Posts Tagged ‘Career’


The other day, while conducting a mock interview workshop, I asked the interviewee what compensation he was looking for. He proceeded to say that he needed at least six figures because he has two kids in college and alimony payments in addition to his mortgage payments. Now you might think that this is a reasonable approach, to determine what your obligations are and therefore what you need to earn.

However, your obligations have no relevancy to the company or to the value you bring to an organization. The reality is that whatever projects, processes and tasks you do for a company need to contribute to either the growth of revenue, the reduction of costs or the mitigation of risk. If your work is not helping the company in any of these areas, it is hard for a company to justify paying your salary. Therefore it is essential for you to understand how your work in impacting your organization.

In an earlier blog I wrote about 10 Tips to Optimize Your Career Security. This is the fourth instalment, Tracking Your Success. If you have followed the first tip and ask the right questions, you will understand how your projects and tasks fit into the needs and goals of your company. Once you understand this, establish Key Performance Indexes (KPI’s) relevant for your tasks and projects to measure your growth and performance. These can be in the area of time saved, improved efficiencies, improved productivity, and improved quality. You can then measure your performance against when you took over a position, or show year to year improvement.

Renowned management thought leader Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” What this means that you can’t know whether or not you are successful unless success is defined and tracked.  With a clearly established metric for success, you can quantify progress and adjust your process to produce the desired outcome.  Without clear objectives, you’re stuck in a constant state of going through the motions

Not only do these measurements help your organization to understand your success, but it also helps you to understand your value. When you are able to articulate your success through quantified accomplishments, you demonstrate that you are aware of how your role impacts an organization, and that you are not just going through the motions, but striving for the success of the company you work for. You are no longer a commodity for the company, but a solution for their problems and a resource for their opportunities.

This blog is written by Greg Johnson of Above The Rim Executive Coaching

Gold Bars Image courtesy of ponsulak / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog on 10 steps to optimize your career security. This is the second installment in elaborating on the 10 steps. It may seem like a no brainer that, in order to increase your career security, you really need to master your role. Unfortunately, the culture in most of corporate America fosters an attitude of doing things the easy and convenient way rather than doing the best way. In most cases, if a person performs at 70% or 80%, their compensation will be no different than if they perform at 100%. Furthermore, people feel they don’t have the time to really take the steps to fully master their role. People get into a pattern of punching the clock, trudging through the daily grind, with the goal of getting through the day. We end up just going through the motions.

The problem is two-fold. First is that productivity for the company really suffers. Secondly, and from a personal career perspective, more importantly, this type of work philosophy validates the company’s view that employees are nothing more than commodities, and when it is time to cut costs, the employee gets the boot.

In order to truly master your role, you need to understand what part it plays in helping the organization achieve its mission and goals. If you have taken the time to ask questions as discussed in the first installment, you will have a greater understanding of how you are contributing to the bottom line of the company.

Additionally,industries and technologies are constantly changing. Are you staying on top of the advances? You need to be constantly seeking ways to increase your knowledge. Ways meet this demand will be addressed in a future blog.

Finally you need to be constantly looking for ways to improve performance and quality. Too often employees are not motivated to make these improvements because it takes too much work, and it is easier to just go with the status quo. Again this is where complacency sets in, and also furthers the employer’s view that you are just a commodity.

* Three Business Men by Kosta Kostov

In my most recent blog, I discussed 10 practices that will optimize your job security. Today, I want to elaborate on the first practice; Ask questions and be an active listener. Are you asking the right questions on the job? The biggest challenge I see for people who are looking for a new job is that they cannot identify the value of what they have been doing in their career. A vast majority of professionals view their job in terms of the process or tasks they do on a regular basis. The problem is that this just reinforces the fact that you are a commodity in the eyes of the employer. What you have to keep in mind is that in order for you earn a salary, you need to:

  1. Help the company generate more revenue than the cost of employing you
  2. Help the company save more costs than the cost of employing you
  3. Help the company mitigate more risks than the cost of employing you

If you do this, there should NEVER be a reason for your position to be eliminated in a cost reducing restructuring. Unfortunately most people when asked to identify and quantify their accomplishments, they just say that they do not have that information. If you are an IT manager, and you develop and implement a system for the company, what are the results of your work, and what is the return on the company’s investment? Just because you have done a project or task, does that mean you have done it successfully? How do you then define the success? In order to really understand this you need to ask questions about the purpose of the task, process or project you are working on.

