Category Archives: Core competencies and functional expertise

Recognize These 8 Career Blind Spots?

blind-spot

We all have blind spots in our personal makeup. Sometimes we need feedback from others to bring them to our awareness. Blind spots result from poor self-awareness and self-knowledge, and might manifest as saying one thing and doing another. Blind spots can be a liability to your career strategy when mistakes made and shortcomings possessed fail to produce a change in awareness or knowledge of them.

Peak performers are not without their deficiencies; however, peak performers are aware of them, can improve on them, or can partner with others who possess the competency they lack.

Admitting to mistakes or shortcomings can be a difficult proposition for some. “Saving face” always backfires, as does having others assume an “Emperor’s New Clothes” attitude, colluding with your denial. It’s never a good idea to obscure the truth as that only prevents real gains in productivity or effectiveness.

Here are eight blind spots* that anyone on any rung of the career ladder can possess:

  • Runaway ambition: Winning at all cost, exaggerates accomplishments, arrogant
  • Unrealistic goals: Sets overly ambitious, unattainable goals for group; unrealistic about effort required
  • Relentless striving: Compusive overachiever who sacrifices everything else, vulnerable to burnout
  • Drives others: Catalyst for burnout of others, prefers to micromanage rather than delegate; abrasive, insensitive
  • Power hungry: Seeks power for self-interest rather than organization’s; exploits others for personal gain
  • Recognition hound: Addicted to glory, takes credit for others’ success; short on follow-through
  • Preoccupation with appearances: Style over substance, concerned more with image than results; craves prestige
  • Need to appear perfect: Visibly angered by criticism; blames others for failure; can’t admit mistakes/weaknesses

When your self-awarness and self-knowledge are healthy, blind spots are more often than not behaviors or patterns you’ll recognize yourself. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek honest feedback on how others perceive you and your actions.

*(from a study by Robert E. Kaplan and also referenced in Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence.)

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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.

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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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Use Project Metrics to Highlight Your Expertise

project metrics

In my career strategy books and seminars, I emphasize the critical importance of being able to track (or ask for) key project metrics to gauge the value of your contribution. If you want credibility with such statements as “I have a proven track record of accomplishment” then you should have some metrics to back up that statement. Quantified accomplishments always speak to hiring managers.

When I worked in the oil industry as an exploration geologist, there were always plenty of project metrics available to assess the value of oil and gas drilling prospects I generated.  If the exploration project was successful, then the metrics of interest would be barrels of oil or thousand cubic feet of gas per day the completed well would yield. That in turn became a line item (in bold typeface) on my résumé.

When I or my team wrote B2B eCommerce proposals, it was easy to determine the value of contracts awarded to my employer; when I participated on a feasibility project team to determine the perceived cost savings to convert from print documentation to XML database publishing, the cost savings estimate was an important element of the proposal. Those quantified accomplishments became highlighted bullet list items on my résumé.

If you improve a some work process by 20%, you may be able to determine the value of the time and/or costs saved (maybe with the help of the finance department). Or, an honest ballpark estimate may suffice as well as long as you disclose it it an estimate.

If you don’t have access to such financial information or your position doesn’t address such types of measures, shift the duty/responsibility to an accomplishment by asking these questions after every bulleted list item:

  • And what exactly did this duty/task/responsibility result in?
  • What was the bigger picture that my duties and responsibilities contributed toward?

You still have to ask the question: “Do these individual items, as worded here, make me stand out from the competition with similar experience?” and you can begin to see how to differentiate yourself from others.

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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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On the Job: Avoid Seeking Affirmation and Acknowledgement of your Expertise

We all have some form of insecurity that is usually overcome with age and wisdom (the flip side of insecurity is confidence and that comes gradually and with experience for most people). Confident people are more likely to achieve success, enjoy fulfilling and meaningful relationships with others, command the respect of others, and understand that validation is something that is internal to themselves.

Insecure people on the other hand, usually encounter difficulties in many areas of their lives as they devote much time and effort with obtaining the approval of others for everything they do in their lives. Such a quest is often the root cause of many other problems as they pursue validation through external sources (accolades, attention-getting behavior, possessions). On the job, such behavior can limit career advancement potential.

