Business Growth & Management Articles
Stay ahead of the curve with insights from our CTL Associates.
By Wendy S. Enelow, CCM, MRW, JCTC, CPRWEnelow Enterprises, Inc.
As I sat down to write this article, I thought to myself, “How odd!” For years and years, I have struggled to better manage my time, but never felt as though I was very successful. I’m always juggling my time constantly sweating as I look at all the piles and papers scattered throughout my two offices, getting up earlier and earlier to get a jump on things, and telling my son to hold on one more minute. I haven’t had the feeling of being caught up in so very long that I’ve simply forgotten what it feels like. Sound familiar?
Although I ALWAYS finish everything by the deadline, I’m never early. Way back when, as an undergraduate in college, I was always one of those students who had everything done early. If I had a paper to write that was due in March, I wrote it in February. If I had six books to read for a literature class by the end of the semester, I was finished halfway through the term. Whatever happened to that girl? I certainly can’t find her anymore!
I now live by the “Manage By Deadline” style. What is due today? Tomorrow? Who have I promised to call? When’s the next book deadline? Will my paper supply last one more day? If I leave for my son’s appointment by 11 am, can I make it by 11:15? I think so, as long as I don’t hit any traffic lights! The pace will knock you down if you’re not careful.
It dawned on me just the other day. I DO have a system for managing my time. I DO know how to prioritize. I DO meet all of my obligations. How do I know this?
So, I’ve given myself a good hearty pat on the back for my ability to manage my time, yet I still sometimes wonder how. I’m sure that many of you feel the exact same way and can’t even find time to take a breath, yet alone get it all done. To help you better manage your time, projects, clients obligations, personal obligations and more, I’d like to share with you some of the strategies I’ve learned to use that have helped me juggle it all more effectively.
Time Management Strategy #1 – Make Lists
I make lists for everything. There’s my “major projects” list and my “get it done today” list. There’s a list of new ideas, a lengthy list of “got to remember for the conference” and a “voice mail message” list that I’m constantly updating. There are lists for errands, office supplies, administrative projects to be done and a few hundred others (or so it seems). I write it down because I’m never sure I’ll remember it a moment later. Bear in mind, however, that my notes are scraps of paper everywhere with no organized system. That would be ideal if you’re disciplined. I’ve never been able to take it any further than the scraps of paper.
However, the REAL reason I write it all down is simply so I can cross it off. I just love that! What a feeling of satisfaction and completion. In jobs like we have, where it’s NEVER all done, having that sense of completion is vital to keep us all moving forward.
Time Management Strategy #2 – Clear Away The Clutter & ORGANIZE
I had a great experience recently. With the help of my assistant, we went crazy cleaning and organizing my offices. Most important, we threw things away. Yes, I was bold. I figured if I haven’t read it, used it, touched it or followed up on it in years, chances were I wasn’t ever going to!
I cleaned out ALL (well, almost all) of my files. Was it really necessary to have bank statements from 1995 in a file cabinet? What about old client files I hadn’t touched in years or printing receipts from my company brochure from 4 years ago? Maybe, just maybe, I could put them in a storage box. My file cabinets sighed with relief and I could actually close some of the drawers!
This was a tremendously rewarding process when it was finished. My “clutter factor” has gone from 100% to about 25% and I am so relieved. I don’t know how long it will last, but it was well worth the time. I recommend that you give it a try and you’ll feel so much better. It’s absolutely cathartic! But, be sure to get someone to help you for it will make the process faster and more fun. I never would have done it alone.
Time Management Strategy #3 – Remove Your Obstacles & Take Control of Your Schedule
Before you begin to organize your time, you must figure out what’s standing in your way. When you’re struggling to control your time, it seems as though either something is wrong with you or that “out of control” is simply the way of the world.
