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5 Reasons Why “We Don’t Hire Outside Speakers” is Bad Policy for Your Members and Association

same old thinking same old results

It’s a mantra heard (or read in email) regularly by speaking professionals: “We don’t hire outside speakers for our conference.” That justification is totally understandable for many small conferences that must rely largely on the efforts of volunteers responsible for nearly everything, from selecting a meeting site to food menus. Regardless of the association conference size and scope, continued professional development remains a top priority for attendees.

The 2017 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report (Marketing General Incorporated) received responses from 870 executives and 1,005 unique associations that revealed the top four reasons members join professional associations and attend conferences:

  • Networking with others in the field
  • Continuing education
  • Access to specialized and/or current information
  • Learning best practices in their profession

Given (1) the above member priorities and (2) associations struggling with gaining new members, retaining existing members, and engaging all members as mentioned in the above-referenced report, the elephant in the room seems to be ignored in the conversation.

A Problem with Using Only Members as Conference Presenters

Three of those four top responses (I would say all) involve breakout sessions, keynote addresses, panel discussions, Q & A sessions, pre- and post-conference seminars and workshops. And what happens at most conferences? Many of the speaking slots are filled with the same association member presenters, some (perhaps many, depending on the conference) of whom aren’t interesting. Why aren’t they interesting? Because their content-only, busy Powerpoint slides distance and disconnect them from the audience who expects to be informed, educated, and enlightened in a manner that is also interesting. It’s never the audience’s fault for being bored; it’s the speaker’s fault for not being interesting.

These presenters often aren’t aware of their communication blind spots that affect the way they connect (i.e., being interesting) with larger audiences they are trying to inform, educate, and enlighten because such experts often excel in conversations, not presentations. In fact, the most important element to be built in to conference presentations is enhancing the experience of the listening audience. Wrap those facts and numbers in a story or anecdote, and they have a better chance of being embedded in audience memory. Show a Powerpoint slide with tables and charts, and that information is forgotten as soon as the next slide appears on the screen.

Many of these member presenters simply don’t know how to tell stories to make the facts interesting, memorable, and pertinent.

Bringing in Outside Speaking Experts

It’s no surprise that meeting and conference professionals hold one of the most stressful jobs today. I have several friends who are meeting professionals and have personally witnessed how hard they work when it’s showtime for them (I’ve also worked on conference committees for national conferences). Having to juggle a variety of tasks involved with large-scale meetings and conferences (not to mention doing it all with fewer resources) is today a Herculean effort that demands patience, comfortable shoes, a knack for balancing necessary expenditures with return on investment (ROI).

A critical factor for such large conferences is outside speaker selection; someone who can set the opening tone and tenor for the meeting, provide seminars/workshops with a perspective or insight external to the group collective wisdom, or bottle up the excitement and energy from the conference to finish the closing ceremony on a high note. That’s a tall order for a speaking professional, but that’s why they get hired: to shift paradigms, motivate audiences to action and, as a by-product, promote association value and the value of membership in that association.

I recently heard of a conference that stated it doesn’t pay outside speakers or expenses, but would provide a discount on conference registration. There would be 3,000 attendees paying $1800 for a three-day conference, bringing in $5.4 million just in registration fees alone. Other lesser sources of income might be realized from selling exhibit hall space, bookstore sales, subscriptions for streaming conference sessions for those unable to attend, etc.

“Discount on registration fee” might be OK for people presenting breakout or poster sessions, or serving on a panel because (1) their employer is likely covering expenses and registration; and (2) speaking at conferences is an infrequent and minor responsibility. But what self-employed business owners or consultants who want to present and have great ideas to share with attendees? Registration fee discounts may not amount to much incentive for them.

