Monthly Archives: March 2016

6 Secrets to Enjoying a Rewarding Career from a Hiring Manager’s Perspective

secrets-career-success

We all know the role talent, knowledge, and experience play in getting hired and succeeding in any professional career. But little is known about what drives us to pursue long-term goals. Is it perseverance? Passion? Persistence? The great American psychologist, William James, wrote in the early 1900s:

Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. Our fires are damped, our drafts are checked. We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental resources…men the world over possess amounts of resource, which only exceptional individuals push to their extremes of use.

Several studies by various university psychologists have shown that achievement is the product of talent and effort, which is a combination of intensity, direction, and duration of focus toward a goal. Follow-through is the purposeful, continuous commitment to a specific outcome; in fact, follow-through has been shown to be a very good predictor of significant accomplishment in science, art, sports, communications, and organization than other variables. After SAT scores, and high-school ranking, follow-through was the next best predictor of which students would graduate with honors.

In one study of 120 world-class pianists, neurologists, swimmers, chess players, mathematicians, and sculptors, each of the high achievers possessed three important characteristics

  • A strong interest in a particular field
  • A desire to reach a high level of attainment in that field
  • A willingness to put in great amounts of time and effort

What I Have Observed in My 25-plus-Year Career in Hiring Manager Positions for Fortune 500 Companies

Over the years as a hiring manager, I have taken notice of certain individuals I had a hand in hiring or managing who went on to enjoy highly successful careers for themselves. These people more often than not showed personal and professional initiative, a willingness to learn, displayed a flexible attitude toward projects, had great people skills, demonstrated excellent communication abilities, and possessed an ability to navigate successfully through organizational structures (and the politics that go with them).

I have categorized these abilities into six major qualities that each of these individuals possessed:

  • A sense of project ownership
  • A sense of project urgency
  • A sense of personal integrity
  • A desire to help others succeed
  • An attitude of being “self-employed”
  • A sense of the graceful exit

A Sense of Project Ownership. A sense of project ownership is prized by hiring managers everywhere because it conveys that an individual brings to the table a quality mindset, a get-it-done-right-the-first-time approach to whatever project is being undertaken. An individual with this attitude shows concern for budgets, schedules, and meeting customer requirements—whether that customer is the job foreman, the CEO, or the consumer in the marketplace. It is a forward-moving focus that can not help but pull in others in its wake. People who display a sense of project ownership are not clock-watchers—they often “call it a day” at some logical stopping point in their task, not when the clock says 5pm or when the whistle blows (union rules not withstanding).

A Sense of Project Urgency. A sense of project urgency implies that an individual’s approach to project work is immediate, purposeful, and resolute. Such determined individuals are decisive about which solution to a problem to embrace after a careful evaluation of the problem, the potential causes, and an assessment of all possible resolutions, and how those fixes should be implemented. Such folks rarely keep others waiting or guessing as to how to proceed next.

A Sense of Personal Integrity. Personal integrity is a quality that, when tarnished, is hard to return to its original luster. And when it is lost altogether, is very difficult to recover. A person’s integrity is wrapped up in their truthfulness about all matters, their honesty in dealing with people and projects, and their reliability to honor their word. Personal integrity is not a badge people wear on the outside, but it is more a reflection of the deeper nature of their character and moral, ethical fiber.

A Desire to Help Others Succeed. Many years ago early in my career, I heard some great advice from author and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar: “If you help enough people get what they want, you’ll eventually get what you want.” That philosophy works best when it is a conscious heart-felt decision to help others first and not seen from the flip-side perspective: “To get what I want, I need to help others get what they want first.” It is embracing a servant attitude that is so often lacking in the business world today. Imagine if Wall Street investment bankers, mortgage brokers, and auto company CEOs, and movers and shakers in Washington, D.C. had just made it their daily mantra: “how can I best serve your needs today?” we would not have high underemployment, lost retirements, exploding health care costs, and an economy struggling to find any sense of consistency.

An Attitude of Being Self-Employed. Truly successful individuals always understand that no matter where the paycheck comes from, they really do work for themselves. Besides the skills, knowledge, and experience they bring to any job, project, or task, it is also the sense of project ownership, sense of project urgency, personal integrity, and helping others succeed that makes them “self-employed.”  Contractors and consultants know what being self-employed is all about but sometimes people in hourly or salaried positions lose sight of the fact that they are self-employed as well. No one keeps anyone on the payroll out of the goodness of their hearts; it is the application of all those qualities mentioned in the previous paragraphs that keep the paychecks coming on a regular basis.