Well, you can take control. Here are just a few tips:
Time Management Strategy #4 – Don’t Do It All Yourself
You are only one person and, no matter what you may think, you can only accomplish so much. Be wise and use help when appropriate, whether it be to organize your office, manage your accounting functions, manage your client database, proofread all your resumes, or coordinate your marketing and PR functions. If you have other people who work for you or with you, great. If not, consider who you can get to help you with specific tasks and responsibilities. It’s doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Begin by making a list of the tasks you can get rid of and that someone else can competently manage. Then go get that person and delegate that assignment. Be sure to follow up that everything is being done the way you want, but “let it go” and move onto tasks that only YOU can manage.
Time Management Strategy #5 – Lighten Up On Yourself
Don’t beat yourself up! It took me years and years to be able to walk away from my desk, piled high with notes, messages, files and more, and not feel as though I was cheating. The reality is, that for many of us, we will NEVER get it all done. Learn to live with it, learn to juggle it and don’t feel bad about it. Once you stop feeling guilty and lift that weight from your shoulders, you’ll find much great satisfaction, not to mention the extra time you’ll have to actually get something done.
Time Management Strategy #6 – It’s All In Your Head
Be sure that your “out of control” feeling is indeed a reality and not a psychological phenomenon. Sometimes you can sabotage your own success and your best efforts to control your time. Have you ever considered that you’re afraid of downtime – those quiet moments when you feel overwhelmed by everything you haven’t done? Or, do you fear failure and find it easier to just keep going forward at a frenzied pace rather than look at what is actually going on? Maybe you’re a perfectionist who puts every ounce of energy into every task instead of learning to discriminate and allocate your time? Some tasks are indeed worth your finest effort; some just need to be done.
Identifying, and then eliminating, what may be psychologically holding you back can be a tremendous springboard forward to your success.
If I come back to the central question of will I ever feel a sense of being on top of things and totally caught up, the answer is probably not. And, unfortunately, you may also find yourself in that situation. However, if we can all learn to dedicate some of our energies to better organizing and managing our time and resources, we will find satisfaction and experience a sense of completion. For me, that’s a tremendous motivator. Hopefully it will be for you as well.
By Wendy S. Enelow, CCM, MRW, JCTC, CPRWEnelow Enterprises, Inc.
Fifteen years ago, working as a consultant was considered an unusual career choice. There were few consulting firms and even fewer individual practitioners. Instead, professionals preferred the stability of corporate employment, with its fringe benefits, so-called “job security” and promotions.
Now corporate life is different: With limited opportunities to advance and little if any stability at large companies, consulting has emerged as a viable alternative to traditional career paths. Unlike permanent executives, consultants create their own employment opportunities by selling their services to multiple clients.
Corporations love this trend since it allows them to hire experts on a contractual basis instead of incurring the costs associated with recruiting full-time employees and paying compensation and benefits. Companies can pay a fee to receive highly specialized functions, knowledge or operating support only as long as they need it. As long as companies aren’t locked into long-term commitments and consultants enjoy brisk demand, it’s a quick deal benefiting both parties.
The prospect sounds great: Hang out your shingle and go to work for yourself (or so some professionals think). Unfortunately, many overlook a factor that’s vital to long-term success — a marketing plan.
With consulting practices now numbering in the tens of thousands, you’ll hardly be the only one trying to capitalize on experience in your chosen niche. Developing a reputation as an expert in your field will help.
“Consulting is all about positioning yourself as an expert. If you can demonstrate that you have the knowledge and expertise that your clients need, and powerfully communicate that information, you will consistently outperform your competition,” says Betsy Gooding, president of Practice Advantage, a Charleston-based consulting firm specializing in health care management.
Pitching Your Services
The issue now becomes whether you understand how to market your practice in the face of increasing competition.
“My area of consulting expertise – life coaching – was virtually unknown several years ago. Today, the ‘industry’ of coaching is expanding at a phenomenal rate. Being talented and offering a consistently superior service is, of course, essential. However, it is just as critical that you be able to market yourself, establish your credibility and build your reputation,” says Laurie Szczutkowski, a business and personal success coach working from her headquarters in Central Virginia.
Market visibility and a unique message are key says Ms. Szczutkowski who takes every opportunity available to speak before professional audiences, publish articles and engage in other “image-building” activities to distinguish herself from the competition.
