Category Archives: Focus

3 most critical words on your resume

job related words in a mass of confusion

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. (Mark Twain)

3 critical words

12 words is the most that people will read on a billboard.

(That was 12 words.)

1 ½ or 2 inches of print is what most people read at a glance.

12 to 15 seconds is all the time a resume normally gets in a screener’s hands before it is trashed or put in the “review” pile.

3 critical words can make or break your resume.

How to get your point across in a resume

Worry about the first 3 words people read in every paragraph and bullet point.  Those are the critical words that have to drag the resume reviewer into the rest of the line.  Think of the hiring manager.  What action, accomplishment or benefit can he see in the first 3 words?

Can’t do it?  Get a thesaurus, or use the one in your word processor.  Find the main word in that paragraph, find a high impact word to replace it with, and put that word in the first 3 words of the paragraph.  In most cases it is better to break any paragraph over 3 lines long into bullet points.  Long paragraphs are intimidating.  Reviewers don’t want to read them.  Make sure you worry about the first 3 words in every bullet point.

3 words can make or break your job search.  Work on them.

Something To Do Today

Take an electronic copy of your resume and delete everything except for the first 3 words of each paragraph or bullet point.  Leave the spacing and formatting the same.  There will be a lot of white space and blank lines.  Print it out. Put it face down on your desk.

Come back tomorrow and look at the skeleton you created.  What is its impact?  Fix it.

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Tomorrow:     email exploitation and cowardice

Later:              Absolute proof it is time to leave your job

How to tell if you should be a CEO

Woman on a ladder of success

Is your ladder to success helping you climb the right wall?

Too many people climb the ladder of success, only to find it is leaning against the wrong wall. (unkn)

Should you be a CEO?

Jim just took a job as a manager of a small company.  He’s been a CEO before.  He took the lowly manager’s job because he likes it better than being CEO.  He didn’t even put his CEO experience on his resume. He got the “lowly” job he really wants because he left the word CEO off his resume.

I can tell you the same story, with the exact opposite twist, of technicians and engineers who worked their way up the technical ladder, only to finally figure out that they should have quit and gone to work as the CEO of a small company.  These are guys making $150,000+ as technicians.  Not bad money at all.

There’s a way to find out if you really, truly, in your gut would like to be a CEO.  Get a couple of practice jobs.  First, become a team leader or manager where you are. Also get involved in your local or national trade association.  While you are at it, volunteer to head a charity organization.  Your local school has a PTO, swim team boosters, band boosters, etc.  The YMCA, Boys and Girls Club and Scouts all need people who are leaders. Another great way is to run for the school board, town council or state legislature.

Leading any of these organizations will help you see if you like management.  In them you need to set your own goals and agenda.  You need to persuade people to work with you.  Selling others on your ideas is essential. You’ll also build a network of people who can help you become a CEO.  You’ll get to show true executive leadership.

If you talk to CEO’s, you’ll find that many of them evaluate executives in their own and in supplier companies by how they perform in volunteer posts.  Being a CEO isn’t just telling people what to do.  It also includes creating a network that will draw talent and contracts to your company.

If you want to be a CEO, get started now.  There are teams, associations, charitable organizations and political organizations looking for leaders.

And pay attention.  Being CEO may not be for you.

Something To Do Today

If you have any desire to be a manager or a leader, make a list of places where your leadership

could have an effect.  Go out and get started in those organizations.  You could easily be the “CEO” in 2 years.

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Later:                          3 critical words on your resume

email exploitation

Absolute proof it is time to leave your job

How to AVOID Psychobabble and get useful self help tips

matches about to be lit by a single match

The right help can light a fire in your life.

This applies. Just give me a second.

I can light a match on a window, my pants, a fingernail and my teeth. Some people can barely light a match using the strike pad on the matchbox.  If someone cannot light a match on their teeth, it doesn’t mean the match is bad.  It doesn’t mean they are bad either.  It just means they can’t light a match on their teeth.

Psychobabble and useful psychology

Using a self help book can be a lot like lighting that match.  Just because a book works for someone else, but not you, doesn’t mean the book is bad or that you are bad. I have a whole list of books that helped me at various times in my life.  But, that was because they were the right book at the right time. If they are of no use to you, wait awhile and they may be.