Coffee and Bagels Cost More Than a Top-Notch Speaker

A top-notch, non-celebrity speaking professional’s fee will fall between 0.002% and 0.004% of that $5.4 million registration revenue. That’s it! I’ve done the math: The conference organizers will spend more on one morning’s coffee, bagels, and pastries for 2,000 or 3,000 attendees than for a great speaker who can take the audience to the next level of their personal or professional lives. In fact, they’ll spend a lot more if the conference is held in a “tier 1” conference location such as New York, Las Vegas, Orlando, or Los Angeles. If you’re stressing about whether attendees prefer blueberry or cinnamon bagels, you (and your organization) are missing the value of what’s really going to feed attendees well beyond breakfast.

So, where’s the problem seeing the value difference here? Seems to be a disconnect between the parties “owning” the conference and those implementing the task-heavy responsibilities to pull everything off without any hitches. All too often the person delivering the “we don’t hire outside speakers” news is a hard-working conference committee volunteer who is just following handed-down protocol from previous years.

But not always.

After inquiring about a main-stage speaking opportunity for a large national association conference, last week a board member serving as conference chair responded to me with an email that included a link to the “speaker abstract submission form.” Most professional speaker/experts don’t fill out such forms since the decision to hire them for the specific function they will serve is usually much higher up in the organization.

I replied back to this board member with: “Is there a different process for selecting main-stage speakers? I’m sure that if Tony Robbins, Oprah, or former GE CEO Jack Welsh were interested in addressing your conference, a different process would be involved…” Her succinct reply: “ALL soliciting presenters must submit an abstract…”

Well, there you go. Can you picture Oprah filling in that form? That was either a clueless response or I was getting the brush-off from this board member, which is too bad for all potential speaker experts outside this association who have something of value to share with attendees.

“We don’t pay outside speakers, but you’ll get so much exposure…”

That’s a typical justification given for paying your own travel expenses, registration, and speaking for free. A non-compensated speaking gig can work in a target-rich environment, such as a conference hall full of meeting professionals or CEOs, but for the most part, the promise of “so much exposure” reminds me of a cold-weather warning: “Exposure kills people.” (One speaking expert I know when promised “more exposure” told a conference organizer: “I don’t need exposure…after all, you called me…”). You can’t deposit “exposure” in the bank, either.

So, lets look at five reasons why a “we don’t hire outside speakers” policy is a bad one for members and associations.

1.            It smacks of the “IKEA effect”

The “IKEA effect” (named after the Swedish furniture manufacturer that requires purchasers to assemble their purchased furniture with a few simple household tools) is a cognitive bias where consumers place a disproportionately high value on products they partially created. It’s a variation of the “Not Invented Here” syndrome. Behavioral economics researchers found out that people become smitten with their IKEA creations. Even when parts are missing and the items are assembled incorrectly, customers in the IKEA study still loved the fruits of their labors, Frankenstein creations notwithstanding.

The research conducted by Yale University and Harvard Business School also discovered such a condition is widespread in business. Organizations have this propensity to fall in love with what they create, often bypassing the step in the creativity/self-assessment process that asks: “Are we really that good? What can we do better or different this time?” (“Do we really need that extra nut and bolt to put this bookcase together? Nah…”) All too often they seek counsel from their own internal wisdom, which just seems to affirm their “awesomeness.”

When that attitude is adopted, it starts the downward spiral into becoming a…

2.            Closed-loop information and idea exchange

When a policy of not hiring outside speaker experts for conferences is in place year after year, the conference is at risk for degenerating into a closed-loop information and idea exchange; same breakout speakers, same panelists, which leads to…

3.            Idea inbreeding

When people’s ideas become more similar with little diversity within a community, a type of “inbreeding” of ideas happens whereby committee, board, and team decisions become impoverished, leading to “group think.” Such a phenomenon is well documented in organizational psychology. Because we all adapt to the environment in which we find ourselves, without the stimulus of conscious external intervention – something to punctuate the association or conference equilibrium – we all adjust to the newfound surroundings. We reach a new level of stasis (stability), which is a state of “same old, same old.”

Without the interjection of outside thinking, tangential ideas, or total paradigm shifts, the closed community will soon suffer from…

4.            Member value degradation

Remove those paradigm-shifting ideas, strategies, and approaches offered by speaker experts outside the association that challenge attendee and member assumptions (and stasis), and members will likely start to: (1) question the value of their (or their employer’s) investment in membership in that association; and (2) forego attending future conferences if the real and perceived value is lacking or absent.

