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Monthly Archives: May 2011

Hiring for Comfort or Growth

In a recent conversation with a dear colleague of mine, Greg Taylor of Excelsior Search Partners, we somehow meander into a discussion about how many business partners and clients we have seen hire the person who is most like them and their organization rather than someone who can help to diversify their business or allow them to grow in a new direction for the future.

Even though there isn’t a magic formula because every company and department are different and hiring also depends on business climate, current infrastructure, etc… there is a science and an art to uncovering who might be the right fit for your business. I typically start the conversation and needs analysis with something similar to a SWOT both for the position and department/company to help uncover items outside of the standard job description. Through this process we determine the ideal candidate and how they will balance and sometimes counter balance the current corporate culture and the needs of the position. Hiring, no matter how many check sheets or metrics we can put in place, still is a personal decision and feelings and emotions must be acknowledged and addressed during the process.

Understanding the motivators behind why you are looking for specific characteristics to enhance your culture, avoid remaining stagnant or adding a fresh new perspective can be key to holding the course. It is easy to keep things status quo but to move from this you may be hit head on with negative feedback on candidates that don’t fit the typical mold, be mindful of people and their motivations. Even if it is in their sub-conscience, your current staff may be holding the company back based on their hiring feedback because seeing the big picture is not something that they are strong at.

A few key points to keep on your checks and balance sheet:

  • Skills needed for the job
  • Skills lacking in current area
  • Skills needed for future growth
  • Identify a good counter-balance within the organization as well as someone for this person to emulate
  • Consider using Myers-Briggs or DISC on your current staff to benchmark and identify the profile of your ideal new hire
  • Talk to your customers what type of person would benefit them (someone who has a strong personality and can challenge, someone available for travel/networking)
  • Is corporate responsibility something important to your company, should this be a passion of your new hire?
  • Need someone who can lead the charge on a certain initiative
  • What is happening in your corporate culture right now?
  • Lots of tenure and complacency
  • Lack of tech savvy in your service based business
  • Everyone leaves at 5
  • Fun, Spirited, High Energy
  • Inmates taking over the asylum
  • Inefficiencies based on lack of adopting new solutions
  • Innovative and constantly changing

Evaluate the above and use your findings to determine who you are truly looking to hire or avoid hiring

The expense of hiring and training is ever-increasing, take your time and evaluate your resources, your staff and your own motivations and needs as a company. Having a moderator or using your recruiting partner to help you stay the course is a good way to keep to the business at hand.

Your Resume and Dieting

Type in the word resume in your browser and over 234 Million results populate. There are all types of columns, posts, advertisements and information out there on resumes just as there are about diets (350M on the word Diet). My point is there are all types of opinions, guidance, formulas and advice from professionals and to keep it all straight will make you crazy.  With dieting and with your resume, each person is different in the background, make up and what they are looking to achieve so should your plan to achieve success.

With that being said, take these with a grain of salt (low sodium salt) and know that they are simply opinions of one recruiter (well, some of these I have borrowed and agree with from other professionals) and you have to know that if what you are doing is working, stay the course, but if you are not seeing any results, you need to re-evaluate.

I will start with your objective statement.

  • If it is vague or general remove it.
  • If you cannot customize it for each position you are applying for then remove it.
  • Being too busy is not an excuse; take it seriously or take it off.
Quantify your activity. (in any position not just in sales)
  • How much have you sold?
  • How much as a project you participated in saved a company?
  • What activities have you achieved that impacted the bottom line?
  • Can’t talk dollars? What about hours/time? Did you save a customer relationship?
Be honest. No one wants to hire a liar or a cheat (even if you do have the best work ethic)
  • Know your dates don’t guess (call your old employer if you have to).
  • Don’t exaggerate your title.
  • List all the companies you worked for.
  • Don’t make it look like you graduated from college when you only attended for a semester.
Don’t be too personal. (no one wants to know everything about you on the first date).
  • Personally I am not a fan of pictures on your resume they make me uncomfortable (if people want to know what you look like they can check out your LinkedIn page).
  • Leave off your hobbies. The fact that you enjoy long walks on the beach is not relevant. (Thank you Dina Natale, Sr. Recruiter Rochester, NY).
  • Friending me on Facebook does not count as networking or making a connection.
Use common sense even if you are desperate.
  • Apply for jobs that you qualify for (sounds simple, but it happens more often than not)
  • Keep your resume straightforward and to the point. If we get lost reading it we will stop reading it.
  • Right a cover letter that addresses the needs of the job/company.

Great Free Advice: Read the job description and highlight the key points, then read your resume and highlight the correlating points to be sure you are putting your best foot foward.

