs a bit of guidance.  Most learners want to tell their story but may need to first feel comfortable and secure in their surroundings.  When someone enters our classroom, they may initially feel out of place.  I've described what has worked for me. 

How do you engage the "forced" learner?  Please comment or share your story. 

Are You Passionate About Your Career?

Author:  Ellen V. Platton, Learning & Talent Development Professional

Are You Passionate About Your Career?

Have you ever asked yourself if you are following your passion? If you are unsure, think about what you like to do, what inspires you in your everyday life.  What do you enjoy doing?  Do you like to analyze situations?  Are you someone who finds joy in creating something with your hands?  Do you like to help others?  Once you discover your passion, ask yourself another question.  Are you incorporating your passion into your career? 

A friend once advised me that my career should involve my passion.  So what was my passion?  I knew I felt so incredibly inspired when I was a coach for the Manhattan Special Olympics Volleyball team.  By coaching the athletes, I helped them to become the best human beings possible.  The game was not just about winning, rather "being brave in the attempt to win".  I thrived on their engagement.  They pushed themselves and helped each other to stretch their abilities on and off the court.  We worked together to improve their skills and worked as a team.  When training, my #1 rule was to enjoy the training and to have fun.  

I knew I needed to incorporate this same passion for training into my career. I became a Learning & Talent Development Professional.  To this day, I am still incredibly inspired to engage individuals when training.  I am passionate about providing people with the tools and resources that help them to become more efficient and effective at their jobs.  My goal is to stretch their skills and abilities both in and out of the classroom.....and to always enjoy and have fun.  I am still passionate about my career. 

Are you following your passion? Please comment or share your passion