The Unbalanced Job Description Requirements

July 20, 2011

I recently met with a friend who has been unemployed for over two years. This is how the deck stacks against her; she is now 60, her specialty in her profession served a very narrow market and has never had to look for employment in her field as she was always employed.
She feels confident on interviews in her field, however, has not been able to “close the sale” leading to employment.

She has learned about a position that has the following requirements: extensive research, reach out to people in social and business network and possible fundraising.

– This person loves to research and this requirement is a perfect fit and the results delivered will exceed expectations. Perfect function for an introvert requiring an attention to the details, identifying the relevant information and connecting the information. A logical and analytical approach rounds out her qualifications. Additionally, quite easy to get along with and is a collaborative team player working independently to deliver her part to the whole.

– Reach out to people in social and business network – this requirement requires someone to initiate meetings with personal contacts for the purpose of sharing a new initiative. This poses a little bit of discomfort but can be managed with some coaching and practice. The good news is this person can use her strong interest in this initiative and social skills with familiar people to introduce this exciting new opportunity.

– Fundraising – This is the unbalanced part as it requires an “extraverted” personality that loves meeting people and asking for money. This is just not a good fit for her, this role would be like asking her to push a full shopping cart uphill. It is like asking a superb fundraiser to spend her time in a room with a computer researching all day.

So, I hope this blog post attracts the attention of those in a position to define job requirements to consider the “balance” of those requirements and avoid mixing in elements that don’t make sense. And, please give those older and wiser unemployed people a break, you won’t be disappointed.

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Turning 50: Designing Your Third Age

June 2, 2011

What is your non-negotiable? Turning 50 for anyone presents an opportunity to take a long view of the previous decades. How have we spent our time and what have we accomplished? The fifth decade positions us for contemplating what could be different as we enter the third stage of our lives. Following is a story of how one working mother resolved her career and life transition needs.

I have had the pleasure of working with M when she was unemployed. Previously employed 5 days a week, she really yearned for a 3 day work week, but realized that wish would have to yield to a 4 day work week. She is a busy and well organized single mother of four and she realized that not working on Friday would allow her to have that breathing space she needed without compromising her work responsibilities. Our conversations helped her realize that a four day work week is a non-negotiable. M created her list of prioritized criteria for her next employment situation. She is an accountant by training and has used her tenacity for detail along with her superb planning and people skills to enlarge her work role opportunities and responsibilities.

She had recently interviewed with a non-profit organization whose purpose and mission is something she would be proud to support. The work responsibilities and her work experience provided the perfect fit senior management was looking for. The four day work week requirement was requested with the reassurance that she would be available for unusual circumstances. M had prepared many anecdotal stories reflecting her ability to deftly manage work responsibilities and meet performance goals. This non-profit maintained their 5 day work requirement and M maintained her non-negotiable 4 day work requirement. M was their first choice, they hired their second choice and that person did not last the year.

Shortly after, another company in a different industry had an opening that M interviewed for. M is pleased to report that her 4 day work week is in place; She doesn’t miss a beat and her performance and results are in place. M’s current company provides Blackberry’s for their senior level staff and M is able to manage whatever comes up on her Friday off including conference calls.

M is a planner with security and stability driving her financial decisions. M’s ability to maintain her non-negotiable criteria is due to her planning diligence for her future work/life. She is currently working towards obtaining her Financial Planning certification to enable others to achieve their third age aspirations. She is prepared, confident and resourceful.

College Graduates – This is the New Normal, Recalibrate and Move on to Plan B

August 24, 2010

This is written for all the unemployed college graduates out there who are still struggling to find employment. I am making the assumption that you went to a decent college, got decent grades and have accepted that the quick path to making a lot of money by the time you are 30 is now a passing fancy.

I am also assuming you have employability skills; communication (written and oral), interpersonal skills, computer skills, research skills, networking skills, and a good sense of self-awareness for what you bring to the table that a prospective employer needs. I am sure you can identify several other must-have employability skills, please consider what they are and start with a fresh sheet of paper and write them down.

