Wednesday, December 20, 2006

How Will You Make 2007 Better Than 2006?

It's almost year-end and time to think about your goals for the New Year. Before you plan ahead, why not spend a few moments to look back on 2006.

As you look back on 2006, how would you rate your professional accomplishments?
  • What were the high-lights? As strange as it may seem, it’s important to take note of things that you did well. Don’t be shy – write them down! Why? Because these descriptions can come in handy later (in a performance discussion with your manager, or in an interview with a recruiter).
  • What were the low-lights? It’s just as important to keep track of the things that didn’t go quite as well as you would’ve hoped. Why? Having a clear sense of what areas you’d to like improve can help you focus and channel your energies.

Based on your reflection, what professional goals will you set for 2007?

When you get back from the holidays, we'll be ready to help you start the year STRONG!

Sign up for our newsletter (box to your right) so you can get registration details for my two-part January teleclass series: Work & Money -- The Real Connection in collaboration with Jacquette Timmons & Sterling Investment Management.

Until then, I wish you every happiness this Holiday Season and prosperity in the New Year. I look forward to helping you achieve your goals in 2007!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Can Video Help You Land Your Next Job?

SONY Pictures recently announced the Grand Prize winners of "PURSUE IT" - The Ultimate Internship Contest on its website. Applicants were asked to submit videos of 5 minutes or less, which share their personal motto (or words to live by) and demonstrate how it makes them uniquely qualified for their chosen company.

Sound familiar? Remember Aleksey Vayner's video to UBS?

We've talked before about the pros and cons of electronic portfolios as a job search strategy in general, and his in particular. In this case, 7 lucky winners have earned internships with companies such as Gap Inc., NBC and Yahoo! One winner will even work at Morgan Stanley, which challenges my earlier premise that investment banking firms wouldn't see videos as a viable job search technique.

Of course, these video submissions focus on the applicants' personal philosophies, giving them a chance to articulate how their philosophy gives them a competent advantage over their peers -- which is what you want to do with any of the tools in your career portfolio. I'm sure this won't be the last time we see videos as a search technique.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! What would you say?

How Will You Spend Your Bonus?

They're predicting another "banner year" on Wall Street for bonuses -- up 20% to 25% from 2005. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, it's important to maximize your earnings.

Tune into the Competent Advantage TM Gcast channel for a podcast with tips on reducing your debt and increasing your savings to improve your lifestyle.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thanksgiving Greetings & Year-End Preview

Here's wishing you a wonderful start to the holiday season!

When you get back from the Thanksgiving holiday, we'll be ready to help you end the year strong!

Stay tuned for our year-end podcasts including:

  • Financial Tips to Manage Your Year-End Bonus
  • Practical Hints to Master the Holiday Party Circuit

Sign up for our newsletter (box on right side of this site) to get registration details for our January 2007 teleclasses:

  • Not Satisfied with Your Bonus, Now What?
  • Build on Your Strengths: Get in the 2007 Bonus Pool

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

What's Your Competent Advantage Score?

It's November and we're committed to helping you hit the ground running in 2007! We've created a NEW Competent Advantage TM self-assessment to help you measure your career portability. The tool is based on the concepts we discuss in our workshops and advisory sessions.

In general, assessments can help you track progress towards your goals and make wiser decisions. The Competent Advantage TM self-assessment will help you:
  • determine how you're progressing towards your ultimate career goals and
  • make informed, competent decisions about activities and skills to keep moving forward
Take the assessment and let us know how you score!

Visit the Resources page of our website to get the self-assessment, access the career goals survey and download other tip sheets from the Competent Advantage TM program.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

On Halloween, it's OK to "Do it Scared!"

In our last post, we reviewed tips to help you prepare for your year-end review. Now, you can learn how to raise important issues with your colleagues or ask for feedback from your manager.

On this "tricky" day, why not TREAT yourself to tips on how to take risks and have difficult conversations at work -- even if it's a bit scary at first. How can you do it?

Tune into our NEW podcast channel on Gcast! The first podcast called Do it Scared! has practical ideas on how to prepare for and conduct courageous conversations. Tune in and then let me know what topics you'd like to hear more about.

