Archive for the ‘Interviewing’ Category

Career Management Part 3

February 1, 2018

#3 Why is career management important?

When I was interviewing candidates as an executive search consultant, I was always impressed with those who had a strong sense of who they were both personally and professionally.  They were clear about realistic career goals. They comfortably responded to questions based on what they valued. They had an unmistakable confidence.  Many of them exhibited strong leadership skills.  And some were hired by a client but few were not.  Everyone was memorable.

If you want a “job” to pay the bills, there are plenty of opportunities out there for you.  In my view, a “job” means repetitive work, usually task oriented, and learning/development are not part of the equation.  It is important that you are passive and take what is given to you.  If you are looking for a “job”, then this column cannot help you.

There are many of us who want to keep learning, developing and contributing.  And we strive to enjoy doing our work as well.  We want certain things or events to occur throughout our life.  We have goals that we want to accomplish.

The goal of career management and planning is to produce the desired results that impact our lives.  It allows us to prepare and maintain a degree of control over the expected outcomes.

Career management means that you are the one that decides what you want to do in your professional life. You control where you work, and what you need to advance.  You have the power with a good career management firm.

In our professional lives, career management is a necessary tool to assist us in achieving both personal and professional goals.  With good career management, we can make the proper and timely decisions along the way with confidence.

There was a time in the not too distant past when I witnessed the middle manager waking up after about 6 or 7 years in their role.  They would say:” Gosh, I do not have my VP stripes yet.”  They would start scrambling to develop a career management program.  Sadly, in terms of a promotion, it was too late for a career management program.  It would have served them better to start a career management program the first day they were promoted to middle management.

In my executive career coach role, I hear the familiar refrain: “If I do good work in my current role, I will get promoted.”  No. It no longer works that way.  You have established yourself by the success of your current job.   People who have solid career management programs and a supporting career planning process have the edge when it comes to moving up.  They have communicated their plan to their organization.

So, what happens if your career management program does not align with the organization’s goals?  There is a fear that if this happens, the employee will be fired.  If the organization and the employee have started the career management program in a timely way (read early), this misalignment rarely happens.  But there is always the chance that the employee is going one way and the company is going the other. In this case, both parties need to first acknowledge the divergence.  The employee can assure the company that they will continue to perform in their current position.  The company needs acknowledge that they are unable (or unwilling) to support the employees career management program. They are not surprised over this predicament.  The organization realizes that every day, the employee becomes more and more a bad fit for their current role (like over qualified).  The advice to both is to move quickly to remedy the situation.  That is, the employee needs to seek a move to the outside (other company) to continue their management program.  The company must look at who is promotable via succession planning.  The wise incumbent who is moving on will have someone ready to step in.

So, we know what career management is and why it’s important.  So let’s get to the important part. Next  in Part Four, we discuss the steps for developing a career management plan.

Career Management Part 2

February 1, 2018

What is career management and career planning?

Throughout the decades, this meaning of this term has evolved.  Back say in the sixties and seventies, companies like IBM and Eastman Kodak were flying high and offered long term employment.  Your personal life was separate from your work life. Career management was usually defined as promotion to the next management level.  15-year career “plans” were common.  Understanding this “career game, playing it well and knowing your place” was key.   It was exclusive to the chosen few working in large companies.  There was a definitive career ladder with specific company generated rigid rules to climb it.  Politics were asthick as flies however. And people “passed over” for promotion usually did not seek employment elsewhere.  With “Personnel” in the pocket of management at the time, the unhappy employee did not find a sympathetic ear.  In defense of the Personnel Department, they had no perceived options to assist the disgruntled employee.  Career management was very frustrating and disempowering for many.  You could play the game and still lose with the company holding all the cards and you talking all the risk.  And so, why bother?  Just do the work.  Your career option was to keep doing what you do well in exchange for security.  Personal footnote:  My uncle and father both worked for Kodak. I heard the stories and some complaints.

So, let’s fast forward to today. As you probably surmise, the definition of career management has changed.  Of all the definitions of career management reviewed, I like Wikipedia’s the best:

Career management is the combination of structured planning and the active management choice of one’s own professional career. The outcome of successful career management should include personal fulfillment, work/life balance, goal achievement and financial security.

There are some key terms: “active choice”, “personal fulfillment”, “work/life balance”, and “financial security”.  These are critical to the individual managing their own career.

Let’s move to the next key term:  career planning.

This is a relatively new term that is different from career management.  It is a subset of career management.

For example, let’s say an individual sets a goal of becoming a sales manager.  They would develop a career plan that would meet that goal.

Let’s start with an axiom. The employer must focus on the best interests of the company. These interests are “profit and loss statement”. company growth, etc.  Today, even nonprofits are not immune to the principles of a “profit and loss statement”. These organizations are under increasing pressure to be “self-sustainable”.  That is, there is a growing need to “breakeven” – revenue/donations/grants cover the costs of running the organization.

Many employers will support you to manage your career if the career development and goals are line with company goals and objectives.

So, this is where you come in. Career planning is a subset of career management. Career planning applies the concepts of strategic planning to fully take charge of one’s professional future. Career planning supports career management goals (and hopefully the organization’s) in an ongoing process.

Let’s go back to the person who has the career management goal of becoming a sales manager.  Their career plan might include selected training, personal and other professional development areas that would help you attain their goal.

The key takeaway here?  You now know the difference career management and career planning. Unlike the past decades, you are entirely responsible for your own career management goals.

In the third article, we will discuss exactly why career management and career planning are important not just to you but also to the employer.  And yes, what happens when your goals do not align with your employer.

Interviewing — When “The Fit” Is Everything

October 27, 2015


Over the years, both as a coach and recruiter, I have heard the following refrains when it comes to interviewing:

“I had all the right answers but I did not make to the next round”.

“The interview went really well and it has been two weeks since I heard anything”.

“My top priority when I interview is to get the offer.  Then I will decide if I want the job”.


The organization’s response? “The fit wasn’t there.”


Before continuing, let me make the point that most hiring managers do not know how to interview and hire effectively.  This is not new to you nor is this article about them.


You have heard that “team/culture” fit is at least 50% of the hiring decision.

And many of you have heard “there only 3 interview questions”:

  1. Can you do the job? (do you have the experience, knowledge and strengths this position requires? It’s important that you have at least 90% of the posted candidate qualifications.
  2. Do you have a passion for this position? Do you really want this job and does it make sense from a career standpoint? Again, you need to make a good case here.
  3. Will we like you doing the job? As Shakespeare has so elegantly written: “therein lies the rub”. Or in our case, “therein lies the heart of the “fit”.


Each of the big 3 interview questions are weighted when evaluating a candidate.  Based on what I have recently observed with clients and hiring managers:

  1. Hard skills 25%,
  2. Making your case why the position and company are right for you. 25%
  3. Do they like you? 50% (it can be as high as 70%).


I coach my clients to see the interviewer as an ally; they are on a mission together to evaluate the fit.


So here is your own checklist for a post interview evaluation regarding the “fit”

  • Congruent values between the you and the company
  • Communication styles are clear and easy (they didn’t compete)
  • The dialogue is honest and authentic
  • You successfully articulated your relevance to the needs of the position
  • The interview was relaxed and actually engaging (nervousness disappears 5 minutes into the interview)


I am not a proponent of “fake it until you make it”.  If as a candidate, you are trying to be what they are looking for, and they believe you, it is a recipe for disaster.


If there is a good authentic fit, can an offer (or at least the next round of interviews) be far behind?