“With so many Internet companies vying for everyone’s business, I had to find a way to distinguish my design firm from the others,” says Kevin Skarritt, co-founder and vice-president of AcornCreative.com, a California-based technology consulting group. “Through my research, it became immediately apparent that my potential customers wanted more than simply a web page designer; they needed a new media expert. So, to meet the needs of the narrow niche market I had identified, I created a team of Internet technology and design professionals that could meet the diverse needs of my clients. Then, I designed a portfolio of print and electronic marketing communications to promote our unique services.”
“With so many Internet companies vying for everyone’s business, I was puzzled as to what I could do to distinguish my consulting firm,” says Kevin Skarritt, co-founder and vice-president of AcornCreative.com, a California-based technology consulting group. “Through my research, it became immediately apparent that my potential customers wanted more than simply a web page designer; they wanted a technology expert. So, to meet the needs of the niche market I had identified, I created a team of Internet and technology professionals available to meet all the diverse technology needs of my clients. Then, I designed a portfolio of print and electronic marketing communications to ’sell’ my service to my niche.”
Indeed, every consultant must be a keen marketing strategist, able to parlay chance opportunities into consulting assignments. Consulting engagements won’t knock at your door. You’ll need to plan a strategy to position yourself and increase your visibility in your niche market.
“Marketing has made the difference between a mediocre attempt at consulting and a really successful venture. By using all the resources at my disposal – print brochures, email communications, website marketing and personal networking – I have built a firm with an excellent reputation and impressive list of clients,” says Mike Florimbi, president of Florimbi Partners International, a Dallas-based consulting firm specializing in international development for U.S. corporations.
But which marketing tool is best for you? Should you develop a resume, brochure, flier, print-ad campaign or other promotional material? What about the value of a website in today’s rapidly-emerging e-commerce marketplace?
Unfortunately, there’s no single answer. Your choice will depend on the market you’re trying to penetrate and how much you’re willing to spend.
For instance, whether you choose a full-color brochure, black-and-white trifled brochure, one-page promotional flier, resume or full-scale website depends on your initial budget. Multicolor, multi-page brochures cost thousands of dollars. Webster can run in the hundreds, even thousands of dollars as well. Instead, you might select a one-page flier that’s well-presented and visually attractive, yet at a fraction of the cost.
Either way, it’s best to have your print and electronic marketing materials professionally prepared, experts say.
Regardless which promotional vehicle you pick, it should:
Where To Get Business
Also remember that you can’t deliver your services until you’ve developed a client base. To generate a list, use the following resources:
Marketing Rules To Live By
Once you open for business, never forget the basics:
The professional world of consulting offers so very many unique opportunities for success. If you have the “entrepreneurial” fortitude to launch such an effort, the determination to stick with it (even if tough times), the marketing savvy to promote it and confidence in your professional skills, you will succeed!
Selecting the appropriate form and structure for your business is critical. If you are to survive and thrive in our industry, which is as competitive as any other, part of your success will depend on the type of business entity you have formed and both the tax and non-tax implications of that decision. This article outlines the various business entities and key elements you should consider.
MANAGEMENT & ADMINISTRATION
TRANSFERABILITY OF INTERESTS
CONTINUITY OF LIFE
NOTE: Pass-through entities are NOT subject to income tax at the entity level. Rather, the owner or owners report items of income or loss on their individual income tax returns, resulting in a single level of taxation.
COMPENSATION & PAYROLL TAXES
If you’re still uncertain as to which type of business entity is best for you – based on your particular tax and non-tax considerations – it is advised that you contact a CPA who can offer personalized advice and guidance.
After you’ve read the article and understand its value to you as a sales and marketing piece, all you have to do to make it a useable tool for you and your business is to:
Why past clients? They may still be in transition, or in transition AGAIN, and in need of an experienced career counselor. What’s more, these individuals already value you and will be receptive to new services you are offering. And, don’t forget, past clients are your single best source for new client referrals.
Why present clients? These clients are already in some form of career transition and will find immediate value in your coaching services. These are the clients you can service TODAY!
