Friday, November 3, 2017

Face your fears and try something new

Author: Alan Kirshner 
              Finance Professional/Credit & Collections/Financial Analysis/SAP

For as long as I can remember I have always had a fear of heights.  If I was walking on a high mountain trail, I would always stay to the inside and not look over the edge.  It’s not an issue of being up high, because I am fine with being on a jet plane or being on the observation deck at the Freedom Tower.  The problem lies in being up high and on the edge of something where I could fall off and tumble to my death.

I suspect that I must have had a trauma early in life where something bad almost happened to me with a fall.  As much as I have had this fear for a long time, I do not let it paralyze me.  I will hike in the mountains and usually go very quickly if I am near the edge and feel I am in danger of falling off.  I have pushed myself to do things like take a mule trip into the Grand Canyon.  It seems like every time my anticipation is worse than the actual event.

With this theme of pushing my limit with heights, I set a goal of sky diving.  I’ve been working my way up to it by taking smaller steps.  I started out by jumping off the side of a boat.  After accomplishing that, I decided to set a goal of going Parasailing.  I accomplished that one with the support and hand holding from my son.

I started thinking about the skydiving a number of years ago but felt like it was going to be well into the future.  I was thinking it would be after my two sons graduated from college.  Lately I started to look into it and decided why wait, because you never know what the future will bring.  I also went to an inspirational networking meeting and the speaker asked the question, “when is the last time you did something for the first time?”  I found that was the push to get me to sign up for skydiving.  I also felt it would be a great accomplishment to finish the summer.  It was complicated, because the place I was planning to use, gets shut down every time Donald Trump comes to his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey because of flight restrictions.  It was recently closed for 17 days.
Well on a Friday I booked the skydiving for the following Tuesday at 11:00AM.  I kept affirming the thought, “I am confident and relaxed successfully skydiving.”  I said it while hiking, biking and running over the next few days.

On Monday night, I got a call confirming my skydiving appointment for Tuesday. That night, I did my affirmations one more time and tried to relax.  The weather forecast called for some fog and potential for rain.

I woke up on Tuesday morning and it was very cloudy.  Since I did not receive a call canceling skydiving, I headed over to the airport.   When I got there, I was shown a short video, explaining how dangerous skydiving is, and how you are assuming all the risk including death when you do it.  The next step was to go on an IPad and sign 2 different waiver forms which repeatedly mention you can be seriously hurt or killed and you will not sue the skydiving company, instructor, or equipment maker.  Their computer system ‘crashed’ several times and I needed to start the waiver from scratch each time.  The forms also said you needed to specify that you do not take any medication regularly and don’t have any issues such as heart disease.  I answered that I do take a medicine.  I also found out that due to the cloudiness they had not started the jumping that morning and consequently there was a 2 hour delay.  I started hoping they wouldn’t let me jump for medical reasons.  I finally completed all the forms and found out I would be on the 4th plane going up.  I resigned myself to the wait, and started talking to people to learn more about the experience.  I also texted my wife to tell her about the delay.  No sooner did I complete the text, when they told me I had been pushed up to the next flight and I needed to get harnessed and ready to jump.

The panic started to set in and they put the harness around me.  I met the instructor named Matt who I was going to jump connected to me and asked him to go easy on me since it was my first jump.  I also shared with him that I have a big fear of heights and he told me he did also and this wouldn’t be a problem.  I purchased a video/photo package of the experience and Matt started to take pictures of me on the ground and near the plane.  We boarded the plane and as luck would have it, I was sitting on a seat right next to the exit door.  I dreaded this because one of the people I spoke to on the ground said on the flight up when it gets hot the sky diving instructors like to open the door and leave it open for a while to bring cold air into the cabin.  She said this was the scariest part for her.  Sure enough that happened and I could not bear to look out the open door but choose to look into the airplane instead.  I was very relieved when the instructors cooled off and closed the door again.

Matt gave me instructions about getting out of the plane which included dangling my feet over the side.  He also said I needed to arch my head and back and bend my knees and keep them together once we leave the plane.  I found out that Matt has been jumping for 10 years and had done over 2000 jumps.

