Category Archives: Uncategorized

Do you have a “Go-To” Top 10?

Who are your Go-To Top 10?

Who are your Go-To Top 10?

All of us have situations which are problematic. They can range from  minor irritations and something irksome, to outright  emergencies.    To get out of a hole we might need repairmen, baby sitters or service providers in a wide range of fields.  But one area which we woefully neglect  is the development of strategic alliances to support an emergency in our careers.

We all need a ‘Go-To” Top 10.

These will be your top 10 top professional connections to whom you can turn in a crisis or even with a problem or a question.

All our requirements are different when we assess who should be included on that list.  Broadly speaking there are some general guidelines that apply to us all.  There will be variations according to the severity of the situation:  whether it’s a little situational glitch, a specific question or something more major requiring a full  emergency landing.

  • Go-To Top 1 : Do you have a mentor?  This would be the senior or elder states person in your professional life who can share their deep experience and wisdom.  This will be immediately calming and informative as appropriate,  or both.
  • Go-To Top 2 :  Do you have an internal sponsor?   This role will be filled by a  confidante,  a door opener,  someone whose  professional status and standing will be sufficiently significant to catalyze responses to calls and emails,  or even better to effect introductions to contacts beyond your reach .
  • Go-To  Top 3, 4 and 5: Do you have external sponsors?  See above,  but with a wider reach in your geographic region or functional or market sector.  Having one for each segment of activity would be even more beneficial. If you have connections in line with your longer term goals so much the better.
  • Go-To  Top 6: Do you know a super-connector?  This will be different for all of us.  I count on my super connectors,  but in turn fulfill that function for others. They are the ones who say  ” Let me think… have you tried …????.”
  • Go-To Top 7  Do you know a curator? We all come across the person whose catch phrases are ” have you seen? or ” have you read?” These individuals will be veritable gold mines of information, sometimes obscure, sometimes less so. They will know where to look for any key information on and  in the latest emergency and can send you there quickly, thus saving you hours of valuable time.
  • Go-To  Top 8:  Do you have a port in a storm? We all need a sympathetic shoulder to lean on,  some one who will be there only for us. Their role is not to advise  but perhaps put the kettle on,  open a bottle of something cold and white (or warm and red) and just listen neutrally.   Very often this role is best  fulfilled outside an intimate relationship,  although  not always.
  • Go-To Top 9:  Do you have a devil’s advocate?   Their role in any Go-To Top 10 is to give you the viewpoint from the other side. Their skill in constructive communication will be peerless as they force us to examine our own roles and responsibilities in any debacle and communicate that to us in a way we can hear .  They risk our moods, wrath and petulance or even worse. They are people who know us well.
  • Go-To  Top 10:  Do you have a  list of specialists  Whether this includes doctors, lawyers, coaches, bank managers   accountants or any other type of professional  or technical specialist, it’s always useful to have a full,  up to date list of people you can call on.  If anyone in a network has no problem being contacted out of the blue after years of neglect, it’s usually because they are charging a significant fee.

Who would you put on your list?

Employers – are YOU interview ready?

Although top-level  candidates are investing increasingly in their employee brands and interview readiness, I’ve heard many stories that would suggest that some organisations are  getting complacent.  Mistakenly they believe that either being a good manager  automatically makes them good interviewers,  or with the market awash with candidates they don’t have to make an effort. They have basically let their interview readiness slip.

So for many companies it is perhaps time to carry out an audit of  interview processes:

  •  Have priorities been set and agreed?   It’s no good labelling the process urgent if the interviewers have operational commitments  (year-end closure, sales conference etc) within that timescale and have no availability. If they are called away unexpectedly –  who is the number 2?
  • Empower the interviewer  – ensure that at least one player in the process is authorised to make the hiring decision.  Delays for rubber stamping higher up the organisation chart increases the chance of  top candidates being snapped up by other companies or being able to leverage their situation with their current employer in the hope of a counter offer.
  • Timely, clear and courteous communication by all company members to create the best possible impression. Candidates lose interest if the process is unnecessarily extended and they are not kept in the loop.  They should be treated  immediately and correctly by all involved in the process, even secretaries and receptionists.
  • Avoid ” trial by interview”:   Candidates withdraw if they are called back multiple times to talk to different managers involved in the process, only to be asked the same questions by each. For many this will mean taking several days vacation and could jeopardise their  position with their current employer.
  • Environment  – candidates should be interviewed in a location that is appropriate for the position. They will notice if the office is untidy, the furniture old and scruffy, the computers outdated and the bathrooms inadequate.  Be mindful that small things send out big messages.
  • Professional grooming:  Interviewers should be appropriately  groomed for the sector.
  • Inappropriate or discourteous treatment: I have seen interviewers cancel appointments with 30 minutes notice,  take telephone calls during the interview,  invite candidates for dates,  raise their voices at them,  be fuzzy and unprepared about their own opening, with no job profile to hand and not having given the CV an even cursory glance,  forgetting the candidate’s name. I could go on!  This creates a bad impression.
  • Careless talk   – casual throw away remarks particularly around work/ life balance, corporate values,  management style, career development and salary structure can also cause concern. Just as employers would expect candidates to be well rehearsed with their responses , employers also have to be mindful of the fall out of ill-considered statements. Body language is also important.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dWMIuipn_c]

