May CAREEReport: Trends To Take Seriously

job career report

Every month I craft a CAREEReport newsletter that breaks down the latest job news, tools of the trade, networking tips, and real stories and perspectives from real people in the workplace.

This month’s theme is “Trends To Take Seriously”, and because I truly believe these are issues that matter, I hope you’ll check it out.

Here’s a look at the headlines:

Job News: 5 Hiring Trends in 2016

Tools of the Trade: Is Less Actually More In Corporate Team Structure?

Career Networking: “People Haters” Need Networking, Too

Career Str8 Talk Blog: Is Poor Workplace Communication Wasting Your Time?

Job Lifeline: Is Phone Usage Hurting Leadership?

Let me know your thoughts on each topic, and share CAREEReport with your network and friends!

How To Identify Your Personal Brand & Write Your Branding Statement

personal branding

Image by samuiblue, via

Professionally, we all have different talents, challenges and value. But what we all have in common is an important personal challenge to figure out how to make a living while making a difference in our worlds. To do that, we need to understand and answer the “Why, How and What” in our careers.

Your Why is the belief, purpose and/or cause you live for.

Your How is what makes the way you work unique to you.

Your What is your specific career focus and experience.

Once you determine these, you’re on your way to understanding your brand. The next step is articulating it through a personal Branding Statement.

It’s imperative that you don’t just think about these concepts but actually take the time to write out your brand statements. Having clarity about your personal brand will help you make organizational change an opportunity for, rather than an obstacle to, your career growth.

But how do you get to a great brand statement? What does one look like? I’ll show you some great examples of branding statements below, but first there’s something I need to be clear about: A branding statement is NOT an achievement. Branding statements broadly promote what makes you unique, where your achievements prove your brand is true and real. Branding statements aren’t about a specific duty included as part of your job.

But achievements do support your branding statement. So in a way, you need to think through your achievements before you can fully craft your branding statement. I recommend starting by listing achievements from your life that you’re really proud of. Some should be work-related, but you should also include those achievements that show up outside the walls of work, such as in your social or family life. Remember that with personal branding, the magic comes from how you work to bring about results.

Tips on writing these achievement statements:

  1. Start with an action word.
  2. Be as specific as possible in stating the achievement.
  3. Focus on what you did to achieve rather than just the end result.

Poor Example: Understand how to research consumer segments.

Better Example: Conducted primary and secondary research with newborn parents coast-to-coast to identify unique insights that could be strategically linked to our product’s objectives.

Poor Example: Developed software.

Better Example: Collaborated with our company’s Market Research and Programmers to create a unique computer software product to sell to hospitals.

Poor Example: Experience in managing residential neighborhood construction.

Better Example: Hired and managed approximately 200 subcontractors and
vendors while completing a new $2M neighborhood development project.

Read more about personal branding and branding statements in my book, RINGMASTER.

Are You TOO Good At Your Job?

job goals, good at job

Image by Sira Anamwong, via

It’s one of the great ironies of work life: Sometimes you can be too good at your job, to the point where nobody else can ever picture you doing anything else.

That’s what happened to Cassie. She was hired by a big hospital to work in its department of nursing education. Her original job description was a general one; she wasn’t assigned to one particular task or project.Soon after she began working there though, she was asked to single-handedly redesign the hospital’s nursing orientation program.

Cassie was, naturally, quite excited by the opportunity. She saw it as a way to make her mark and really define her value to the organization. Cassie’s professional background as a nurse wasn’t the only reason she was an ideal candidate to oversee the nursing orientation program. She also possessed natural talents for planning and organizing, for developing effective courses of action, and for mentoring and helping others.

So at first this was a great step in Cassie’s career. She drew up an orientation program that was very well received by both the incoming nurses and the hospital administration, and she was regarded as a very good teacher. Cassie was so successful at implementing and teaching the program that she gave the four-day course once a month for more than five years. During that time, she was also asked to create and administrate a second, broader orientation program, one for all new hospital employees. Teaching this orientation took up one additional day per month, so between the two programs, Cassie was designating one whole week out of her work month to teaching.

Originally, creating and implementing these orientation programs gave Cassie energy; she thrived on planning and developing. But in the long term, when the creation and implementation phases were over, Cassie wasn’t a “maintenance” person. She didn’t enjoy teaching the same programs over and over again, month in and month out. Not only did the repetition drain her energy, but it consumed so much of her time that she wasn’t really able to keep her head up for other opportunities or areas of interest within the hospital.