Matt and I were number 3 in the cue to jump out and the time had come for people to exit the plane.  I watched the first 2 sets of people go and realized I was up next.  I dangled my feet out the plane and Matt launched us out of the airplane.  The free fall was amazing, as it was just like being in a wind tunnel with air flying all around you.  Eventually I felt the big tug as the parachute deployed.  Matt told me that I made it and he was in control from there.  I looked around and got extremely nervous because we were still 8000 feet above mother earth.  Matt could tell I was very tense and he tried to relax me.  He also loosened some of the ropes on the harness to make us more comfortable, though that made me even more nervous.  Although it was beautiful scenery, I just couldn’t wait to get down. He handed me a yellow string and when I pulled it down with my right hand, we moved to the right.  I did the same thing with the string in my left hand and we moved to the left.  Soon he took over the steering for landing and instructed me that we would be landing on our bottoms and to make sure to keep my legs out horizontally and hold them there because this was the dangerous part where we could really get hurt.  Silly me, I thought all the previous parts of the jump were the dangerous ones. I did exactly as Matt instructed and we landed on the left side of our bodies instead of our bottoms. We hit the ground a little harder than I expected, my ears became completely clogged, but no injuries.   I was so relieved to be back on the ground.

I found out from Matt that we did the free fall for 30 seconds and the plane went up to 10,000 feet.  Wow what an exhilarating and scary experience for me.  Thinking about it now, I have not completely conquered my fear of falling, but I am proud I was able to push myself beyond my fear.  I also feel more confident to try new things in the future.  Looking down from a mountain does not seem nearly as high or scary any more.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Try Something for the First Time to Shift Your Job Search Perspective

Author: Terry Adams

Mark Beal, PR guru-professor-author, shared his 101 Lessons They Never Taught You In College at a recent PSG gathering in the Princeton Library. Although each lesson is a valuable learning for all “post-college grads”, Mark highlighted the ones he thought most benefited our group of professionals in transition. Masterfully, Mark related a dozen or so lessons bringing each one to life with personal antidotes and stories, Mark’s signature style. Lesson #46 struck a chord for me.

Five years ago my daughter asked to go skydiving on her 18th birthday and my response was, “Great idea, I’ll take you but I’m not jumping!” This chorus repeated every year since. Mark presented Lesson #46 Try Something for the First Time and my brain perked-up asking, “Why not jump?”

In the face of looking for a new job and being confronted with various beliefs about getting the right position, I asked myself again, “Why not jump?” This query uncovered a fear within myself regarding falling out of an airplane with a malfunctioning parachute...that terrified me! Was I experiencing a similar fear around my job search, i.e., What if the next position didn’t work out?

Fast forward to this weekend, my daughter’s 23rd birthday, she and I jumped out of an airplane 10,000 feet in the air, made a free fall for 55 seconds, and an eight minute parachute drop!! My nerves were calm until my daughter jumped before me and I glimpsed the earth below, deep gulp! I acknowledged my nerves, focused my attention to the clear, blue sky and the great opportunity to feel free and energized. That imagery got me off the plane. The ground was in my view whether I wanted it or not (I could have closed my eyes but that would be a waste!)  My eyes looked down and my arms outstretched, I felt the intense pressure against my chest and face, and yelled, “Oh My God…!” After that, we gently parachuted to the exact spot where my tandem partner glided us to a soft halt. WOW!

My landing was safe: no nausea, no jitters, no broken bones, and all pure adrenaline pumping through my veins. My first thought was, “Why did I wait so long?” This experience provided me a fitting metaphor for my job search. Instead of seeking a position out of fear of being unemployed or the new job may not work out, my circumstantial view shifted to realizing an opportunity like the beautiful clear sky on Sunday morning at 10,000 feet in the air. This is my opportunity to find a great position, one that pumps pure adrenaline through my veins! Thank you, Mark, for being the catalyst for this enlightenment!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Address the Emotional Side of Job Search

Author: Sam Cohen
         Leader of on-time process and technology solutions, engaging a passion for working with people, vision for the future, and accepting only success.

Alex Freund (The Landing Expert) wrote an article (How to Overcome Fear While In-transition) which notes the oft-minimized emotional side of being in transition.  It is important is to recognize the need to address job search holistically.  The focus is generally:
(1) knowing the current tools for job search
(2) applying the current job search processes
(3) preparing and practicing job search interactions

Just as important is:
(4) having a confidential emotional support network - one that listens as you talk about the emotions of search
(5) understanding/recognizing what you are experiencing
(6) having positive diversions

The last 3 points must not be minimized. A confidential emotional support network should be available. Remember that even those who are positive have negative moments.

Support is one aspect of realistically approaching what you feel during a job search.  Because, it is personal.  One needs to understand the emotional side in order to be most effective in search.

Positive diversions are not a waste of cycles.  Volunteering, for example, can not only lead to a job, but also allows the unemployed to have social interaction.  As Alex notes, hearing ,“Thanks for a job well done” is an emotional uplift —a sentiment that for a while has likely been absent from life.

Another way to get positive diversions is to push endorphins.  This is critical in order to maintain a positive attitude during transition.  There are a limited number of ways to do so.  The one most under an individual's control is exercise.  I walk.