Why prospective clients? Prospects tend to shop various career service organizations to research their services and fees. When they realize that you offer a wealth of job search and coaching services, you’ve immediately positioned yourself as a single-source solution to ALL of their needs. What’s more, you will virtually eliminate your competition!
So, as you can see, using this sales material is quick and easy! Further, I guarantee that once your clients have reviewed this information, it will be abundantly clear to them how critical coaching services are to their job search. And, in turn, you’ll see an immediate (and, hopefully) dramatic increase in your coaching revenues.
Note that this document was written specifically to sell coaching services as they relate to job search and career marketing. It would NOT be appropriate, without extensive editing, to use for marketing other types of coaching programs (e.g., life coaching, executive coaching, salary training).
Click here to download the article as a Microsoft Word document.
CAN CAREER COACHING SERVICES BENEFIT YOUR CAREER?
Published by (FILL IN YOUR NAME & NAME OF YOUR COMPANY)
One of the most recent developments in the job search industry is the evolution of the career coach as an essential component for any top-level job search campaign. We hear about coaches in the media, read about them in resume books, and even see them on Oprah! Five years ago, coaching was a virtually unknown profession. Today, it is evolving at a phenomenal rate.
Are you taking advantage of this new trend?
Do you know what a career coach is?
Could you benefit from the expertise of one?
By definition, a career coach is a trained professional (usually someone in the counseling and/or professional job search industry) who will guide you through the complexities of skills assessment, job search planning, campaign development, career marketing and long-term career management. To determine the value a career coach would bring to you, go through the following checklist of information, answering Yes or No to each question.
Career Assessment & Focus
Your career coach will assist you in identifying and assessing your qualifications, job preferences, likes and dislikes, immediate objectives and long-term goals. Your coach will help you evaluate your worth in the employment market and your value within specific industries.
Career Change & Transition
Your coach will guide you in identifying and evaluating all of your possibilities and provide you with critical market intelligence to formulate your job search action plan.
Personal & Family Issues
Your coach can be your sounding board, helping you determine how to evaluate and prioritize these issues in relation to your search, how to best overcome obstacles standing in your way and how to best position those issues to your advantage.
Career Marketing & Job Search Management
Your career coach can help you critically evaluate each and every available job search strategy, its value to your search, the risk/reward ratio of each and how to best integrate each program into your campaign.
Interview Skills & Salary Negotiations
Your career coach will help you develop and refine powerful interviewing skills, pushing you to perform at your best, communicate your value and earn a compensation package well beyond your original expectations.
If you know that your references may be divulging information that could be construed as negative, let your career coach teach you how to best overcome these situations.If you can answer “YES” to most of the questions and are confident in your ability to manage your job search, then you are reasonably well-prepared to move forward on your own. However, if you still feel the need for the expertise, insights and support of a career coach, don’t hesitate for one minute. These trained professionals can make a huge difference in the speed and success of your job search. If you answered “NO” to more than just 3-4 of the questions above, I would strongly urge you consider the value a career coach could bring to your job search, career performance and compensation. With years of training and experience, career coaches know what works and what doesn’t work, how to optimize your results, and how to help you land your ideal position. With your career coach at your side, you can move forward confidently and successfully.
What exactly does “Owning The Customer Relationship” mean? Simply put, it means that your customers are YOUR customers and they’re not going anywhere else. Whether deliberately or not, you’ve managed to build rapport, establish trust and capture that client. You now “OWN” that relationship and it’s yours to keep forever. Here’s how you can achieve that:
Customer Service Is More Than Delivering Service
Sometimes we’re so involved in delivering our services that “business administration” may drift to the back burner. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! Remind yourself of the little things that are so very critical to establishing and maintaining your reputation.
These items barely scratch the surface of what’s involved in managing a quality-driven service business. If you are up to the challenge and able to establish a reputation for consistently superior service, you’ll reap the benefits:
Your name will become synonymous with high-quality service and excellence.
You can gradually increase your prices (and your profits) to keep pace with the demand.