And when members perceive little or no value to membership in the organization, then what’s left is…

 

 

 

5.            Association value degradation

And when members ― the lifeblood of any association ― start heading for the life boats, it’s difficult to stave off the looming titanic disaster.

Given these previous considerations…

What Impact Does Such a Policy NOW Have on Your Conference Return on Investment (ROI) and Return on Event (ROE)?

The answer is obvious.

But it’s not easy breaking out of an association comfort zone; some associations are comfortable with the status quo. But, how else does the oyster cultivate the pearl without a single grain of sand (the intervention by something external) to act as an irritant? ROI provides some level of quantitative feedback on the financial investment for the conference, but what about ROE? ROE is the pearl to be cultivated: Your outside speaker expert is the grain of sand needed ― the necessary external intervention ― for your conference and association to cultivate its own pearl.

Not many meeting professionals have heard of ROE. Ira Kerns, Managing Director of GuideStar Research and Meeting Metrics, described the term “Return on Event” in 1991 to explain the perceived benefits expected before a conference or meeting with post-event results from various measurements and attendee feedback.

I use the term “extended ROE” or eROE in short form to better explain what happens. Extended ROE is the value conference attendees take with them (and even more so when a speaking expert provides post-conference followup) when they return to their work environments. When they begin implementing those mind-shifting strategies, jaw-dropping ideas, and insightful solutions presented by outside speaker experts that YOU brought in for your conference, YOU look the hero. And in turn, so does the association sponsoring the conference.

A strong eROE usually indicates the conference event has a long tail; in other words, its value remains high as measured over time after the event through what’s termed the “extended chain of impact.” Are attendees still implementing ideas they got during the conference and through any speaker expert followup three or six months later? If so, that’s HUGE eROE. (You can read more in my white paper entitled, “How Return on Event (ROE) Boosts Member Value, Member Retention Rates, and Member Engagement” on the Member’s Page at my website.)

And Finally: It’s Not a “Speaking Fee”

Associations don’t hire outside speaker experts just to dole out information; Google will feed everyone with free information forever and a day. Associations that do hire external speaker experts do so for their pattern-breaking insights that make them agents for change. If you continue to view the “speaking fee” as an expense item, then you have a misconception of what it truly represents: It’s an investment in moving your audience to the next level of their personal or professional potential while also bringing more value to membership and your organization. The old expression “you get what you pay for” is rings true for conference speakers; free could just turn out to be the most expensive choice you can make for many reasons.

Next time, skip the blueberry bagels for one morning and put that money into hiring a speaking expert who can provide insightful breakthroughs to success for attendees. There’s no time like the present to start cultivating that pearl for your next conference.

 

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© 2018. Donn LeVie Jr. STRATEGIES. All Rights Reserved. Permission to reprint and distribute is freely given so long as the information remains complete and unchanged in its current form and the following information (with links) is included.

Speaker, success expeditor, positioning/influence strategist, and award-winning author Donn LeVie Jr., has nearly three decades in management and leadership positions for Fortune 100 companies (Phillips 66, Motorola, Intel Corp.), academia (University of Houston Downtown College), government (U.S. Dept. of Commerce – NOAA), and is the author of two award-winning professional success strategy books. 

Donn LeVie Jr is the speaking expert you want to help elevate your conference ROI and extend the Return on Event for enhancing association value and member value. His E.P.I.C. RESULTS™: The Power of Leadership Presence program teaches new and up-and-coming leaders the Four Pillars of Leadership Presence: Engagement, Positioning, Influence, and Conversion that help them turn any and all decision makers into advocates, allies, champions, clients, or customers.

Donn is a member of the National Speakers Association (NSA), the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) where he holds the “Certified Fraud Examiner” designation. Donn holds certifications from George Washington University in “Managing Projects in Organizations” and “Project Risk Assessment.”