 A Sense of the Graceful Exit. In many industries (particularly the high-tech field), people often end up working together again at different companies, or end up managing former peers. Not only is it a smart career move to not burn bridges when you leave one company for another, it’s just plain courteous. Your reputation will continue to linger in the hallways and cubicle neighborhood for some time after you leave, so how would the odor of burning bridges enhance your character in the minds of those you worked with?

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(This post is excerpted from Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 [Second Edition]. Refer to Chapter 16 for more details on these 6 important secrets to a rewarding career).

Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

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My name is  Donn LeVie Jr. and I’m a former hiring manager for Fortune 500 companies (Phillips Petroleum, Motorola, Intel Corporation, and others) and have worked in the federal government (NOAA) and in academia as an adjunct faculty lecturer in the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics for the University of Houston (Downtown Campus). I am the author of Strategic Career Engagement(September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers).  I lead career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? My 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact me directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com for more information.

Don’t miss out on my blog posts…follow me now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group. 

 

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5 Signs You Suffer from Career Entropy™

meltingiceEntropy. A long-forgotten term from our high-school physics days, no doubt. Let me refresh your memory: Entropy is a lack of order or predictability; a gradual decline into disorder in a system. Examples would include ice melting, your teenager’s bedroom, and our propensity for less physical activity as we grow older (for many of us anyway).

Your career and your professional brand can suffer from entropy as well (“Career Entropy” doesn’t seem to exist as a formal term, so I’ll claim it with a ™ ). Early in your working life you may have been actively involved with professional, social, religious, or community organizations. The excitement of working in a profession that you devoted at least 4 years of your student life to fuels your drive to achieve and excel. As your career matures, maybe you’ve let up on the gas pedal just a little; maybe you find yourself being distracted by things you would have ignored before.

Here are 5 signs that your career universe is slowing down to a crawl:

  1. You aren’t involved with professional associations to the same level as you once were. You don’t read the journals anymore; your attendance at chapter meetings has been hit or miss; you don’t go to as many conferences as you used to, you thought about submitting an article for publication, but it’s too much trouble – maybe you let your membership lapse completely.
  2.  You’ve exchanged your “consultant” attitude for an “employee” attitude. You’re starting to find yourself cutting corners on the quality of your work, unnecessarily pushing out schedules, or just skating by with a lower level of effort than before.
  3. Your level of social media activity has decreased or changed direction. You are spending less time on networking sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn,  and cranking out fewer blog posts, and putting more effort into social sites. (True, there’s too much of that seeping into networking sites now).
  4. You’ve been bypassed more than once for a promotion or raise. Before you start thinking “conspiracy,” look in the mirror and perform an honest assessment about your performance at work. The truth is out there.
  5. You have an itch you can’t scratch. Maybe that restlessness, that full stall you find yourself going into is a signal that you need a change of job, company, or career. Truly evaluate your current situation and future prospects; they can’t pay you enough to be miserable. Time to move on.

To paraphrase an old saying, if you ain’t moving forward, you’re moving backwards. Or maybe it was no matter where you go, there you are…

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER







Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group.

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Do Companies Keep Your Résumé “on File”?

RayLiotta

Here’s the answer: Some do, most don’t today. In pre-Internet days, if you applied for a job and didn’t get the offer, more than likely you received a form rejection letter from HR that stated something like, “We will keep your résumé on file for XX months…” It’s probable that a real person reviewed that résumé as well.

I once got a great job with Motorola Semiconductor Products Sector in Austin in 1994 because a hiring manager I interviewed with in early 1993 held on to my résumé and forwarded to the hiring manager that hired me as a project team leader. They did it the Old School way.

It’s a different story today for the most part. Once the dumping ground for solicited and unsolicited résumés and job applications, many medium and large HR departments have been forced to devote more resources to implementing Federal employment law and related legislation; talent retention and training; HR information systems; implementing and managing the Affordable Care Act; and employee benefit/assistance/compensation packages; employment/recruitment/placement; and so on. More and more today, résumé screening gets relegated to jobbots (software applications also called applicant tracking systems), and rejection letters (or email) just are too far down the list of “things to do.”