You’ll position yourself as a leader within our industry and a mentor to your colleagues.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of all will be the constant stream of referrals you will receive. Happy clients refer other clients who then refer others. If you are diligent, determined and consistent, your business and client base will grow without having to invest big bucks in advertising and marketing. Your clients will sell for you. All you’ll need to do is continue to provide the same level of expertise that has gotten you this far.
For the past 30 years, I’ve been self-employed as an executive resume writer and career coach. Through those experiences, I gained a tremendous amount of information about what executive clients want/need in a resume writer and coach, and that’s the information I’m going to share with you in this article.
Executive clients want to work with a career professional who understands what they do – their industry and their profession. This is particularly critical during the sales process when you are “competing” against other resume writers, coaches, counselors, outplacement companies, etc. to get a new client’s business.
During the sales process, you MUST communicate your knowledge of the client’s industry and profession. This accomplishes two things: (1) the client feels comfortable with you and believes that they’ve found the “right” person to help them; and (2) it gives you a tremendously competitive advantage in closing the sale. You can almost “hear” the client’s thought process … “This person not only appears to be a very well-qualified career coach but, JUST AS IMPORTANT, he/she also knows all about logistics, distribution and supply chain management!” You’ve just won that client to be sure.
How do you so quickly communicate that information? It’s easy. All you need to do is ask the “right” questions and use the “right” keywords. Inevitably, one of the first questions you will have asked a new client is what they currently do for a living. I always ask … “Are you a sales guy, an IT guy, a general management guy …?” Once I have that information, then I’m ready to go. Here’s a good example:
Suppose you’re a resume writer and you’re speaking to a Vice President of International Finance for a leading global corporation. As you’re explaining your services and how you work, you’ll throw in comments and questions such as … “The kinds of things I’ll want to know from you will relate to your experience and accomplishments in foreign exchange, foreign currency hedging, foreign government financing, global banking, joint ventures and M&A transactions.” If you say this to a prospective client, you’ve instantly connected yourself and your expertise to that client. I GUARANTEE they’ll be so impressed they can’t pay you fast enough!
Also, be sure to use acronyms such as M&A (versus mergers and acquisitions) to further entrench yourself into the profession. I might have also asked the above client … “Have you ever been involved in an IPO transaction, led VC road shows or participated in an ESOP?” (IPO = Initial Public Offering; VC = Venture Capital, ESOP = Employee Stock Ownership Plan)
Executive clients want the price to be reasonable. Reasonable is a pretty vague concept, but consider the following. One of the most important elements in setting your pricing structure is your competition. If you’re in a small town, hundreds of miles from a major city and all of your competitors are charging $250 a resume, you’re certainly not going to charge $2500. On the other hand, if you’re in a major metropolitan area and the average resume price is $500 a resume, you’re certainly not going to charge $50 (I hope!).
The strategy here is that you DO NOT want to be the cheapest. Most executives are NOT looking for the cheapest; they’re looking for the “best” at a reasonable price. If you’re the cheapest, the customer-perceived value of your product will be less. Conversely, you may not want to be the most expensive either. I always recommend setting your pricing right up at the top, just a notch or two below the most expensive.
Executive clients want the process to be easy and efficient. You want to create a “process” for doing business that is easy for both you and your clients. In years past, if I was speaking to a client for the very first time and they were anxious to move forward, I asked for a credit card number and proceeded immediately. If I had told that client that I’d have to send an agreement, worksheets, credit card authorization, etc., before we could get started, chances are likely I might have missed that opportunity. Perhaps the client would have changed his/her mind, decided to call a few other career companies and shop around, or whatever. My motto is … “Hit while the iron is hot! “
IMPORTANT: I would, of course, have my clients complete the appropriate documentation immediately after our conversation. I just wasn’t going to let them go while I had them “hooked.”
You must then continue to work in the same efficient manner. No matter the specific type of career service(s) you are offering, if you are able to create a seamless process where the client is able to move from step to step with virtually no interference, then you will have succeeded. Set deadlines and stick to them, keep the flow of paperwork to a minimum, and attempt to eliminate much of the administrative detail that can both bog you and your clients down.