In summary, whether you are cabbage soup, dukan, paleo or a blend the bottom line is you have to choose the design and style that best suits you and don’t be afraid to change it up if it isn’t working. Just like many of us, companies are also looking to trim the fat and become more lean, how can you as their next potential employee help them achieve this?

In a Rut? ABC… It is all about the sale

As I was waiting for dinner at a restaurant the other evening  I was reminder of a great quote and speech, one bartender turns to the other and says, “ABC, always be closing.” Alec Baldwins famous speech from the 1992 movie, Glengarry Glen Ross.  I would have posted the You Tube video but with the language content I thought it best you review it on your own.

Selling your business or business plan, selling a product or service, selling yourself (in the job market); no matter what you are selling you must always be looking to close.  Most people stop short of closing at some point whether they are stale, tired, pre-occupied or a novice and typically this is because there is a blockage that needs to be removed. When you are stuck in a rut it seems that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, no moving forward, but once you have pushed through you are better than you were before.

Belief in yourself, your business, your product/service is key to closing.  Have you done your Research on the industry to be sure you know the details to increase your confidence? Your next job, sale or investor are not just going to come strolling up to you and asking you for help and if they do, you better be prepared with answers, suggestions or a solution to what they are looking for. Ask probing questions and Listen to the answers, this is how you uncover the level of interest or the need of the person/business.

Are you being lazy? Have you been thinking to yourself or even said outloud any of the following?

  • This is too expensive
  • My competitors are cheaper or better
  • No one will give me this kind of money
  • There are no jobs
  • I am not taking a step backward
  • I’m too old
  • I’m too green
I would be happy to rebut any of these or others you can think of on a case by case basis but for now I will just say this:
If you have competitors, especially more than one then that means there is business out their to be had you may just not understand the value to your customer or the value may have changed as so many things have.
If you are looking to a bank to invest, rethink your strategy, look to private investors. Have people reviewed your plan and seriously critiqued it? Re-write/revise and revisit with people in the business community. You may have to give back a higher % but look at the plan and your dream to be sure this is something you would let pass you by.
Looking for work? Are their jobs posted in your field? Yes, great that means you are not obsolete! Are they in your area, would you have to relocate? Relocation not an option for you? Start slowly easing it in to play in your mind ,that and considering starting in a position that may be, in your mind, a step back. Companies are morphing every day and you will always have something to learn and knowledge to gain, think of it as paid training until you get up to speed and make your mark. You have to prove yourself.
Identify what is stopping you from closing the deal and go out and earn that Cadillac Eldorado!

Getting the Most Out of Your Manager and Your Career

Looking to get ahead, have you been passed over for a promotion, are you sitting in the shadows just waiting to be noticed or are you being noticed but not getting the right kind of attention? Whether your boss has an open door policy or not there are several different approaches you can take to be sure that you are truly maximizing your opportunity or even creating opportunity for yourself.  Taking control of your career and acting as the entrepreneur of your career.

Advance your Industry Knowledge: this does not mean going to your boss and asking for tuition reimbursement or where you can go for more information. What this means is checking out industry groups/associations, the local business journal or chamber and letting your boss know you have an interest in attending, why you think it would be beneficial for you and the business and how much it will cost (I recommend starting small rather than a 4 day conference). The key is to follow-up, after you have attended summarize your take on the event and the information you gathered and think of at least one thing you could use in your business/department.  This builds trust with your manager and people want to see you go above and beyond.

Take Ownership of an Issue or Problem: did you just walk out of a meeting where there was talk about a problem with a customer, product, or even the filing system? It may take time out of your lunch or you may have to come in a bit early, but brainstorm a solution and present it or offer to take the lead even if it may be beneath you (in your mind). Remember, right now everyone is getting squeezed and running lean, if you can take the weight off of your manager and own something of your own you have just killed 2 birds with 1 stone.

Look for Feedback: that’s right, ask how YOU can improve.  The interview process continues your entire career, so if you think of it that way, you should always be asking questions when you have the opportunity with your boss.  Whether it is in a review or something more casual like traveling in the car to an appointment or when you are on the tail end of a 1:1 conversation regarding something else, ask very simply; what can I do to improve?  You can be more specific especially if you are looking for specific feedback or are in a limited time situation, ask how you can be a stronger closer, increase your effectiveness with your communication, etc… Once you have the feedback, and remember to be open to criticism and critique, you have to do something with it, you have to act.

Surprised?

Yes, I admit that getting the most out of your career and your manager requires more work on your end than you may have expected but that is how you get ahead and become the entrepreneur of your career.

Quick Leadership Tips With Big Impact

We have all heard about cut backs and consolidation of duties to remain competitive in what has been a very tight market and as leaders we are not immune to this, many of us are working managers with additional requirements.

