Category Archives: Trasnsferable skills

If you can’t measure it – don’t mention it

Why "if you can't measure it -don't mention it makes perfect sense".

Why “if you can’t measure it, don’t mention it” makes perfect sense.

The Peter Drucker  phrase “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” has been around in management training manuals for decades.  With some dissenting views, it is widely accepted if not as a business truism,  certainly as  a useful guideline and management tool.

In career management what is also gaining credibility is the line “If you can’t measure it – don’t mention it.”

I’m a big subscriber to that philosophy.

Metrics

We are seeing a convergence between the marketing techniques usually associated with entrepreneurs and businesses with individual self promotion (in biz patois Personal Branding)  with the the same measurable values starting to become applicable. Many balk  at this shift,  feeling that people are becoming commoditized.  But are they really? All this really involves is simply a move from a task and chronology mindset, to a result, achievement and skills focus.

Just as we don’t care about the detail of the business process for any organisation,  we are also starting to expect the same approach on individual resumes and profiles.  We don’t care how smart phones are made. We just want to know what they can do for us. When we  buy jars and tubes of emulsified chemicals from L’Oreal, we buy products that are hopefully going to  magically transform us – even if it’s only in our imagination. We are buying the added value. Why? Because we are worth it.

The management accountant who produces monthly reports and forecasts using Bex Analyser and Excel would be better placed telling us what he used that information for,  rather than describing the  detail of the routine task.  If this can be followed with a metric and results so much the better.

If you are “young and dynamic”  I need to know what difference that will make to an organisation. If it means you have just graduated  at the top of your class with the most up to date mathematical models to support faster analysis of business processes, at your finger tips. Tell me that.

These are just two conversations I had this week alone.

Forget cute, metrics matter!

Very often people are so focused on being cute, zany or idiosyncratic that their message becomes simply verbiage and we have no idea at all what they mean.  I am highly literate so always recognise the individual words,   but sometimes I have no clue what the person actually does in a joined up sentence. “Effective change agent,  crisis manager,  business turn around leader.”  A crisis could be a merger, takeover or a blocked loo.  What sorts of businesses, crises and changes? What were the outcomes? Can this person do that for us, is the over-riding question of any employer.  If it’s not clear and the question has to be asked,  the risk of losing the reader (me) has already increased. I have the attention span of a gnat. And I am slow!

Just as when we buy a lap- top we will want to have some information on the basic features (weight, operating system, colours, memory, hard drive etc)  the main questions will be centred around what value that lap- top can add,  how we can benefit from it and how we can best use it for our own purposes.

Job search processes are no different. If a computer had a “buy this computer”   sign on it, wouldn’t you ask “Why? What will it do for me? ”

Candidates are no different.

Personal branding: 5 tips for women

Snow boarding is a learned skill

At the risk of being shot down in flames I don’t think that a reluctance to self promote is always and exclusively a gender issue. I know as many men who struggle as badly with framing their success stories and articulating them as women. I also come across any number of women who will self-promote at the drop of a Philip Treacy.

What I have observed over time is that once men have understood what they need to do and the process, they do become more at ease and adept with simply presenting the facts and adopting strong and appropriate vocabulary to present themselves in the best possible light. Why? Because they know their content will be well received by a primarily male audience.

Women on the other hand who do the same,  feel and fear they will be judged more harshly than the men,  because gender stereotypical expectations suggest that they should be more retiring and modest, as well as being more communally orientated than self-centred.  So personal branding is counter- intuitive for many women.

Stand out!
According to Connie Glaser, author and women’s leadership expert, societal expectations for female behavior promote modesty and collaboration,  but these characteristics don’t necessarily lead to professional advancement. This requires actions closely associated with  standing out from the crowd  rather than  blending in,  by being able to identify, articulate and promote our USPs.

We know that women are competitive and are more than willing to be highly visible in all sorts of other arenas  (homes, husbands, kids, recipes, gardens,  b.m.i.). But how can women overcome this reluctance to self promote professionally and develop a badly needed personal brand,  which for many doesn’t come naturally?

Snow boarding is a learned skill.  So are driving and dancing. But women do learn how to do all three.