Don't forget to subcribe so you can get regular updates on future career podcasts that you can listen to on your PC or download to your iPod.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ready for Your Year-End Review?

Now that fall is in full swing, are you ready for your year-end performance review? If done well, these review meetings can help foster your career growth. How prepared you are to have the performance discussion with your manager will be a significant predictor of the outcome. Will you be able to:
  1. Reference specific accomplishments and contributions you made to the organization this year?
  2. Suggest relevant developmental opportunities (coaching, training, or mentoring) to build on your strengths?
  3. Recommend ways to expand your role or take on new responsibilities in 2007?

Where would you like to be in your career this time next year?

Tell us some of the strategies you'll use to get ahead in 2007. Take our Career Goals survey.

In the meantime, PLAN AHEAD! Create your roadmap and equip yourself with the skills to get there!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Has Vayner Ruined E-Portfolios as a Job Search Strategy?

There has been much buzz about a recent "presumed-failure" in job search strategies: A Yale senior, Aleksey Vayner, sent an email with a 7-minute video describing some of his attributes and investment-banking career aspirations to UBS. Somehow, the video became part of the public domain and eventually aired on You Tube.

Since we've had recent posts on career portfolios, I thought I'd continue the thread.
What role can electronic portfolios play in your career management strategy?

Electronic portfolios use interactive multimedia to increase the range and type of materials that can be included in a portfolio. They enable you to take full advantage of advanced technology and utilize graphics, animation, sound and video.

Forbes has all but relegated Vayner to its Career Hall of Shame. I've reviewed the video excerpt -- aside from the somewhat suggestive dancing scenes, is there any value in his creativity? You can probably bet that no other aspiring I-bankers created a similar montage.

However, there is one definite downside to his approach -- it doesn't appear as if Vayner really KNEW HIS TARGET INDUSTRY. Given the traditionally-conservative nature of investment banking, the less likely it is that the video would have been seen as a viable introduction to his capabilities.

While electronic portfolios can be valuable tools to help you stand out from the crowd, you have to know how receptive your audience will be to this career management tool. What do you think?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Women: Let's Empower Each Other on November 4

I'm excited to announce that I've been invited to speak at the Women of Color Leadership Conference sponsored by the Rho Kappa Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. The event will be held on Saturday, November 4, 2006 at New Jersey City University.

WCLC endeavors to empower women of color by providing a forum in which they can obtain knowledge to develop leadership skills and enhance professional growth. Workshops will include:
  1. Changing Directions of Your Career: Uncover the Explorer in You! (from my Competent Advantage TM series)
  2. So Now You're a Leader: A Guide to Policy Making and Event Planning for the Young Leader: Arika Easley, Stevens Institute of Technology; Dara Govan, Esq.
  3. Making a Dollar out of Fifteen Cents: An Introduction to Investing: Candice Beaty, Northwestern Mutual

If you are in the New York metro area, DON'T MISS YOUR CHANCE -- REGISTER NOW! Your $30 investment includes access to sessions and admission to the Closing Reception.

Contact: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, Rho Kappa Omega Chapter

Phone: (201) 344-9225 Email:

Address: P.O. Box 15537, Jersey City, NJ 07305

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Does Your Career Portfolio Match Your Shoes?

Now that fall semester and campus recruiting are in full swing, I thought we'd continue our conversation on career portfolios. OK, I was KIDDING with the title for this post. In our last post, we confirmed that we're NOT talking about fashion accessories! (just checking to see if you're paying attention)

A career portfolio is:
  • a reflection of your professional self
  • a record of your professional (or academic) development
  • tangible evidence of your "on-the-job" (or "in-the-classroom") performance

With that said, what do you think you should include in your career portfolio? Many career portfolios include:

  • Resume or CV
  • Licenses or Certifications
  • Letters of reference
  • Transcripts or diplomas
  • Professional affiliation documentation
  • Work samples (e.g., reports, presentations, etc.) With samples, it is important that you eliminate information that could be considered confidential.