We don’t have too much time, so let’s get to the bottom of this. We have to start with being sure that you are aware of your companies culture, you know the mission, values and beliefs of your company, and align these with your leadership style and techniques. We will discuss culture in a future post, but for now just take a moment to be sure that you are identifying with the mission and values and incorporating them in to your approach.

Put it on your calendar and stick to it.  The key to leading is consistency and follow through, this isn’t rocket science. The best leaders not only have great ideas but they stick to them. If you are the type of person who is constantly changing the dates of your team meetings or one on one’s why would your employees take what you are saying in these delayed meetings as important (whether positive or a critique)? If it is on your calendar, it cannot be changed. Make it a known rule that if you must reschedule for whatever reason (things do come up) that your rescheduled meeting is off site: you are buying lunch.  You will be amazed at the respect you gain and by how many less reschedules you have.

Have something written down.  Even if you are a person who has more of an off the cuff approach, your employees may see things differently and be more methodical.  They may perceive you as not being prepared or that you did not take the time to truly think about their performance, etc… Your employees don’t recognize the fact that as a leader you are thinking about the business from the time you get up until you go to bed. You can take this once step further by creating a mini agenda with bullet points and providing them with a copy.  This may sound like a waste to you but if you want to quickly affect credibility and the intensity of your meeting this is a simple and easy way to start that is easily overlooked.

Create nonnegotiables and post them. Tired of people coming to you with problems and no solutions? Are the same people coming to you with new ideas each week while others are sitting back? Are employees thinking about how they can improve your business or where your business fits in the rest of the world?  In your office, in the break room and another common area post your divisions Non-Negotiables.  These can include things like each person must submit one new idea to the think tank (a box of some sort in the office) once a week, month, etc… that will impact the business.  Try and more closely define this each month for your team, such as reduce our usage of paper, decrease call time, etc… By creating a think tank, you as  a leader read them to the group, allowing for anonymity.  Take it a step further, have people vote on the best idea. Keeping it anonymous allows certain types of people to be more creative and free with their thinking.

Motivating and leading are areas we can all improve on and although the above seem quite basic, it is where I have seen people have the greatest difficulty and can also quickly make changes that have great impact.

Your Dream Stage

Just as in our dreams at night, dreamers have stages especially when it comes to our personal/professional lives.

There is the recurring dreamer: the person who has the same dream over and over with little or no change. In life what happens to this type of dreamer is that before taking action they wake up, or see someone else get that promotion, put their idea/invention to work, or they just decide that it is too late for them to try.  These dreams by the way, are the most common in life.

The Nightmare: disturbing dream that causes the dreamer to wake up feeling anxious and frightened and can be caused by a real life happening or situation we are trying to ignore. You are sick about going to work, can’t seem to change things in your life, things repeatedly are going wrong for you and in essence you can’t get out of your own way. The only way you can stop this cycle is by addressing what the issue is and ending or resolving what ever it is you are trying to ignore.

The Lucid dream: this is where it can get fun because we are making decisions that affect and change the dream while we are still in the dream. This I will translate that we have the ability to be working in one area of our lives while making decisions and taking action that will create an entirely different outcome or path. This is where we can really make things happen, this also takes the most work and discipline.

Prophetic dreams/precognitive dreams are dreams that foretell the future, that we are able to piece together bits of information we normally overlook. WOW, this happens?  Most people typically ignore the small signs usually because they are waiting for someone to hand them the secret recipe or the key that will unlock all of the answers as to how to get that promotion, be on the new project, start a business, etc… the list of dreams, wishes and wants abounds.

These are just a few of the most common dreams we have. The great news is we can effect all of them through action. The bottom line is that most of us won’t because we are looking for a road map or because it is different than what we have known or what someone has told us and it sounds like too much work. Sad to say it but it is true. Opportunities are out there but they take courage, diligence and a lot of risk and work to turn into reality.

We all have dreams…

…deciding to grasp on to one and see it through is an entirely different story! That is where I am at this exact moment in time. My parents, baby boomers, started at their jobs as teenagers and have worked their way into management/senior positions and are living the dream of their generation (sort of). I am a Gen X’er who went to college as prescribed to my generation, as a way to get ahead and move more quickly up the ladder, which I did with great success, but with hard work, long hours and paying my dues. My sister, a Gen Y brat (kidding, sort of) went to college, and although she had the opportunity to start at the bottom and work her way up, like many of her generation, decided that the ladder is longer than we as a society had prepared her for and is frustrated.

No matter what generation you are I know you are frustrated, but how do we channel this into something bigger than the moment we are in today? How do we move past working long hours to have balance and does balance mean weakness or that we are slackers?

The solutions or at least the bits and pieces to get your brain moving are on there way; can you relate?

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