Archive for the ‘Job search’ 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.

Boomers: Rethink Seeking Full Time Jobs Working For Gen Xers.

March 16, 2016

Boomers: Rethink Seeking Full Time Jobs Working

By Randy Block


In my coaching practice, I often hear complaints from job seekers who are over 50 because they are not considered for a full-time position by a Gen Xer.

“I was fully qualified and it makes no sense” is the most common complaint.  “They simply don’t know how to hire” is another one.  “They told me that I was overqualified.” Other comments cannot be repeated.

To put some perspective on this phenomenon, here are some observations I have made, both as a coach and an executive recruiter:

  1. Thirty-somethings don’t want to hire their parents. It’s uncomfortable. Boomers have hired people from their own age demographic or their juniors for years. Would you have hired your dad or mom to work directly for you?
  2. Boomers also are considered a “flight risk.” Once the economy turns around, they probably will take a better job.  They will be viewed as someone who just used the company as a “half way house”.  And guess what?  They are a flight risk.
  3. Boomers want to be “led and not managed”. Boomers will follow a leader who influences but not directs as a manager.  In my coaching practice as well as my past recruiting experience, most thirty-something managers look for someone they can “manage.” In coaching sessions with young managers, I observed that their leadership skills typically lag behind their management skills.  Therefore they are clearly not a fit.
  4. The age antidiscrimination laws in this country have backfired.  If you hire someone for full-time work over 50, they can be hard to get rid of, even in an “at will” state like California. So why hire them in the first place?


  1. It’s common knowledge that medical premiums rise significantly at age 60.  The potential employer considers that a liability as well. It could be true that over 50 workers may also have more health issues than younger workers.

I have found that most young managers are open to getting help with business decisions and careers.  They appreciate being mentored, coached, or advised. They recognize the need, but look at it as a temporary or project-based opportunity. Young managers have hired me, for example, for three-month engagements and I am a “sixty something” boomer.

If you are a Boomer and still want to work with these “young lions and lionesses,” what can you do?

Here are six steps that you can take:

  1. Know thyself: What do you value?  All decisions (personal and professional) are based on values.  Relationships are based on shared values.  I believe that shared values make up most of what we call chemistry.
  2. Know thyself II: You have to be an expert in something.  There is something that only you can do.  Remember, you have specialized knowledge and/or experience.
  3. Develop your own personal brand:  People associate your name with something.  Find out what it is by calling five or six of your most trusted associates and ask them, “When you hear my name, what immediate impressions come up, both personally and professionally.”  Their answers may surprise you.
  4. Target your industry and market segment: Set up your own selection criteria (location, size of company, public or private, product or service, etc.)
  5. Select the top 15 organizations that interest you the most. Companies like to be chosen. They resent being blasted with unsolicited résumés.  Remember, you have to be as excited as they are about what they do.
  6. Network your way into top management:  This can be the toughest part.  You will need to be introduced. Networking is exchanging information.  It is not looking for a job or selling.  Keep in mind that all organizations have only two basic needs:  revenue and productivity.  This is what keeps any top management up at night.  If your brand can help them, they will seek your advice and counsel.

So the Gen Xers need your help. Now what?

The tough part is over. Your working relationship will most likely be either part- time or a short-term contract.  I have found this arrangement to be more comfortable between generations because there is a beginning and an end. A younger manager would have to be very shortsighted not to explore a working relationship with someone more experienced. You have a wealth of experience, and you can make a difference in their lives and careers.

If they don’t want your expertise, then there are plenty of others who do.


(c) 2016 Randy Block. All rights reserved.

LinkedIn Impressionism: How Does Your Photo Compare?

March 16, 2016

LinkedIn Impressionism:

How Does Your Photo Compare?

By Randy Block

After you have connected with someone on LinkedIn, you are redirected to “People You May Know.” Intrigued? You proceed to watch the parade of photos and backgrounds.

I have viewed thousands of photos over the years. I would like to give my impressions of those that should be reviewed by their owners because they don’t give the best impression…


  1. The No Picture: Now, I know that online privacy is important to all of us. But come on people, many of us might know you on sight but not by name. Add your photo to your LinkedIn profile! This just in!  You don’t have a photo? This can hurt your LinkedIn search results by putting you lower in the database.
  2. The Dated Picture: Several years ago, I met a friend for lunch after not having seen his/her for quite some time. Naturally, we both had aged. Funny how the passage of time does that! Would you believe this 50 year old used his/her college graduation picture on LinkedIn? I know that age discrimination is alive and well, but use an updated photo!! We’ll all go into shock meeting someone who has aged 20 years in just 5 days from looking at his or her LinkedIn photo.
  3. The Action Photo: You are a distant dot doing something athletic or riding something. I guess this works if I want to hire a dot. We ask, “Who was that masked man?” It worked for the Lone Ranger, but use a close up head shot please!!
  4. The Trustworthy Photo: The eyes have it. Most of us like to look into someone’s eyes. Seeing the eyes gives you the impression of trustworthiness.
  5. The Dark Picture: This photo lacks the proper lighting. There is a human in there I just know it. Lighten up!
  6. The Tuxedo Photo: This photo will work if you are looking for a job as a waiter or maître d’. Otherwise, let’s face it, you are overdressed.
  7. The Half Face Photo: Shades of Phantom of the Opera. What does the other half of your face look like? Scary!!
  8. The Duo Picture: Yes, believe it or not, there are many LinkedIn photos out there with two people. Do you think that we like to play the game of “Guess which one of us matches the background?” NO! And leave your family and spouses out.
  9. The Caricature/Drawn Photo: Only your friends know for sure. But could they hire you? Are you being too clever?
  10. The Mug Shot:There is shadow behind your face. Were you finger printed at the time of the photograph?