The difference between psychobabble and useful psychology is often timing, need and preparation.

Here are some books that I’ve found exceptionally useful.  All are available from Amazon. They are in no particular order.

  • How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big, Scott Adams
  • Looking Out For Number One, Robert Ringer (Relationships that work)
  • Winning Through Intimidation, Robert Ringer (How NOT to be intimidated)
  • Action! Nothing Happens Until Something Moves, Robert Ringer
  • The New PsychoCybernetics, Maxwell Maltz (Freedom through reality)
  • The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale
  • How To Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie
  • How To Win Friends And Influence People, Dale Carnegie
  • Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl
  • Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers
  • Think And Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill

I’m always looking for more great books to read.  I’d love to get your list of the most life changing books you’ve read.

Something To Do Today

Make a list of books you would like to read.  My personal “to read” list currently has about 40 titles.  I read and listen to 2 to 6 books a month.

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Next:    Facts would be nice

Later:  Wrestlers in feather boas

Resumes, interviews and a baby’s grasp

When failure is successful

failure can lead to success

Failure can be an outstanding success.

Being in an exciting startup company that fails can be great.  First a couple of success stories, then what happens with massive failure.

Success Stories

A handful of people I know have become multimillionaires.  People I have placed at their companies have gotten bonuses as high as half a million dollars.  Two companies were started and sold in less than 10 years.  One was for $200 million, the other for $400 million.  Not bad money if you can get it.

One company sells ads on the internet.  The other started out processing healthcare claims but quickly changed to selling prepaid credit card processing.  The company founders and key employees made a lot of money because they found “the next big thing.”

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I found it) but ‘That’s funny’ (Isaac Asimov)

When FAILURE is successful

For each company that reaches this level a hundred startups fail.  Still, half of the startups are absorbed into the successful companies that put them out of business.  The best people in ALL of the failing companies find jobs in the best companies.  People with experience in “the next big thing” are rare and not wasted by their industry.

The way to find what “the next big thing” is in your field is to ask.  When you have one minute alone with managers, top technicians and salespeople, ask them.  I guarantee that they have spent a few minutes trying to figure it out themselves.  They also will want to show their expertise by sharing their vision of the future with you.  In your job journal write down what you are told.  You can review the lists you come up with occasionally and extract some gems.

Another way to find the next big thing is to subscribe to weekly and monthly trade journals.  Most are free.  Again, go to the managers, top technicians and salespeople.  Ask them, “Which trade journals do you get in your email?  Which do you read?”  Have them forward a copy so you can subscribe.  Get your own subscription.

Once you have a few choices for the next big thing, exploit your knowledge.  If you are an adventurer, get involved in the beginning stages of “the next big thing.”  If you are more security oriented, look for an opening where there is already solid revenue, but lots of growth potential left.   The job you take could be at your present company.  Find out if they are planning to fund a startup division or if they already have something going.   The other alternative is to get a job in another company.

Chasing “the next big thing” is not an easy life.  There are fantastic rewards and great challenges.  There are also company bankruptcies, mergers, acquisitions and layoffs.  But, I’ll say it again, the best people in those hot expanding fields are always absorbed into the competitors.  It is scary, but not as dangerous as it sounds.

Now, go do some dreaming.  It never hurts.  In your field what is “the next big thing?”

Something To Do Today

Do a survey.  Ask everyone you have a one minute conversation with what “the next big thing” will be.

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Next:     Psychobabble and usable psychology

Later:              Facts would be nice

Wrestlers in feather boas

Useful career plans

marines and airplane taking off

Which direction is your career going?

So how do you get the promotion or raise you want?

An usher at the movie theater I worked at wanted to become the lead usher.  After the movie started he would always be the first to grab a broom and start sweeping the lobby.  Once he even told me I was sweeping too early so that 30 seconds later he could grab a broom and be seen by our boss as the boy with the most initiative.  He got the job.  I got laid off.  He had a career plan at the tender age of 14. (He was also a little deceitful, which he didn’t need to be.)