  • Inappropriate or even illegal questions.   The widely publicised need for political correctness seems to have passed many by, especially when  interviewing women.
  • Time wasting  – searches are quite often conducted externally to benchmark internal candidates. If any process is for form’s sake only,  be mindful to keep the time demanded of candidates to a minimum.
  • Record keeping. It’s important to keep neutral and factual notes of all candidates seen in the process, even ones who don’t make the cut. You may want to call them back  at some time in the future. Research carried out by Start Wire suggests that only 33% of Fortune 500 companies  are willing to give feedback despite evidence that failure to do so  damages not just their employer brand but their product branding as well.

 Many companies assume that people skills come naturally and interviewing is only about ” having a chat”  with a candidate. Clearly personal chemistry is important,  but  sadly some interviewers have been found lacking, with not even minimal investment in  basic training.

In this case success isn’t just about showing up!

Damage to an employer brand in today’s hi-tech culture  is only one click away. Word does get round professional bodies, alumni associations and the market sector.

If any of this sounds cringingly familiar – now is the time to do an audit.

Portfolio Careers: impact on workplace & jobseeker

A Portfolio Careers “a tapestry of a variety of eclectic employment experiences; employment in a series of short-contract or part-time positions

Not new but on the increase

The term Portfolio Career is being used in current business  vernacular with the same type of smug and superior “in the know -ness,”  as we might have seen when the atom was split or  the wheel invented. I always smile indulgently! The concept of a portfolio career is actually far from new. What is new is the number who have embarked on this career path.

“Moonlighting” has long been a euphemism associated with individuals aspiring to break into such professions as acting, music, arts, writing etc, or others running more than one job. As companies abandon the corporate  “cradle to grave” employment concepts,  and move towards the leaner and meaner machines of more recent times, we had already started to see the beginnings of this seismic shift some years ago. Business Week referenced the changing work place practise of  Perma Temps, as organisations began to seek flexible ( =  disposable) workforces, to allow rapid response to fast changing business conditions.

I view and review literally hundreds of CVs in any given week. Although predicted by all the trend spotters, the shift to individuals having an increasing  number of jobs and spending less time in each, is becoming very marked. I am  often asked to avoid “hoppers/movers/jumpers”, but that is now an outmoded concept, particularly as younger age demographics move between jobs more strategically, with periods of employment, also punctuated by stints in further education.

No alternatives

Portfolio  careers and the wearing of many hats was once associated with mid- career or older professionals, perhaps after redundancy seeking a better work / life balance,  or when there were no other options. It was considered a fall back position. We are now seeing younger  Gen Yers build up this type of career, not because they particularly seek an improved quality of life, but because they have to tap into different parts of their skill sets, simply to  get a job,  any job. This is also apparent when coaching career changers pursuing MBA courses,  when I have come across a range of skills from Project Management, entrepreneurial roles, to professional photography, all in the same student.  The real challenge is to create an interesting and credible career profile to showcase success stories, transferable skills and the lessons learned from such diverse backgrounds and interests.

Choice

However, there are people who simply prefer the variety, flexibility and freedom offered by tapping into a wide range of skills, so they choose a wider portfolio career, over a more traditional focused one.  At one time a portfolio career was considered to be higher risk than a corporate role. Today, I’m not sure that is the case. Portfolio careers suit disciplined, self motivated people with strong time management skills,  who have a variety of skills and interests, as well as the drive to go out and market and monetize them. Portfolio careers are also generally associated with adept networkers and can be a great route to gaining experience in a new field, whilst maintaining a part-time role in a traditional job in line with a professional background. Many do just that.

Challenges

The real issue will be for the demographic which doesn’t voluntarily choose this more entrepreneurial style of career strategy.  Flexibility for companies is key, of course, but if organisations aren’t careful, they can wind up searching for new talent in an alienated and demotivated workforce, which has struggled to gain skills in a wide range of unstructured and less professional environments. It also means a  quantum shift from lazy and uninsightful  “copy / paste” recruitment methodologies, sadly  relied upon by companies and some search consultants alike.

Read also: Career path replaced by Cluster Career