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Career Coaching by Former Fortune 500 Recruiters

Book Review: Jason Jennings’ Less Is More

The subtitle of Jason Jennings’ Less is More is:  How Great Companies Use Productivity as a COMPETITIVE TOOL in business.  That sounds like this book will be about efficiency techniques and competitor case studies.  I almost didn’t read the book because I wasn’t in the mood for a straightforward business text.  But the book is actually much more comprehensive than the title and certainly the subtitle suggest.  It’s also a breezier read than expected:  any book that espouses the value of public hangings in a chapter about weeding out bad management is not going to be a staid business tome.

There is a big focus on the culture of these productive companies and how committed they are at all levels to sound business practices.  It was refreshing to see examples of big, established companies that calculated the value proposition of their ideas using simple but powerful financial metrics, implemented systems that worked, weeded out bureaucracy, and built a culture of respect and integrity at all levels.  We have all seen too many big companies allow bad practices to seep in at all levels.  WTGBRFDT, an acronym used by one of Jennings ‘ case studies, is not the norm even though it should be.  (WTGBRFDT = What’s the good business reason for doing this? and it’s a central theme of the book.)

Less is More has convinced me to look at my own business practices with a more watchful eye.  It will also help as I consult to my bigger clients.  Recently I pitched to a client that used a team of 10 to recruit 200 hires.  In my past corporate life, I had managed a team of 3 that recruited 500 hires.  This company was concerned whether I could help them because I previously had overseen just a team of 3.  Perhaps I can send them this book with the chapter on Financial Metrics highlighted.  Rather than worrying about numbers managed, they could focus on numbers hired, recruiting more with less staff.  Focusing on the right metric is a critical tool for any business and especially true in this economy.

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Diary of a New Hire: My First Day….

Most of our coaching advice goes to job seekers but we also coach individuals on how to be successful from day one on their new jobs.  The smart candidates want this guidance because first impressions mean so much. 

Kevin was an exceptional college student (Engineering Master’s Degree with a 3.8 GPA)  and took his job search very seriously.  The night of his first interview, he made sure to send a thank you note to his interviewer, mentioning why he really wanted the job and why he thought he would be a great hire. 

He kept in touch with the manager, and ultimately, he was given the job.  He tried to negotiate for a higher salary, and before doing that, he did his research.  He found out that although the $53,000 per year was solid, most Master’s Degree candidates in Chemical Engineering were making $60,000.  He spoke to his placement director, to other candidates that were hired, and he did some research on line.  Although he didn’t win his negotiation (you don’t always get what you ask for), his manager said he would do everything he could to raise his salary as soon as he could. 

So all was set for Kevin’s first day.   Again, Kevin did everything right.  He dressed up a bit just in case he looked too casual.  He got there early.  He kept himself busy even though he didn’t have a formal assignment.  Here is his own description of that first day on the job….

My first day at work started when I decided what to wear.  Although I was told that the dress code is lax I chose to wear a dress shirt and tie for two reasons: 1st, I wanted to show that I care about making a good impression; 2nd, dressing up generally makes me feel more confident and capable.

I showed up to work about 20 minutes early. At orientation there were about 20 new hires in an auditorium. I made it a point to make some friends during this time just in case I needed help with something! In the auditorium there were two managers who would call new hires to the front to review their security clearance forms before final submittal.

When this was finished we collectively made our oaths to the constitution (fyi, Kevin works for the Federal Government). Finally, our human resource specialists escorted us to our offices.

The first thing that my department did was to take me out to the Olive Garden to get acquainted without the pressures of the office. Next, we returned to the base where my supervisor discussed the goals and visions of our team. I made sure to ask questions regarding my place in the group.

I finished up my day by starting some of the many trainings that are required of me; I don’t exactly have an assignment so I decided I would remain busy with training at least. Also, it would be good to get this done early so as not to have to crunch it in when I do get busy.

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How Do Recruiters Search and Screen Resumes?

Last week in my Ask A Recruiter column for www.theglasshammer.com I wrote about the two main factors that every resume needs – authenticity and specificity.  Specificity (i.e., tailoring a resume to the employer/ industry/ function you are targeting), is particularly important because it enables your resume to be found when recruiters search and noticed when recruiters screen.