A useful career plan needs to have the long term goals we talked about yesterday as well as much shorter term tactical objectives.  If your 1 year goal is to get promoted to team leader, you have to work every day at short term plans to get there.  If you want to become a partner in your firm, you have to do something different from the crowd every day.

The biggest secret to daily, weekly and monthly career plans is to set yourself up to act like you already have the job you want.  Start acting like a senior technician by getting certifications and asking your boss to allow you into design meetings. Pretty soon you’ll get the promotion.  A partner in most firms is required to be either a leader/manager or a rainmaker/salesman.  If you want to be a partner, act like one.

To start taking over the job you want, you have to have a clear idea of what the job entails.  Your first career plan should be, “I will find out what the job I want entails.”  Make sure you find out what the most successful inhabitants of your target job do. What makes the most successful people different? You should generate a weekly and monthly written plan of how you will find out more about the job you want. Put it in your job journal.

Now write a weekly and monthly plan of how to educate yourself for the job.  List the courses you can take, certifications you can get and books you can read.  Ask the people you admire for advice. The list should go in your job journal where you can add to it later.

Finally, write that weekly and monthly plan on how you will take over the job.  90% of authority is seized, 10% is granted.  Go out and take over some responsibilities.  Even if you are reprimanded for over reaching, your initiative will be noticed.  A plan written in your job journal will focus your efforts.

Remember that boy who wanted to be lead usher.  He was always the first person out in the lobby cleaning up. He wanted to show initiative.  To advance in a technical, managerial or sales position you need to show the same initiative.  You need to be the first person seen doing important jobs.  Make a plan and do it.

Something To Do Today

Just today, seize authority.  Find some important job and make yourself the custodian of that job.  Be the first to start doing it, direct how it is to be done, or ask one of your subordinates to do it.

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Next:     What is “the next big thing”?

The secret to useful goals

evolution of man and goals

Goals should help you BECOME, not help you GET.

One the most important lessons I have learned is:

In absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.

Useful goals

One famous study showed that people with written goals coming out of college earned several times more than people without written goals. But, look at yourself.  If you still have the same written or unwritten goals you had 10 years ago, you are the exception.

Goals change. The real secret is to have specific written goals and expect them to change.

You will do better if you are striving to BECOME something much greater than you are now.  The world reshapes itself around you when you refuse to take the path of least resistance.  If you set 20 year goals that inspire you today, you will enjoy life more today and next year.  Your goals will change because you have grown to the point that you can see more important goals.  You will develop a vision of your future that is clearer and brighter than you have today. That is a good reason to change your goals.

A part of the goals secret is to have goals in the areas of your life that matter most.  Money is important. Job and career goals are essential for progress.  You also need goals about your family growth, social maturity, physical fitness, emotional strength and spiritual development.

For example, your goal could be to run 2 miles in 15 minutes in 2031.  If you really think about that goal, you need to strengthen your legs and knees, not pound them into arthritis.  That goal could inspire you to include bicycling, swimming or rowing in your fitness regime so that your knees will last throughout your life. That goal may change to being able to swim a mile in 2031 because of changes in your health.

A social goal could be to have a network of 1000 people who are leaders in their own field in 2031.  To get there you will have to have intermediate goals of recognizing, getting to know, helping, tracking and staying in contact with those people.  A goal like that would also be a great help to a career goal to become CEO of a company. Later your social goal may change to having a network of 2000 people who will help you fund medical research, and it may include all the same people as your original goal.

Remember, goals change.  The 20 year goals I just mentioned would be great goals for a computer technician, salesperson or CEO.  If you open your mind and see into the future, you will be able to pick out goals for the year 2031 that will help you now, and still matter in 2031.  If your goals are important to you, you will find you achieve most of them in much less than the 20 year, 5 year or 1 year horizon you set.

Something To Do Today

In your journal first make a list of the most important overall aspects of life.  I suggest: money, career, social, physical fitness, emotional and spiritual.  Then list a goal you can work towards BEING in 20 years, 5 years and 1 year.  Each goal should fit in with all the others.  Goals are about becoming better as the world shifts around you.

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Next:     Useful career plans

Later:              What is “the next big thing”?

5 steps to accelerate your job/career growth curve

motorbike-438464_640-pixabay

Now thats a job growth curve!