I also combine walking with positive projection and using my speaking voice (not volume per se, but clarity). I smile throughout the exercise session; and say hello to everyone I see, increasing my comfort and ability to look strangers in the eye and speak clearly to them. Doing so not only improves one's attitude, but let's them practice interacting.

If you are not generally getting a response, keep working at it.  Some of us are uncomfortable doing speaking up and/or to others.

Net, my suggestions for a successful search require addressing all six (6) points in Alex's article, and not minimizing the importance of the latter 3.

Happy searching!

Friday, September 1, 2017

"It's Not You, It's Me!"

Author:  John Johnson
              Key Account Manager

Remember this line? It is the “disclaimer” of every failed relationship, and is used to deflect blame.  As it relates to our careers, there are many times you can be the model employee who does things the right way and still be let go, downsized, displaced (whatever term suits you and your own situation).

For example, in my last sales job I worked hard to:
  • Build meaningful customer relationships (people buy from people they like, and I am a likeable guy, at least I think so)
  • Actively participate in company sales meetings and conference calls (and actually be on time)
  • Manage and (come in under) the yearly budget for expenses
  • Submit those expenses on a weekly basis (weekly? Yes, weekly … company policy)
  • Update CRM (customer relationship management) regularly.  In layman’s terms, inputting notes into a system on the computer after meeting with a customer, that you can use for future reference (or for your boss to figure out if you worked that day)
  • Assist the warehouse whenever & wherever possible with product transfers and customer deliveries.  (AKA “bailing them out”)
  • Maintain sales volume in a challenging and competitive industry
  • Be that overall (and, I know this is misused, but indulge me) team player
  • The list goes on and on….

Sounds like a valuable employee, right?  Well, yes, but no.  The company realigned sales territories and my position was eliminated.  Was it fair?  Was it just?  How dare they!  In the current employment environment we work in let’s just say it is a part of life, and a part of the process you cannot control.  Your former company has their reasons, and as an “at will” employee (save for a legal issue), you are at their “disposal”, so to speak.  You could spend time beating yourself up for what you could have done differently to save your job, but what good will that do?  It is not going to bring your job back.  Plus, worrying about things you have no control over is not a productive use of your time, and expends valuable energy that can be put to good use in search of your next opportunity.  Dust yourself off and get back in the game!

Truth is, we ALL have a list of valuable traits we can bring to the next the company we work for, and our mission as job seekers is to find that company that will utilize, appreciate and reward these traits.  Just remember that bad things can happen to good people, and that your next employer will be fortunate to have you. Your next job, while it can and (hopefully) will be rewarding, is just that, a J-O-B - nothing more, nothing less.  And, sometimes, “it’s not you, it’s me”(or in this case, them).

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How Do You Define Yourself? I Am Unemployed Because:

Author:  David Steinberg, IWA
              Poet, Management & Administrative Expert

(-)    I am a loser
(+)   I am a winner, not a whiner

(-)    I am a deadbeat
(+)   I meet my obligations to my company and myself

(-)    I am worthless
(+)   I create value and value what I create

(-)    I am willing to take any job at low wages
(+)   I will take a position at reasonable compensation

(-)    I am unwilling to change
(+)   I am flexible

(-)    I am too fixed in my beliefs
(+)   I have fixed values, but my beliefs can change

(-)    I am too old and companies don’t hire older people
(+)   My experience taught me how to figure out to get the job done

(-)    I am unemployed therefore there is something wrong with me
(+)   This is my golden opportunity to do what I really want to do

(-)     I have too much experience that the company can’t afford to pay me what I am worth.
(+)     I am willing to be flexible in my salary expectations because I know how to create value to my company

(-)     I am too slow
(+)     When I take my time, I do it right the first time so it doesn’t have to be done over.

(-)     I won’t be in the workforce very long because I will retire soon
(+)     I accept the fact that I have many more years of accomplishment ahead of me.

(-)     Only the employed need to apply.
(+)     Don’t need to answer that one. or, as Groucho Marx said, “Any club that would have me as a member isn’t worth joining.”

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Don't Count Your Chickens

Author:  Andrew Gelfand
              Manager of Marketing and Business Development

Unfortunately the following is a true story taken from my own experience. And it’s a good case study on doing almost all of the right things, except for landing the job.

It all started about three weeks ago, when I saw a job posting on Craigslist for a Manager in Training. The ad was fairly extensive and the company was looking for a variety of experiences and skill sets. One was Marketing and Business Development, another was experience selling internationally. There were a few other “requirements” posted and the advertisement basically said hiring will last until all needs have been met. And clearly there was a need for a clerical support position in addition to the Manager in Training functions.  And in the bottom of the post, it asked for a cover letter and salary requirements or history

I was very excited about the whole thing and sent a resume with a very strong cover letter. A few days go by and I get no response. Then I send a brief email stating that normally at this part of the process I do not discuss salary requirements but thought in this instance, it may make a difference. So I gave a range with a spread of $20,000 between an acceptable minimum and maximum.