Executive clients want you to be their “job search captain” and guide them through the process at a strong and steady pace. Most often, executives want you to lead them through the process, whether that process be resume writing, coaching, counseling, outplacement, or any other type of career development or management effort. They know that they’re great at their jobs. Now, they expect you to be great at yours and they’re happy to follow your advice and your lead.
In turn, you must exude confidence and knowledge in all of your communications with them. You must be decisive and direct with specific recommendations for action. These guys aren’t messing around! Tell them what to do and they will do it. Let them perceive you as a strong, yet compassionate career ally.
Executive clients are a wonderful market niche, but not the only niche. Find a targeted clientele that you’re comfortable working with and then apply the above principles. They will work well with any client population.
By Louise Kursmark, MRW, CPRW, CEIP, JCTC, CCMBest Impression Career Services
Just last week, I experienced the complete spectrum of client experiences with regard to resume review and revision. Client A was thrilled with the draft, made literally no changes, and spent perhaps five minutes in post-draft conversation with me before immediately putting his new resume to work. Client B also said he was very pleased with his resume but wanted to “work through a few tweaks.” He faxed me a heavily marked-up draft and then spent an hour on the phone reviewing and explaining his changes. We went through that same process twice more – each time getting shorter, thank goodness! – before he professed himself 100% satisfied and ready for the final documents.
The extreme contrast between these two clients made me think about my business processes. What made the difference between Client A and Client B? What could I have done to streamline Client B’s review? What should I do differently in future to avoid a similar scenario? Here’s what I learned and appreciated from this experience.
Embrace the Balance
I noticed I never question myself when I have a run of Client A scenarios! It’s only when the occasional Client B comes along that I worry I might be doing something wrong. Yet in the big picture, there are far more speedy resume revisions than protracted ones. As a rule, they balance each other out. So it makes sense to take the occasional lengthy process in stride and realize it all comes out in the wash. Just reminding myself of this truth improves my tranquility.
Understand Client Types
My Client B is a high-level executive who works in the esoteric world of leveraged finance. His close attention to details enabled him to become very successful in an extremely fast-paced and competitive arena. He applied this same laser-like focus to his resume. No detail was too small to be examined, discussed, and then decided upon. In fact, I realized as we worked and reworked the document, if he hadn’t gone through such an extensive review process, he wouldn’t have felt good about the resume!
I could discern my client’s style from the get-go, when he sent me a nine-page resume that he had laboriously worked down to six pages. I was prepared for him to be detail oriented, highly technical, and verbose. Mentally preparing myself for that kind of client and a lengthier than normal interaction is a good first step in overcoming my natural impatience for a lengthy review process.
Focus on the Work
As writers, most of us take pride in our professional skills, and we put so much of ourselves into our work that it’s hard not to take it personally when clients critique our efforts. But making the matter personal won’t help you draw it to a successful close. Try to keep your feelings out of the issue, focus on the work itself, and never fall so in love with a phrase, sentence, or paragraph that you can’t see other possibilities.
Fortunately for me, Client B is extremely charming and easy to work with (it just takes a while!). He never made me feel that I hadn’t done a good job. In fact, he was very complimentary about the strategy, writing, and editing that had brought his six-page resume down to two. Both he and I put all our attention on making sure the resume was as perfect as it could be, and as a result the review process was always pleasant and productive.
Go Back to the Beginning
Whenever there is lengthy editing to a document, there is a danger that the initial focus will be lost, or repeated edits will change the meaning of a sentence or a section. For every resume project, but especially when we have gone through lengthy and/or numerous review cycles, I like to look at it with fresh eyes before finalizing the next draft. For me it’s extremely helpful to review my interview notes, reread the client’s paperwork, and refresh my memory about current objectives. Then I read the entire resume top-to-bottom, with those objectives clearly in my head, and can make sure the document supports the client’s goals.