Additional Resources

  • Gluten-free positioning and influence strategies for the hungry on Donn’s blog.
  • Get cool micro-ideas on Twitter to accelerate your business/professional goals.
  • Tap into Donn’s 500+ LinkedIn
  • Download “7 Reasons Why You Should Hire Donn for Your Next Event.”
  • Download Donn’s Speaker One-Sheet

Want to have a short conversation with Donn on how he can help make your next event a huge hit with attendees? Schedule a call with Donn today!

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No, You CAN’T Pick My Brain!

pick-your-brain

Like many other consultants and strategists, I’m constantly asked by friends and strangers if they can “pick my brain over lunch” or just flat out email me for my advice on a business strategy matter after reading one of my books, LinkedIn articles, or articles in a number of other publications. This subject has been addressed in many forums by many different authors and experts. In fact, there’s a book with the title, No, You Can’t Pick My Brain: It Costs Too Much! Love it…

How to Avoid Being the Smartest Consultant in the Poor House

I provide free valuable information through several channels and that information has helped lots of others. Most people would never think of asking their attorney or CPA for a brain-picking session camouflaged as a pretense for “doing lunch.” But those who don’t want to invest the time or money for expert advice, but want to get it from me for free – need to be educated or at least made aware of their bonehead requests.

One of my best friends is a realtor, and in one of our real estate investment deals, we worked through the motivated seller’s broker with an all-cash offer. My friend offered to represent our interests at no charge (he wasn’t going to get a commission because of how the deal was set up), but we insisted on paying him the standard commission anyway. We needed his expertise, and we gladly paid for it. Professional courtesy all the way around.

When conference coordinators and meeting planners hire me to provide a keynote, a seminar, or even breakout sessions, I’m always available to answer questions, sit down with an attendee to address some business issue –  I even give away many copies of my books wherever I speak. If I’m being paid for speaking over several days, those same freebies apply.

Think about this: If brain pickers already knew the answers to their questions or the solutions to their problems, they wouldn’t be engaging you. Likewise, if they didn’t have to open their wallets to get a solution to that problem, why would they need any help in the first place!

Whenever I find a brain-picking request in my in-box or on voice mail from someone local, I usually respond with a question: “Are you interested in becoming a client, or do you just want to have lunch?” For all others, I’ll ask only if they are interested in becoming a client. If not, I point them to my books, this blog, my website with free articles and downloads, my Twitter feed, etc. That usually separates the professionals from the amateurs (or, as one of my marketing/speaking coaches calls them, “broke-ass losers”).

Solving their particular problems or challenges requires an investment on their part for the expert’s wisdom, experience, and knowledge. To paraphrase the Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, there’s a time for charity, and a time for business. You have to decide where to draw that line for your own purposes.

Many years ago, I agreed to meet a former co-worker for coffee to discuss a business issue he was wrestling with. An hour later, I walked away thinking: “That cup of coffee just cost me $300.00…I have to stop doing this.” And I did, but I changed the rule to make it work for me.

I can’t claim original ownership to this approach, but I agreed to exchange some of my time only if the person requesting free advice would provide a video testimonial about the ease with which I solved their problem and the value of my solution. Such video testimonials become another example of social proof of your expertise that you can leverage and distribute in many channels.

As Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “Wise men don’t need advice. Fools won’t take it.”

Nuff said.

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Speaker, positioning/engagement strategist, and former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (SILVER MEDAL WINNER of the 2016 Global eBook Award and RUNNER-UP of the 2016 International Book Award for Careers), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (GOLD MEDAL WINNER of the 2012 Global eBook Award and WINNER of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). 

His next book, The Mindworm Contagion, addresses strategies for consultants and business owners for pre-engaging decision makers using social media. It is slated for Spring 2018 release. 

 

 

“Résumés? We don’t need no stinkin’ résumés!”

we don't need no stinkin' badges

“I’m too busy to be updating my résumé…” “I think résumés are a waste of time when I can use social media to promote my expertise…” “Who needs résumés today when we all have LinkedIn profiles?” (Recent comments from LinkedIn posts.)