 Recruiters search for resumes on job boards, social networks such as LinkedIn, articles and white papers (especially at senior levels), and their own database.  When a search kicks off recruiters filter through the resumes from these sources by keywords and criteria.  If you don’t have those keywords or criteria in your resume, you may not get picked.

Read the rest of my tips for getting your resume searched and noticed at:

http://www.theglasshammer.com/news/2009/06/24/ask-a-recruiter-how-do-recruiters-search-and-screen-resumes/

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Jobseekers: Tame The Online Social Networking

One of my most popular workshop topics is how to use social media in your job search.

A high majority of recruiters use online social networks, such as LinkedIn, to find candidates (I used online networks extensively when I recruited), so jobseekers absolutely need to take advantage of these tools.

However, there are so many options and they are all so time-consuming that jobseekers risk being overwhelmed.

Read my tips on how to tame the online social networking overwhelm in my latest post for CNBC.com Executive Careers:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/31505797/site/14081545

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Book Review: Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne is not the breeziest read but it has some very interesting points for business owners.  Even if you don’t have your own business, Blue Ocean Strategy’s creative recommendations are useful to stretch and challenge your current thinking.

Rather than fighting your competitors (i.e., the red ocean strategy because it’s a bloody battle) can you make your competition irrelevant (i.e., the blue ocean strategy where you swim alone)?

What parts of the business can you reduce or eliminate?  Can you sell to different customers? What can you create that is new?

These are just some of the many challenging questions that Kim and Mauborgne raise.  They also provide many interesting examples from Cirque du Soleil to [yellow tail] wines to the NYPD turnaround under Bill Bratton’s leadership.

There is a lot of juicy material in this book.  My one quibble is that it’s not the most accessible read.  There is a lot of information, lots of theory, lots of graphs.  I read a lot of business books, and I had a hard time keeping track of everything — sometimes I felt there was too much and I would have liked to cover few topics but more in-depth.  Still, if Blue Ocean Strategy can cause you to question just one part of your business (or your life) then it is a worthwhile read.

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3 Steps To Becomming a Pro at Linked-In

For those job seekers out there who have yet to use LinkedIn, you are missing out on a tremendous amount of information that could be at your fingertips (literally).  Every minute, someone new joins LinkedIn and last I checked there were about 38 MILLION people that have their profiles there.  It’s a no-brainer.  You must be there.  So, here are 3 steps you need to take to get started.  

First Step/First Day:

  1. Go to www.LinkedIn.com and create an account
  2. Download your picture into your account
  3. Use a thumbnail sketch of your resume to include all of your most pertinent information:  current/or past employers, educational information, interests, etc.
  4. Think of 2 or 3 individuals who could write a very strong recommendation for you (you’ll do this later, but think of who they could be now)
  5. Think of 10 – 20 people that you’d like to Link into.  These could be people from past jobs, people that reported to you & that you reported to.  Peers, etc.  Just think about who they would be and put them on a list.

Second Step/Second Day:

  1. Join 3 or 4 “groups” that you have an interest in.  Right off the bat, join the alumni associations of any colleges/universities you attended, and alumni associations of any past employers.  That alone will connect you with thousands of individuals.
  2. Connect to those 10 – 20 people you wrote down on your list.  Include those you knew well and those you didn’t know that well.  Believe me – people want to connect with as many people as possible.

Third Step/Third Day:

  1. As you start to link in to others, try conducting searches by the companies that your contacts work for.  You never know where people land. 
  2. Think of another 10 – 20 more people that you know and connect to them – 5 people a day.
  3. Join another 3 – 4 networking groups and read the topics that are listed in the summary emails you receive from the groups.  Participate in tele-classes that are of interest to you.  There are many groups for job seekers, and many free tele-classes that give information about how to conduct a proactive job search.

So, one step per day will get you to full Linked-In usage in just 3 days!  Go for it – it’s an amazing tool.

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Book Review: John Wood’s Leaving Microsoft To Change The World

Very candidly written, John Wood’s Leaving Microsoft To Change The World is a fast-moving, inspirational book about a major career change.  Wood left Microsoft as Director of Business Development in China and established the non-profit Room To Read.  Accolades aside (and Wood deservingly has received many), he left behind a secure and prestigious job, a high salary, and a serious relationship to accomodate his radical transformation.  There are numerous coaching lessons in Wood’s story:

Dreams require hard work.  Wood logs hundreds of thousands of miles and works round the clock. 

