S-W-0-T your brand AND your target organization

A new post on the Netshare.com newsletter offers yet another strong suggestion to employ S-W-O-T analysis as a job search tool.  Since 2007, I have recommended this business analysis tool to my clients; now I am happy to suggest that clients check-out the S-W-O-T prompts posted by Katherine E. Simmons, President & CEO of Netshare.com.  Ms. Simmons offers some fresh prompts that can help with brand clarification, e.g.:

Strengths:

* What advantages do you have?  *What do you do better than anyone else?  *What unique or low-cost resources do you have to offer?  *What do others see as your strengths?  *How do you help close the sale or reduce overhead?

Weaknesses:

* What areas can you improve?  * What areas should you avoid?  * What do peers in your market see as weaknesses? *Where do you fail when trying to close a sale or reduce costs?

Recently,  I have recommend that candidates take the S-W-O-T analysis tool to the next level by applying it to their target companies.  In other words, use S-W-O-T as the framework for company research, e.g.:

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The whoopin’ in the Biz School back-room

A chain of posts through the Net Impact LinkedIn group led me to rant again about the disparity between the innovation that is taught in “better” business schools and the conformity that is foisted-upon new graduates.

Ivy League universities hire distinguished faculty to teach classes in “innovation;” these same professors rally around the need for change to compete in the global marketplace.  Yet as students approach graduation and complete their exams, theses, and dissertations, it seems they are ushered into the back room to have the creativity beaten out of them.  The Biz School back-room “whoopin” leaves new graduates wondering about their considerable investment of time, money, and faith.

Resumes must conform to a specific style to earn a place in the recruitment “book; ” cover letters may as well be automated, and networking is almost incestuous (maybe due to over-reliance on alumni).  I shouldn’t complain, as many students seek the services of experienced career professionals to flesh-out their personal brand and manage their job search campaigns.  (Look for CAN and other career strategists at the Sept. 17th PA Governor’s Conference for Women,  as well as several MBA Career Expos and the November Net Impact Conference.)

The NetImpact group discussion led me to a related post by Matt Madden, a Presidio School of Management student who is writing a book tentatively titled Status Quo Values. The purpose of this project is to explore status quo value systems – economic, political and social values – and discuss the role these values play in our society’s aversion to change.  The goal of the work is to define status quo values, discuss the historical roots of our institutional embrace of status quo values, examine the role our institutions play in promoting these values to individuals and investigate examples of institutions and individuals adhering to alternative value systems.  Sounds like a continuation of the dialog started by Robert Reich in his Fast Company issue, Your Job Is Change.  I’ll be looking for the book, Matt…

Close the Deal with Features & Benefits

I love it when people can tell stories that make a point – like Aesop's Fables…  My father was great at this – unfortunately, I'm not.  For this homily, let's borrow from Seth Godin and his "The Panhandler's Secret."

Seth's post is a simple story that reinforces a truism of sales training – talk features and benefits.  Career changers and job seekers are selling themselves – selling their unique value proposition – their brand. 

So be sure you know the features and benefits needed by your target organization – be sure what they need is in your "tool bag." 

Karen P. Katz

Marketing guru, Seth Godin: a new platform for “I am” and “I know” skills

Godin, blogger and thought leader among personal and permission marketers, has re-framed the thinking of Richard Bolles, author and esteemed guru of career and life coaches. 

I'm always looking for a topic that might add real value to the career space, so I was grateful to a friend who sent me Seth Godin's recent post, What are you good at?    Taking a marketing perspective, Seth appropriately suggests that those looking for their next big gig" should consider the distinction between skills that can be categorized as "content" and "process."

Godin uses 21st Century terminology to make his point:  "Content is domain knowledge. People you know or skills you've
developed… Domain knowledge is important, but it's (often) easily learnable."
  While Bolles' terms may not resonate with Millennials, his discussion of this topic is as relevant today as it was in 1980, when the Quick Job Hunting Map was first published.  Bolles describes skills residing in the content domain as "I know skills" ,e.g."I know how to use SAP, "I know financial accounting," "I know movers and shakers in the logistics field."

Godin  uses the term "process" to describe "emotional intelligence" – what Bolles would call "I am skills."  When explaining process skills, a speaker is likely to start a sentence with "I am able to manage multiple projects," "I am persuasive," "I am adaptable," etc.  These are the skills, abilities, and personal qualities that can differentiate a candidate from the many others who share their credentials and knowledge skills.  As Godin says, the process "…stuff is insanely valuable and hard to learn." And I agree that these personal qualities are likely to be overlooked by screeners and scanners. All the more reason to dig-deep and seize control of your personal marketing campaign – to manage your career.