Why do some companies make the promise to hold on to your résumé for a few months (or even years)? There are a few possibilities:

  • They really will hold on to your résumé if you in fact made the hiring manager’s “short list”
  • They may keep it to see if you’d be a good fit for a different position in the company
  • If the promise is to keep your résumé for a few years, it’s possible that your résumé may be so bad that they don’t what to hear from you for future positions.
  • They make the empty promise in rejection letters as a practice

Hiring managers are under increasing pressure to do a better job identifying stellar talent because the cost (and paperwork) of hiring the wrong person is skyrocketing. Besides managing projects and teams as a first priority, the manager with hiring responsibility first spends around 10 seconds scanning the top 2/3 of page 1. If there’s nothing there to grab the hiring manager’s interest, he or she’s off to the next candidate résumé.

If your cover letter states that you’re “looking forward to hearing from you soon…” you may be waiting awhile. Don’t let grass grow under you; you have to keep moving forward even if you think the company/hiring manager/HR will keep your résumé on file. If they do contact you down the road, it will likely be an email or a phone call so be sure that information on your cover letter and résumé is correct and current. A swift response will be in your best interest (don’t expect a company today to put a 50-cent stamp on a letter and send it through snail mail – that’s Old School!).

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER







Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group.

 

5 Simple Ways to Refresh Your Social Media Activity

refresh

Everyone’s looking for ways to squeeze more miles per gallon (i.e., value, $$, etc.) out of their social media activity. But it’s easy to have that activity become a time sink that eventually consumes your waking hours. Here’s what I do to avoid that from happening (your mileage may vary…if so, let me know what you do):

  • Use a social media engagement management tool. It’s fairly common knowledge that most social media posts don’t get read at the first exposure; those posts need to be refreshed from time to time to capture more eyeballs. Some tools let you control the schedule when those posts should be refreshed. Some like HootSuite; others prefer MeetEdgar (I just started using MeetEdgar). Check out a comparison of the two tools. You’ll get some of your time back into your schedule.
  • Work your social media activities at the same time every day. I write my blog and posts to social media early in the morning. That’s my most productive time of day – before noon. Figure out what time of day is best for your efforts, but research the best time of day and days of the week to post on your social media platforms. I write 5 or 6 daily items for Twitter for 5 days at one sitting and I plan out new blog and LinkedIn posts for the week on Monday mornings. Then I schedule those activities in MeetEdgar.
  • Get involved in other writing-related and speaking activities. It’s another way to get your content and brand into other channels. I’m always working on one or two drafts of upcoming books, keynote speeches, ebooks, columns for professional association journals, and Powerpoint presentations. These activities are usually scheduled for after lunch for a couple hours.
  • Get involved with other creative pursuits. Activities that involve other areas of the brain (and body) often lead to creative breakthroughs. I play classical guitar and have my own recording studio. I perform mostly on Sunday mornings at churches around central Texas (I have a Bach repertoire and a few old hymn arrangements) or with my flute partner for public and private performances in evenings during the week or weekends on a regular basis. The idea for my book about classical guitar (Instrumental Influencess – another 2012 IBA Winner) came about while practicing one evening in my studio. I’ve also just re-immersed myself into painting seascapes and landscapes, following my father’s footsteps as a painting hobbyist.
  • Make time for your family with activities outside of social media. Be sure you support the people at home with your time and attention who are supporting you. While my wife and I schedule fun things to do on the weekend, we also have downtime to do whatever (for me, that may include some classical guitar practice or working on book drafts), but it usually doesn’t involves adding content to social media platforms.

My schedule is a busy one, but it’s a well-rounded one that includes my family life, interests, and goals. If you’re involved in many different creative pursuits because you have to be…I completely understand!

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER







Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group.

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6 Tactics for Working a Job/Career Fair

careerfair_1

I’ve been involved with my share of job and career fairs over my 25+-year career, mostly at conferences that sponsor the event. The candidates who understand how to work a job/career fair tend to stand a better chance of getting followup contact with company representatives who are present.

There are basically two types of job/career fairs: Conference-sponsored events and non-conference-sponsored events. Conference-sponsored events are usually supported by employers with a connection to the conference profession.  Non-conference job/career fairs typically have a variety of employers and industries represented.