The exercise of creating your career portfolio can help you to critically examine your life experiences and accomplishments. If you are preparing for an interview (or a performance appraisal meeting with your manager), the process enables you to highlight specific accomplishments and identify valuable workplace skills.

As usual, tell me about your experiences and thoughts. Soon, we'll discuss tips for organizing your career portfolio.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Top 5 Skills Gained from Volunteer Work

In preparation for today's teleclass with the Downtown Women's Club on Volunteering & Leadership Development, we created an online survey to learn about your volunteer experiences. So, I thought I'd share some initial results from the survey.

Here are the TOP 5 Career Skills you have developed or acquired by getting involved in your community: {online drumroll, please}
  1. Communication (72%)
  2. Leadership (69%)
  3. Teamwork (59%)
  4. Fundraising (47%)
  5. Problem solving AND Public Speaking (tie at 44%)

In today's session, we talked about how important it is to be clear about your goals for a volunteer experience -- whether they are purely charitable/philanthropic or include a professional component. Either perspective is OK; just be sure you (and the organization) are clear from the beginning about what you hope to achieve.

When both parties are on the same page, it can be a win-win experience for all. This became obvious to me as I read your comments on the recognition and support you've received from organizations for whom you volunteer, including:

  • Introductions to executives/senior leaders
  • References for work
  • Invitations to networking and special events

All are important for taking your career to the next level. There's still time to tell us about your volunteer experiences. Take our brief survey at: I look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Do You Have a Career Portfolio?

No, I'm not talking about the newest collection from Coach or Tumi! Artists, photographers, architects, designers and writers have used portfolios for decades to showcase their abilities and talents. In today’s competitive job market, portfolios have become a useful tool for professionals outside the artistic arena.

The ability to effectively showcase your relevant knowledge and skills is critical, whether you are seeking a new opportunity or staying with your current employer. Along with a tailored resume, a career portfolio can provide further evidence of your professional qualifications and abilities.

What is a portfolio?
A portfolio is a personal collection of information describing and documenting [your] achievements and learning. As a visual representation of your skills, capabilities and knowledge, it shows your potential to add value to an organization.

Why create a Career Portfolio?
You can use a career portfolio to:
  • market your capabilities in a job interview
  • support a request to your manager for a promotion or raise
  • document the quality and quantity of your professional development
  • demonstrate prior work or learning experiences for educational credit

Career portfolios have become a nearly universal requirement for the hiring process. But, if you already have a secure job (i.e., one that's not on the Endangered Careers List), you can view a career portfolio as your insurance against unforeseen shake-ups at your company. Keeping this self-promotion tool up-to-date also can be a good exercise in self-evaluation.

In upcoming posts, we’ll help you to organize your career portfolio and use it as a tool in your career development and advancement.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Can Volunteering Make You a Better Leader?

So, it's September and back to school season. I'm gearing up for some great fall events and seminars.

My NEXT teleclass on Volunteerism & Leadership is on Wednesday, September 27 at 12:00 PM EST with the Downtown Women's Club.

Join us for an interactive Competent Advantage(TM) - Downtown Women’s Club teleclass that will help you:
  • Identify volunteer opportunities that align with your personal motivators
  • Create volunteer experiences that enable you to practice and enhance your professional skills
  • Position your volunteer experiences in performance management discussions
  • Use volunteer experiences to step out of your “professional comfort zone"

RSVP to and you'll receive the dial-in number. Hope to chat with you on September 27th!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Can't Get No (Job) Satisfaction?

Hey there, I hope you've been enjoying your summer. I've spent some time catching up with my colleagues over (iced!) coffee and tea.

Recently, I spoke with Tim Mulvaney Founder & President of The Mulvaney Group. He and I got to talking about our clients and reflecting on some of the challenges people face with achieving career fulfillment -- particularly the Courageous Conversations TM with their managers when things aren't going so well.