Who needs résumés today? Recruiters and hiring managers, to start with. Regardless of your opinion about résumés, they are still the de facto document for most professional positions in most industries and fields. Look at all the posts from career coaches and résumé writers on LinkedIn if you have any doubt about the importance of an achievement-focused résumé. Not the “duties and responsibilities” kind that testify to your being just another employee, because hiring managers have too many employees just doing their assigned tasks and duties.

An achievement-focused résumé takes planning and more than a few drafts to get it right. Hiring managers (and recruiters screening résumés for hiring managers) want game changers, solutions providers, and problem solvers who can demonstrate or prove a track record of accomplishment (usually backed up quantitative evidence). If you write in a cover letter, “I have a track record of proven accomplishment” or some other similar cliché, you’d better be able to back it up on a résumé with revenues generated, costs avoided, percent efficiency improvement, or some other objective measure instead of lightweight, subjective verbiage.

The question of the value of résumés is a moot one because it doesn’t matter at all what you think, believe, or feel about their worth. For now, and into the foreseeable future, résumés are what hiring managers and recruiters want to see from candidates. Even if résumés were no longer required, they still are another weapon in your arsenal that attest to your value, brand, and expertise to others having a need for it.

The same goes for cover letters. It doesn’t matter what you think about who reads them; The cover letter is another arrow in your expert quiver that testifies to your ability as the hiring manager’s problem solving, go-to professional. The cover letter is not a summary of your résumé. Omit them at your own peril.

As for LinkedIn profiles, I used to use them as a confirmation tool that the candidate presented as a professional on a résumé likewise did the same on LinkedIn. Social media can be a double-edged sword, where some hiring managers eliminate potential candidates by what they find on social media sites.

I imagine the people bemoaning the need for updated résumés have either been unemployed or underemployed for some time; it might be a result of having a poor attitude — or a poor résumé.

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Donn LeVie Jr. has nearly 30 years in various hiring manager positions for Fortune 500 companies in the earth/space sciences, software development, and microprocessor design support. He is the author of Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 and Strategic Career Engagement: The Definitive Guide for Getting Hired and Promoted, both Global eBook Award and International Book Award winners. Today, he is a keynote speaker and seminar leader on positioning and engagement strategies for professionals seeking greater career and business trajectories.

Cultural Fitness: Are You in the Right Shape to Get Hired?

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In today’s ever-morphing hiring landscape, employers are devoting more energy for determining if a candidate is a good cultural fit. Beyond just assessing whether a potential employee will be a squeaky wheel, cultural fit is an important element for succession planning as more Baby Boomers exit the workforce.

What is “cultural fit” anyway? Cultural fit addresses ideas of shared assumptions in a workplace environment, such as how to treat others, how time is managed, how work gets done, how to communicate, how to dress, which behavior isn’t tolerated, how resources are allocated, etc. When hiring managers or decision makers ask themselves, “Do I like you?”, that question encompasses all the above-mentioned criteria.

Soft Skills

Cultural fit includes the possession of such “soft skills” as collaboration, creativity, curiosity, problem solving, communication, conflict management, strong work ethic, adaptability, social awareness, empathy, emotional intelligence, clear and concise self-presentation. These soft skills apply to not only the day-to-day job, but to cultural fit because they represent core values and drive the business agenda.

But these skills are difficult to teach and can be very challenging to screen for in just one or two interviews. An Adecco Staffing survey found that 44% of executives said a lack of soft skills was the biggest proficiency gap in the U.S. workforce. Another survey by the International Association of Administrative Professionals, Office Team, and HR.com discovered that HR managers said they would hire someone with strong soft skills even if the technical skills were lacking because you can always teach technical skills. The mantra today is “Hire for attitude; train for aptitude.”

There’s no simple across-the-board answer that can apply to all jobs in all industries or professions. Multiple interviews and engaging discussions, as well as observed behaviors, help employers measure how well these factors match the organization’s core beliefs.

