Check your SMART Goals at the halfway mark

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Often, way too often, people start off the year with their goals from their management team, work on them diligently for a month or two, and then reality sets in. As in, the goals get stuffed in the electronic file to be forgotten about. Until performance review time.

That’s when the panic sets in. You see, your goals are on your performance review whether you stuffed them into an electronic folder because reality set in or not.

Then, when your performance review comes along, you sputter about how unfair it is to get judged on your goals because you didn’t have time to work on them after the first quarter because reality set in.

Doesn’t matter. You’re the person responsible for your goals. To make the goals, of course, but to get the goals changed when reality sets in.

Your goals are your most important work as determined by you and your manager. But, the world changes and what was critical in January becomes mitigated in March. And something new becomes critical — that’s the new goal.

July is half time

If you’re one of those people who have stuffed your goals into an electronic file somewhere, it’s time to open that file and take a good hard look. You’re halfway through the year and if the goals you’re looking at for the first time in months don’t resemble anything you’re working on right now, then now is the time to go to your manager and negotiate your goals over again.

And if your manager doesn’t want to change your goals, but keep the ones you have, then now is the time to stop working on anything that doesn’t relate to your goals because your goals are what your work is being evaluated on for your review.

If people don’t like the fact that you won’t take on work not related to your goals, have them go talk to your manager. Sooner or later, one of two things will happen: either your goals will change because it is apparent they shouldn’t be your goals, or, the work not related to your goals will go away.

I suppose there is a third option as well: your manager expects you to meet your goals AND do all the work not related to your goals anyway. Which tells you everything you need to know about your manager.

If you can’t have a rational discussion about the work you’re doing related to the goals you have for your performance review, then you’re setting yourself up to have no influence about your work or review. Plus a little stress thrown in for all the ambiguity. At least you have six months to figure out how this will play out before your review.

Do the goal review

Now is the time to review the different facets of the SMART acronym and see if they still apply to your goals. If they do, that’s great — how are you doing achieving the goals?

If they don’t match up, take some time to figure out what should change for your goals in your opinion and then sit down with your manager and have a goals conversation.

Always put yourself in the best position for your work to meet your goals. If something changes with the work, make sure the old goal gets closed out in a mutually agreeable manner and a new goal gets put in its place.

It’s what Cubicle Warriors do.

Resume Case Study: The chronological resume

The Resume

 

The Resume

Getting the resume to the point that it won’t be thrown in the electronic waste basket in under 20-seconds takes a lot of work. Much of that work is getting the first page right.

Most resumes, like my client’s, simply have contact information at the top of the resume and then a chronological listing of the work experience from now back to the first professional position and then a listing of educational qualifications with college degrees.

The resume problem

This type of resume gets thrown into the electronic trash can more often than not for the following reasons:

  • It is extremely difficult to determine what job skills the applicant has for the job. You don’t want a person (or machine) looking at your resume trying to find all of your job skills to determine if they will meet the job description. If the person (or machine) has to try too much to infer your job skills, your done.
  • Usually, chronological resumes detail job responsibilities, not job accomplishments. Business results are still the main thing hiring managers are looking for in a resume. This makes sense, because the hiring manager wants to hire a person who will help the manager reach his or her business goals.
  • Chronological resumes don’t usually put a human side with the resume. People remember stories long after the facts have faded from memory — you know, about a week after your resume shows up. But they will remember the story presented in the resume about the person and remember that there was good stuff there where they could do the job. It’s not that facts don’t count, they do. But so does the story.

The resume solution

The key to improving this type of resume is to create a first page that consolidates job skills into a single area, have a section that talks about accomplishments, and puts a human side to the applicant that tells a story.

In this case, we consolidated all of the job skills into one section as a list. This list was broken up into different categories so as to easily find the right job skills for the areas needed in the job description. Most people don’t understand to list all of their job skills; we spent a lot of time reviewing the resume to ensure all of the job skills were captured. Comparing this to the job description showed us where we met the job description requirements and where we didn’t.

In addition, a section was created to show accomplishments. These were not just accomplishments from a single position, but accomplishments across the career. Suggestions were made in the review for which accomplishments made the most sense, but the final version was up to the client.

Finally, instead of a generic “objective statement” in the resume (which rarely works), a three sentence paragraph was introduced that described this person’s career and what differentiated this person in the role from others. This is not an easy thing to do; one starts with a complete paragraph and then one needs to pare the paragraph back, capturing the essence of the person and the role.

Then, we worked on the rest of the resume

Of course, the first page is just the start. After that, we went through the balance of the resume, using the chronological formate, but significantly changing the information from responsibilities to accomplishments.

The key is that many of us who have not looked for a new position for a long time think the old rules for resumes are still in play. They are not. Instead, resumes have evolved to showing how a person’s work can help a hiring manager reach their business goals. We are selling a product to solve a need, and the product is us and our job skills. As one of my co-worker’s LinkedIn tag line notes: “Have job skills, will travel.”

Truth.

I can help with a review of your resume, transforming it from a chronological piece going to the electronic trash can to one that will put you in the best position to get an interview. Take a look.

Do you manage your career or manage your strategies?

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For years, I’ve contemplated why “career management” doesn’t happen. I’ve thought most people believe that they should manage their career, but few of us do that. It’s like saving for retirement: we all know we should do it and then we hit 60-years old and discover there isn’t much time left to save!

Why don’t we “manage” our careers? Over the last several months on blog hiatus, I’ve thought a lot about that. Most people — or pundits, I should say — think you should be managing your career every single day. Some even every hour of every single day.

But that’s not how work works.

We go into work every day, figure out what tasks need to get completed that day, and if we’re really good, we try and do a few things to hit some goal we want to achieve. I’ve had this rule that I made up about how much you can get done: max of three things a day at work if you are lucky and one thing when you come home. Anything more than that is pure gravy and rarely happens.

And 99% of the time, none of those things have much to do with “career management.”

Yet, career advice is desperately needed — just look at how hard it is to find a new job. Building resumes, doing job interviews, researching companies, trying to look for a job when you already have a job.

Or look at making the decision to move to another city to take a promotion with your company. Worth it?

Or making a decision to leave a job and start looking for a new one. Right decision?

When I laid out what happens during a career, I finally had the paradigm shift: it’s not career management that should be the focus of helping someone in their career. No, it is career transitions where people need the help.

Sure, there are office politics and there is work around goal setting and performance reviews (important work…), but most of the need for advice centers around career transitions. That brief time — two weeks to two months — where major decisions are made that impact your work and livelihood for many months to come. Decisions that can start you down a completely different trail in your life and work.

When you look back on your work so far, what were the most difficult times? What were the hardest decisions to make? How did you make those decisions? Chances are, those times were when you had to make some choice that was going to make a big impact on your life and work. Decisions that would impact your income, your family, and even your circle of friends.

It is those times of transition where you would like the help. And that’s the place I’d like to help you.

Career management, after all, is a lot like the definition of management: executing strategy decisions that have already been made into something real and tangible. Important stuff, but a lot of that stuff is the grind of execution, the continuous work to complete the tasks in a plan.

Career transitions, though, are the strategy decisions that are made to go in a new direction. It’s the making the decision to pass a car, pulling into the passing lane on a two-lane highway where all of a sudden your whole perspective changes. You are breaking rules by driving on the “wrong” side of the road. There is the uncertainty around if the decision to pass was the correct one — especially when you see that car coming down the road right at you. It’s deciding where the point of no return lies, where you can still go back to where you were with the risk not taken. Or when you decide you must press on, but change tactics to pass that car safely.

Career management is making it to the other side of the car, getting set up on your lane all over again, and doing the things you wanted to do after you passed that car. Good things to do, of course, but nowhere near the risky strategy of deciding and then the passing of the car.

Most of us are not in that situation now, the need to pass the car, that place of deciding to make a career transition. But if you are, I can help through products for DIY approaches to making a transition to personal, one-on-one coaching.

When that transition time comes, you’ll need that Cubicle Warrior mentality. And a great coach and mentor to help you in your transition.

Cube Rules Links — June 6, 2014

Cube Rules Links

 

Cube Rules Links

Here’s what I’ve plucked out of the Internet (not all this week, since it has been a while….) for your Friday and weekend enjoyment.

5 predictions on the future of the resume

This is really predictions about LinkedIn, so you should read it as such. Quote:

As happens in the circle of forward thinkers and futurists, predicting the next trend is inevitable. In the careers environment, many experts feel that LinkedIn is surpassing the resume in value, and in some cases, replacing it altogether.