Well, before we knew it, we came up with some cool tips to leverage your Competent Advantage TM to increase your job satisfaction and take charge of your career. Since it's still summer, we've made it easy for you to get this info while you're catching your last rays on the beach:
  1. LISTEN to our podcast on the web:
  2. You can also READ the tip sheet
  3. Or, you can DOWNLOAD the podcast to your iPod from the iTunes Music Store! Search "Podcasts" for "Courageous Conversations"

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

NY BizAcademy Students Record Commercial's for TODAY'S BAZAAR

Demonstrating their creativity and business savvy, both student companies participating in the NY BizAcademy recorded commercials to draw customers to today's Sales Bazaar at the Westside YMCA.

View Capture the Moment commercial:

View VENE (Virtual Expressions n Emotions) commercial:

Don't miss the chance to buy their limited edition, handcrafted merchandise!

JOIN US TODAY from 4:00 - 6:00 PM at the Sales Bazaar at 5 West 63rd Street in New York.

Monday, August 07, 2006

NY BizAcademy Students Produce Handcrafted Merchandise

Here's a quick update on the BizAcademy program. We're about to begin a fantastic second week of training and hands-on experiences!

Last Thursday, each company presented their concepts and business plans to "investors" to receive seed capital for their ventures. Above are two photos I took during last Friday's Manufacturing Day.

The two companies VENE (Virtual Expressions 'n Emotions) and Capture the Moment will be selling their handcrafted candles and picture frames THIS THURSDAY, from 4:00 - 6:00 PM, at the West Side YMCA located at 5 West 63rd Street.

We hope you can join us for the BizAcademy Sales Bazaar!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

InStep Consulting Founder to Teach BizAcademy for NYC Youth

Beginning Monday July 31, I'll be teaching BizAcademy to high school students from Opening Doors and Building Bridges Youth Development & After School Program. Sponsored by, BizAcademy offers offers students from underserved urban school districts an opportunity they might not otherwise receive – the chance to run their own business.

In this ten-day entrepreneurial workshop, high school students will gain hands-on experience while learning business basics. Teams will be responsible for managing all phases of their businesses including prototyping ideas, pitching to investors, manufacturing, marketing and selling office-related products. Participants will use’s on-demand CRM solution to track revenues and expenses and to manage contacts.

I'm excited to help these youth gain fundamental business skills and discover their competent advantageTM!

Stay tuned for more posts about their accomplishments -- including a “Sales Bazaar” at the West Side YMCA on Thursday, August 10th.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ladies, Do You Know What You're Worth?

According to Linda Babcock, Carnegie Mellon University economics professor, many women sacrific more than $500,000 over their professional lives by not negotiating their salaries. She surveyed 2002 and 2003 MBA graduates and found that 52% of the men had negotiated their salaries, while only 12% of the women had done the same.

Babcock, author of Women Don't Ask, found those who negotiated received 7% to 8% more than they were initially offered. So, what holds us back?

We've discussed this topic previously in this community. In fact, Nina pointed us to another Babcock 2003 Harvard Business School study that described three key factors:
  1. Socialization: being taught that it's not appropriate to ask for what we want
  2. Penalization: being reprimanded or denied opportunities because we are seen as being "pushy" when negotiating
  3. Frustration: leaving the situation instead of using our skills as leverage points for growth

In the spirit of career portabilityTM, I'd suggest that we must resist the socialization trends and make the ask. Try to minimize penalization by being conscious of your communication style and attempting to adapt your communication techniques based on your target audience.

And, most of all, don't let frustration cause you to leave something on the table! Be prepared -- know what you have accomplished in your current (and previous) roles. Know the average salary ranges for your industry and position.

Ladies (and gents), I'd love to hear from you. Do you have success stories to share? Lessons that you've learned? Advice that you'd like to pass along?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Meet Komal Gulzar -- Intern with InStep Consulting

As I mentioned in my last post, InStep Consulting has an intern from Brooklyn College. I asked Komal to share some initial thoughts on her internship experience. Read on ... I think we ALL can gain some career tips from Komal!

CE: Why did you decide to do an internship this summer?
KG: I wanted to explore a new field in business management and learn about what this industry has to offer me once I graduate with a bachelor’s degree. I had the opportunity to get insight into the accounting and finance fields last year. So, I chose Business Consulting this summer. I was curious about what role a consultant plays and how he/she helps businesses. So far, I have learned that a consultant helps the employer and the employees bond to improve communication and effectiveness on both sides.