One of the interesting tidbits about the posting was that it also listed the company name which allowed me to start doing research about the company in terms of its size, annual revenues, products it made as well as competition.  It turns out the company was involved in the making of a product which I would broadly classify as an Office and or Business product which literally every company and industry has use and or needs for. I discover the company is related to a second company and between the two of them their annual revenues are $6 Million, and that they have an incredibly large and well-known competitor with $1.7 Billion in annual revenue selling product through Office Max, Staples, Office Depot etc.

So now I am in the interview and have prepared and brought with me some examples of some previous marketing and public relations experience (a printed article about a business I had been previously involved in, as well as a newspaper picture of me standing before an Exhibit display booth with the company name on the booth in the picture. I even discuss the competition, showing I have done my homework. Everything is going extremely well and I have been at the interview for about an hour and twenty minutes and they ask if I can stay to meet the Owner of the business.  He comes in to meet with me after about 10 minutes and asks me some questions about my background and experience. I can get a sense that he is not impressed and has already made some type of judgement about me. He tells me that they have taken a number of other actions recently (moving into a new building and having it renovated, hiring an admin assistant) etc. and that they are not going to be able to afford to hire me.  After I had already told them up front what my salary expectations were and after they reached out to have me come in for an interview.

What I learned from this experience was that sometimes the hiring process has many players in the mix. And while sometimes, decision making is done on a shared and or consensus basis, sometimes one person “the head honcho” holds sway over the whole process. I also learned that communication and delegation in that company were apparently more fantasy than fact. And while I tried to overcome the objections by discussing the true definition of “value”, and even suggesting a potential hook up with Crayola to connect with their products, the owner was dismissive and unmoved. So ultimately I wound up leaving the interview feeling I had done everything right and having nothing to show for it. So a cautionary tale-it all has to go right till the offer is in hand.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Business of Blogging, Ageism and Expressing your Courage

Author:  Karen Mount
              Administrative Professional

I have been a blogger via my dream journal for many years and that is how I liked it. Through that method, I was able to say how I felt, believed, and inspired to, without anyone telling me, what I had to say, was not valid, or intelligent enough. I grew up with a strong mother of four energetic children, who used that famous parental expression, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all”. Does this sound like something your parents would say to you?  That voice, led me down the path of least resistance, to Customer Service, which was fine for a period.  But now, with age, comes a certain amount of dismantling of previous notions which is scary, but exhilarating. It is like losing your job and having to start over again.

I like to write, be it emails to potential companies, or sending out a few articles to sell to magazines in my younger days. Life however, gets in the way and we focus more on the basics of work, to make payments on our bills and to afford some items that seem sometimes to call us by name.

Having been in client relations for years and trained to keep disconcerting thoughts to myself to maintain those relationships, our former companies valued, it is now time to break the mold and respectfully, express our views.  Blogging is a great way of expression, where we can edit our disconcerting voice, so our audience hears our main points.  Mine, is the pros and cons of being a temporary/contract worker.

Having been a temporary office worker on and off for close to three years, after my layoff from an advertising content company, close to five years ago, I learned some lessons. I worked for two agencies and found that even though they kept me employed, most of the time, with a steady stream of income, I made mistakes and took some chances on industries and companies.  And I did some great things, which I believe needs to be repeated:
  • Take classes whenever you can to learn. It will make your bruised ego feel so good and brain feel even better. If you are the least bit interested, what does it hurt to learn, from a day or just a week class?
  • Take chances on jobs as a temporary or contractor, to see if you are considering that field or job. I did and some worked, some not so well, but I learned, if my interest was really there. I actually hated one company and the job after a few months.
  • Link up with more than one recruiter and agency be it temporary or a permanent job.  This is similar to selling your home. If you do not like what they are doing for you, find another. WALK AWAY.  I have even found the courage to turn down jobs from my current agency and revamp my resume and linked in profile to recruit other agencies to find better. Go find your better.
  • Last point- Do not do this alone. Ask for help. It does not make you weak, it makes you a heck of a lot smarter than the one who is trying to do it on their own. There are exceptions, but do you want to find out later or earlier with help?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

On Age and Employment

something a little different this post...a poem

Author:  David Steinberg, IWA
              Poet, Management & Administrative Expert

Says the wise and ancient sage,
It is not your chronological age,
Nor the lines in your face
Which you can’t easily erase.

Not your looks, or gray hair
That decides how you will fare.