It’s important that we all stand out from the crowd. It’s what personal branding is all about. With the exception of identical twins there is no other face that looks exactly like yours in the whole world, doppelgängers aside.

** Groucho Marx said: “Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old. All you have to do us live long enough.”

– See more at:




(c) 2016 Randy Block. All rights reserved.


9 Mistakes Boomers Make In Their Job Search

March 16, 2016



 by Randy Block.

“I just want a job” is a familiar refrain I hear at my presentations; usually from someone with gray hair. My reply is: “Apply at Costco, Home Depot or Target – and get at least 30 hours for the benefits”.

You know how challenging the job market is out there. In my work with Boomers, claim expertise about the job search process.  But their execution is less than stellar – far less.

The Nine Mistakes Most Boomers Make:

  1. Relying heavily on email as your primary communication tool during your job search. People hide behind their emails. When you have the mobile number, explore texting. Another way is to send resume via snail mail. Extensive use of email will date you. Younger managers respond far quicker to texting than email.
  2. Asking for directions to navigate to the place of the interview – or anywhere. GPS is here to stay – use it, or get current maps.


  1. Ignoring social media. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. are here to stay. If you are not a member of LinkedIn, you don’t exist. Just posting in a resume is a turnoff. Most resumes are not written well enough.
  2. In problem solving, thinking and making a case for an answer that worked in “their day” and believing it will work now. Business conditions change too fast for previous solutions to work today.
  3. Thinking that any experience prior to 2008 is totally relevant. Be careful here. I don’t think anyone really cares what you did in 1998. It dates you.
  4. Making full time employment the sole means for paying your bills. You expect that your 6-figure job will return in the next few months. The closer you get to age 60, the tougher it gets. After 60, your best two options are to start your own company or become an advisory consultant.
  5. Looking for that last long term employment position until retirement. No organization can offer you job security. They will remain loyal to you for as long as they need you.
  6. Believing that you are “too old” to help solve problems. With a good relevant brand in hand, you need to network with decision makers. See if there is a match and then decide if the position is full time, part time or short-term contract.


  1. Assuming that the corner office and other “treasured perks from the past” will be prized by the younger professional.

To recap:

Relationship building is critical. WIIFM (What’s in it for me) is alive and well. If there is a match between an organization’s needs and your relevant skills, then there is a match. Then and only then you can decide if the working relationship will be full time, part time or short-term contract.

Hustle, humility and flexibility are key for a boomer looking to create revenue.


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?

Time To Retire the “Elevator Speech” For Job Seekers

March 13, 2014

Time to retire the term “elevator speech” from the job seekers lexicon

Does it really work for job seekers? Isn’t a “speech” about 30 or 40 minutes?  Most elevators are very short rides here in California.

So what is the standard definition?

From Wikipedia

“An elevator speech, or elevator statement is a short summary used to quickly and simply defines a person, profession, product, service, organization or event and its value proposition.

The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes. The term itself comes from a scenario of an accidental meeting with someone important in the elevator. If the conversation inside the elevator in those few seconds is interesting and value adding, the conversation will continue after the elevator ride or end in exchange of business card or a scheduled meeting”.

Who uses it successfully today?

I have listened to project managers and salespeople use elevator pitches to get their point across quickly. They typically know their audience and can make a short “pitch” for an idea or product.  For them, it is a powerful tool.

But the elevator speech does not and cannot work this way for the job seeker.

At many networking events and meetings, I was privy to listening job seekers using their “elevator speech”.  All were off the mark.  Many sounded the same.  Many were quite boring and forgettable.  Most came off as trying to sell themselves.  And I sensed a great frustration in their voices.

What does work?

Lets’ set up a scenario:

You are at a networking meeting. A total stranger starts to initiate a conversation with you and they ask what is your name and what you do.

Giving your name is the easy part. (You get 2 points for this right answer)

You would respond with a personal branding statement.  It’s a statement that says in general what your impact is on organizations.  It starts off with the first person singular, followed by a verb and an object or objects.  Maybe 3 out of 10 people will be “intrigued” and ask “how” you do this or “what do you mean?”  The other 7 it will fall on deaf ears.  Find out more about personal branding and download the PowerPoint (scroll down).

Your response would be “Well, I would like to give you a short (2 minute) story that illustrates what I do”.  You would use the classic and ubiquitous “SAR” to structure the story:  “This was the Situation”; “this was the Action that I took” and “these were the Results”.

You are memorable and unique because of the brand and the story.  If they have no interest in what you think is important and critical, then there is probably no basis for a relationship.  Move on to the next person.

However, you may discover that the other person is genuinely interested in the brand and what you achieved – opening up the conversation to explore further what you both have in common.

But you have to start with you.  What do you stand for and what do you deliver?  Most of us respond positively to focus, confidence and high self-esteem.

But please, don’t call it an elevator speech.

How about:  Stand and Prove?