CE: What do you hope to gain from your internship?
KG: In the end, it’s all about the experience. Experience helps us make better choices and decide which career to pick. Why would we choose one career and not the other? It all depends on the quality of experience we have.
In my opinion, there are two types of internship experiences: one where we just "kill time" to fulfill the program requirements. We play a passive role and just expect the internship to be a good experience.
The second type makes all the difference. This is when we really put a lot of effort into it. We’re curious and ask a lot of questions. We want to know every little detail about every thing at the host site. We not only ask how something is done, but also why not do it some other way. Even if we’re not really interested in this field, we take it as a challenge and try to meet our goals.

CE: What advice would you give your fellow JFEW interns? (Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women)
KG: In short, we should treat our internships as if they were our first jobs. We should clarify that what we do in an internship is not for the supervisor or somebody else, but for ourselves.
Yes, we do help the company in the process; but the goal is to learn. And, if we don’t put our hearts into it, we’re not helping anybody, but wasting everybody’s time. Think of it as if it were for your own business or company. Wear what you do.

CE: Tell us what YOU think!
KG: Your answers to these questions might be different – maybe you want to explore a new field or to discover something new about an industry you’re already interested in. Don't take my word for it; experience it for yourself and then share your thoughts with the rest of us. We would love to hear from you!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

InStep Consulting has a Summer Intern!

I'm excited to report that my company, InStep Consulting, is benefiting from a young woman who is taking advantage of the summer to develop her skills and advance her career.

Komal Gulzar, a senior at Brooklyn College, is helping out with market research and business development activities. She comes to InStep via the College's Magner Center for Career Development and Internships. It's been great working with her and sharing some insight into the world of consulting.

I've invited her to share her perspective on the internship and her career goals with this community. So, keep an eye out for her postings over the next few weeks!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Take Advantage of the Summer

The days are longer -- the weather is warmer (hopefully it's not raining where you are). How will you take advantage of the summer to further your career objectives?

Is there one NEW activity you can try that might help you achieve a short-term goal? How about finding a NEW ...
  • Volunteer opportunity that enables you to enhance a key skill -- maybe there's even an outdoor component! OR ...
  • Magazine or journal that will update you on latest trends in your industry -- handy for those long bus/train rides to the beach!

Switch it up a bit -- check out the local cafes in your neighborhood as you walk home. Maybe one of them has a special evening for networking activities (book club, meet-'n-greet, etc.) -- great ways to take advantage of the air conditioning AND meet new people!

What do you think? Post your suggestions for fun ways to take advantage of the summer!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Competent Advantage Session June 13 at 6:30 PM

For those of you in the New York area, please join me tomorrow evening for a Competent AdvantageTM networking event hosted by the Black Ivy Alumni League.

The event is Tuesday, June 13 from 6:30 - 8:30 PM in midtown Manhattan. As usual, it will be an interactive workshop in which you'll have the opportunity to analyze your personal competencies for personal growth and career advancement.

RSVP NOW! Save $3.00 if you pre-pay in advance via PayPal.

The Black Ivy Alumni League is committed to cultivating the community of over 50,000 alumni of African descent by serving as a professional development resource and promoting civic engagement. I am honored to be part of their activities. I hope to see you tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Is Your Job on the Endangered Careers List?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for some jobs is expected to decline rapidly between now and 2014. Due to technology advances and factory automation, some of these declining job functions are “Operators,” including:
  • Computer Operators (believe it or not!)
  • Mail-Machine Operators
  • Telephone Operators
Also mentioned were Stock Clerks, Telemarketers and Secretaries (EXCEPT Legal, Medical and Executive Secretaries). Even if your current job function isn’t on the BLS Endangered Careers list, you should be proactive and figure out your Career Portability™ Factor.

What do I mean? Well, Merriam-Webster Online defines portable as: “capable of being moved especially with ease.” From a career management perspective, it means determining what things you can easily take with you from one job to the next. No, I’m not referring to your stapler or mouse pad! I’m talking about your skills and work-related qualities that will help you succeed in your next opportunity.