Not what others thinks about your age
That brings you closer to your new wage.
If you believe it, you own it,
If you don’t, then disown it.

If you think your age is an impediment,
Then, your thinking is your detriment.

It may be your attitude,
Thus, this pious platitude:
“If you think you can’t, it is a bitter pill,
If you think you can succeed, you will!”

What I say is surely true
No one can do it for you.

This is your sacred hour,
Turn within and find your power.
Of this I do solemnly confess,
Every NO you get, you’re closer to a YES!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Benefits of Volunteering

Author: Brad Humphrey, PMP
             Project Manager and Operations Manager

There are well known benefits to volunteering.  Many of these center around the “giving back” or “helping others in need” theme.  These are both noble causes.  However, job seekers should be laser focused on another benefit of volunteer service.  It’s a resume gap filler.  Prospective employers including recruiters and hiring managers are experts at reading resumes.   Actually, reading is not the right term.  They skim them in 6 seconds.  In that short amount of time, you’ve got to get their attention in a good way.  Time gaps with no professional experience will be obvious.  Avoid them at all costs. 

If you’re already volunteering, you just have to frame your experience in a few thoughtful bullet points.  Maybe you’re already contributing, however there is room for more.  Consider taking a committee chair position.  Accept an officer position.  Run a conference, event, or fundraising effort. These activities show initiative, organization, and leadership.  You are going to gain confidence, learn new skills and take on a new challenge.   As part of your volunteering experience, you will expand your network and meet new friends.  Most jobs are landed through networking.  You will have fun.  Step forward and conduct a speaking engagement.  It’s normal to be nervous.  All speakers are.  The more you speak, the better you’ll get.  Even great leaders and speakers are constantly improving their communication skills.

If you’re not currently a member of an organization, now is the time to join.  It’s not difficult to find a group.  There are associations for everything.  If you don’t know where to start, I recommend a professional organization.  These have the best chance of aligning with your craft and you’ll develop contacts in your field.  Local Chambers of Commerce and SCORE are great organizations.  Both provide advisory services to the arts and business sectors.  SCORE is dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground.  There are over 320 local chapters.  The Philadelphia and New York Business Journals have a treasure trove of data in their respective Book of Lists.  Check out the section titled “Business Networking Associations.” Find one that interests you.  You may also look at or

I recently learned about an individual that spends half his time working and half volunteering.  He does not have to solicit business because of the contacts he generates through the public good.  I hope you’ve realized the multiple benefits of volunteering.  Make volunteering your current profession and you’ll be one day closer to landing your dream job.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Becoming a Good Manager

Author: Robert Sherby 
             Risks and Controls/SOX Consultant 

I’ve often told people that I learned more about managing people in the Navy than I have at any other job since then. That’s mostly true because in the military, one runs into people from all walks of life and numerous lifestyles. 

In one of my first “management” assignments, I was put in charge of the three starboard side magazines supporting the five twin 5” gun mounts on that side of the USS New Jersey as we prepared to leave for Vietnam. My friends commiserated with me because the four seamen reporting to me were screw-ups. In fact, those with discipline problems were assigned to the magazines because none of those in our Gunner’s Mate division wanted them working in their gun mounts. I knew that none of those guys liked to take orders from anyone so I gave it some thought. The Navy, like most military units, staffs up for war, not for routine maintenance. Since we didn’t need all day to perform the required tasks, I called them all together and told them if they would give me a couple hours each morning to complete our tasks, I didn’t care what they did the rest of the day as long as they didn’t get caught goofing off. To their credit and mine, they performed as I asked and the other petty officers in the division were amazed that I got all the work done so well. I certainly didn’t tell them my “secret” but I was considered a star for what I accomplished. The lesson – managers don’t always get superstars to work for them and have to make do with what they have. It’s incumbent upon them to determine what motivates their staff and work with them to meet the required goals. 

Later, after college and public accounting when I had acquired my CPA certificate and MBA, I was in my first management slot in corporate accounting after working in internal audit for a year. I had always been fortunate to get work accomplished quickly but had not viewed myself as being exceptional even though in public accounting all the supervisors liked me on their jobs because we came in under budget. I had four people working for me and I thought they just weren’t working as fast as they should. I was comparing them to what I typically accomplished. One day, a young lady that worked for me asked if we could talk and I said sure. She said, Bob, you’re being unfair in comparing all of us to what you get done. There’s only one Bob Sherby and we just can’t work at the same speed as you do. I thanked her for coming to me and said I would work on changing my expectations. From that point on, it was clear that my staff was a lot happier with the way things were going and I was happy that the young lady was not afraid to come to me with constructive criticism. The lesson – managers need to keep the lines of communication open to their employees even if it means accepting criticism. I knew the young lady was trying to do her best but had not realized I was setting unrealistic goals for my staff. I could have ignored what she said and alienated all of my staff, causing all of us to fail and I would have been a bad manager. Too many people get promoted to management because of their technical skills but with no idea how to manage people. 

