Posted on June 7, 2017
If you’re viewing retirement as some far-off future event that you don’t need to think about now, you’re fooling yourself. Likewise, if you feel smugly confident that you’ve made shrewd investments and will be in great shape when you finally decide to retire, you might face a rude awakening. Almost the only factor you can count on about retirement is that you can’t count on matters staying as they are.
You probably already know that the concept of retirement has changed considerably over the past few decades–as has the recommended approach to preparing for it.
One major event that triggered massive change was the financial crisis of 2007-2008, which had global impact. It was blamed for causing a devastating recession that many people considered the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
That event wiped out the retirement reserves of many Americans. You or someone you know could have experienced that disaster personally. If you were young enough at the time, you’ve had a chance to work at recouping those losses. Otherwise, you’re most likely engaged in a struggle to reach the point where you can even contemplate retirement–if you have a choice.
Sometimes you don’t.
Posted on May 31, 2017
Your resume should communicate to prospective employers the value you actually and legitimately have (fact), not embellish unnecessarily, exaggerate or invent value (fiction). Don’t be tempted to “gild the lily” and risk causing yourself possibly major headaches down the road. (Note: According to Urban Dictionary, “gild the lily” represents “a condensation of Shakespeare’s metaphor in King John: ‘To gild refined gold, to paint the lily … is wasteful and ridiculous excess.'”)
You can create a great resume without resorting to exaggeration, including the use of extravagant wording to describe your experience and achievements. In fact, it’s a good idea to be restrained in your use of adjectives and adverbs that aren’t necessary and don’t impress either the reader or the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that’s probably going to screen your resume initially.
Version #2 does less patting-you-on-the-back self-congratulating and still communicates more worthwhile information than #1, and it does the job using 16 words instead of 23.
So why would you want to risk problems by exaggerating or fudging the facts?
Posted on May 25, 2017
Can you exert a positive influence over your work environment and career prospects even if you don’t hold a senior management or executive position? Does holding such a position give you both authority and influence? Good questions!
First of all, what’s the difference between the two terms or concepts? “Authority is a social, political and business structure that grants an individual rights to make decisions and give orders. … Authority is the power or right to give orders and make decisions. Influence is the ability to affect ideas and actions.” (management.simplicable.com/management/new/influence-vs-authority)
Effectiveness on the job, at whatever level (even C-level executive), can improve significantly when you have both authority and influence. Sometimes that’s possible, other times maybe not.
However, it’s important to remember that having the right to make decisions and issue orders doesn’t ensure a successful outcome–for you or for the organization.
As has been abundantly demonstrated over the years, you can intimidate and coerce people into taking action according to your orders, but the overall effect isn’t necessarily desirable. In fact, companies have been seriously damaged by authoritative management that didn’t take into consideration the demotivating and demoralizing effect of that kind of “leadership.”
So what are the alternatives?
Posted on May 21, 2017
When you line up and go through job interviews, are you wasting your time? This is not an easy question for most of us to answer, although you might have an opinion based on your experience as a candidate (good or bad).
Recently I came across an article indicating that companies themselves tend to place more emphasis on the value of in-person interviews than on objective assessment, even though it’s often not justified by the performance of those they hire. The article, titled “Job Interviews Are Useless,” maintained that companies fool themselves into thinking an in-person evaluation of potential new hires helps them get a better sense of who the best candidates are than objective evaluation does.
Not necessarily so, claims author Sunstein. For example:
“A lot of evidence suggests that…employers will stubbornly trust their intuitions — and are badly mistaken to do so. Specific aptitude tests turn out to be highly predictive of performance in sales, and general intelligence tests are almost as good. Interviews are far less useful at telling you who will succeed. What’s true for sales positions is also true more generally. Unstructured interviews have been found to have surprisingly little value in a variety of areas.”
Mind you, the article is written from an employer standpoint, not from a job seeker’s perspective. For one thing, you probably already know that not all interviewers are equally skilled (some aren’t skilled at all) or well-trained in conducting interviews.
Of course, you can and should prepare thoroughly for all your interviews. At the same time, you should be aware that if you get stuck with a relatively unskilled interviewer, you might need to take a more active (albeit subtle) role in guiding the interview, if you expect to accomplish anything worthwhile from it.