Unfortunately, Cassie was at a point in her career where she didn’t possess the confidence to speak up for herself. Her employers, meanwhile, operated as if in a “pigeonhole culture.” They were typically reluctant to promote from within, believing that employees are well-placed where they already are. So when she was next asked to head the preceptor program – yet another orientation, this one focusing on the clinical side of nursing – she simply accepted.

While it was certainly flattering that Cassie’s employers regarded her as a guru of orientation, the repetition ultimately left Cassie unmotivated. Cassie remained responsible for these orientations for more than 10 years, even though they never provided her with lasting satisfaction. It took her just that long to finally get up the gumption to secure a transfer out of the department.

If Cassie’s story is all to familiar, I encourage you to read my book “From Cornered To Corner Office.” In it, I break down strategies and philosophies on how you can break out of being stuck in your career, ultimately reaching your professional goals.

What Are Your Job References REALLY Saying About You?

job reference

Image by nenetus, via

Check out the  startling statistic from this article:

“…half of the thousands of reference checks the firm manages, have ‘some form of employer negativity — typically from either former supervisors or Human Resources personnel.’ In Allison & Taylor’s words, ‘what you don’t know can — and almost surely will — prevent you from getting new employment at some future date.'”

The article goes on to say that these negative statements aren’t always intentional, but during a review references often inadvertently make a comment that hurts the job candidate.

So if you’re a job seeker, what are you supposed to do with this information?!

It definitely suggests that you need to make sure you are careful in selecting references, and then that you stay in touch with them! You need to have a good understanding of how they are honestly going to speak about your experience working together.

The article goes on to list 6 different things you should be thinking through in regards to your references:

  1. Know the risk of being unaware of a referral.
  2. Potential employers won’t tell you about a negative referral.
  3. Calling a confused reference convinces hiring managers you will be a bad employee.
  4. References can make up for gaps in your resume.
  5. Referrals make you a reliable resource.
  6. Referrals have additional benefits.

Check out the rest of the article for more insight on each of these six thoughts, and make sure you are seriously thinking through how YOU use references!


4 Steps To Better E-Communication

email communication mistakes

Image by Stuart Miles, via

My last post dealt with how poor communication in the workplace can be a total time waster.

This topic got me thinking deeper on communication and how it impacts our professional success.

This brought me back to a conclusion I often come to with my clients – you can’t just blame everyone else, but must also look inward.

What are you doing that is part of the communication problem? Do you have what it takes to make changes in yourself that will lead to achievement of your team and goals?

One tangible example of this is in how we email others in the workplace. This simple form of communication can determine our credibility with others and set our trajectory from day one on the job.

This Entrepreneur article does a great job of calling out 4 things you should stop and ask yourself about the way you use email in the workplace. It’s a great example of what I’m talking about – looking inward to make sure you communicate as effectively as possible.

And take it from me – this one look inward could pay big dividends outwardly later on. The person who knows how to communicate is often the person who is best set for success, be it a bigger responsibility, a promotion or a raise.

Here’s as sneak peek at the 4 things the article calls out:

  1. Am I credible?
  2. How else can I convey the message?
  3. What subject line will demand their attention?
  4. Why should they care?

Read the whole article for more insight into this important topic!


Is Poor Workplace Communication Wasting Your Time?

bad communication, workplace mistakes

Image by kanate, via

I hear so many professionals complain about “not having enough time” to do what they REALLY want to in their career or personal life.

The thing is, if they worked a little more intentionally on how they communicate, they would actually have more of that time back!

Yes, poor communication is a major driver of wasted time in the workplace. I recently read this Huffington Post article that breaks down 20 different ways bad communication wastes time, and I think it’s something everyone should read and be aware of!

Some of the ones that stood out to me:

#2 Failing to manage your inbox and file documents appropriately so that you’re forced to continually reshuffle what’s there to remind yourself what needs action when.

#4 Sending unclear, disorganized documents that cause readers to respond with questions rather than the expected action.

#6 Copying too many people (or the wrong people) on emails, wasting their time to read irrelevant messages and information.

#10 Conducting a meeting without key decision makers in the room, thereby making it necessary to have to conduct the meeting again later when the decision makers are present.