Here are six tactics for maximizing your effort at a job/career fair:

  • Plan in advance. Review the list of employers who will be present and which companies will be of interest to your expertise. Follow up by researching the targeted companies to get a feel for the corporate culture and type of work environment. Make a list of “A” employers and “B” employers to visit or schedule interviews.
  • Memorize your pitch (value proposition). Your are the problem-solver and solutions provider they have been seeking, so sell them on the benefits of your expertise and how it will serve the hiring manager/company’s interests going forward. You should know every bulleted item on your résumé and be able to speak at length on each one. Be ready to answer the inevitable question: “So, tell me something about yourself…” Keep any idea of salary and benefits out of the discussion; you aren’t at that point yet.
  • Dress for success. Regardless of the type of position for which you are interviewing, dress like the CEO of “YOU, Inc.” Remember the power of visual first impressions; dress for how you want to be perceived by company representatives. It’s human nature for the eyes to exert so much influence over that instant first impression.
  • Establish your LinkedIn profile before attending the job/career fair. Many company representatives may first check your LinkedIn profile prior to your meeting. It’s a good idea to connect with the company representative on LinkedIn after the job/career fair.
  • Bring plenty of copies of your résumé with you. Be sure you pull out that copy of your résumé from a nice leather portfolio or briefcase, not a plain file folder. Be sure to have a reverse-chronological version if you are changing jobs; have a functional version for changing careers. Make them perfect so you don’t have to apologize for anything when you hand a copy  to the company representative. Bring with you a list of references, but unless you are asked for it, resist the urge to leave it and any other documents with employee representatives. They don’t want to be lugging reams of documents on the plane with them when they return to their home cities.
  • Don’t be a Ralphie. In the hit seasonal comedy, A Christmas Story, young Ralphie brings to class a large fruit basket for his teacher. After the teacher thanks him, he remains at her desk, staring and smiling at her, oblivious to the cue that “the moment” is over. Don’t be a Ralphie. Recognize social cues that your interview time is over (interview times at job/career fairs are often abbreviated due to the number of candidates being interviewed). Don’t treat the meeting as an excuse to linger in the booth area or intrude on free moments between interviews. Close it out by controlling the follow-up. Think of the encounter as the first of several meetings or communications with the individual or the company.

Having access to a variety of employer representatives gathered in one location is sort of like speed dating: you want to show up prepared, be a great listener, and leave a positive first impression that makes the employer representative wanting to know more about you – perhaps even discussing a job with the company.

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER







Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group.

 

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Why Including a Photo with Your Résumé is a Bad Idea

photo resumes

I am confounded that many career advisors still raise the question about including photos with résumés; it should be a no-brainer for experienced professionals. With nearly three decades of experience evaluating a variety of scientific/engineering, marketing, and communications candidates, I’ve learned alot about human nature. We are visual creatures, and we cannot escape the influence visual appearance plays on first impressions. In fact, many times, positive visual impressions provide a false inner narrative to hiring managers/decision makers about a candidate’s potential for success before the résumé is reviewed. The candidate evaluation is then adjusted to fit the first-impression narrative.

In the above example, how can you NOT look at the photos and in some way or fashion lean toward one candidate vs. the other without even so much as a glance at their CVs? (Yes, CVs for academic, medical and some legal positions; résumés for nearly all others.) Even without photos attached, there is the temptation to run a Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google image search on a candidate’s name before reviewing the résumé. A good policy is to not perform any social media searches on job candidates until they have been interviewed in person to avoid first being swayed by visual appearance. Adhering to such a policy helps ensure you bring on board the most qualified candidates as a first priority, regardless of their appearance (unless you’re interviewing candidates for the next Victoria’s Secret catalog perhaps, where a certain look and body type are a priority).

I’ve written extensively about hiring manager presuppositions and “positive prejudice” in the hiring process (a few previous blog posts too), and it comes in many forms – from comparing the expertise of a candidate with the person who last had the position, to comparing a candidate’s expertise to a preconceived “ideal” candidate. Hiring managers have to be aware of the condition in order to avoid it.

Yes, physical appearance takes priority over qualifications in many European and South American countries. Those preferences are built in to the culture as a way of doing business. When the most qualified candidates take a back seat to the most attractive ones, the business bottom line (and shareholders) suffer.(I’ll take the U.S. economy over Brazil’s or Italy’s any day).

This is not to imply that attractive people can not also be the most qualified for a particular position; the point here is that physical appearance should not be the definitive criteria for candidate selection.

When considering advice from career professionals, not all career professionals are created equal; choose wisely.

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER







Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group.

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