There will be tradeoffs.  The anecdote about Wood checking out the open house in San Francisco and realizing he will be a renter his whole life is refreshingly honest and funny.  His reaction upon seeing the listing description:  There. Is. No. Way.

Being true to yourself is the ultimate payoff.  At first, Wood has to practice talking about himself.  He is very candid about having a hard time answering the What Do You Do question the first few times around.  But he also talks with genuine excitement and passion about everything he does, and he acknowledges (and you can feel it as you read it) that he has realized his true self. 

There are many aspiring career changers out there.  While most will not make as radical a transformation, there is insight and inspiration to be gained by going along with Wood on his journey.

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Guest Post: Pink Slip Party Networking Tips From Jux.ta.pose Founder Maro

I met Maro via networking of course.   He is the founder of an online professional network, Jux.ta.pose, and recently organized a Pink Slip Party (networking event with jobseekers and recruiters but in a social setting).  Here are Maro’s 10 tips for working a Pink Slip Party or any live networking event.  Thanks for sharing Maro!

http://juxtapose3.blogspot.com/

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The Dreaded Salary/Compensation Topic

So many clients ask me about what to write down on an application in regards to salary.  They also ask what to say when asked about what salary they are seeking … because they feel they’ll take anything.  They just want to get that job.  They just want to get their feet wet.  Well, it doesn’t have to be so uncomfortable and it should be something you think quite a lot about and feel confident about before you even walk into the door for an interview. 

Here is how you can manage in and around the salary question.

Step 1:  do your research to find out the going rate for a position.  You can use the following resources:  payroll.com, vault.com.  You could even take a look at the Parade Magazine from 2 or 3 weeks ago as it’s still on line.  That’s the fun issue that lists what everyone makes, famous & non-famous alike:

  • Jennifer Aniston, Actress: $27 Million
  • Kelly Ripa, TV Personality:  $8 Million
  • Veronica, Special Education Teacher:  $52,800
  • Mayor Bloomberg:  $1.00

I read that issue every year because it is fascinating to see what people make and what they do.  It’s also fun to fantasize about making $27 Million or $5 Million.  Always fun to imagine how much money you must have to only want to make $1.00 as Mayor of NYC.  OK … back to how to handle the salary question.

Step 2:  Find out whatever intelligence you can about the position you are interviewing for.  Once, when I interviewed for a position at a company, I knew that a good friend had interviewed before me and I called to ask her about the salary they offered.  She told me the starting salary, the sign-on and the bonus.  So when they offered the job to me, and they offered it to me at a slightly lower amount, I had the facts to back up why I should be given the higher salary and that is exactly what I did get.  Not bad for just making a phone call.  But you need not know the person who interviewed for the job.  Perhaps you know someone at the company and you can ask them.  perhaps you know someone who used to work at that company.  Check your LinkedIn contacts.  You’ll be surprised at who you find!

Step 3:  Speak to someone in Human Resources, especially a compensation expert.  They know all the salaries in all of the disciplines.  They are a font of information so use them whenever possible. 

Once you have as much information as you can muster, then come up with a figure that you would be happy with.  I never took a job based on salary alone:

  • #1 reason:  my boss &  my co-workers
  • #2 reason:  company brand
  • #3 reason:  compensation

But with that said, salary was always in my top 3 reasons for accepting a job.  So once you have your information, have a figure in your head.  On the application, I advise candidates to write a range:  $50 – 60,000 for example.  Or they can write “flexible”. 

Interview and get that job offer in your pocket and then the negotiation will be much easier.  And as a last tip, never bring up compensation until the potential employer does.  You know they are interested if they are going to bother to ask, so that should bolster your confidence.

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How Can You Ensure Your Resume Is Seen?

What can I put in the resume to guarantee an interview? How do employers decide who to invite from the resume pile? What keywords can I use to make my resume stand out online?

I get a resume-related question at every workshop.   See my advice to this jobseeker in my latest post for ThGlassHammer.com:

http://www.theglasshammer.com/news/2009/06/17/ask-a-recruiter-how-can-you-ensure-your-resume-is-seen/

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