Sunday, June 27, 2010


When you talk to anyone trying to make a career change these days it doesn't take long before you realize that while there are lots of the questions being asked, the answers vary all over the lot.

To many of us this comes as a very frustrating and unhappy surprise. This is especially true for those seeking executive level jobs since most come from positions of executive leadership and are very used to asking questions and getting answers that don't start with "well, that depends..."

In short, I think the discomfort comes from the fact that the dynamics of making a career change are, at its core, made up of a process that despite all the hoopla around assessment instruments, interviewing, resumes, etc., based on the subjective judgment of both the executive recruiters and the candidates.

While I don't see anything on the horizon that is going to change this anytime soon, the good news is that with the freedom of expression and access offered up by the Internet, the ability to seek and digest the opinions of many on whatever issue it to which you are seeking (or wishing) there was a definitive answer is only a click away.

What most of us do is check out as many sources as we can before we either run out of the energy to read one more "opinion" on the same subject or come down with carpal tunnel syndrome - whichever occurs first.

So, it was with this in mind that I came across a blog post by Mark James. Mark is a career executive recruiter and executive coach. He also, I am happy to say, has been hosting ExecuNet networking events* in the San Diego and Irvine area for several years so naturally his is one of the blogs I follow.

What caught my attention on this one was the title of the post: How to Make the Right Decision Every Time. Now I wasn't so naive as to really think that Mark had come up with the "universal solvent" when it came to decision making, especially when it came to the managing of careers, but the title certainly got me curious enough to check out the post which, of course, was the purpose of it in the first place.

So, why do I share it here? Answer: Because while it remains only one opinion of many, Mark's post does speak to an issue that in the heat of the job changing process often does not get the attention it deserves - i.e. what to consider when making the call on accepting or rejecting an offer.

Point being, with the pressures created during a job search, it is very easy to say yes for the wrong reasons.

I am not saying that Mark's post will make it easier to make a call, but at the very least it provides a perspective that is not on a lot of the check lists created to give people the "right" answer.

He talks to People, Challenge, Balance and Worth and if you are hoping that your next gig will be "for the duration" these are four things to be thinking about not just when you finally get the offer, but critical criteria in terms of what you are seeking.

His arguments are pretty persuasive.

* Meetings around the country and in Canada are open to anyone. More info here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


When it comes to the world of career management these days, online or off, as we all know, the buzz word of the moment is "branding."

Translation: If I am looking to make a career change in this economy (either because I want to or have to) how do I make myself stand out from the rest of the tens of thousands who are trying to do the same thing?

It's a question that has been around for as long as I can remember no matter what the economy was doing. Sure it was easier to get air time when it was a seller's market, but that doesn't change the fact that the seller still had to "market" themselves and at the very least, make sure the interviewer walked away from that encounter with an impression that was not going to disappear by the time they got home for dinner.

It has often been said that fifty percent of getting a job is getting yourself across the desk from someone. I certainly would not argue that, and how one gets that opportunity is fodder for any number of posts down the road.

For this commentary however, I want to focus on the interview piece because I am fortunate enough to know someone who has come up with a concept that has helped a lot of her clients leave those interviewing situations feeling very comfortable that when that interviewer gets home for dinner they not only won't have forgotten you but may well be talking about you over dessert.

The "someone" is a woman named Judy Rosemarin. If you are interested in her background, you can check it out on her company website.

Suffice it to say that she has been in the career management world for more than 27 years. [Full disclosure: Judy has also been facilitating ExecuNet's NYC meetings for nearly 18 years, but the only connection that has to this post is that this is how I came to know her and hence became aware of her "storytelling" approach.]

I could take up a great deal more space here by trying to describe exactly how the "storytelling" approach works, but clearly Judy can explain it far better than I can which she did recently when she was interviewed on a radio program hosted by Dr. Zara Larsen out in Tucson, AZ called Circles of Change.

The interview runs roughly 20-25 minutes but is worth a listen if you or someone you know is still trying to figure out how to change an interview from an exercise of "been there, done that" into a memorable conversation.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Stand By Me

The last time I checked there were only 21,185,836 views of this video which should give you some idea of how "tuned in" I am!

The video is part of a series put together by Playing for Change and if you are one of the 21 million plus mentioned above, of course, you already know that.

But for those, like me, for whom it was a recent "discovery" then hopefully you'll enjoy it as much as I did. And if you really like it, there are 36 more videos of different songs played around the world.

Now for sure I know that this won't stop the horror show in the gulf or the tidal wave of depressing items we all hear and read about hourly, if not minute by minute, but it is nice to know that there is also stuff going on that helps to remind us all that we are in this togetehr and it is going to take all of us to work our way out.

Enjoy your weekend.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Irrevocable Mistakes at Work

By now, whether you are a Sports Center addict or not, you have seen the call by umpire Jim Joyce that cost Detroit Tiger pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game with only one out to go.

Talk about a bummer both ways, this was definitely a classic.

On the other hand, once you get past the emotion you feel for both men, if you followed what happened after the call and the next day, you also had a chance to experience a different emotion, or at least I did, and that was one of admiration and respect.

Admiration for the way that Jim Joyce expressed his regret and admiration for the way in which Galarraga handled himself. The scene of him handing the lineup card to Joyce the following day and the emotion shown by Joyce was a "special moment" and one which at least does something to restore one's faith in how people can deal with each other even under tough circumstances.

There are some who might well argue that the situation that developed in a baseball game is hardly of the same magnitude as some of the situations that surface between managers and employees at work. They might say that this is not a "game" and at work, these situations can come down to being about people's livelihood.

How people choose to react when faced with major disappointment is an interesting question, be it on the field of play or in the office. If you get a chance, read GL Hoffman's post which prompted the title of this entry: Irrevocable Mistakes at Work.

In it he asks us our opinion of whether or not Joyce's "mistake" is one which should cost him his job. My opinion was that it shouldn't, but GL's post also made me think of the dynamics of the interactions between manager and subordinate. It reminded me again of how critical a role behavioral choices have in that relationship.

While Joyce and Galarraga didn't have a direct supervisor/employee relationship, the fact that he was an umpire gives him the upper hand in terms of who has the POWER in the relationship. The same is true of the balance of power between manager and subordinate.

The big learning that I took away from the way Joyce handled himself by immediately taking responsibility, apologizing, and most importantly, acknowledge how deep his empathy was for Galarraga I believe made a huge difference in how not only Galarraga reacted but how his teammates and the public reacted.

Move this to the workplace, and I think many of the same elements can have an enormous impact on a team's productivity. As the saying goes we all make mistakes and that most certainly includes those in leadership roles.

How quickly the organization recovers and moves on is, I believe, in direct proportion to how the organization views our behavior following the incident.

Said differently, I think the real "irrevocable" mistake is failure to take responsibility. When you are most vulnerable is when people see your real value system surface and if they are comfortable with that, more often than not they will be looking for ways to help you, not hurt you.