If anyone is struggling with being a good manager, try to find someone who is successful and talk to them about how to improve oneself in that regard. It’s not a sign of weakness to try and improve.

Monday, April 17, 2017

How Well Do You Provide Feedback?

Author:  Ellen V. Platton
              Learning & Talent Development Professional

We all want to learn and make improvements in our lives.  We should also want to help others along their way. One way is by providing feedback in a way that helps to improve someone’s performance – constructive feedback. Feedback is information about our reactions to a product or a person’s performance of a task. Feedback should not be a personal attack or with judgment about the individual. Rather feedback should help to improve the individual's overall performance and therefore build a stronger team and solid outcomes.

So how should we go about providing feedback effectively? Well the process starts with the conversation. Important to note is that we do not all accept feedback in the same manner nor are we equally resilient to feedback.  Some of us are eager and ready for feedback. There are also those on the opposite side of the fence who may be guarded when it comes to receiving information on their performance. Feedback is more widely accepted when someone is not on the defensive. Knowing that we all handle feedback differently becomes essential to the way we approach "the conversation". We all benefit by a conversation without blame. For example, when providing constructive feedback, we may try stating “I wish this layout was a bit more organized” rather than “This layout you presented is a mess”. The focus becomes the layout rather than about the individual who presented the layout. 

What we need to do is listen, be positive or empathetic, suggest “development areas”, and provide support and encouragement. Focus on the goal of the business or task by energizing and motivating people in a timely fashion. Without support, there won’t be much motivation.

What we don’t want to do is to make the individual defensive about the feedback received. The focus is to develop, reach a goal and encourage improvement or even maintain progress. Pointing out someone’s weaknesses or their poor performance does not reach our goal. Remember feedback is not about the person so we should not pass judgment, compare them to their peers or include labels.

The next time you are about to provide feedback, you may want to: 

S=State the standard (or expected) behavior
B=Point out the actual behavior
I=Note the Impact, results or consequences of the actual behavior 

When was the last time you provided feedback? What kind of feedback did you last receive?   Please feel free to comment or share.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Mature, unemployed, and the next steps

Author:  Alex Freund
             The Landing Expert

Even though the economy has improved lately, there’s still a large contingency of people who after long and successful careers find themselves not only blocked but also bewildered about their professional future because of their age. This is a serious problem because these people still need to provide for their families, and many are by no means ready to retire—either mentally or physically. The pressure on this sector of people continues to mount, and they know that initiating their Social Security benefits too soon would put them at a long-term disadvantage. Many do not have employer pensions, and those who have retirement funds such as 401(k) plans should not start distributions too soon because of penalties for doing so. The last resort is in the form of tapping personal savings—if any exist at all.

What might be some reasons?

Of course each person’s case is individual, but the long-term unemployed must face reality. If the marketplace was unable to absorb them in a reasonable time, it means either they don’t have the skills required to compete with others vying for the same position or they’re deemed not a good fit for subjective reasons such as age, appearance, or image. Another possibility might be that they simply don’t know how to market themselves as well as others do. Perhaps there’s also a level of rigidity about adapting to the current marketplace, or difficulty in accepting having to learn new job-related skills, or refusing a significantly lower benefit package, or reluctance to move to a different geographic job market. In many cases, the last is not an option for, say, family reasons.

What are some solutions?

Start with a self-evaluation to identify strengths as well as weaknesses. If you don’t trust your own judgment, then look for professionals who can provide help in doing it.

Next, evaluate opportunities where you can use your skills and experience and market yourself to employers that can use your talent and are willing to pay for it. If you don’t know how to find such employers, then seek advice from career coaches who specialize in identifying such opportunities for job seekers. Yes, there are people who specialize in that aspect of career coaching.

Then, once you’ve identified those potential employers, you’ll need an outstanding résumé and a strong and complete LinkedIn profile. Short of these, you will not be found by recruiters and employers. Yes, you guessed it: there are experts who write résumés and develop LinkedIn profiles for job seekers. Once those things have been done and are in place, your phone might start ringing because recruiters are busy finding candidates for the jobs they need to fill.

The last step involves learning how to present yourself in an interview. Yes, I know, you think that step can be skipped, because after all, you’re good at it—right?—and the proof of that is that in the past, you’ve gotten jobs based on your interviewing skills. I suggest, however, that you reevaluate that conclusion because in today’s job market—and especially for anyone who’s experiencing a huge gap in employment—good interviewing skills are of utmost importance.