The trick to managing your job search starts with writing it down. Where do you need to start? Is it the resume, your cover letter, your interviewing skills, networking, etc.? What element of the job search are you most confident with, what element are you least confident with? Do you know who you are and can you easily identify what you are doing when you are most productive and in your most satisfying work zone? Do you know how to maneuver through your industry of interest? If the financial industry is your interest, what other doors can you enter through to begin your career path. Try not to be too fixed regarding your must have first job and ultimate career, sometimes when you least expect it a surprise career path will show up. Talk to many people in your industry of interest and ask for their advice. Listen, listen, and listen some more – you don’t know what you don’t know.

This is Plan B – Take a job, any job because working has transferrable value to other future jobs. Do your research and tailor your resume to the job and company of interest and apply to only one job per day; it is impossible to conduct any accurate follow up if you aimlessly hit send for many jobs. Add new skills to your skill set and take on assignments or a particular team role that will allow you to feature what you do best and deliver your best.

Talk to people, if your interest is in a particular product or service go to the people that serve those customers directly. Visit their competitors and become a subject matter expert on what you have learned. You will be amazed by what you will discover. And, when you have identified companies to pursue employment with you will now have some concrete and valuable information to use in your interview.

There are many more things you can do to implement Plan B. I would love to hear about your Plan B pursuits and how it worked out.

Bosch Customer Service – A Good Story

June 3, 2010

I am happy to report I have experienced customer service satisfaction which is often too rare and I am confident that Bosch will have my purchasing loyalty going forward.

Chelsea, the customer service representative that took my call today, did and said all the appropriate things as she listened to my complaint regarding my dissatisfaction about a product that is only 3 years old.

The bottom line result is that I am very pleased with the outcome of my call. I felt listened to, acknowledged and taken care of.  How often does that happen?  So, Chelsea, my hat is off to you, and  I did speak to your manager complimenting you to her as well.  Thank you for making me feel as though my constructive criticism was valid and for your decision to speak with management delivering the win-win decision that served us both well.

So for all the market researchers, focus group designers, training and development professionals, put your time, energy, and money to selecting the best customer service people your money can buy.   Don’t skimp and short change this significantly important role as they do represent the face of your company, your products and most importantly your reputation with consumers.

December 2, 2009

RE: How to Switch Careers in a Recession

In the best of times, embarking on a career change requires a plan, the finances to support the plan and the emotional support of others that believe in you.

It is also important to know how you have handled change in the past. Your ability to identify times when you have successfully managed change will provide the clues to your future ability to manage a career change. Equally important, if not more, you will be to identify the obstacles you have overcome to reach a successful transition.

Identify your “go to people” to help you through the discouraging times and be sure to return the favor when needed.

Remember to thank everyone who has helped you achieve your goals.

Patience, keep your eye on your goal, adapt as needed, remember to laugh often, and define success in your own terms.

Gladys Kartin
Career Strategies and Coaching

Are You Camera Ready?

July 22, 2009

I recently had the opportunity to provide interview coaching to graduates and alumni at a career event for aspiring and working journalists.

There was one person that stood out from the crowd and when our time together ended, I was struck by how “camera ready” she was. She presented herself from top to bottom in a most professional way, leaving no doubt in my mind that she could easily step in front of a camera and deliver the news.

She was dressed for the job she aspired to and when she will be in the right place at the right time, she will get the job. 

What are your job aspirations?  What are you wearing?

On Becoming – Transitions to Adulthood

June 3, 2009

I love working with young adults, they have a whole future ahead of them, yet the navigation into adulthood has many obstacles. Many college graduates leave college without a clue as to what they are going to do – they may have some vague idea about their interests, are not really sure how to identify who they are and how that factors into choosing their what- next situation going forward. 

This transition into what next planning is fraught with uncertainty and fear which often shows up as a long list of reasons for not being able to do something – this becomes the automatic default behavior.

When I was a car-pooling suburban parent I learned to speak less and listen more. A car ride with silence is good, it avoids irrelevant conversations and provides the space for what the real concerns are. I am not there to solve their problems, I am there to listen and be a parent, I am not their friend, (or career coach), I am there to give advice when asked, an opinion when required and the most important, I am there to give unconditional love.

In my role as a career coach I am the person providing the resources, tools and space to discover and honor their newly emerging adult and career identity. 

Sometimes a parent needs to be a coach too.