SOUNDING OFF

by
You can learn a lot by observing and asking questions. But to shake things up, you have to get real ticked off about the important things that need fixing. The dangerous alternative is complacency.

About this Blog

RSS

Recent Posts

How to Think Like the Top Dog

Not All Internships Pay Off

More on Résumés, Avoid “Buffet Résumés”

Cluttered Résumés Don’t Work

Political Discussions with Colleagues Can Backfire

How to Think Like the Top Dog

Solid work experience and a great education don’t guaranty a successful career. You have to have a lot more going for you, according to executive coach Beverly Jones, author of “Think Like an Entrepreneur, Act like a CEO.”

Jones said that professional success now depends on the ability to adapt. “Agility, resilience, a willingness to adjust professional expectations and responding quickly to opportunities and threats as they arise are now vital job and workplace skills,” Jones said.

Jones offers what she considers 50 “indispensable tips” to help career builders snare a company’s  top job or to become a successful entrepreneur. Here are a few of them:

Make leadership part of your brand. That means you must always keep growing. “The best leaders are constantly learning something new,” Jones said. And it doesn’t have to be job related.  Our development as a leader is tied to our development as a person, and the growth areas we pursue in our free time can impact the way we show up on the job.

Leadership expert Daniel Goleman feels that strong leaders are distinguished from mediocre ones by their level of emotional intelligence.  That means you have self-awareness, like
“noticing when you’re too angry or distracted to handle a delicate matter.”  In his book “Social intelligence,” Goleman said that “we are wired to connect” with others and by becoming more self-aware we get better at managing our interactions with others.  And Jones said that we ought to concentrate on building the following qualities:

  • Being positive.  “A leader’s attitude has an enormous impact on the team, and most people are more productive when they are around positive people,” said Jones.
  • Engaged. Leaders must be focused on the people and activities around us.
  • Service oriented.  The concept of “service leadership” stresses attributes such as kindness, trust, empathy and the ethical use of power.
  • Well organized.  It takes more than good intentions to deliver results, Jones said.  “To achieve their goals, effective leaders develop work habits and systems associated with productivity.”
  • Collaborative. Innovation is often a byproduct of a collaboration involving people with different views and skill sets, according to Jones.
  • Energetic.  To perform at peak efficiency, leaders must learn how to manage not just their time but also their energy. This also includes physical energy, “which is linked to exercise, nutrition and stress management,” said Jones.

Leaders also understand the link between positivity and productivity. “Most people do their best work in an environment that’s predominantly positive,” Jones said.

Learning how to give positive feedback is also essential for effective and productive leadership.  To master delivering positive feedback, Jones offers the following tips:

Be sincere.  “Get in touch with your sense of gratitude when you express thanks, and speak honestly about how you feel,” said Jones.

Be specific. A casual thank you isn’t as effective as a detailed comment. “Precise comments not only carry more impact,” they also provide powerful reinforcement for the performance you want to encourage,” Jones said.

Fully engage. Jones said that “part of the power of saying ‘thank you’ comes from the fact that you care enough to focus on another person.”

This is just a brief sampling of Jones’s book.  The important takeaway is that it takes a lot more than most people realize to be a successful leader or entrepreneur.

 

Posted on: July 30, 2016 10:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Not All Internships Pay Off

There is no question that internships pay off for college graduates. In fact, most employers expect job candidates to have at least one internship experience.   

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that improving economic conditions have finally caught up to millennials, providing them with a brighter job market.

Yet not all internships are the same.  A recent Federal Reserve Bank of New York report said that the devil is in the details. Not all new college graduates are doing equally well. The kind of degree they earned is an enormous factor in the job hunt.

“There’s no question that your field of study significantly alters your prospects,” said Matt Stewart, co-founder of College Works Painting (www.collegeworks.com), an internship program that provides practical business experience for college students.

But even choosing the right field is no guarantee, Stewart said.  “How you approach your field,” such as taking advantage of an internship, can boost your professional prospects tremendously.