What I have described here is a journey with a specific process. Job search takes endurance, determination, and follow-through. At times you’ll feel very uncomfortable and totally rejected. But every occurrence of such feelings serves to take you one step closer to an offer. Many people who followed this exact journey were successful. Can you add yourself to the statistics? Do you have the desire and the will to make the trek? This is the test. Bon voyage and best of luck as you embark to navigate your way to a landing at a pleasant and professionally profitable port.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Et Tu, Brute?

Author:  Steven P. Piccoli, Ph.D.
               Translational Medicine Scientist and Biomarker Guru 

Wednesday, March 15th - the fateful Ides of March - is the 2061st anniversary of the death of the noted Roman politician and emperor, Julius Caesar. Why should I care? Is there something special about the number? No, 2061 is not even prime. But, as an undergraduate taking physical chemistry at Carnegie-Mellon University a long time ago, my class was assigned a pertinent problem. Assuming Julius Caesar expired on that auspicious date and exhaled his last sentient breath, what are the chances that right now, 2061 years later, I am breathing one of the exact same molecules that was expelled in a death throe from the lungs of ancient Rome’s most famous elder statesman? Most people’s first response is that there couldn’t possibly be any way that that could happen. But, the professor having asked the question… 

The gas molecules, once expunged from Caesar’s lungs, floated free and spread across the globe in a mathematically predictable pattern. One needs to make some assumptions about rates of diffusion, the size of Caesar’s lungs and the volume of the atmosphere of the earth, temperature and pressure gradients in the troposphere, and whether the gas is nitrogen, oxygen or argon (remember, it was a chemistry class!). Regardless of how you set the problem up and the assumptions which you make, the answer (work not shown) always comes out to be stunningly simple: about one. Every time you inhale, you are in direct physical contact with one molecule of Julius Caesar. 

Last week at the Professional Services Group of Mercer County, Jack Killion presented a very intriguing session on "Network All The Time, Everywhere With Everybody". I was amazed at the amount of directed energy he put into a networking regimen of apparently random contacts. (Random, like diffusion of a gas - starting to catch on?). Any single contact may not result in an actionable or measureable outcome, but over time, and with a sufficiently large number of interactions, events will transpire. It is statistically inevitable, much like now communing with Julius Caesar every waking breath. I realized I am also interacting with Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, Johan Sebastian Bach, Marie Curie and Steve Jobs, as well as eight billion other people I have not yet met. I had never realized the strength of the vast network I had complete access to at my fingertips (or in Caesar's case, technically, my lips). My current physical network is powerful, but not as formidable as the combined reach of all their connections put together, and then amplified by those selfsame contacts ad infinitum. Every day I have the opportunity to speak with dozens of people - some acquaintances, some yet unknown to me – and communicate, network, interact. All I need to do is take advantage of each and every potential opportunity that either comes my way or that I deliberately develop, and eventually I can reach out to and will be known by every single person on the planet. Now that's a network!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Gratitude will lead to a better attitude

Author: Don Pillsbury
             Business Process Improvement, Metrics, Data Analyst Professional

As luck would have it, a few months before learning my position was being eliminated, I happened to read “The Gratitude Diaries – How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life” by Janice Kaplan. (Hint: Princeton Public, Mercer County, and Somerset County Libraries all have this book in their collection – you don’t need to purchase it.) The premise of the book is quite simple. Create a journal and every day note three ways you are fortunate. While three is often considered a magic number, in this case there is nothing doctrinal about the choice. Mrs. Kaplan found one too shallow and five too burdensome. Thus the trinity was a compromise. Admittedly, some days are more difficult than others, but breathing and getting out of bed are bona fide blessings. There is also nothing wrong with repeating a previous day’s appreciation.

Since turning 50 a couple of years ago, I have intentionally sought out experiences that challenge me to move beyond my traditional comfort zone. Two years ago, on a whim, I decided to learn how to unicycle. That proved to be one of the most difficult challenges I’ve ever tackled.

Working on my gratitude list one morning was like looking at an M. C. Escher image and having it suddenly invert on me. On this particular morning I realized being unexpectedly thrust into the job market was the ultimate uncomfortable situation handed to me as a present. That paradigm shift was transformative. All of a sudden my situation morphed into the ultimate challenge. In light of my current situation, my mantra became, if I can learn to unicycle, I can find a new job. (I do a lot of cycling, so my analogies tend to be bike related.) While I can’t promise you having a spirit of gratitude will land you a new job, it will help you maintain a positive attitude and that, no doubt, will be beneficial.

I think the quote I recently read is dead on. “A bad attitude is like a flat tire. You can’t get anywhere until you change it.” Regularly taking time to write down just how lucky you are will encourage you to be mindful of what is going right in your life and help you move on.   