The first step in figuring out your Career Portability Factor™ is a self-assessment. You might start by answering the following question:

If you had to pack up and leave your job tomorrow, what skills would you put in your briefcase?

Your answers will come from reviewing your assignments, accomplishments and responsibilities in your current role. What have you done? How have you added value to your organization? Under what conditions have you achieved your success? For each of the accomplishments and responsibilities, make a list of the associated skills and qualities. This is the first component of your Career Portability Factor™.
Later, we’ll talk about how to position your Career Portability Factor™ when you're seeking new opportunities.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Discover Your Competent Advantage on May 17!

Just a quick reminder ....

The Manhattan Chapter of National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. will host my next Competent AdvantageTM seminar on:

Wednesday, May 17, 2006
6:00 - 8:00 PM
281 Park Avenue South (at East 22nd Street)

Donation: $20.00
Phone: (212) 642-3758

Come out to Refresh, Renew and Review Your Career!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Refresh, Review and Renew your Career in May!

Spring is finally here -- time to shake off the winter cobwebs and refresh, review and renew! We kicked it off in March with an FUN anniversary party at Mannahatta -- thanks to all who came out to support! We're going to continue with three upcoming Competent Advantage TM seminars.

On Wednesday, May 3, I'll be helping Brooklyn's best and brightest graduating seniors from 14 colleges and universities market themselves to prospective employers. The Brooklyn College to Career Expo at the New York Marriott at Brooklyn Bridge will host 75-100 actively recruiting employers. The Competent Advantage TM seminar, at 9:30 AM in Salon A, will focus on practical strategies to develop a personal marketing pitch and enhance your job search portfolio.

On Wednesday, May 17, the Manhattan Chapter of National Coalition of 100 Black Women is hosting a Competent Advantage TM seminar to educate members and the wider community on career advancement and leadership development. At 6:30 PM, we'll be discussing practical ways to leverage your strengths and succeed in the workplace. The Manhattan Chapter of NCBW is dedicated to advocacy, leadership, and gender equity. This is accomplished through mentorship and a series of conferences, networking and special events. I'm excited to be part of their spring professional development programming!

On Tuesday, May 23, I'll be chatting with women entrepreneurs at the Network Enterprise, hosted at the Grace Institute. From 6-7:00 PM, we'll be talking shop about marketing and expanding small business enterprises. Like me, the Grace Institute believes in building a base for continuous professional and personal growth. I can't wait to meet all of you fabulous entrepreneurs!

How will YOU refresh, review and renew YOUR career this spring?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

If Your Career Were a Snake, Would It Bite You in the ...?

I had an illuminating experience last week that led me to pose this question to you. The experience involved shipping and packaging. So, you might ask: “How is this related to my career development?” Please indulge me, and read on!

My company,
InStep Consulting, recently submitted a proposal to an organization seeking training and development services. Due to the critical nature, I decided to call the Purchasing department on the due date to confirm our proposal had been received. I’d already tracked the package via FedEx, and noted it had been recorded as delivered at 9:37 AM. However, at 10:00 AM, the Purchasing department could not locate our proposal. I made a follow-up call to FedEx to confirm what I read on their website. Of course, the representative could not offer any new information; however, he did offer to contact the driver to confirm that the package had been delivered to the organization’s office (not just the building). In the meantime, I emailed a copy of the delivery confirmation I’d downloaded off the website to the Purchasing director.

I’ll fast-forward to my last conversation with the Purchasing director that afternoon, which went something like this:
PD: “The delivery confirmation you sent does not show a delivery address. Are you sure that your package was addressed correctly?”
CE: “Yes, the package was addressed to your organization to the attention of your proposal reviewer. I provided your shipping address to my production company, Printers-R-Us. Printers-R-Us shipped my proposal to you directly.”
PD: “Wait a minute, did you say Printers-R-Us?”
CE: “Yes, why do you ask?”
PD: “Oh, I have a package from Printers-R-Us right here – it’s been here since early this morning! I was looking for a proposal from InStep Consulting. You’re all set!”
Ok, maybe you’re still wondering why I chose to recall this story. Upon reflecting on my experience, I thought of some potential applications. When things are too close, we can’t always see the whole picture. For example, when you hold a book too close to your face, the words are too blurry to read.