Stewart said that interns with College Works Painting operate their own house-painting business with hands-on guidance from mentors. They learn valuable leadership skills by functioning as leaders in a business. He went on to say that “unemployment for our alumni has remained at less than 4 percent, including when youth unemployment exceeded 16 percent a few years ago. “This kind of challenging yet fun student experience helps ensure a good career for college graduates right out of the gate,” Stewart added.

What should students look for in an internship so they can gain the professional experience they need to land a job after graduation?
Stewart offered the following tips:

Know what you will actually be doing.  While simply being in a company’s culture has value, many businesses assign students to their lowest-level work. Grunt work, to some extent, is a fact of life in most professions. But that kind of work won’t propel a student’s career. Consider an internship that gives you real responsibility and provides experiences that will definitely come in handy in your future career.
Consider a company’s internship recognition. Don’t accept an internship with just any organization. Think about the business awards the company has won, the type of articles that have been written about the company, and how the company contributes to their industry and community. If possible, get information on how other former interns fared.  Bottom line: Invest time researching internships. The more information you gather, the better the odds of choosing an internship that delivers marketable experience in your field.
Real world experience is crucial. Whether you’re an artist, athlete, musician, theater major, English student, a STEM-field student, or a business major or future entrepreneur, getting experience often comes with a heavy price.  Look for opportunities that provide guidance while allowing you to apply skills to real-life challenges such as budgeting, marketing, and managing employees, said Stewart. These are transferable skills that apply to any industry.

Regardless of how the economy is doing, put forth your best effort,” Stewart advised. “As we’ve seen, the market can take a nosedive at any time.”

Posted on: July 29, 2016 12:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

More on Résumés, Avoid “Buffet Résumés”

We’ve all heard the expression, “Less is more.” It has many meanings. Generally, it can be applied to practically everything  we write, such as memos, emails, reports and presentations.  It’s a cardinal rule for journalists and advertising copywriters. But it’s also an important commandment when writing résumés, according to Tina Nicolai, founder of RésumésWriters’ Ink.
When Nicolai began working as a recruiter for Walt Disney World in the late 1990s, she noticed that many job seekers were submitting flawed résumés.

"I realized people simply did not know how to market themselves or their achievements," Nicolai tells Business Insider. "And that's how I knew there was a market to educate job candidates at all levels and in all industries."

Since launching her company in 2010, she’s read over 40,000 résumés. "And this is what most people get wrong,” she said. “They think a 'buffet résumé' is the best way to go."
Nicolai says a buffet résumé is one that has too much going on ... one that offers too much information."My clients often think a résumé that is a smorgasbord is best because it demonstrates the bandwidth of skills, experiences, and achievements that they have in their repertoire of success," she said. "But this is a recipe for getting overlooked."
Nicolai says hiring managers do not have time to sift through your résumé, picking out what is directly related to the job opening. 
"A résumé is like a wardrobe. Just because a person has everything from casual to formal doesn't mean they wear all of those pieces together," she explains. "We dress according to where we're going, the activity we're doing, and the climate — but we don't wear it all at once."
Only include information that's relevant to the job you're applying for. And yes, this means you need to tailor your résumé for each job application. Don't be lazy. Don’t you think it’s worth the extra effort?

Posted on: July 28, 2016 01:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Cluttered Résumés Don’t Work

With all the books and articles written about résumés, you’d think job hunters would have gotten it right by now.

Not so.  Recruiters and hiring managers still complain about the quality of the résumés they receive.

An article published on Salary.com said a “great résumé can open a door, but an inferior one can just as quickly close one.” The career website listed the following fatal résumé mistakes:

Cookie-cutter templates. There are no shortage of résumé programs on the market.  All you have to do is fill in the blanks. What could be simpler?  But lazy job hunters pay the price when their cookie-cutter template  résumés are quickly scrapped by hiring managers.

Objectives limit your options.  Objectives paint you in a corner, said Salary.com, especially if you want the employer  to keep you in mind for other positions.

Typos and grammatical errors are inexcusable.  Recruiters scratch their heads in disbelief when they receive résumés strewn with  grammatical errors and typos.  If candidates can’t write a grammatically correct résumé, how are they going to write a business letter or memo?  They’re immediately rejected as lazy.  Put yourself in the employer’s shoes.  If you owned the company, would you hire someone who’s too lazy to proofread a document he or she wrote? The answer is obvious.