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Relevance of Project Management Certification

Author: David Anderson
              Project Management Professional and Educator

The PMP or Project Management Professional designation has become the gold standard qualification for project management jobs.  Many listings for jobs in project management now say either “PMP required” or “PMP preferred”.

Not all accomplished project managers have the PMP designation, and no designation is a guarantee of success. However, getting this one will show that you have the initiative to successfully complete a project, have substantial knowledge of the project management discipline, and have the intellectual capacity to perform the many tasks required of a professional project manager.

Projects have become an increasingly important form of organization for business. A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result, distinguishable from operations by its non-repetitive, temporary nature. Operations are susceptible to automation, projects are not.

Projects are used to develop new products and services, to conduct research, and to engineer business processes. For many enterprises, these are the core functions of the business. For others, these are key activities that enable the organization to survive and prosper in the context of global competition.

Massive Mergers occur regularly—the effort to bring together two large organizations, each with its own culture and management system, is a major undertaking that has both a definite objective and end. Professional project management is required to ensure the merger achieves its intended result.

Many projects are multi-national, accomplished by teams of workers from different cultures located in various locations around the globe. Getting these heterogeneous groups to work toward the same objective takes the discipline of professional project management.

Finally, there is the breadth of human expertise that is required to accomplish anything employing the advances in technology and management practices available to organizations competing in the 21st century.

To qualify to sit for the PMP exam, the candidate is required to have in his or her background one of the following combinations of credentials and experience:
  • Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or global equivalent)
  • Minimum five years/60 months unique non-overlapping professional project
  • management experience during which at least 7,500 hours were spent leading and directing the project*
  • 35 contact hours of formal project management education
  • Four-year degree (bachelor’s degree or global equivalent)
  • Minimum three years/36 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience during which at least 4,500 hours were spent leading and directing the project*
  • 35 contact hours of formal project management education
*Leading and directing the project as identified with the tasks, knowledge, and skills specific in the Project Management Professional Examination Content Outline:

To qualify for the PMP exam, you needn’t have led a multi-million dollar project. Titles vary from organization to organization, and by examining your own experience considering the PMP exam outline, you may find you have led many projects and easily qualify. If your experience is still short, PMI also offers the CAPM designation, which has a separate exam and requires less experience.

The 35 contact hours of formal PM education may be obtained through a variety of providers. “Boot Camp” courses abound. However, you may find as I do that the best setting for learning project management tools and techniques is a classroom setting.  Most county colleges in New Jersey offer these on a Saturday or evening schedule.  I teach such a course at Middlesex County College.

Good luck in your career development efforts. If you have any questions or comments, please address them to me at

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Why Hire the Old Guy/Gal?

Author: Robert Sherby
              Risk & Controls Expert/Consultant

Hiring managers are often leery about hiring those of us in our 60’s for positions for two major reasons, we probably have earned much more than they want to pay and that if we do accept a lower wage, we’ll continue to look for a higher paying job.  Add that to their concern as to when we’ll want to quit and they just avoid all the potential problems.

First the question about higher income.  I have twice in the past taken a step backwards for positions that were attractive to me.  Since at this stage of my life, my children are grown, I no longer need the same income level. I also have other sources of income that lessen the need for the same level of compensation.  I am more interested in finding an interesting challenge at a good company than finding a company that will pay me what I previously earned.  Location also factors into my decision as I’m not willing to endure a long commute so would willingly accept a lower salary to satisfy that requirement.

Looking for a job is a pain in the rear end.  Finding one at a company that meets the above requirements is much more likely to be the end of the search for those of us in my age group.  I have talked to many others who want to keep working because we like to contribute to a company and add value rather than sit around and be bored.  We have no desire to stop working as long as we are healthy. I stayed at my last job for eight years and early on had numerous calls from recruiters about more lucrative positions.  I liked my job and told them I wasn’t interested.

What are the other advantages to hiring the older worker?  There are seldom new problems or new solutions, and older workers are likely to have seen them all in the past.  They don’t have to sit around and wonder what to do to solve the problems and can address them sooner.  If you’re hiring an accomplished manager of people, that person will be an asset to the company as many people with strong technical skills are promoted to management and fail dismally because they can’t manage people.

Hiring older workers can also be a huge benefit to management as they are no longer looking for that next promotion.  They can serve as a good sounding board without worrying that they’re out for your job.

Another way to minimize the risk for those of us in our 60’s is to structure a job offer as contract to hire.  We have the confidence that we’ll be able to demonstrate our value and get that full-time offer. 

Admittedly, this article reflects my views on the subject and those that I’ve spoken to but I suspect that there are many others out there in the labor market that feel the same way.