When I started at EDS I was learning at an incredible rate.  Pay raises came quickly and easily.  By my third year things slowed down.  By my fifth year I settled into a dreary cycle of little new personal growth and cost of living raises. I managed to get assigned to a new team using a new technology and my growth accelerated for a year, then it dropped back to the dreary level. That’s an example of my personal growth curve.

How fast you are growing to get where you want to go is your personal growth curve.  Once you stop growing you are flat-lining.  In hospitals flat-lining means there is no pulse, you are dead.  In your career, flat-lining means that your career has stopped completely and the business world is starting to pass you by.

To get growing again you need to learn, get new responsibilities and get recognized.  At EDS I volunteered and pestered my managers for the chance to use new technology.  Since no one else had a clue and I had read a couple of books on the subject, I got to become the “owner” of that technology.  Preparation and repeatedly selling myself to my managers preceded my advancement.

Whether you want to grow as a manager, salesperson or technician, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Find out what is going to be needed IN THE FUTURE
  2. Study and prepare to fill that future need
  3. Sell yourself repeatedly to get the new responsibility
  4. Excel at your new job
  5. Start over

Step 1 and 2 can always be done at your current job.  Often they will pay for the training and help mentor you.  Step 3 should be attempted with your current company. Sometimes it just can’t be done where you are.

Companies have their own growth curves.  At a company that is flat-lining, your chances to grow will be limited.  While you are preparing to grow, open your eyes.  Is your company ABLE to let you grow?  Do you need to move to a company that is changing its growth curve while you change yours?

A job change becomes a career enhancing move when you move to a company whose growth curve will allow you to accelerate your own growth curve.  If you are willing to learn and grow, you will have growth in your career.  If you are willing to change jobs when necessary to re-accelerate your career growth, your future has no limits.

Something To Do Today

What is going to be needed in the future?  What interests you?  What will help you accelerate your growth curve?

Don’t expect your boss to magically know what you fail to tell him repeatedly. Expect him not to understand.  Even if he sees you doing something new he may not recognize what it means or its usefulness unless you have told him five or six times in the last six months.

Each Friday is the time to write down what you did this week and this month in your job journal.  Give a report to your boss in a format he can use for his own reports to his boss.

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Later:

How many times have I got to tell him?

Useful career plans

What is “the next big thing”?

The one critical component in a career plan

kicking to success

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. (Dwight Eisenhower)

When it was critical

The hottest technology in 2008 was the iPhone.  It was simply a small computer with cell phone reception. Its rise was carefully planned.  The most significant pieces of the plan included a snazzy look, rugged portability, and simple secure paid download of music. Apple, the creator, had a plan to continue making money forever.

Here is where career plans worked

2008 was the perfect time for Apple’s hottest talent to abandon their jobs with the iPhone division.  2008 was also the time for Apple’s best job security conscious talent to move in and take over. Why?  Because it was obvious the market would be buying upgrades to iPhones forever.  The iPhone was becoming a top-end commodity, but a commodity.  The music distribution system was ahead but developing strong competitors.

iPhone is no longer innovative genius.  It is now a cash cow.  iPod and iTunes are no longer what the bold innovators want to be working on.  They need a new challenge.  iPod and iPhone are now the perfect product for the long term managers.

The single critical component in your career plan

Your career plan will be a rousing success if you focus on your personal growth curve. Do you treasure security? Do you want to innovate and take outrageous chances for outrageous reward?  Do you really want technical challenge?  Is your goal to make enough money, but have a lot of free time for your skiing?

When you know what you want, you can plan your career successfully.  However, what you want will change time and time again.  So you need to be prepared to change your career plan as you see changes beginning in yourself. Your personal growth curve will tell you how fast you are getting to where you want to be in your career.

Career plans work

They work when they are reviewed every year.  They work when you review your real personal desires at the same time.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about the “personal growth curve.”  You have to understand it in order grow as fast as possible.

Something To Do Today

This week will be a great time to review your career plan.  Today you need to start writing down what you really want.

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Tomorrow:     Your personal growth curve

Later:              Useful career plans

What is “the next big thing”?