Here are some other approaches to cultural fit and the cost of the wrong hire.

http://www.jobscience.com/blog/avoiding-bad-hires-with-cultural-fit-assessments/

http://essencerecruitment.ca/testing-cultural-fit/

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Donn LeVie Jr. is  a former Fortune 500 hiring manager (Phillips Petroleum, Motorola, Intel Corp), award-winning author (Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 – Second Edition and Strategic Career Engagement), keynote speaker/seminar leader, and strategist. Over a 30-year career, he has reviewed thousands of résumés and cover letters, interviewed hundreds of candidates, and hired countless technical, marketing, and communications professionals in the earth and space sciences, software development support, and microprocessor design support. 

Today Donn speaks on career engagement strategies; positioning and influence strategies; and personal breakthrough strategies as well as providing 8-week Elite Small Group Mentoring programs. Follow him on Twitter or contact him directly at donnleviejr@gmail.com.

Calling BS on Some Career Coach “Advice”

bs-meter

It’s time again for me to post another episode of “Squirrelly Career Advice” as offered by some career professionals. Whenever I spot banal platitudes that offer zero value for those desperate for some tidbit of wisdom to help them move forward with a new job or career, I will call BS on it here.

In this installment, I highlight the completely useless utterings by several career coaches in a recent post at a theundercoverrecruiter.com, which usually has great content. Here is a sample of the career advice they gave:

  • “You can do anything you put your mind to.”
  • “Ensure you get credit for any good work that you do.”
  • “You can’t afford to take your eye off the ball…always ensure you have options.”
  • “What you achieve is up to you.”
  • “Follow your passion.”
  • “Join relevant industry organizations and get to know people.”
  • “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

How’s that for getting you to the next step in your job search or career? I half expected to see, “No matter where you go, there you are” listed as advice. I certainly hope clients aren’t paying for such Poor Richard’s Alamanac-type witty quips because they devalue time-tested expertise provided by all career professionals. The truly top career strategists noticeably move the needle for their clients in all media channels at all times. They have social proof of their ability to effect positive change forward for people who come to them for their wisdom, insight, and experience.

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Donn LeVie Jr. helps meeting managers, conference coordinators, and professional development managers reach SuperStar status. Donn is a keynote speaker, career strategies seminar leader, and award-winning author. He has nearly 30 years experience in various hiring manager positions for such Fortune 500 companies as Phillips Petroleum, Motorola, Intel Corporation, and others. In addition, Donn has worked for the federal government (U.S. Dept. of Commerce – NOAA) and taught at the University of Houston Downtown College (Dept. of Natural Science and Mathematics).

Donn is the author of Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (Second Edition), which was the WINNER of the 2012 International Book Award (Business:Careers) and the GOLD MEDAL WINNER of the 2012 Global eBook Award for (Business:Employment). He is also the author of Strategic Career Engagement: The Definitive Guide for Getting Hired and Promoted, which was the RUNNER-UP of the 2016 International Book Award (Business:Careers) and the SILVER MEDAL WINNER of the 2016 Global eBook Award (Business:Employment).

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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Career Plan vs. Career Strategy: What’s the Difference?

strategy vs. plan

When it comes to the terms “career plan” versus “career strategy” is there a difference? It depends on who you ask. Some see the plan subservient to the strategy; others (like me) see just the opposite. While to some, it may be a matter of semantics, a career plan in today’s economy and job market is like sailing from Galveston to Tampa using dead reckoning as navigation. You have a plan, you know from standing on the bow of your sailboat in Galveston Bay with a compass, sailing charts, LORAN, and GPS at the ready that Tampa is “out there, a few degrees south of due east.” Well, that kind of planning will get you just beyond the Texas coastline, but even with such great tools, you still have to make adjustments along the way to account for currents, tides, wind, storms, angry white whales, and other navigational obstacles to end up in Tampa and not Havana.