Tasteful  self – promotion
 

It’s not necessary to stand on a soap box proclaiming brilliance to the world.  Women can do some or all of the following to promote their success stories:

  • Self-insight :  Women need to be able to identify, recall and articulate those successes, both on demand and even when not requested. There are no short cuts.
  • Use powerful vocabulary: there is no need to appear boastful. If you ran a team of 100, or closed a deal worth several million  – simply say that. It’s not necessary to embellish by telling people what a great sales person  or manager you are – that will now be evident. Powerful action words such as led, ran, created, drove, initiated, generated, leveraged should feature regularly in  self evaluations.
  • Harness modern technology :   women are great at building relationships and should leverage these to generate recommendations for their  LinkedIn profiles, creating websites showing testimonials and  by keeping copies of any complimentary emails and performance reviews for future  use.
  • Accept praise and compliments graciously: bite your lip on lines such as “it was nothing ” or  “it was a team effort” or ” I got lucky“. It is OK to say “I worked really hard and am very proud of the result.”   Don’t forget we create our own luck.
  • Create a  strategic network.   Extending brand reach by widening your reputation. Set up a professional profile ona platforms such as LinkedIn, Xing or Viadeo.  Tap into your Facebook network for professional purposes as well as social relationships.  Being known as a strong resource will be always be helpful.   Find people to support, sponsor and mentor you,  not just to chat to! Return the favour.  Let people around you know what your goals are and that you are ambitious.

Women also have to be prepared to ask for support. They seek specialist advice from others in every area imaginable: physical fitness,  snowboarding, their nails, health issues, styling, children  and marriage guidance, but place far less emphasis on professional support.

This is an additional barrier which needs tackling .

Portfolio Careers: impact on workplace & jobseeker

Portfolio careers a rich tapestry of work experience - on the increase

A Portfolio Careera tapestry of a variety of eclectic employment experiences; employment in a series of short-contract or part-time positions

Not new but on the increase
The term Portfolio Career is being used in current business  vernacular  with the same type of smug and superior ” in the know -ness” ,  as we might have seen when the atom was split or  the wheel invented.  I always smile indulgently! The concept of a portfolio career is actually far from new. What is new is the number who have embarked on this career path.

“Moonlighting” has long been a euphemism associated with  individuals aspiring to break into such professions as  acting, music , arts, writing etc,  or others running more than one job. As companies abandon the corporate  ” cradle to grave” employment concepts,  and move towards the leaner and meaner machines of more recent times,  we had already started to see the beginnings of this seismic shift some years ago. Business Week referenced the changing work place practise of   Perma Temps,   as organisations  began to seek flexible ( =  disposable) workforces, to allow rapid response to fast changing business conditions.

I view and review literally hundreds of CVs in any given week.  Although predicted by all the trend spotters, the shift to individuals having an increasing  number of jobs and spending less time in each , is becoming very marked. I am  often asked to avoid ” hoppers/movers/jumpers”, but that is now an outmoded concept,  particularly as younger age demographics move between jobs more strategically,  with periods of employment, also punctuated by stints in further education.

No alternatives
Portfolio  careers and the wearing of many hats was once  associated with mid- career or older professionals, perhaps after redundancy seeking a better work / life balance,  or  when there were no other options. It was considered a fall back position.  We are now seeing younger  Gen Yers  build up this type of career,  not because they particularly seek an improved quality of life,  but because they have to tap into different parts of their skill sets, simply to  get a job,  any job.   This is also apparent when coaching career changers pursuing MBA courses,  when I have come across a range of skills from Project Management, entrepreneurial roles , to  professional photography,  all in the same student.  The real  challenge is to create an interesting and credible career profile to showcase success stories, transferable skills and  the lessons learned from such diverse backgrounds and interests.

Choice
However, there are people who simply prefer the variety, flexibility and freedom offered by tapping into a wide range of skills, so they choose a wider portfolio career, over a more traditional focused one.  At one time a portfolio career was considered to be higher risk than a corporate role. Today,  I’m not sure that is the case.  Portfolio careers suit disciplined, self motivated people with strong time management skills,  who have a variety of skills and interests,  as well as the drive to go out and market and monetize them. Portfolio careers are also generally associated with adept networkers and can be a great route to gaining experience in a new field, whilst maintaining a part-time role in a traditional job in line with a professional background. Many do just that.

Challenges
The real issue will be for the demographic which doesn’t voluntarily choose this more entrepreneurial style of career strategy.  Flexibility for companies is key, of course, but if organisations aren’t careful,  they can wind up searching for new talent in an alienated and demotivated workforce, which has struggled to gain skills in a wide range of unstructured and less professional environments. It also means a  quantum shift from lazy and uninsightful  “copy / paste” recruitment methodologies, sadly  relied upon by companies and some search consultants alike.