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Showing posts from July, 2009

Your Road Not Taken

You are 55. You've just been tossed out by your employer in a downsizing. You are sitting at your kitchen table with your outplacement workbook, diligently doing the exercises to re-do your resume.

Then a song comes on the radio that you haven't heard in years, bringing back a flood of sweet memories from when you were young.

You ask yourself, What happened? What has my career added up to? What next? Do I really want to go back into corporate? Or should I take a chance and do something different?

In each of our lives, we choose a road and follow it. Whether it's engineering, nursing or policework, banking, underwriting or plumbing. We choose a career path and we pursue it.

Every road taken is a choice. And we leave other roads not taken.

Then we get to a point in our lives, maybe somewhere north of age 40 or 50, where we ask ourselves, "Have I reached the end of this road?"

If you are a boomer who has been downsized --or are still employed but are feeling like yo…

Mission: Career Success

This week, there is a great event coming up at Ft. Dix called Mission . . . Career Success, designed to support 1300 returning reservists who are coming home and looking to transition back to the workforce.

Here's an excerpt from the program description:

"Spearheaded by the Garden State Council-SHRM Workforce Readiness team, chapter volunteers throughout New Jersey will provide support to 1,300 returning NJ Reservists from the 50th Infantry, with the opportunity to attend a wide variety of job readiness workshops designed to provide insight and awareness to their career options and conduct a successful job search.

"Throughout the afternoon, Reservists will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one for a mini coaching session with a Career Coach, HR or Recruiting Professional who will provide feedback on resume content, interviewing issues specific to the Reservist and career guidance
."

I'll be there, along with several hundred volunteers, giving a few hours as a job s…

What Makes You Different?

In my work with job hunters, I often find myself helping the other person to confront the ultimate employer question, Why should we hire you?

The best answer is to say, "You should hire me because I can do X for you and your company."

But how do you figure out what X is?

I call it, Finding Your Differentiator.

And the way to discover it is by working, really working, on your resume.

I find that as the job hunter works on their skills, accomplishments, and Summary (or Professional Profile), especially the identification of key capabilities, they get closer to their differentiator(s).

As an example, one of my candidates (aka clients) is a bank branch manager from a well-known bank. After several one-on-one meetings to delve into her experiences, accomplishments, and skills, it dawned on her that her differentiator is:

~ She takes under-performing branches and transforms them into award winning branches.

She not only had an aha moment, but she seemed to shift into a higher gear of f…

"Go With the People Flow"

Years ago, during the heyday of the Quality movement, I learned this slogan:

~ "None of us is as smart as all of us."

Great little maxim. It's saying that when you bring a team together to address a problem or an opportunity, the collaborative effort can yield more ideas, often better ideas, than one person working on their own.

As true as this is for Quality improvement teams, it also applies to job hunting. Get together with other job hunters. Why? At the Riley Guide, Margaret Dikel says:

"You just lost your job, or you lost it some time ago but are still not finding something else. Why do we so strongly suggest you join a job search support group? Because they can help. No, they probably do not have job listings nor can they introduce you to potential employers, but they can give you the lift you need to continue and the other members can offer ideas and suggestions for strategies you did not consider."

Well said. And she goes on to list a ton of resources …

Clearly Engaged

What are the key things that managers must do to promote greater employee engagement? It's quite clear to me:

- Connect: Make a genuine connection with each of your team members.

[Consultant Michael Lee Stallard writes very well about the power of connections.]

- Listen: Listen not only with your ears. Listen with your heart. Learn to really hear what your people are saying, and what they are feeling.

[Consultant Judith Bardwick has written very powerfully about the role of feelings in engagement.]

- Empower: Give your people the freedom to make a difference in how things are done in your area of the company.

- Acknowledge: Recognize your people not only for their results, but for their effort, their ideas, and their commitment.

[Consultant Judith Umlas has written very well about the power of acknowledgement.]

- Reinforce: Strengthen your people via training, feedback, team building, coaching, and new experiences.

What would you add?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, July 20, 2009

We Are Now In The Riley Guide!

I'm happy to report that this blog, Here We Are. Now What?, has been featured at The Riley Guide, one of the foremost career sites on the internet.

The Riley Guide is "a directory of employment and career information sources and services on the Internet that also provides instruction for jobseekers and recruiters on how to use the Internet to their best advantage."

Here's what Riley Guide editor Margaret Riley Dikel wrote:

This blog by Terry Seamon offers advice on careers, work, dealing with issues in (and out of) the office, job search and career change, and other life/work topics. Among the many postings here are several dedicated to the job search which he has gathered together under the great title of Galvanize into Action. You'll enjoy these plus his many other ideas and suggestions. Scroll past his interesting list of links to other blogs to get to his full archive. You'll find some real gems in there.

Many thanks, Margaret, for the recognition!

Posted by…

Lesson of the Scarecrow

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At the Employee Engagement Network, moderator David Zinger asked, "How do you stay engaged with your work?"

This is a useful question in good times. In bad times, for example during a job search, it's a very important question.

First, it helps to be doing (or pursuing) work that you love.

Then, you've got to be able to recover after having a bad day. S__t happens, right? Things come along that knock you down. People come along who ruin your outlook.

To re-constitute myself after such set-backs, I've learned the lesson of the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz: stuff yourself back together.

In the scene where Dorothy is kidnapped by the flying monkeys sent by the Wicked Witch, the monkeys beat the crap out of the Scarecrow, throwing his innards all over the place.

Here's a snippet from the script:

SCARECROW: Help! Help! Help! Help! Help!

TIN MAN: Oh! Well, what happened to you?

SCARECROW: They tore my legs off, and they threw them over there! Then they took my chest o…

What's Your Story?