In your career, have you ever missed out on a project or opportunity that was right “under your nose?” When you found out about it later, did you wonder how you overlooked it? Luckily, in this story, I was able to help the director find the proverbial “snake” (or proposal) by describing a bit about our production process. That conversation helped her to “adjust her lens” and find the package on her desk. Are you able to step back and “adjust your lens” to discover potentially hidden career opportunities?

The miscommunication described in my story also can apply to career development and exploration. The director was looking for a proposal (and, thus, a package) with my company’s name. While the proposal inside clearly indicated my company name, the package more clearly referenced the production company. Does your “career packaging” – perhaps in the form of a resume or cover letter – convey the best impression of your accomplishments?

Just food for thought -- let me know what you think. Take care, and don’t let the career “snake” bite YOU!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Spring Forward into 2nd Quarter!

So, did you remember to turn your clocks ahead today? Besides entering daylight savings time (well, those of us in the US whose states follow this protocol) we've just "sprung" into a new quarter.

How will you stay on track and leverage your Competent AdvantageTM in the second quarter?

Last April (in preparation for tax filing), we talked about federal education tax credits and company tuition reimbursement programs -- two great options to help you receive training and keep your skills current.
  • As you think about your upcoming projects and responsibilities, what new skills would be helpful to learn in this quarter?
In February, we talked about how a change of scenery can help us to stay motivated. It's important to take breaks and "unplug" so that you can retain the right level of energy to fulfill your goals and commitments.
  • As you think about the next few months, how will you recharge and get re-energized?
With warmer weather often comes the desire to get out of the house and socialize! Professional associations and volunteer opportunities are superb options to network and meet people in/outside your industry.
  • As you think ahead, what events or activities would be relevant for you to attend?
These are just a few suggestions that come to mind. What do YOU have in mind?

Friday, March 17, 2006

More Thoughts on Staying Motivating at Work

On Wednesday, I was on the Martha Stewart LIVING show on Sirius Radio 112. I had a BLAST chatting with Career Talk host Maggie Mistal about ways to stay motivated in the office. People called in from as far away as Indiana!

We talked about motivation from both the employee and manager perspective. Today, I wanted to share my TOP 3 Strategies for Managers to Motivate their Employees:
  1. Set appropriate expectations – as you create job descriptions and define project responsibilities. Give people a “line of sight” on how what they do contributes to your company’s success. People want to see where their jobs might take them. Help your employees see the internal career paths so you don’t lose their intellectual capital to your competitors!
  2. Keep communication lines open – Talk with your employees to find out how they’re doing on a regular basis, not just during annual performance discussions.
  3. Use creative incentives – Effective incentives can include non-monetary recognitions of a "job well done," such as a feature in the company newsletter, or an opportunity to represent your team or company at a special event.

Thanks, again, to Maggie for having me on her show! :-)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Reminder: Get Sirius about Your Career on March 15th!

Just a quick reminder that TOMORROW, March 15th at 6:00 PM EST, I’ll be on Martha Stewart LIVING Sirius Channel 112. I’ll be a guest on the Career Talk show sharing tips on staying motivated in your career exploration.

As a preview, I’d like to share my TOP 5 Strategies for staying motivated in the workplace:
  1. Recruit the right team: surround yourself with people who both support and challenge you. This can be a mix of people you work with, friends, family or other colleagues. Pick the RIGHT PEOPLE and you’ll get the RIGHT ENERGY!
  2. Create the right environment: figure out where in your office you are most productive. This might be at your desk, in a conference room or the cafeteria. When you need to focus on a task, go to that space to heighten your concentration. If you have less flexibility to move around, envision a FUN WORKSPACE, then CREATE IT!
  3. Plan for small successes: “chunk” your projects and goals into short-term objectives. That way, you’ll have little WINS to celebrate along the way.
  4. Build rewards into your work plan: celebrate as you achieve your short-term objectives. Remember to value your accomplishments, even as you plan ahead for future endeavors.
  5. Do the work: find a way to get started. Start with an aspect of the task that you enjoy or that is simple to complete. Then, work your way up to the less pleasing, more challenging aspects. The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be done – “just do it!”

