Archive for October, 2010

ISO:Purple Squirrel – Resume Breadth & Depth

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Does your resume broadcast breadth or depth of your skills and and experience.  Your years of work experience – do you highlight doing the same thing for a long time (stamina and perseverance) or illustrate being able to use your skills and knowledge in a variety of situations and settings?  Employers read your work history to see your progression of responsibilities, often by promotions. They are looking for your depth of knowledge and experience in a particular area or competency. Yet, you may have spent years in one role, but had many opportunities to broaden your capabilities by working across functional areas of your company, working on projects, taking on additional responsibilities, solving problems and accomplishing things beyond what is usually considered part of your job title.  Does your resume easily show that?

HR specialists say employers who increasingly need multi-skilled employees aren’t willing to settle for less. They’d rather wait and hold jobs vacant. They even have a nickname for the highly sought but elusive job candidate whose skills and experiences precisely match an employer’s needs: the “purple squirrel.” “There are lots of requests for purple squirrels nowadays,” said Joe Yesulaitis, chief executive of Aavalar Consulting, an IT staffing firm.

Many companies have combined roles and responsibilities during the recession.  They have streamlined processes and are now looking for people to be able to do a variety of tasks and handle a wider assortment of responsibilities.  These include both managing your own work tasks and often supporting or managing people or processes.  Here are some examples:

+Everyone is a customer service specialist – whether for paying customers, or those within your company that require your work products/service.

+We must have a minimum level of computer and information processing capabilities.

+You must be able to be both an entrepreneur (finding cost savings or revenue opportunities even within your own area) and a team player (collaborating, not being the hero).

Having a combination of deep knowledge of a process or field of expertise and the ability to augment and distribute it along with effective communication and relationships building abilities helps you be the elusive “purple squirrel.”

Random Promotions Increase Productivity

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Italian social scientist, Alessandro Pluchino of the University of Catania,  and colleagues won the Ig Nobel prize for mathematically demonstrating  that organizations can increase efficiency by giving people promotions at random.  This is how casinos stay in business.  We keep playing in hopes of the big payoff. We see it happen to others, so why not us?

What is it that makes getting promoted so important?  DUH! Its the money! It is also the status, around which many lives and family revolve.  It brings new and additional responsibilities for which many enjoy the challenges. Some use their new authority to lead their team to greater productivity, successes, engagement, etc.  Others abuse the position to plateau and do nothing, or crash and burn, while their staff suffer and muddle through while looking for a new place to work.

Promotions are often based on alliances and personality, or a reward for tenure (stamina) and for some, it is a retention device. Promotions are often a reward for meeting or exceeding a goal. It is seen as unfair and demotivate others, especially if the goal was achieved by the concerted efforts of many people.

People get promoted, when they don’t want it.  Too many organizations assume that everyone wants to be promoted.  It is  the only tool in their toolbox. Yet lots of people just like doing what they do, and do it well and want some appreciation and occasional recognition for their efforts.

I recently worked with a Name Brand organization that sets high value on promoting people based on how they demonstrate specific competencies and uphold the company’s values.  Executives talked about what they had done that resulted in various career path steps and promotions. Each one emphasized personal behavior and decisions made on a commonly held set of values. They weren’t just a sign on the wall. To be promoted, you and your manager build a business case that demonstrates what you have accomplished and your potential for adding value through leadership, problem-solving, etc.

Too many organizations have fuzzy criteria (if any) for promoting people.  How do people get promoted in yours?

Making Job/Career Decisions

Friday, October 1st, 2010

What may seem at the outset a simple decision – take the best offer – a recent study shows that many factors are considered than we see on the surface.

The five researchers (Norman Amundson, William Brogen, Maria Iaquinta, Lee Butterfield, and Emily Koert), who wrote this article* conducted in-depth interviews with working adults to get more information on their decision-making experiences.

Their investigation showed that people usually make career decisions based on three overarching themes: 1) decisions that are centered on relational life; 2) decisions that are centered on personal meaning; and 3) decisions that are centered on economic realities.

Job and career decisions are often not ideal. When we are forced to make a difficult sacrifice, we can ask ourselves – how can I make the best decision?  How can I keep my career dreams alive and not become disheartened?

Asking questions like these may help:

* If you accept this job, which doesn’t seem to fulfill your current career goals, what can you do to keep your interest and passion for what you truly value?

* What elements of your work can you use to continue to polish the skills that are important to you?

* Is there a mentor or colleague that you can have career conversations with so that you keep your goals alive for you?

* Will this job give you any time or opportunity to meet new people and increase your network?

* How can you continue to grow in your area of interest when you are not on the job?

*Amundson, N., Brogen, W., Iaquinta, M.; Butterfield, L. and Koert, E. (2010). “Career Decisions From the Decider’s Perspective”. Career Development Quarterly, vol. 58, pp. 336-351.

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