Posts Tagged ‘knowledge’

Career Conversations – Feeling Stuck?

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

Do you believe…  “My job is secure because [fill in the blank].”   “I’m stuck because I have no marketable skills.”  “My boss is looking out for me.” “I can ride a few more years before I retire.”

Whether you have two or twenty years of work experience, YOU are the person who cares most about your career and job security. You cannot afford to remain passive about it. All jobs change.  Here are 2 ways you can take full advantage of opportunities to strengthen your career security.

Pay attention to the trends in your profession, your industry as well as your organization.Your job title may be unique to your organization. But your profession is found in many organizations.  These organizations make up an industry.  For example, your job title is ‘resource analyst’ however your profession could be Accounting. Most organizations have an Accounting function.  Organizations that produce similar products or services are considered to be an industry – Health Care, Education, Housing, Agriculture and Food Services being  prime examples.

What are the issues of the day? How are things such as regulations, policies, funding, technology driving your work? Who are the key people and decision-makers?  Set your news alerts to get updates on your industry and primary organizations in your area.  You’ll get valuable information to share and make better decisions.

The 2nd step is to clearly and thoroughly inventory your skills, knowledge and personal characteristics. You have technical skills (things you know how to do for your job and profession), functional skills (basic reading, writing, mathematics, and computer skills) and transferable skills (your people, communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, research and data analysis, project management and organization skills). The result will be an impressive combination that is uniquely yours.

Share this list with at least 3 people who know you well from work and your friends. Ask them to verify add or delete things from their perspective.  This can be very eye-opening to learn how they see you. Not only may they discover more of your skills, but they can make you more aware of valuable skills you take for granted. Both of these can lead to conversations about different work opportunities.  You’ll see areas of strength and, maybe a few obsolete or gaps of a skill or characteristic  you’d like to work on. One thing we’ll continue to hear is to update our skills to be ready for the next change in our career. What skills can you use in a different way or in a different context?  It may be like word games trying to form new words from a variety of letters. Combine skills and knowledge that don’t typically go together – have fun with it!

Coasting Through Your Career?

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Do you have more days at work when you are bored than engaged?  Are you counting the days until the next big thing will be over?  What have you done to jump-start your career lately?

Check your career map. Oh, you don’t have one?  What happened to that plan you drafted, the professional development plan that is languishing in the system or an unopened folder? Have you accomplished or lost interest in your goals? Update them. You can’t move forward in your career without a bigger road map.

What type of project or work would you like to be doing a year from now? What’s happening in other departments and divisions of your organization. What jobs are opening up as people get promoted or re-assigned? Could they use your expertise while you’re broadening your knowledge? Look at volunteer opportunities that will challenge and help you develop communication and leadership skills. Add these to your professional development plan and then your resume and LinkedIn profile!

Ask yourself which new responsibilities you’d like to have. Do you have the technical skills? Look at similar job postings and the technical skills required for your current and the next role you want. If there’s a skill that keeps showing up but you don’t have it, you can add it to your professional development plan. Don’t stagnate in your career because of a critical skill gap with a new tool or technology. Let go of a piece of your “expertise” when its time to learn a new way or process.

No one cares more about your career than you. Be sure to feed and nurture it.



Do You Deserve a Raise?

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Last October I posted Ask for a Raise the Right Way  with good tips and infographic.  dollar-sign

You absolutely must do your homework to effectively leverage your value to your employer.  Start with your accomplishments – the stand out things you did this year.  But go further. Update your inventory of the  knowledge and skills you use to accomplish your assignments. Then, add what you did that was different than others and made it successful, quicker, cheaper, sustainable. Add all quantifiable results. Do this for every task. Now, go back over the list and mark which skills or knowledge you’ve acquired in the last year.  Show in quantifiable detail how you’ve overcome extenuating circumstances to achieve measurable results. That is what you want to discuss for a raise – how you’ve increased your value to your employer.

Know your organization’s policy and process for giving raises. Yes, there are exceptions, but it helps to know the basics.

Have a reality check conversation with your mentor and two other knowledgeable people about the percentage increase you can ask for without being laughed at. What is your organization’s current business environment? What is this year’s average salary increase?

Have you noticed all of this is about the organization, not about your personal financial needs?

Discuss with your boss how your work contributes to the organization’s growth. Talk about how your work helps your boss attain her goals. Alignment is key. It helps you focus and work on the high priority things.

If your boss hasn’t already offered you the raise, ask for it.  Make no assumptions.  You don’t know if you don’t ask!

You just had a Career Conversation

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

Were you paying attention?

Not all career conversations are directly about you and getting ahead.  Getting personal feedback is great, but it is only one aspect of career conversations. Career Conversations come from many sources, not just bosses and mentors. They may be hiding in meetings and other conversations.

If you just had a hallway conversation about someone leaving or moving to another position, THAT was a Career Conversation. Note where they went and what gap that leaves. If the role is already back-filled, note what skills and expertise was selected. Another Career Conversation could be your follow-up with the perspn who moved.