A former co-worker of mine is an absolutely brilliant professional. However, he had a somewhat irritating need for constant affirmation of his problem-solving abilities, semi-witty emails, and conference-call and hallway-conversation comebacks. His “addiction” for others to acknowledge his expertise or his humor (matter of opinion) spoke to his insecurities about his own capabilities.

People on the team were getting tired of hearing “Hey, how’d you like my email reply to….” Or “How’d you like the way I fixed that problem with…” Eventually, team members started telling him in sarcastic tones, “Yes, Michael…you are great…” or “Yes, Michael…that was soooo funny…”

The sad part was that the sarcasm from others never affected his behavior. He never got the message that his remarks were over the top. Finally, I had to approach Michael’s manager and tell him that Michael’s need for constant affirmation of his technical prowess and sort-of humor is beginning to grate on people in the work area. Michael’s manager had a talk with him, and while the behavior hasn’t been eliminated, it has been reduced to manageable levels. Unfortunately, this insecurity will be an issue that will prevent his promotion to higher levels within the organization.

Here are some tips on how to address this issue if it’s a problem:

  • Learn how to handle criticism. Be open to suggestions for improvement without disagreeing or arguing.
  • Learn to be comfortable with who you are regardless of whether others like it (excluding outrageous behavior).
  • Learn to tolerate or even enjoy periods of silence during the day. Practice using more of your time listening to others rather than talking (especially about yourself), and don’t feel you have to interject your own opinion on every issue. Sometimes talking less says so much more about you than flapping your gums on every single major, minor, and inconsequential issue.
  • Understand where the acceptable level of on-the-job humor is and stay a few notches below it. Insecure people are constantly joking or trying to be witty conversationalists in every dialogue with others. Much of the time, their humor borders on the juvenile.
  • Confident people don’t have to talk about how good they are; they let their work speak for them. Insecure people need to be self-promoting all the time to over-compensate for their self-doubt.
  • If you are in a leadership or managerial role, be a facilitator of the success of others. Insecure people in positions of power often transfer their lack of confidence into an overbearing managerial style, thereby lowering morale and productivity of subordinates. We’ve all had bosses like that.

There are two times when a self-acknowledgement of your accomplishments and expertise works to your advantage: (1) when asking for a raise and/or promotion; and (2) during annual performance reviews. At most any other time, it speaks more to a lack of self-confidence than abilities.

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Job Seekers: When Are You Going to See the Bigger Picture of Your Expertise?

When are job seekers going to stop seeing their expertise as merely the bait for the next job? When will people start looking at how their expertise contributes to something far bigger than their own self interests?

In my Career and Job Strategy Workshops, I show participants how position their expertise beyond the nose on their face. I still see far too many résumés full of bullet lists containing “duties and responsibilities” that only tell me what you did (or had a part in doing)–what I as a hiring manager what to know specifically is what was it that you accomplished in the normal performance of your “duties and responsibilities”? How did what you did contribute to the higher strategic objective of the organization? Did it generate revenue? Did it reduce costs? Did it avoid costs? Did it result in some kind of efficiency improvement?

Figure 1 graphically represents how core competencies are created–by a series of related duties and responsibilities. Unfortunately, most candidate résumés are loaded with duties and responsibilities. When you have more than a few related core competencies, they contribute to a “functional expertise” and that’s what hiring managers want to see (accomplishments speak to functional expertise too).

functional expertise 1

FIGURE 1. Show hiring managers your core competencies, not just your duties and responsibilities, which do not separate you from the competition who also have duties and responsibilities. (© 2014 Donn LeVie Jr. from The Career and Job Strategy Workshop)

Candidates need to realize that a company is on the road to having a competitive advantage in the marketplace when they hire people who know how to showcase their core competencies and NOT just everyday duties and responsibilities. Companies that enjoy market dominance tend to employ people who know how to showcase their talent through related areas of functional expertise, as Figure 2 shows.

FIGURE 2. How core competencies contribute to a company's competitive advantage and how functional expertise contributes to a company's market dominance.

FIGURE 2. How core competencies contribute to a company’s competitive advantage and how functional expertise contributes to a company’s market dominance. (© 2014 Donn LeVie Jr. From the Career and Job Strategy Workshop)

Demonstrate to hiring managers that you understand the business, the issues, and the challenges by listing achievements/ accomplishments, core competencies, and functional expertise on your résumé–more than likely, you’ll be on that hiring manager’s short list for a job offer.
 

 

 

 

 

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