In our career, we need to be extremely proactive in asking questions. These questions can include some of the following:

  1. What is the purpose of what I am doing?
  2. How does it fit into the achievement of the company mission?
  3. How does it impact the performance of others?
  4. What are the measurable metrics before you start?
  5. What are the measurable metrics after you finish?
  6. What is the cost of your project, task or process?

You should be talking not only to your supervisor, but talk to the stake holders in the project or tasks you are working on. Make sure you understand the objective and what they are looking to achieve from your work. Understand how it will impact their job. Talk to team members in other departments, and learn how your work impacts them? By taking these steps, not only will you better understand the value you deliver, but people you work with will also understand the value you bring.

One of the biggest concerns of people have today is job security. While it is the new normal that job security doesn’t exist, the good news is we can significantly improve our career security. Too many professionals let their career happen to them. They put their nose to the grindstone and assume their work will be noticed, appreciated and rewarded. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Unless you strategically and purposefully take action, your work is taken for granted, and when the powers that be decide they need to reduce costs, you are restructured out of a position.

It is extremely important to understand that the key to your next promotion or your next job opportunity is not the skill and experience you have (although this is important), nor who you know, but who knows you and what is their perception of your professional capabilities and subject matter expertise. Most people go through their career with only a very small handful of people that have an idea of their value and subject matter expertise. So how can you build and spread your reputation?

    1. Understand the purpose of your tasks and projects.
    2. Understand how your role impacts the success of the company and others in the company.
    3. Understand how other’s roles impact your success.
  1. Master your role.
  2. Track results of projects and tasks.
  3. Communicate.
  4. Look what you can do outside and above your job description.
  5. Take on board or committee positions in professional associations.
  6. Network both inside and outside the company.
  7. Continuously improve skills, knowledge and certification.
  8. Mentoring.
  9. Succession Planning.

I will be writing on each of these over the next while and would love to have your feedback on your thoughts of how these and others impact your career management.

Blog by Greg Johnson | Above The Rim Executive Coaching

For most of the past three years, I have had the great opportunity to work with John Hall in teaching his Advanced Career Strategies and Advanced Career Transition classes. One of the tools taught in the class and that I have adopted for my private practice is the use of case studies as a marketing tool to help professionals land their next career position. It is an idea that really makes sense. Every company that I have ever been with, either had, or I created one page case studies demonstrating the value that the product or service has brought to other customers.

As professionals, we have numerous accomplishments throughout our careers. Many professionals who are in career transition are familiar with the concept through the use of various acronyms such as PARs (Problem, Action & Result). A case study is a one page expansion and Illustration of the PAR and how you can impact an organization. You might be thinking “I have never seen anyone else create or use a case study, why should I”?

  1. If nobody else is doing it, that is exactly why you should be doing it. You need to differentiate yourself from all the other job seekers. Getting a job may be the most important thing you do, so why wouldn’t you go above and beyond, to demonstrate you are the best person to achieve the objectives of the position.
  2. Most professionals tend to ramble, and give irrelevant or even damaging information when answering questions in interviews. By taking the time to create a case study, you cement the information in your brain, in a concise and simple manner that allows you to answer interview questions in a succinct manner, focusing on the benefit to the interviewer and employer.
  3. Case Studies are great content for portfolios. Many people think that portfolios are only for marketing people or graphic designers. Putting together a portfolio of your accomplishments including case studies sets you apart from the competition
  4. Everyone learns differently, and the more sense you can facilitate the interviewer using, the greater chance you have to positively stand out in their memory and selection process. Having a well designed and laid out case studies including diagrams and graphs, allows the interviewer to absorb information visually as well as through auditory input.