How you account for these weather and navigation challenges is your strategy, and each involves specific tactics to be successful.

where-will-you-be-in-5-yearsNowadays you don’t hear the question: “Where do you want to be in 5 years?” much anymore. That’s an interview question about planning. “Still working” would be an acceptable answer in this job market, but having a plan with well thought out steps along the way for contingencies is, of course, a wise move. I always expected to have a career in the earth sciences when I graduated and worked as a research geological oceanographer for NOAA and then on to Phillips Petroleum as an exploration geologist. But then conditions beyond my control intervened, even with my best laid plans, and I was forced to consider other options when the price for a barrel of oil fell to around $10.00. Time for a complete career change, which took about one year to land that first job in a new career (not my first career change, either).

What are those tangible and intangible qualities that could translate into another career if you were forced into such a situation due to layoffs or the desire to do something else? What skills, knowledge, and expertise (don’t forget “soft” skills) that you now possess can add value to a secondary area of interest should it have to be a primary one? Take inventory now of those tools in the toolbox that can be a lifesaver should the need arise.

Even the best sailboat captain has an orange life vest stowed away down below.

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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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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), Runner-Up of the 2016 International Book Award for Business: Careers, 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 (for job seekers and for hiring managers wanting to know how to spot talent) at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations. I also offer a Career Engagement Evaluation subscription program to associations as a member benefit.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a professional development seminar for conference attendees? My 2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact me directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com for more information or use the Contact page on this blog.

 

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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.

 

The Power and Necessity of Constitutional Hermeneutics

united states constitution

“The Constitution, or any text, should be interpreted [n]either strictly [n]or sloppily; it should be interpreted reasonably.”

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

(This post is quite different from my usual career strategy musings, but I have discovered that even with advice for job and career success, we subconsciously interpret and evaluate that information through a variety of filters that influence which advice we accept and/or reject . As an admirer of Justice Scalia and his wit, insight, and opinions – in addition to being a student of hermeneutics – I felt that his recent passing warranted a brief look into the factors that influence Constitutional interpretation. I hope you find that this post sheds some light on the difficult task that confronts SCOTUS. )

The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was a towering Constitutional scholar of the highest degree. He has been called an originalist, which is someone who subscribes to the principle of interpretation which views the Constitution’s meaning as fixed as of the time of enactment. The term hermeneutics has been traditionally defined as the discipline that deals with principles of interpretation (most often associated with biblical interpretation) used primarily for ancient documents.

Judicial interpretation comes in two forms: Constitutional and Statutory, and has several rules of interpretation as well as a half-dozen theories of interpretation that usually pit Living Constitution proponents against those favoring Original Intent.

While the majority of us have never taken a course in hermeneutics (or heard the term before), we’ve been using hermeneutics all our lives as we read newspapers, blogs, or analyze some event. The everyday use of hermeneutics involves a complex, unconscious blend of language and history. Our understanding is limited by our familiarity with language or facts presented to us. Imagine an astrophysicist trying to have a conversation about gravity waves with a homeless person on the subway! As we’ve seen on cable news or late-night comedy shows, people who fail to keep up with history or domestic political developments won’t be able to comprehend political cartoons or op-ed pieces.

The problem is compounded when a document or event is separated from the interpreter by time, language, and culture (a term called distanciation). For example, reading Shakespeare with a contemporary linguistic filter often obscures the true meaning of a passage as it was written at the time. In Othello, Iago uses the term “a foregone conclusion” in addressing Othello. In contemporary linguistics, the meaning is “an inevitable result.” However, in Elizabethan times, the expression meant “a previous experience.”

The complex integration of time, history, and language has given rise to what is called grammatico-historical exegesis, which suggests the significant role grammatical and cultural context have in which the text was written. This term is rarely used outside of the field of biblical/ancient document interpretation; however, it captures the very essence of the challenges Constitutional interpretation presents. Major influences for interpretation include the literary setting, the history of interpretation, present significance (the application of the text vs. its meaning), authorial intention, and others that involve careful analysis of grammar, logic, and presuppositions.