 

How To Be Imperfect and Highly Paid – 3 things 

unique girl in a crowd

What makes you stand out? Worth more?

What about you is unique? Amazing? Unemployable? Mediocre? Inspiring?

My daughter Merrilee has Down Syndrome and is low functioning within that group, but she is amazing.  My son James got a perfect score on the SAT Advanced Calculus II college entrance exam. He is amazing. Each can do things the other can’t.  We look at James and say, “He can do anything!”   No, he can’t.  He doesn’t have the patience his sister does.  They have different realities and infinite possibilities.

The highly paid people I recruit all know their strengths and weaknesses.  When I call up their references, every reference lists the same strengths and weaknesses the candidate lists.  Often the poorly paid people give me a list of strengths and weaknesses that bear no resemblance to what their references think.

Really knowing your strengths and weaknesses allows you to do three things:

  1. Play to your strength
  2. Get someone to cover for your weaknesses
  3. Turn your weakness into a strength

Man is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness from which he emerges and the infinity in which he is engulfed.  (Pascal)

Stephen Cannell flunked three grades in school.  He is severely dyslexic. He can’t write readably. He also won two Emmy awards for his writing. He created 40 television shows and 6 novels.  He has learned to compensate for his severe problem. He plays to his greatest strengths, creating fun characters and complex plots. His assistants translate his unreadable typing into the words he wanted to put on paper.

Figure out what your talents really are.  Do you have one or two real weaknesses that prevent you from exploiting that talent?  Find a way to compensate.  Get help. Find out what others have done to overcome that weakness.  You may have to adequately do the part of the job that the weakness prevents you from doing excellently. Better yet, can you get someone else to help with your weakness?

No one can do everything.  Figure out what help you need to achieve your dreams.

Something To Do Today

Take an aptitude test and a personality test.  Free ones are available at your local Job Center.  Some are available online. Do you know anyone who would dare to tell you what your real strengths and weaknesses are?  Ask them.

Make sure you know your strengths and weaknesses.  Are you exploiting your best qualities?

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Later:     The most common interview questions – about you

Other most common interview questions – traps, money, intimidators

Is your job like rollerskating in a buffalo herd?

buffalo blocking traffice

You can’t drive in a buffalo herd either.

I talk to many job seekers who want to change careers.  Some of them are accountants who should be salesmen.  They got into accounting because it is safe, pays well, and has a great future. Their personality is wrong for accounting.  They don’t like carefully following precise rules.  Reporting on what other people are achieving gives them the itch to do more, not the pleasure of a job well done.

Some people who want to change careers are salesmen who should be accountants.  Salesmen make so much money that, for some, it is irresistible to get into sales.  The “should be accountants” are great with logic, and to them, buying is all about carefully planned decisions.  But developing relationships quickly is not their way of living. Pressing emotional buttons feels somehow wrong.  Sales is just not working.

A favorite song of mine says, “You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd, but you can be happy if you put your mind to it. Knuckle down, buckle down, do it, do it, do it.”

If you have the wrong personality for your career field, CHANGE.  Do it now.  You will only have more obligations in a couple of years.

The first step is to work within your current company to see if you can switch careers.  Will they let you go from being an accountant to being a salesman?  Can you go from being a salesman to being a sales engineer or financial analyst?  Is there a way you can exploit your current job?

Often you have to change companies to change your career. You will probably have to take a big cut in pay.  Only you can decide if it is worth it.

One more thing to consider.  Is your career the problem, or the people you are working with?  I don’t know any accounting companies that are filled with rollicking, frolicking, totally off the wall, hard charging adventurers.  I do know that accountant personalities range from nearly dead, to micromanaging bosses from hell, to nurturing versatile entrepreneurs with great attitudes.  Carefully look at your situation.  Make sure that your company and the people you work with are not the real problem.  You may still need to change jobs, but your career may be fine for you.

Don’t settle for a job or career that you just can’t be happy with.  Seriously look at what it will take to work with a better bunch of people or to switch careers entirely.  Life is too short to choose misery.

Something To Do Today

Go online or to your local job center and take a personality test.  You will be surprised how accurate they are.

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Next:   Resume magic

Later:  Imperfect and highly paid