If you live in the Orange County area, and are interested in learning how to create compelling case studies join our workshop on Tuesday October 16th.

LinkedIn is one of the most powerful Career Management tools business professionals can tap into to maximize the achievement of their objectives. LinkedIn has recently rolled out a new feature that is a great way to facilitate this and to enhance your online brand. Like all Social media, LinkedIn requires two key philosophies. First is Pay-It-Forward, and the second is “Think It Through”. A little bit of thought, and the desire to pay it forward will take you a long way. Keeping this in mind will help you use the brand new Skills & Endorsements tool to take your LinkedIn engagement to the next level. In order to help you do this, I have developed the following EZ steps.

  1. Add Skills to your profile: Click “More” on the top of the LinkedIn menu than select Skill & Expertise. Add the skills that relate to your profession that you are recognized for and that you use regularly on the job. LinkedIn allows you to choose up to 50. Choose as many as apply.
  2. If you already have some skills listed, go to the edit profile mode and click to add more skills
  3. After you add skills, you can click the skill to specify your level of proficiency as well as the number of years you have been utilizing the skill.
  4. Endorse Others: Now pay it forward. Go to the profile of contacts you want to endorse. A box opens up with some suggested skills to endorse. Eliminate skills you are not able to endorse, and add skills you want to endorse. Then click the endorse button
  5. Take an additional couple of minutes to scroll down to their skills section and review their skills. Click all the skills that make sense for you to endorse based on your knowledge of the individual.

Don’t just select the skills suggested by LinkedIn, endorse and move on. Unfortunately, even if you are trying to help the person out, the message that you are giving is that you are not putting thought into what you are doing. This will hurt your reputation, and people will assume if you are “lazy” on LinkedIn, you will be lazy in other parts of your profession. Take some time to do it right, the ROI on the time spent will come back much higher.

This blog is by Greg Johnson

My mentor and good friend John Hall likes to share that In the January 3rd 2011 issue of Fortune Magazine, Geoff Colvin talks about how Chief Justice John Roberts prepared for oral arguments he would meticulously write down hundreds of questions that he thought he could conceivably be asked, pondered and refined the answers in his mind, then he wrote the questions and answers on flash cards. He would then shuffle the questions and practice, practice, practice. When Chief Justice Rehnquist died on September 3rd 2005, George W. Bush nominated Roberts to succeed Rehnquist as Chief Justice. For what might be considered the ultimate job interview, Chief Justice John Roberts prepared for the confirmation hearing the same way. For anyone who was able to watch portions of the confirmation, his answers were quick, concise, and delivered in an easy manner.

You might think, “I know myself. I know my career. I know my industry. Of course I can answer interview questions.” The fact is, more times than not, candidates hurt themselves in the interview. Interviews can be so hard to come by, yet we often wing them, rambling on and talking our way out of the job. Preparation and repetition is the key to setting yourself apart from others in the interview process. Like I said in What Do Free Throws Have To Do With Interviews, you cannot afford to shoot an air ball when the game is on the line.

Finally, video tape mock interviews are a great way to see how you appear to interviewers. So many people are shocked by what they see in the video replay. The good news is I have seen many people make the necessary changes, and successfully land their next position. Practice and eliminate bad habits. For those of you who live in Southern California, Above The Rim Executive Coaching offers Mock Interviews once a month. Check the schedule and register online.

Can You afford an air ball when the game is on the line?

 

Over the past several years, the news has been filled with huge layoffs by companies trying to cut costs. Is this a strategy that really helps a company? Every day, in the course of networking, I have the opportunity to talk with, not only people who are in transition because of cost cutting efforts, but also I have opportunity to talk with people “left behind” after the cost cutting. The story is so often the same. Significant resources of knowledge and skills have left the company, leaving those left behind swimming against a rip current. The more they struggle to make up for lost resources, the further fall behind on objectives. They are asked to do more and more, all with decreasing efficiencies and effectiveness. Managers are looking to leave the company because they no longer have the assets in place to meet the demands for the company to succeed.