#18 Permitting turf wars to continue among factions, departments, and divisions that refuse to communicate and cooperate across functional lines.

#19 Sending duplicate messages in attempts to “get through” (that is, sending a text message, an email, and voicemail).

Read the whole list here and think hard about how you should change the way you communicate at work!


CAREEReport: Springing Forward

job career report

Spring is in the air, and my latest CAREEReport is all about springing forward in your career.

If you’re not familiar with it, CAREEReport is a monthly newsletter I publish that covers the latest job news, tools of the trade, networking and testimonials. You can sign up for the newsletter here.

Here’s a quick look at this month’s newsletter, which you can take a peek at here.

  1. Job News: America’s Most Promising Jobs in 2016
  2. Tools of the Trade: Will Unified Communication Change Your Organization?
  3. Career Networking: 10 Things To Never Do On LinkedIn
  4. Career Str8 Talk Blog: Real Talk About Being an Entrepreneur
  5. Job Lifeline: Can You Create Luck In Your Job?


5 Pieces of Bad Job Search Advice

job advice

Image by iosphere, via

I recently came across a Forbes article titled “The Five Worse Pieces of Job-Search Advice” that I found insightful and refreshing seeing how many people DO give bad advice out there!

Here are the 5 the article calls out:

  1. Stuff your resume with keywords to get through the applicant-tracking keyword-search algorithm.
  2. Don’t mention salary until you get a job offer.
  3. On a job interview, answer the questions in the standard, “acceptable” way.
  4. Whatever an employer asks you to do in the recruiting process, do it.
  5. Remember — employers have lots of talented job-seekers to choose from. You are just one among many, and nothing special! 

How many of these pieces of advice have you heard?!

I do have to say, though, that I don’t necessarily agree with #2.

If you have done your homework you should know what the market rate pays for this role. Your job is to focus on the unique value you can bring to them. If the company is known for not paying market rate (like many small companies), you can often uncover that info through networking.

So targeting the right companies becomes important. Think of it this way – haven’t you often bought something that went over your budget?  Why?  Because the perceived value was worth going over your budget.  It’s no different here. Your goal is for them to WANT YOU and be willing to pay whatever is necessary.

But still, the article is worth your time, and I hope you check it out for more insight!

13 Ways To Communicate More Effectively at Work

workplace communication, coworkers

Image by nenetus, via

I recently read an article by Billie Bowe talking about the book “How To Say It At Work” by Jack Griffin, citing 13 tips from the book that are still relevant today.

Upon looking at this list again, I was reminded how so many of these tips are intangible things – they aren’t literal things to say, but rather attitudes and ways to carry yourself when communicating.

This reinforces a crucial point in communication, specifically the importance of body language and tone, and how those things in and of themselves communicate to your managers, employees and coworkers.

Below is the list of 13 – which of these things stand out most to you?

  1. Make an effective entrance.
  2. Walk tall.
  3. Enter with a purpose.
  4. Smile.
  5. Make eye contact.
  6. Give a great handshake.
  7. Think before you sit.
  8. Convey relaxed energy.
  9. Use your head (and your face).
  10. Use your hands.
  11. Stick to the basics when speaking in public.
  12. Communicate with clothes.
  13. Learn to use your voice.

Read Billie Bowe’s take on each of these tips here, and let me know which ones stand out the most to you!

You’ve Invested In Employee Engagement But Nothing Worked. Now What?

employee engagement, manager

Image by bplanet, via


I recently read an article written by Paul Keijzer that posed a very interesting dilemma – one more companies experience than admit.

The article starts by telling the story of a software company CEO who did everything the books and experts said he needed to do to retain employee engagement – from investing in free lunches to providing ping pong tables – yet people kept leaving the company.

If this is you, what do you do next?

It’s definitely a hard question to answer. But what I like about the article is that Mr. Keijzer suggests that CEOs look more at relational connections between management and their teams vs. corporate perks that keep people around.

Specific points he makes:

  1. Employee engagement isn’t a one-way street.
  2. Employee engagement surveys alone aren’t the answer. (I agree with him that surveys still have a place when done correctly)
  3. Employees have to be aligned to company ideals.
  4. Finding meaning is important.
  5. Autonomy and mastery are essential.

Go deeper with this topic here, and let me know what kind of employee engagement tactics YOU have seen that kept you at an organization!

Tags: ,
Posted in HR Management by David Hults. No Comments