Posted on May 13, 2017
If you believe there are resume secrets hidden from you and you don’t know how to crack the code, this post is for you! Because. guess what: There are NO resume secrets–unless you believe a resume that will get you interviews is somehow mysteriously concocted by writers who have a pipeline into a well-protected Fort Knox of resume-writing secrets.
Well, no. Or maybe yes, if we’re talking about a resume that might or might not produce any desirable results (such as an interview). It doesn’t take a genius to string a bunch of words together. On the other hand, even if you’re a better-than-average writer, you might find your writing skills aren’t up to par when it comes to creating a resume that’s going to work for you.
How well do you know yourself? Most of us would probably say “very well” or at least “better than anyone else knows me.” That’s fine as far as it goes, but with regard to resume writing, it might not go far enough. For one thing, your resume is not your autobiography–at least, it certainly shouldn’t be! Employers want more than your “employment history.” They want to know what you can do for them!
Since the #1 goal for your resume is to help you land interviews–as a necessary precursor to getting a job offer–there’s one resume “secret” you should know:
Perceived value to employers far outweighs fancy wording (including lots of adjectives) or overly generous use of bullets and graphic lines. Don’t get carried away with what is essentially window-dressing.
Posted on May 3, 2017
If you still plan and conduct your job searches the same way you did 10-15 years ago, you probably aren’t getting the traction you used to back then. Some things never change, while others seem to change every time you turn around.
If you don’t see the need for significant change in your job search plans or if you actively resist the idea of making changes, it’s important to understand one key fact: Change will happen with or without you!
Years ago, we used to scan the classified section of the Sunday newspaper for job openings in our target field. It was typically a very fat section and often included a hefty percentage of engineering and other technology jobs.
These days, newspaper classified sections (if they still exist) are anemic by comparison. And you won’t see things like executive positions advertised there.
To paraphrase a popular 1960s folk song, “Where have all the job ads gone? They’ve gone to the Internet, every one.”
The problem is, of course, that you’re not the only one who has noticed that trend over the years. Your competitors for those desirable job opportunities know it, too.
Posted on April 28, 2017
You get a phone call or an email from someone who urgently needs your resume to submit for a great but time-limited job opportunity. Fantastic! Except for one problem–you haven’t updated your resume in at least 10 years. So you quickly throw together an “updated resume” that you figure will do for the time being and send it off.
First, you tried to take the easy way out and just dash something off without checking to make sure it was done right. You might have made mistakes (typos, etc.) or incorrect statements because you didn’t take time to check. Or maybe you left out potentially valuable information that could have advanced your candidacy for the position.
Second, you didn’t stop to think about whether you knew enough about the job possibility to really want it and see it as a potentially good fit for you. That might have influenced how you put together the revised resume and even whether you sent it at all.
What you’ve successfully done, in all probability, is to “shoot yourself in the foot”!
Posted on April 4, 2017
Wouldn’t it be great if job searching were a “piece of cake,” with no real challenges or speed-bumps to get past? Theoretically, that would mean you wouldn’t face any serious tests of your self-respect and integrity during the job search.
Is that likely to happen in practice? Maybe not. Even the best-planned and -executed job search campaign can encounter obstacles. The list of possible obstructions is too long to include here!
If you start out with healthy self-respect, you have better odds of managing your job search to a successful conclusion. For example, you know that you probably won’t land every job you interview for–your competitors will undoubtedly succeed at least part of the time. Consequently, you won’t consider each job that gets away as a personal blow to your sense of value (self-worth). In other words, you consider yourself a top contender because you know what you’re capable of.
With that thought in mind, you might also consider steps you can take to present yourself more compellingly to employers, making sure they can easily see how you can make them successful–or more successful than they already are. You will approach this challenge with confidence because you know you can contribute essential value to their organization.
Does this mean you approach employers with an “I am the greatest, and you’d be stupid not to hire me” attitude? Hardly! Self-respect and self-confidence go hand-in-hand but don’t “play well” with arrogance and conceit.
Which brings us to the next point.