In a corporate environment, every person in the company, through the tasks and projects they work on, needs to contribute in a way that they are helping the company do one of three things:

  1. Help the company generate revenue
  2. Help the company reduce costs
  3. Help the company mitigate risks

If an employee is not doing this to a degree greater than their annual cost, it really doesn’t make sense for the company to be paying them. The company should not wait for a crisis to let go of underperforming employees. Typically, companies expect to cost savings or revenue generation 3 to 5 times the cost of the employee. If the employee is achieving this success, it NEVER makes sense to cut the employee to save costs.

Does your company understand the true value brought by your employees? Is your company costing itself more by trying to reduce employee costs?

 

“If I had known the budget range, I never would have applied. If the HR manager had known what I wanted to make, she never would have interviewed me. By the end of the interview process they were comfortable enough with what I can contribute, we were able to negotiate a salary that is good for both of us”. These are the words one client recently hired. It is a story I have heard repeatedly. On the other hand, I have heard so many times on early interviewers insisting a candidate say what their lowest acceptable salary is.

The other day, at a career fair and networking event, I had the opportunity to talk with a couple of recruiters. In introducing myself, I mentioned that I am a career coach. They asked if I was one of the people who coached job seekers to evade initial salary questions, and to negotiate salaries at the end. When I said “of course” they both said, that they hate when candidates do that. It makes them angry. I understand that HR doesn’t want to “waist time” with candidates that may be out of their range. However I would say that their focus forces them to “waste time” interviewing and hiring employees that will not bring maximum benefit and ROI to the company. I do not think HR as the time to waste on focusing so much initially on salary. Based on current practices, you end up with approximately 30% of the workforce underperforming and over paid, and 30% underpaid for their contribution. This leads to performing employees looking to leave at the first chance, and underperforming employees staying at the company continuing to drag down efficiencies and effectiveness of the company. The reality is, what a candidate wants or needs to be paid is and should be irrelevant to any company looking to hire people. Every employee needs to perform in a way that they help a company in one of three ways:

  1. Help generate revenue
  2. Help reduce costs
  3. Help mitigate risks

If the projects and tasks an employee works on don’t achieve one of those three things, there is no reason to pay a salary. Ideally, the employee’s contribution in these areas will be 3 to 5 times the value of their compensation. Therefore the process of the interview should be to:

  1. Find the best person to carry out the responsibilities and objectives of the position,
  2. Determine a mutually beneficial compensation package through past experience, including understanding their past accomplishments and contributions, and objectives of the position determine a mutually beneficial compensation package.

Therefore, I recommend when ask what your salary requirements are, I suggest you say something like “salary is only one component of my decision making process, and now cannot give a number. Once you determine I am the person who can best achieve the objectives of the position and the company, I am confident you can offer a mutually beneficial compensation package”

I look forward to your comments.

 

As a follow-up to my blog last week, I am continuing with the twitter theme. After the idea of filtering out the noise, the most often question I get asked is what am I going to tweet about?? Who would be interested in what I have to say?

Anyone professional that is serious in keeping up to date on current trends and practices in their profession, should, at the very least, read professional periodicals. This is a great source for tweeting for the following reasons:

  1. You should already be reading this type of article, so the amount of “extra” time needed to tweet will be minimal.
  2. It demonstrates the type of information you read to keep on top of your profession.
  3. It gives credit or props to the source.
  4. Commenting on it helps establish your thoughts on the topic.

This is all very easy to do by using a third party app such as Hootet by Hootsuite, or bufferapp. These applications allow you to, with the click of an icon, to open up a new dialogue box with the title of the article, and a shortened link for the URL. All you need to do is add your personal touch, and tweet it out. You can even schedule to send them out at peak times.