What's your story?

Job hunting involves telling stories. The stories of your past deeds and accomplishments. These stories convey Who You Are. What You Can Do. What You Are Best At.

Let's look at the ancient art of story telling:

When you were a child, did you enjoy hearing stories? Do you have a kid of your own? Do you enjoy telling stories to him or her?

Stories, and story telling, are primal. They harken back to the most ancient times, when people gathered around a camp fire, to hear tales of how the tribe (and indeed the world) was born.

Stories can be spellbinding (great old word, isn't it?): to enchant, to fascinate.

Work on developing your storytelling skills. A tool for telling stories is CAR for Challenge, Action & Results:

- What was the challenge you faced?

- What actions did you take?

- What results did you achieve?

With all the competition out there these days for jobs, what will set you apart? One skill is your ability to tell your special story.

Keep this in …

Dead Wood. No Passion.

Yesterday at a church picnic, I was handling the grill, flipping hamburgers for a big crowd. While gladly performing this role, I spent a couple hours chatting (and networking) with fellow parishioners. (Remember: Network all the time. Everywhere. With everyone.)

In one conversation, a friend who had recently taken on a senior management role with a growing company, told me he was having a very hard time filling a key opening with his firm. The problem was not quantity. There were plenty of applicants, plenty of resumes. No, the problem was, as he put it: "I'm seeing a lot of dead wood. No passion."

I was sorry to hear that. I wondered how many excellent candidates, with strong capabilities, were disqualifying themselves by coming across poorly.

If you are a job seeker, do you have any idea how you are coming across to hiring managers?

Here are five suggestions that should safeguard you from the perception that you are just "dead wood" with no passion.

Positiv…

Galvanize Into Action

My mother, Ramona Dorfman Seamon, had a lot of sayings, some in English, some in Yiddish. When she wanted one of us kids to get moving, "Galvanize into action," my mom would say.

Galvanize: rouse, stir, electrify, fire, spur, animate

Galvanize: To arouse to awareness or action


Not sure where she got that phrase, but it's a good one.

What does it take to galvanize someone into action? What stimulus will startle, arouse, and impel you forward to action?

A downsizing will startle you. But will it galvanize you? Does it have the arousing and motivating effect that will produce positive action?

In general, I don't think so. Yes, some hardy and resilient people will galvanize into action and get going. But the rest? Many in today's recession have no idea where to begin or what to do.

Once downsized, it's up to the individual to galvanize herself into action. But does the person affected by a downsizing know what actions to take?

In the past few months, I've be…

Improving Your Odds

A job hunter sent me an email today asking for advice. He writes: "I see lots of HR and IT jobs posted on your Yahoo site, but nothing in my field. Any suggestions?"

My suggestion would be, Don't count on the job leads that you are seeing on this, or any other, job lead sharing site. The odds are too low.

Much better is to work your own network, both interpersonally and on LinkedIn. Let your contacts, both professional and personal, know what you are looking for. Tell anyone who will listen. Remember: you never know who they know.

At the same time, identify your target companies: the employers that you know and admire which could use your skills and experience. Once identified, pursue them, by networking into them. LinkedIn can help here.

Search for the likely hiring managers and send them a letter of introduction. Then call them.

This approach has much higher odds of paying off.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, July 6, 2009

Having a "You Orientation"

Over the years, I've taken (and given) any number of training courses on presentation skills. But the one that I thought was the best was created and taught by a NJ-based businessman, author, song writer, and trainer named Robert "Bob" Max.

After a successful career, Bob started his own training company and specialized in teaching business writing and presentation skills to corporate audiences: salespeople, scientists, engineers, managers and administrative professionals.

One of the secrets to excellence in presentations is a concept of Bob's that he called "you orientation." Having a You Orientation means that you are audience-centered in your approach to the presentation you are getting ready to give. And, when you get up to deliver the presentation, having a You Orientation means that you stay audience-focused throughout the delivery.

In the years since I took Bob's course, I have often recalled and applied this idea. It's one of those simple ye…

We Have Met The Enemy

"We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us" - Walt Kelly, creator of Pogo.

In the last blog entry on strategy, I mentioned that the job hunter's greatest Enemy is the Self.

Let's look at that more closely.

Take the following test. The twelve items below represent twelve key ingredients in an effective job search. The more times you answer Yes, the more likely you will successfully land. The more No answers, the more likely you are sabotaging yourself.

For each of the following statements, answer Yes or No.

1. My job search is my full time job now.

2. I have a clear Objective for my job search.

3. I understand that I am now in a Sales & Marketing role, and that my Product is Me.

4. I am NOT going it alone; rather, I am reaching out to others to support me.

5. I am on LinkedIn.

6. I am busy networking every day, with everyone.

7. I have Target Companies that I am researching and pursuing.

8. I am NOT waiting for the phone to ring.

9. I have joined at least one local networking group.

1…

Be Sure You Have A Strategy

How many business people have a strategy? My guess would be: Not Many.

It's not for lack of appreciating the value of having a strategy. No, it's mostly because people do not know what a strategy really is.

There is a very helpful article called "Are You Sure You Have A Strategy?" by Donald Hambrick and James Fredrickson, published in the Academy of Management Executive, 2001, Vol. 15, No. 4.

The authors remind us that the term strategy comes from the Greek strategos meaning "the art of the general." In a war, a general has an objective and a strategy for achieving it. Hambrick and Fredrickson identify several key elements of a strategy. Here's my take on their model:

- The Arena: Where will the action take place?

- The Enemy: Who are our competitors?

- The Vehicles: How will we get there?

- The Weapons: How will we win?

- The Staging: What will be our speed? What will be our sequence of moves?

- The Measure: How will we obtain our returns?

How might th…