If the Constitution is considered the foundational document of law for the United States, and adopted as the model of law for other countries, a “reasonable interpretation” requires the careful application of hermeneutics. Recognizing and acknowledging the overburden of time, language, history, and culture brings the interpretation as close as possible to original intent.

Justice Scalia respected the idea that the Constitution’s meaning was fixed as of the time of enactment. Extracting that original meaning is the challenge. The most important work required today is to know when a reasonable, legitimate interpretation goes beyond the intent of what the author(s) have revealed in the original paragraphs. To interject an unfiltered explication is to clothe a passage in contemporary attire to serve other interests, much the way the Greeks consulted the oracles of their day for their own personal service.

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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.

Playing Powerball: What the Numbers Say About Us

powerball-lottery-winning-numbers-879614Playing Powerball tells us a lot about how some people use math, rationality, and education in general when buying lottery tickets. (source: The Week, February 12, 2016)

  • 54% of ticket sales come from 5 percent of players who tend to be poor and uneducated.
  • “Buying lottery tickets exacerbates the very poverty that purchasers are hoping to escape,” Emily Haisley, financial expert.
  • In most states, 60% of ticket revenue goes to jackpot, winners surrender 40% in taxes, lottery company and ticket retailers get a cut, and the remainder – about 25 to 30% go to the state’s coffers.
  • State governments use lottery proceeds for the general fund, despite the promise of state officials promising to pour proceeds into education.
  • People with household incomes below $25,000 spend an average of $583 a year on the lottery; people with household incomes over $100,000 a year spend $289 on the lottery. (1999 Duke University study)
  • College dropouts spend about $700 on lottery tickets; people with degrees only $178.
  • Studies show that poorer players are 25% more likely than richer players to consider a lottery ticket a genuine investment and to greatly overestimate their chance of winning.
  • State lotteries have become viable sources of state’s budgets whereby lawmakers consider it political suicide to do anything that interferes with that revenue stream.
  • “Politicians view lotteries as a victimless source of revenue,” says tax expert David Brunori.

But if you must play…

Here are some suggestions on maximzing your chances of not having to share the jackpot if you do get lucky:

  • Don’t pick numbers between 1 and 31 (something about the statistics favoring higher numbers)
  • Don’t pick obvious combinations, such as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
  • Be sure to check your tickets: $2 billion worth of prizes went unclaimed in 2015.
  • Create a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) to avoid having to publicly identify yourself as a lottery winner and avoid the harrassment from long-lost friends and relatives, financial “advisors.”
  • Buy early in the lottery cycle so you can “extend the pleasure of anticipation.” I could say more but I have to finish entering the HGTV Dream Home Giveaway…

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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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Comparing Public and Private Sector Organizational Values

Public-sector-vs_-private-sectorWhen people want to transition from careers in the public sector to opportunities in the private sector, they have to embrace new ways of how they approach these positions. It’s not just getting used to new organizational structure, goals/objectives, and required skills, but such transitions require rethinking which values are important and which ones are less so.

Let’s review the results of research that compared most/least important values in the public sector with those in the private sector (according to public sector executives).

blog table

The rankings were influenced slightly by gender and age of respondents, years of employment, previous working experience in the other sector, and organization culture. Other studies have shown that younger public sector employees plane more importance on career work values than older employees, though work values are also influenced by personal preferences. Low ranking values does not imply such values are not important, but only that they were seldom mentioned as organizational values in decision making.

Further analysis revealed that “profitability, innovativeness, and honesty” are clear private sector values while “lawfulness, impartiality, and incorruptibility” are clear public sector values. Common core values were revealed to be “accountability, expertise, reliability, efficiency, and effectiveness.”

The ranking of such values may differ when subjects from other job functions are tested; the same could be said for the generalizations of the study results for other countries because values and ethics are tightly correlated with cultural traditions and preferences.

Nevertheless, the comparisons and contrasts provide a basic values map for individuals seeking to transition careers from one sector to the other.

(from Public Administration Vol. 86, No. 2 2008 (465 – 482).

Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of the newly released 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).

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