Lack  focus.  Your résumé  should clearly state what you do, what you are good at, and what you have accomplished. If you are applying for a sales position focus on your numbers and statistics.

List dates first. Statistics show that hiring managers spend just a couple of seconds looking at a résumé before deciding whether it warrants a full read, so be sure to show them what they want to see first. When listing past employment, instead of listing dates first list them last. A good order is: title/position, name of employer, city/state of employer, and then dates.

Keep résumé to an appropriate length. Contrary to popular opinion you don't need to limit your résumé to one page, especially if you've accrued some work experience. The goal should be to document everything you've done, without being verbose. One page should suffice for entry-level workers and those with a few years of work experience. If you have more than six or seven years of experience, two pages is enough.

Avoid dense paragraphs. Hiring managers have piles of résumés to read. Most don’t have the time or unwilling to struggle through a tough read no matter how qualified the candidate.

Avoid technical jargon or business-speak. Use simple declarative sentences that’s easily understood and doesn’t require interpretation.

Do not include irrelevant information.  Employers aren’t interested in your responsibilities on prior jobs.  Their primary concerns are recent accomplishments, and what you can do for them. 

Posted on: July 28, 2016 10:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Political Discussions with Colleagues Can Backfire

Experts agree that it’s unwise to talk about politics with your colleagues.  Yet it’s almost impossible to escape talking and arguing about the hotly debated issues triggered by this contentious and unprecedented upcoming presidential election, according to

Beverly Jones, executive coach and author of “Think Like an Entrepreneur, Act Like a CEO.”

Jones advises workers to avoid engaging in political discussions.  For many, this is easier said than done, because it’s hard to keep our opinions to ourselves about this explosive and device election.  As difficult as it is, Jones advises staying neutral and calm, and then to shifting the topic to something else. 

Jones offers the following advice about what we can do to avoid being sucked into heated political discussions about this upcoming election:

Ask coworkers to stop talking about the election. “It’s easy to ignore the occasional reference to politicians, but if co-workers won’t stop talking about them it’s OK to ask them to cease,” Jones said. “Be polite but direct, and say, ‘I don’t like to talk about politics at work.’”

 If they talk too much about everything.  We are in the midst of a highly political season so it’s not surprising the topic keeps coming up. Your problem, however, may be co-workers who talk too much about anything in the news. While you don’t want to be rude, you can set boundaries.

Set boundaries, but don’t be rude.  You can politely say, “I can’t take the time to talk now because I’ve got a deadline.” To keep the conversation on track during meetings, always propose an agenda, and stick to it.

What do you say if you disagree with what people are saying?
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to stop them from making political comments. “But you can decide how much to let it bother you,” Jones added. “When you can’t walk away, take a lesson from successful politicians and let the rhetoric just flow.” Heated political speech is part of our culture. Like the weather, it may get stormy, but it’s not about you and soon it will pass, Jones said.

Restrain your kneejerk reaction to respond to outrageous comments.  Some people relish arguing about politics. If you want to avoid these discussions, don’t take the bait.  “If you stop rising to their taunts, you will ruin their fun and they may stop bothering you,” Jones said.

 If it’s over the top. There’s a difference between annoying political dialogue and hate speech, Jones said.  “If colleagues describe your favorite candidate as an idiot, that’s not about you and it’s best to let it go,” she said.  But if they make comments that are racist, homophobic, misogynous or otherwise demeaning to an entire class of people, that can feel like it’s directed at you.  Sweeping dismissive comments can create a hostile, unproductive workplace, and you don’t have to put up with it.  Jones advised speaking to your boss or the human resources department and let them know about the situation.

Jones said that the best way to escape a political diatribe can be to walk away or tune it out. But if we find ourselves drawn into the conversation, don’t make it worse. Maintain a matter-of-fact, analytical tone and stick to the issues.  

 

Posted on: June 29, 2016 03:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
ADVERTISEMENTS

"Work is what you do for others . . . art is what you do for yourself."

- Stephen Sondheim

Test your PM knowledge

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsors