Transitions are difficult, but with a few basics and the right attitude you will
Anyone contemplating a
job change in the current economic climate should spend at least an hour a
day-two if the handwriting is on the wall. And regardless of level or age, read
Dr. Seuss' terrific book "Oh, The Places You'll Go". In humorous verse and
pictures, he gives advice on weathering the ups and downs we all encounter
during the course of our careers: confusion and uncertainty, unexpected success,
loneliness, finding fun, meeting people, taking charge, and the Great Balancing
Will reaching your goal
be challenging -yes. Fun-no. Require work-yes. Is the work worth it? Yes!! Per
(98 and ¾
Tips for Moving On and Up
Develop a self-summary that can be heard and easily repeated. If you're an
analyst who's passionate about technology and good with creative people, say
so. Test your self-summary on a clerk, neighbor, or manicurist-can they
repeat it later?
Have three introductions ready. One is very short, another is five minutes
long, and the third is longer yet. For example, the shortest summary is for
a quick intro at a party, the five-minute version when you just have a short
time to talk and last is for an interview or if you're sitting next to
someone at dinner. Most people neglect the first and second intros-and make
their messages too lengthy.
Make sure people know how to reach you. In emails, give time and phone
number-translate any time difference and use their time zone. On voice
mails, give your phone number early and slowly, repeat at end.
Send thank-you notes promptly, generally the same day. Keep them short and
don't over-sell in a thank-you note. Be careful with salutations. For
example, "Hi Dave" to a potential boss or peer is wrong tone. Whether to use
a note card, stationary, or email depends on the person and the context. For
example, use email to write someone who is traveling and not apt to receive
your note for a week. Generally thank-you notes sent by messenger or
over-night delivery aren't appropriate and look too eager
Waiting for an interview to start? Stand-you'll look and feel better ("How
To Act Like A CEO", Fortune, Sept. 8, 1997.)
Utilize an old IBM sales tactic-when you first enter someone's office, look
around and notice what "doesn't belong". The hard hat, movie poster, or
sailfish in an otherwise traditional corporate office has a story-ask about
it. One client discussed sailing with the potential employer for 15 minutes
before he was asked about work (he's since been promoted twice and gone
Have good questions. "What made you want to work here" is often a good early
question because it gets the interviewer in a recruiting mind-frame.
Questions about specifics during the interview will make it a conversation
and demonstrate your diligence and knowledge of the company.
Remember that executives often ask assistants and others for their
impressions or to conduct an initial screen. Treat staff as
professionals-they are. Patronizing flattery, condescension, manipulation
attempts and similar behavior is inappropriate and unwise.
the perfect, gracious guest when you visit a company. If the interviewer's
assistant offers you a beverage, accepting a glass of water is perfectly
fine. Requesting decaf, hazelnut-flavored coffee with skim milk and
artificial sweetener sends the message that you're needy and
Don't fake it when asked about your experience or knowledge. It won't work
and can be disastrous. Ask the person who falsely claimed fluency in German,
or the person who implied friendship with a prominent lawyer, how they felt
when facts surfaced.
Turned down? Lost out on a job? Be gracious and follow with a thank-you for
consideration. Keep in touch-you never know what will happen. Executives
have good memories and many friends. There's always a chance you'll be
considered for a similar position when it becomes vacant. Avoid the "I
didn't want the job anyway" mindset.
of Moving On and Up
The basics of
transitioning are just that-basic to a successful transition.
Decide you want to move-whether
to a new area, new function or new company. Decide whether you'll put in the
effort and time to make a change. The Olympics illustrate the importance of
dedication, persistence and the right attitude. The gold medals go to the
best prepared people, those who got up early, practiced (and practiced and
practiced), and who had their goal always in mind.
Luck happens-but don't
count on it.
And be prepared to take advantage if it does. Have your introductory spiel
and resume ready, look and act sharp. You never know when a senior person
may "drop by" unexpectedly, when you may get to attend a key meeting, or who
you'll meet en route to a client. I met two CEOs while boarding an airplane
and secured major engagements from them only a few months later. Most senior
executives have advanced their careers via chance encounters. During a
reorganization or merger, presence is especially important-look rested and
confident. During busy times, an executive may pass you in the hall and make
a decision as to whether you can handle more (Is she up to the task? Can he
take the next step?). Of course, bad luck happens too. Plan ahead.
Know your strengths, weaknesses, motives and quirks. Too often people think
about whether they can get a job and not whether they truly want it. Be
realistic. You may be a great salesperson for MegaCorp, but that may change
with a new business card for a little-known company. Similarly strong coffee
may help for a few weeks if you're not a morning person, but joining a
company where everyone's at work by 7 or 7:30 doesn't make sense if you
"come alive in the afternoon". If you're good in finance, but truly enjoy
marketing and management-think twice before accepting a finance job. (In
doubt? Then call and we can put you in touch with well-paid people who wish
they had chosen differently.)
Know where you're going.
Develop a list of other jobs, areas, and/or companies that interest you and
seem like a possible match to you. Not aware of other possibilities? Develop
a preliminary target list. Some people recommend talking to contacts
(networking). We don't-preferring to reserve those contacts for a later
time. We recommend setting aside a few hours each week for research. The
internet and the library are terrific resources. One executive recommends
"spending a Saturday at the library and going through the last few years of
Fortune or an industry publication, the last year of The
Wall Street Journal…you get a feeling for growth areas and executives
which you can refine later."
Identify allies and
sources of help.
A list of friends, allies and contacts will be most helpful if it's written
down. Keep adding to it as you think of new people and recall people whom
you've helped. Review the list to see how they can help you with your target
list. Some people will be able to provide background information, some
introductions, etcetera. Wise use of this two list system (your target list
and contact list) will ensure the proverbial win-win. It saves your allies
time, enables them to be truly helpful and provides you with desired
information easily and efficiently.
Do your homework.
Learn as much as possible about the people, job and business before you
start discussions. The internet is obviously a great resource, but not the
only one. For example, one person attended a venture conference in order to
meet a future employer. Another person was able to overcome a staid banking
stereotype by spending a day watching how people dressed, acted, and talked
in his desired company, a technology venture. The work and time paid off.
The banker became one of Apple's first employees (and a millionaire at an
early age). Doing your homework can help you in a transition- both in
getting an offer and avoiding a mistake by accepting the wrong job.
greetings and interviews.
Enlist a friend or relative's help, but to ensure maximum help, tell them
you want to hear at least five flaws or things you can improve. Friends are
often reluctant to be too critical. Remember, too, that you will act
differently with a friend. One client I coached was great with his good
friend, but nervous and sweating during practice with a colleague of mine.
Leave yourself a voicemail to hear how you sound on the phone. Practice your
handshake-a bad one is more problematic than most people realize. Don't let
nervousness or a desire to show you "get it" result in your cutting people
off, or finishing their sentences. Simply count to four after the person
stops speaking and before you start.
Be cautious about whom
you tell you're seeking a new situation.
It's a competitive world. Plus even well-meaning friends can mention it to
the wrong people or give the wrong slant with a detrimental result. At a
recent workshop an attendee asked how to recover from a blunder-- the
blunder? He asked a coworker if she knew of any jobs in advertising as a
good friend wanted to move due to a bad boss….the coworker was the sister of
the "bad boss". She was married, with a different name, and fortunately
wasn't close to her brother. Certain situations and industries call for
extra caution in transitions-approach them with a rifle, not a shotgun.
Remember: employers are
Your future boss wants to work with someone who is thoughtful, follows-up,
loyal, personable, honest, and shares similar values. So in addition to
impressing a future boss with your skills and ability, demonstrate that
you'll make her look and feel better on a daily basis. Thank her for
considering you (send a follow-up note promptly.) Last week two senior
clients expressed annoyance and amazement at poor etiquette and
follow-through of candidates. If an email is appropriate, follow to make
sure it is received. Make it easy for a potential boss to find you,
especially if you travel. If you can't access your private email at work,
are you checking it frequently? Slow responses will be interpreted as low
drive and interest. Administrative assistants, search executives, assessment
experts and others whom you may meet in search of "the right job" are part
of your potential employer's family too. Remember employers will hire the
best all-around person, not the smartest.
Beware the dream job.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Keep the differences
between recruiting and reality to a minimum by good questions and diligence.
Then the surprises will be pleasant ones.
Per Dr. Seuss,
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!”
2009 CEO Perspective Group™, All Rights Reserved www.ceoperspective.com
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