Did you just leave a meeting about a persistent problem your department or a customer is facing? Add that to your journal of career impact information. Do you see a trend developing? Do you see a skill that you can offer (or that you need to acquire) to be part of the solution? And THAT was a Career Conversation, too.

We need many different sources and views to continuously manage our careers. In addition to the daily and on-going work we do, we need to pay attention to the business of the organization and the public served via budgets, customer needs, regulations and issues such as hacking, climate and demographics that effect how and where we work.

These make for fascinating and on-going Career Conversations. You can discover new tracks and ways to do what matters most.

Career Conversations, part 4 – Raise Your Hand

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

handsOne of the most effective career conversation you can have is asking to do something for your boss.

When my boss was sharing some of the company’s plans for re-structuring, we could see that there was a big piece missing (aka “opportunity”) in managing the transition. Turf protection was high and we knew that getting support would be difficult. Often these discussions end with a shaking of the head and an “oh well” sense of defeat. My boss was already overloaded. Knowing it was a risky endeavor I asked, “Could I take a shot at it?”  Incredulously he asked, “Why?” I had nearly hit the top of my job level and thought this could be a way to break through. At worst, it could be a great story to share at future job interviews. And I truly had a deep desire to do it. With his support, I was able to quickly do the due diligence, build the business case, offer a solution to the President and Council and roll out a successful change management initiative.

Encourage your boss to delegate more of her projects or tasks. Ask to attend meetings in her place. Perhaps she will be willing to share you with other leaders in the organization for a few hours a week to work on a project or add your expertise.  These will help to develop your leadership capability, visibility and relationships. Remember the WWIFYB (What’s In It For Your Boss): It shows her ability to develop her staff, her teamwork and you can make her look good.

Does a planning meeting for another meeting sound dull? It is ripe with opportunity! Consider who will be attending the big meeting. If it is decision-makers and thought leaders, just being in the room is valuable.  Does a speaker need someone to advance the slides during the talk? Raise your hand. You’ll get a ring-side seat at the discussions, hear the questions and learn what’s is important and not important to these influencers.

If you don’t ask, others won’t know that you are interested.

What’s Your Professional Development Strategy?

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Fall treesThe most frequent responses I get to this question is #1 Strategy: keep getting a paycheck and hope to get promoted;#2 Strategy for Free Agents: Keep current contract(s) or get new clients.

I consider these non-strategies. Too many people approach learning something work-related as a task they have to do to keep their jobs or maintain a profession credential. They need an external incentive and are not motivated by curiosity or a desire to improve processes, services or products.

For those that enjoy keeping up with trends and new thinking for the sake of contributing to making their work better, they often:

  • Surf the net for bright shiny topics
  • Read blogs, take webinars that look interesting
  • Join professional associations, attend occasional gatherings
  • Actually participate in professional associations by not only attending, but also volunteering for projects or committees.


You COULD spend a few minutes to think about your long term work/career goals and what professional credentials or skills and competencies you need to keep up-to-date. Do you need to create or update your brand? Using this as a foundation, you can select and focus on those activities and opportunities that will give you the best bang for your buck.

“My profession doesn’t outline specific continuing education requirements. How do I do that?”  There are a couple of options:

Pay attention to the issues and trends that are driving business decisions for your organization and department. Cost-cutting will always be a factor, so look at how you and others could achieve organizational objectives faster, better, cheaper? New laws, regulations and technology changes tend to change the way things get done. What could you become the go-to person for? What interpersonal skills could you develop to improve your professional relationships in an increasingly diverse workforce? Check both the internal and external websites to see what your organization values. Many organizations have resources that outline career competencies and for creating your personal development plan to contribute to their highly competitive knowledge bank.

If you want to make a career change, map your steps to making that change and set up your support system to achieve it. Updating your resume will be a part of it, but first, you might have to do some research beyond surfing job boards. Identify required credentials or knowledge through job descriptions and taking with people in the roles. Use your social media to connect with others in that line of work for a reality check and advice and to stay on their radar when opportunities come up. Build your experience by volunteering.

Is time that you invest in yourself to enjoy a more rewarding career?

Strategies for Extended Unemployment

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

What are they thinking?! Why are companies shunning people who have been out of work six months or more? Unemployment biases stem from employers desire to avoid making hiring mistakes. This avoidance leads to making assumptions that may or may not be based in fact. Four assumptions I’ve heard are:

  1. “If others don’t hire you, why should I?”
  2. “If you haven’t been working, your skills are probably out-of-date.”
  3. “If you can’t get a job you have lost the discipline of a work routine, or are lazy.”
  4. “If you can’t don’t follow application instructions, you won’t follow directions on the job.”

I bet those got you angry! So let’s use that angry energy to change those assumptions!