An infinite number of people share the same content domain, but precious few offer the same mix of process skills and personal qualities. Long-term career health, preceded by successful assessment, preparation of marketing documents, interview preparation, and offer negotiation, is dependent upon your understanding of these ideas.

A New Strengths Assessment Tool from Gallup Press

Passing on news that that Gallup Press has released another title in its series of self-assessment books in collaboration with Tom Rath: Strengths Based Leadership.  The new title promises to build on the results of the Strengths Finder 2.0, which is itself an extension of the popular title, Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham.

Buckingham is a business guru whose perspective has always appealed to me, on several levels.  Like me, he was once a stutterer who found that his strength is actually his ability to communicate clearly and convincingly.  Secondly, he has been a proponent for an intuitive and healthy attitude about personal and professional development. I think he would endorse my self-description as a career strategist, not a counselor (illness) nor a coach (no fruits and nuts).  Marcus started a "Strengths Revolution," by asking what is most likely lead to the achievement of goals: building on your strengths or fixing your weaknesses?  

As a career professional, I totally embrace the emphasis on strengths assessment.  Many traditional psychological assessments leave the client and coach communicating through language that I call "psycho-babble." The Strengths Revolution encourages a coaching dialog that uses easy to understand terms; the terms relate to the business world, not to the theories of a psychologist.  (An earlier strengths-based tool was developed by Timothy Butler, & James Waldroop; it is still available through the Harvard Business School).

The new book seeks to build on research conducted over 10 years, focusing on what it takes to be a leader. Tom Rath has collaborated with Barry Conchie to identify  themes and provide  specific strategies that should help you to build a stronger team.  This post is not a book review, as I have only learned about the new release today. (Note that few reviewers have recommended the new book to those who have already taken the Strengths Finder 2.0; it is suggested as a substitute rather than an addition to the original assessment.)

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Thinking Outside The Box. What Box? – Guest Post

Thanks to Sanjay Doshi for this self-reflective and forward-thinking "guest post."  I think it says a lot about his evolution while working through his Acceleration Plan.  Please feel free to comment via this blog  (Career Acceleration Notes) or directly to Sanjay – sanjaydoshi@gmail.com.

When I was first laid
off in October, it took me over a week just to figure out what exactly
had happened.  Then, I mapped out a plan to help me organize my search
to determine the next step in my career.  The first step I took to
guide me?  Hiring a career counselor.  When I explained to her where I
was looking to go and what skills I had that would be attractive to my
target companies, she mentioned that I needed to start thinking outside
the box.  In my head, I thought 'What box?' 

I soon realized it meant
that in the process of one's active job search, employed or unemployed,
one should strive to cast a wider net to find their next opportunity
and look beyond the traditional job searching/networking methods.  In
one of the toughest economies the U.S. has seen in decades, taking a
fresh approach may pave the future.  After all, who doesn't want to be
the purple cow in a meadow of white and brown ones?  Here are a few of
things I've learned:

1. When it comes to networking, whether it be with family, friends,
or co-workers, focus on giving, not receiving.  When you do the first,
the latter will come in time.  Growing those relationships and
occupying a space in their minds can pay off in the long run.
2. While it's important to select your ideal job/career and spend most
of your efforts on getting there, take time to consider other fields. 
Tapping into segments of
certain industries that are growing (from my research, this includes
education, health care, oil/energy, social media) could be fruitful,
especially in a
contracting economy (at present, most segments of financial services,
pharmaceutical, retail, advertising and print media are
restructuring).  Leverage the industries you have experience in
and revisit them.  In my case, I consulted for a city government for
nearly 4 years and while I've been out of touch since 2004, I now bring
a broader skill set than before – more creativity supported by
analytical and strategic thinking.  I plan to reach out to a few of my
old colleagues and get a sense of how the landscape has changed,
network with people in other branches of the government and ultimately,
see if there is a match.  The very reasons I left could be the same
ones to return.

3. Remember it's about the companies' needs that you are trying to
fill, not yours.  Once you know that, you can position yourself
better.  Think about what their challenges are in the marketplace and
how you can perhaps provide solutions to them.
4. Consider volunteering.  After all, who can't use an extra pair of
hands?  Ideally, if you can find one that fits your interests, you can
not only make an impact on the community, but also gain credibility for
future interviews showing your commitment to making a specific career
transition.
5. Part time work can be beneficial.  Even a few days a week can help
keep your skills up to date, you get to meet people, stay active and
build your network.

Seeing
as how I'm still working on each of the strategies above, I'm slowly
crawling out of the proverbial box.  Actually, I probably have my left
hand and foot out.

posted by: SanjayDoshi@gmail.com

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