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1. CRITICAL STEPS TO CAREER SUCCESS
2. WE HAD BETTER THINK AGAIN!
3. ORIENT YOUR NEW HIRE FOR SUCCESS
4. The Lasting Impression Counts
5. Why does it take so long?



CRITICAL STEPS TO CAREER SUCCESS

Don Andersson

Rightsizing, downsizing, mergers and acquisitions spinning through a market place of 9/11 aftershock and corporate ethical lapses have added to our collective angst. No one needs to inform us that there is no job security.

Whether you are part of the airline industry, in a high tech arena or a consumer products company like I am, said human resources director Tom Jacobson, it's a mad scramble. What we desperately need are career success skills.

We are best prepared for career success in today's dynamic marketplace if we:

Know what we have to offer, position ourselves as a resource and are committed to honing our skills.

Know what we have to offer

Since our prior contribution has been defined by a job title, it's tempting to assume a possible employer will easily grasp our worth for their organization. Yield not to that temptation. People will seldom be attracted to our title. It can even hamper our ability to differentiate yourself from others.

"How do I make a choice between these candidates?" questioned Mark Skillrud, the CEO of a boutique financial institution. "They have similar backgrounds, comparable experiences and they sound the same. Nothing cuts them apart. I need to know what they can do for me, not what they may have done for someone else. How can they be an answer to my problems? That's what I keep listening for, and none of them seem to get it."

Neither our elevator speech nor our two-minute self-introduction has been designed to provide instant access to the benefits we can provide. Each may review our experience demographics but neither clearly describes the results our abilities can achieve. Both leave the translation, application and evaluation of worth up to our interviewer.

To gain a competitive edge in our search for a new opportunity, we need ask what results a potential employer can expect if they use our capabilities. Our answer should be condensed into a single, non-technical statement and restricted to no more than ten or twelve words.

Be aware! To crystallize our value in this way will not be easy. Clarity of expression will take time. The more precisely we define the benefit we provide, however, the more we can target our search efforts, avoid possibilities offering little probability, positively differentiate our self and gain a competitive edge. This is the initial discipline that will contribute to our career survival.

If we can't clearly express the benefit we bring to a potential employer, why should they even squander their time and effort interviewing us?

 

Position yourself as a resource

Every position, including the one for which we may be interviewing, exists for only one purpose. It exists to meet the needs of specific customers. If it has no customers who depend upon it, there is no reason for it.

Its customers will include peers, direct reports and the one to whom the position is accountable. Each has criteria against which her or his success will be measured. Each depends upon our timely delivery of a quality product or service. Each customer will have different needs.

Those needs may be poorly articulated. No longer can we content ourselves with just being responsive. Just doing our job is not sufficient. More is required. We must take the initiative to clearly understand the needs of our customers. It is our responsibility to work with them and for their success. We must recognize that our success is directly contingent upon our ability to contribute to the success of our customers.

Simply put, we are in the business of being a resource. Like any business, continual research and development of our ability to add value to our customers is required. Again, we must take the initiative. We must accept personal accountability for recognizing our strengths and developmental needs - shaping and polishing the range of skills which will make us a more effective resource.

Simply put, we are in the business of being a resource. Like any business, continual research and development of our ability to add value to our customers is required. Again, we must take the initiative. We must accept personal accountability for recognizing our strengths and developmental needs - shaping and polishing the range of skills which will make us a more effective resource.

Hone our skills

The skills we have today are not adequate preparation to successfully address tomorrow's challenges. To act as if they are, is folly.

Technology has enabled our body of knowledge to expand exponentially. It has also made it more difficult to master. We definitely need operational skills. They are the initial threshold over which we must cross on our way to career survival.

We also need the ability to listen to and work collaboratively with others, to value differences and use them to enrich our decision-making. We need to learn how to raise questions without raising defenses, to get and maintain commitment to decisions, to manage change and to run productive meetings.

Hearing someone does not mean we have listened. Recognizing differences does not mean we know how to effectively build on them. Raising questions should not imply we are rejecting an opinion. Asking for commitment doesn't mean we have obtained one. Sitting in a meeting doesn't mean we know how to conduct a productive one.

These "soft skills" are critical to career survival. They are not, however, easily available.

"I used to think," said CEO Martin Lundquist, "technical skills were difficult to find. Sometimes they still are. It's highly polished interpersonal and team skills that are an even greater challenge. What makes it even more difficult is that everyone seems to think they have them."

Career survival demands that we never take the adequacy of our skills for granted. Like any star performer wanting to maintain a competitive edge, we must constantly be refining, polishing and adding to our capabilities. Whether it requires our investment in coaching, workshops, conferences, audio albums or books, it's the research and development required of us who understand ourselves as being in the business of being a resource to customers. It's what career success demands.

If we are not preparing yourself for career survival, who is?

To position yourself to take advantage of the next opportunity presented by today's dynamic marketplace, requires great discipline few are willing to exercise. Those who do will have prepared themselves for career survival. Will you be among them?

 

"Reprinted from www.AnderssonGroup.com, a provider of human resources business leadership wisdom. All rights are reserved by the author."

 

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