  1. Many people lose precious time because they don’t know how to effectively find their next job. Finding a job is “project management” which starts with a clear goal (the right job, not just any job) and strategies for appropriately connecting with people to let them know what you offer. There are many resources online, in your library or a career coach can help you map your job search project.
  2. You may have made family care-taking or other responsibilities your priority while not working in the traditional manner.  Think about the many skills and knowledge you’ve developed that can be of value to an employer such as patience, research, organizing, logistics, attention to detail, creativity, prioritizing, communication, and more.
  3. Get clear on your skills, knowledge and expertise and be able to talk about what you can do for an employer.  What problems can you solve? How can you save them time and money? What ideas and perspectives do you add that can help grow the organization and contribute to its mission?
  4. Keep your skills fresh.  Take free online courses, webinars, etc. Volunteer with community organizations to keep your skills in practice, and to stay in a “work” routine. Offer your expertise through consulting, temporary or project relationships.
  5. Re-skill yourself to do the type of work you will find rewarding and meaningful.
  6. Don’t let your desperation show. Stay positive when talking with people outside your intimate circle. Have 2-3 people who can encourage and keep you on track that you talk with on at least a weekly scheduled basis.

Address the time gap by describing what you have learned and accomplished and, most importantly, how it can be of value to the employer.

What long-term unemployment assumptions have you encountered and what are your strategies?


How do I Become an Expert?

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Organizations depend on people who have “deep smarts”—business-critical expertise, built up through years of experience, which helps them make wise, swift decisions about both strategy and tactics. These mavens may be technical wizards, risk managers, top salespeople or operations troubleshooters, but they are all the “go-to” people for a given type of knowledge in their organizations.

Most Experts don’t even recognize that they are the experts. Because they’ve built their expertise on years of experience, research and sometimes just plain repetitiveness, it now is just part of “who I am” and “what I do.” Its second nature to them and they may be surprised that others don’t have the same level of knowledge. This makes them a bit testy at times. Yet Experts are usually generous in giving advice.

Their knowledge isn’t easy to pass on. Several professions build apprenticeships into their training systems: Doctors, for instance, learn on the job as interns and residents, under the close guidance of attending physicians, before practicing on their own. But many other professions have no such path. You’re responsible for your own development. You must acquire the knowledge in a different way to become the “go to” person.

  • Pay attention to what your organization and profession value. What are the trends that are impacting your organization and profession?
  • Hone your questions. Are you asking good diagnostic questions to understand complex problems?
  • Ask about and take steps to find out what you don’t know. Don’t wait for a training program; Create your own unique advisors and resources rather than the standard curriculum.
  • Listen more than you speak. Keep a log; don’t just rely on your memory.
  • Recognized patterns from experience of both successful and failed applied solutions.
  • Create your reputation by your willingness to share what you are learning.  Speak up at meetings. Engage others in the conversations. Ask for others’ perspectives to understand and deepen your own knowledge.

And most importantly, observe how experts present themselves, not as know-it-alls, but as perpetual learners.



A Crystal Ball – Skills for Now and the Future

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

A research report from Apollo Research Institute gives us a crystal ball for looking towards 2020.  “Future Work Skills 2020”

I like the way this report takes the major global trends and matches them with the skills workers need to thrive now and going forward. Its very useful for  the many people needing to re-skill, re-career and generally upgrade their skills to get good jobs.   Its also useful for HR/OD professionals working on reducing the skills gaps in your organizations. It can add richness to your competencies buffet. More than technical skills, these are the abilities to think, analyze, empathize; the willingness to seek different perspectives, use logic meshed with creativity, and use a variety of means to communicate.

There are six categories from the report:

  • Transdisciplinarity: ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines.
  • Virtual collaboration: ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team.
  • Sense-making: ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed.
  • Social intelligence: ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions.
  • Cross-cultural competency: ability to operate in different cultural settings.
  • Cognitive load management: ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques.
  • Novel and adaptive thinking: proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  • Computational thinking: ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
  • New media literacy: ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  • Design mindset: ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcome

This is not only a great read, but full of food for thought.

“Future-Proof” Employee

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

In IBM’s report from interviewing over 1700 CEOs around the world three main themes emerged for the most successful organizations. At the highest level, none are news to us. But going deeper there are some critical nuggets worth exploring. I’m focusing on “Build future-proof employees.”

Because emerging capabilities are hard to define, hiring and equipping employees with the skills to close the gap becomes a guessing game. CEOs look for people  who are collaborative, communicative, creative and flexible.  They create an environment where these traits develop more naturally through:
•     Create unconventional teams.Intentionally mix specialties and expertise
•     Broaden the range of situations and experiences that employees are exposed to in their normal work. Incorporate external influences — like customers and partners — wherever possible.
•     Encourage employees to develop a diverse and extensive network of contacts as both potential
collaborators and prospective customers.

How do you demonstrate that you are collaborative, communicative, creative and flexible?  What do you do as an individual to become ‘future proof?”