This likely will never happen. For one thing, the groundwork to create a career story “foundation” is always going to require much digging, unearthing and investigating before the first line is actually etched onto the page or the screen. Where people get distracted is that they think it’s about the form of the career story (or, actually, what you “call it”; i.e., resume, LinkedIn profile, Career Story, Career Portfolio) versus the actual function.

Fear Choice vs. Love Choice

I’m really trying to do more of the love choices — worth the story on the click through. Quote:

I splutter out four words I rarely utter: “Can you repeat that?”

Because every decision on the horizon just got twenty times simpler. Like boom.

Job interviews are getting weirder

Like these questions are actually related to success on the job. I doubt it. But it makes good reading. Quote:

The post-interview stories are becoming increasingly bizarre, she says. “People can be asked to sing a jingle,” she says. Her advice to job seekers in 2014: “Have one ready that’s relevant to your industry. It shows that you’ve done your homework and react well under pressure.”

Please, don’t sing me a song relating to your job skills. I might die. And creating a jingle relating to your industry is considered career advice? Really?

Enjoy your weekend, Cubicle Warriors.

5 ways to improve your resume

Graphic Resume

 

Graphic Resume

The most important point to remember when creating or modifying your resume is this: Your resume gets you the first interview for a job. It doesn’t get you past the first interview, it doesn’t get you to the hiring manager, and it doesn’t get you hired. It just gets you the first interview.

Of course, that’s no small thing, getting a job interview.

And, based on all of the resumes I’ve seen, you could create a significant advantage for yourself when applying for a job if you had the right stuff on your resume — the stuff others won’t remember or don’t think are significant. Here’s five ways to improve your resume now:

1. List all your job skills

Skills are skills, not responsibilities. That means writing code. It means process proficiency. It means accounting or Emergency Room procedures or commercial baking of pies. These are skills used in your work.

But there are also “soft” skills — how well you play in the sandbox with others. You’ve seen the job descriptions — they all want team players and people who work well in a fast-changing environment (who doesn’t?). But if you don’t list those skills, the skills won’t match up to the job description and the fewer the skills that match the job description on the resume, the less chance there is of getting the interview.

So list all of your job skills.

2. List all of the software you work with on the job

Start with listing the individual Microsoft Office programs you use — especially the less used ones by the rest of the population if you work with them — Visio and Microsoft Access, for example.

Then list all of the software programs you use on the job. Most knowledge workers don’t think this through right — that stuff you do all day on the computer uses software. So what if the billing system you use is the “Best Billing” system — you list it. Why? Because if you will need to use a billing system in the position you are after, listing it means you already know how to use a billing system and now you will only need to adjust to how the new program works. Not learn the whole thing.

Even if it is a proprietary software system built by your company, you list it because now the person reading your resume can see you’ve used “billing” systems and can now ask how yours works as part of an interview.

3. List your business results in each position

People hire people to get stuff done. Your resume is the first place that shows you can produce results from your work. You need to quantify the business results — less cost, more revenue, greater productivity. Percentages and dollars really help here.

If you are not showing your work can produce business results helping a manager reach business goals on your resume, why would they hire you? Answer: you won’t get the interview. Or, if you do, most of the interview will be about finding out if you can produce any results with all those stellar job skills you say you have on the resume.

Help the person see your results.

4. It doesn’t matter how long your resume is, but the first page better be killer

Most people don’t have a great first page of the resume. People looking at your resume can decide to interview you or not in less than 20-seconds. It doesn’t help you to have a great fourth page of a resume when the person won’t make it past the first page.

I have a specific format I recommend for my resume customers that gives you a powerful first page that will help the person make it past those critical 20-seconds and on to the rest of your resume.

5. Use industry-standard job titles as the main job title for your position

Your company may call you a Data Janitor III — and you note that somewhere in the position description — but the bold part should be the industry standard title — Database Administrator. Why? Well, have you ever seen a job description looking for a Data Janitor III? No. Job descriptions use standard industry titles and you want to ensure your job title matches the search criteria the company is searching to hire.

Or, do YOU search for Data Janitor III positions in job descriptions on boards or web sites? No, you get no hits back on your search. But Database Administrator? Yes, lots. Same principle: use standard descriptions in your resume so it matches the standard descriptions companies use when searching for a candidate.

Resumes, remember, only get you the interview. I can help you in starting the career transition by helping you with your resume.

In the meantime, these five actions will help make your resume better. And share this with your friends by clicking on your favorite social media platform.