If you’re having trouble with repeated client revisions, you might need to spend a few minutes with your client discussing her goals as stated at the beginning of your interaction. Describe how you crafted the resume to align with those goals, and point out any changes she is requesting that conflict with the goals. You might gently remind your client that she can’t be “all things to all people” but that the resume you created does position her for her stated goals.
If nothing else, your “back-to-the-beginning” review will reassure you that you are on the right track and the edited version will indeed support the client’s goals.
In a protracted review process, it is very helpful for you to be extremely efficient in getting subsequent drafts to your client. The minute you get off the phone or receive a marked-up copy, get to work, polish the next daft, and send it to your client. You want to position yourself as highly responsive and eager for your client to move on with his career transition. The fewer the delays, the fewer reasons the client will have for prolonging the process. In fact, he will probably be very appreciative of your efforts and do his part to keep the process moving as well.
Be Honest With Yourself
We all experience the occasional long client review cycle. But if the majority of your client reviews are multi-step, protracted, even painful processes, it would be a good idea to take a critical look at your work and perhaps get an outside opinion as well. Perhaps you need to improve your strategic thinking skills, your resume formatting and design capabilities, your basic writing and grammar skills, or learn some new strategies for positioning and presenting your clients.
Ongoing training keeps our skills sharp and gives us confidence that our work is of a high-quality and professional caliber. At the least, consider partnering with another writer to share ideas, ask questions, discuss industry trends, and keep each other refreshed and up to date.
Select Clients Carefully
If you know that certain kinds of clients – whether representing a certain personality type, job function, or industry – repeatedly give you headaches, practice saying “no” and referring them to other writers. Everyone will be much happier!
But don’t be afraid to stretch from time to time. I find that it is the most challenging clients who drive me to do my very best work. I am on my mettle, more determined than ever to produce a great product. There is great value in going deeper into the process, admitting new ideas, and being forced to explain what I did and why. And in the end, it is usually those same challenging clients who become my very best referral sources!
Ultimately, Client B is happy. Client A is happy. And I’m satisfied that I did good work for two very different clients. So I guess you could say it was a good week!
By Wendy S. Enelow, CCM, MRW, JCTC, CPRW
Enelow Enterprises, Inc.
When people walk into my office, they’re always surprised (and sometimes, horrified!). For some reason, everyone thinks my office will be neat, clean, and well-organized. Well, that’s hardly the case! I live in a world of piles on the floor all around me, Post-It notes and scraps of paper everywhere, two large paper recycling bins that are always overflowing, and other miscellaneous items strewn everywhere. Yet, I know where everything is and the system works perfectly for me!
Managing your job search is just like managing any other project and business. You must create an administrative infrastructure that will allow you to operate efficiently, productively, and with some order to it all. Helter skelter doesn’t work for anything you do, and particularly not your job search.
Following are some strategies you might consider as you create a system to manage the flow of contacts, resumes, follow-ups, interviews, and more that you’ll need to “administer” throughout your search campaign.
Technology is NOT the answer to everything, albeit an essential and tremendously valuable tool in your job search. In fact, conducting a job search without technology is virtually impossible in today’s virtual market. However, not everything has to be automated. One big joke between one of my techie buddies and me is my old-fashioned Rolodex that sits proudly on my desk. He hates it! I love it! Takes me two seconds to find a phone number. Instead, he wants to automate it, so every time I want to look up a number, I have to go to my PC, click on whatever program, type in the name and two minutes (NOT seconds) later I’ll have the phone number. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem too efficient to me!
Create two working spaces within the same room. I use two desks – one’s my PC desk for all my writing, email, Internet research, etc. The other desk is where I talk on the phone, write notes, keep important files and do administrative tasks. The desks are side-by-side, so I can easily reach from one to the other, but they are separate and distinct workstations. It allows me to keep all the “stuff” I need to do on my PC separate from the “stuff” I need to do at my desk. Each desk has a priority pile of items that must be addressed immediately (along with lots of other to-do piles that are not as time-sensitive).
Establish a schedule. Here’s what works for me. I write early in the mornings and handle whatever projects I have in the works. I then save the afternoons for phone calls and administrative tasks. I know other people who do the exact opposite and it works great for them. It is so difficult to be sitting at your PC, trying to write a cover letter and email a resume in response to a ChiefMonster job posting, when you promised three people you’d follow-up first thing in the morning or scheduled an appointment with your career coach for 9 am. Attempt to set aside quiet times each day to attend to whatever writing tasks you may have. I guarantee that your productivity will increase dramatically. However, remember that flexibility is vital. If you’ve established 3 pm-5 pm as your designated writing time, yet you’re invited for an interview at 4 pm, I recommend you accept the invitation!
Prioritize your incoming email into three categories. I receive a great deal of email, probably an average of 75-100 messages each day. Each time I receive my incoming email, I go through it in three steps. First, I immediately delete all the unsolicited emails and Viagra advertisements(!), I then respond to those messages that will take under a minute or two to handle, and then work my way through the balance that require more than a quick thought. I figure for every 25 messages I receive, I handle better than 70% of them within less than 10 minutes.
Touch it only once. Whether we’re talking about each day’s snail mail, your email, or folders on your desk, do something with it NOW and be done with it. When the mail arrives each day, I immediately sort it, throw useless information into the recycling bin, put bills in the “to pay” folder, and put everything else into its respective place or to-do pile. The less frequently you touch each piece of paper, or the less time you procrastinate about something you don’t want to complete but will only take 30 minutes, the more efficiently you will be managing your entire campaign.
You probably have already developed some job search management strategies that work best for you. Try integrating some of the above into what you’ve already created and you’ll find that your search campaign will proceed even more efficiently. And, the faster you move forward, the faster and easier you’ll find your next opportunity.
By Anna Pitts
Giving presentations is like marmite -- you either love it or you hate it. Here are some tips from the Graduate Recruitment Bureau (http://www.grb.uk.com) on how to wow your audience when presenting.
1) Lively delivery. Be excited about what you are presenting to get your audience enthusiastic about it too. There is nothing worse than looking out at a yawning audience, so don’t give them an opportunity to not be engaged by you and your work.
2) Maintain eye contact. Just like in an interview, your body language is crucial. Maintain eye contact with different audience members; don’t stare down at your notes or look at the slide show.
3) Be comfortable. All eyes are going to be on you so it is important that you feel respectable and comfortable. Wear clothes that are appropriate; smart for the business setting but not a restricting tie or tottering heels. If you look confident, you will feel confident.
4) Pace. Obviously with presentations your audience needs to understand you, which isn’t going to happen if you gabble on unintelligibly. Talk with a clear, strong voice at a calm pace so you are easy to follow.
5) Act. It doesn’t matter if inside you are a quivering, nervous wreck -- as long as you have a calm, collected exterior! Act confident and you will be confident meaning you can deliver a flawless presentation.
6) Don’t overload slides. Presentations are visual so the information you present needs to be digestible and appealing. Put images on slides for entertainment and informative value and keep to no more than six lines of text per slide. Use bullet points rather than long sentences, and set them to appear as you discuss them to keep the focus on the current topic.
7) Audience participation. It might not always be appropriate to give your audience a ‘task’ to do, especially if you are pitching to the top dogs. But audience interaction is a large part of a successful presentation, even if it just giving them some points to think about or a simple ‘show of hands’ question.
8) Practise, practise, practise. Being unprepared is not an ingredient in the perfect presentation recipe. Sure, sometimes you can put on an amazing performance completely on the spot, but for important meetings it isn’t recommended. Practise and prepare thoroughly for your presentation so you know exactly what you are doing and are able to answer the questions they will throw at you at the end.
9) Handouts. A thoughtful touch for presentations is to come prepared with handouts for your audience. Create a summary sheet of the information you cover; ideally include screen shots of the slides in more detail to include any key points. Distribute them to your audience at the end.
10) Conclude and offer question time. At the end of your presentation make sure you wrap up the key points and finish with the classic ‘Any questions?’ Allowing your audience the chance to ask you more specific details is professional and the final step for the perfect presentation.
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