What do you think? Post your questions and comments here, or call into the show TOMORROW at: 866-675-6675.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Sell Yourself into your "Dream Job!"

On the first birthday of Competent AdvantageTM, I’m excited to launch a NEW FEATURE for our online community. Each month, one of my HR colleagues will give us an “inside scoop” on career development and transition strategies.

Our first HR professional to share her views is Karen Robinson, Account Manager with Career Blazers, Inc. Career Blazers offers Temporary Staffing, Legal Staffing and Permanent Placement services to Fortune 500 companies in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States.

Since January 2003, Karen has managed recruiting for Career Blazers’ premier clients. (Think financial services, advertising, and other leading industries!) Karen describes recruiting as a “puzzle” – the client has one piece, the candidate another. She enjoys helping make the pieces fit together. Blazing her own trail in staffing and recruiting since 1992, Karen knows a thing or two about how to position oneself during a job search or career transition.

Here are Karen’s TOP 10 Suggestions to “Sell Yourself into Your Dream Job!”:
  1. Network, network, network – in creative environments so that you can practice telling your story in a relaxed environment.
  2. Join and participate in organizations – be active so that you can be noticed for your talents and “competent advantage.TM
  3. Identify the trends and changes in your field of interest.
  4. Incorporate visualization into your life. – If you can see it, it will become your reality.
  5. Research, research, research – identify competitors, latest news or anything that will give you an “educated edge.”
  6. Set goals – daily, weekly and monthly to help you plan ahead.
  7. Incorporate time management into everything you do.
  8. Have a current reference letter from a former supervisor or someone in upper management that highlights your accomplishments.
  9. Go on “Interview Runs” – Seek out opportunities to practice your interviewing skills, especially if you have been out of the market for a while.
  10. Once you “land,” spend the first few weeks getting the lay of the land. – Figure out who’s who, how the team works, and how upper management handles team relations.

So, what do YOU think? Have you tried any of these strategies? Which ones have worked best for you?

It's hard to pick the best one, but I rely a lot on # 5 – research. With all of our gadgets and technology, you can stay on top of trends in your industry in so many ways! It’s important during a search or transition to demonstrate how you can add value to an organization (using your skills and competencies). Staying aware of “in-demand” skills in your industry will help you know which previous experiences to highlight in an interview, or what training you might seek to improve your proficiency.

Thanks, again, to Karen for sharing her tips with the Competent AdvantageTM community!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Colette gets “Sirius” about Career Development on March 15th!


On Wednesday, March 15th at 6:00 PM Eastern, I’ll be on Martha Stewart Living Radio revealing tips on how to stay motivated during your career exploration.

You will have three ways to ask me questions and share your experiences:

  1. CALL IN to the show at 1-866-675-6675
  2. POST your question here in the Competent Advantage TM community
  3. EMAIL your question to me at

If I answer your question or share your story on the air, I'll be sure to keep the source confidential unless you tell me otherwise.

If you’re not already a Sirius satellite radio customer, you can sign up for a FREE TRIAL at:

Hope to chat with you on March 15th!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Competent Advantage will be 1-Year Old NEXT MONTH!

It's hard to believe that the Competent Advantage community began with the first post on March 1, 2005! I'm looking forward to another great year of dialogue and information exchange.

Stay tuned for exciting programs and events to celebrate this milestone! This includes my upcoming feature on Martha Stewart Living Radio!

Take care, Colette

Friday, February 03, 2006

Get Motivated with a Quick Change in Scenery

View of Salt Lake City landscape from The Garden at Temple Square (2/2/2006)

In the Competent Advantage TM workshop, we ask: If you had a completely free day, what would you do?

We ask that you reflect on your "free day fantasies" as a first step to discovering your personal motivators and drives. A key goal of the program is to help you align your role/function with your motivators to create opportunities for career success.

"So, what does this have to do with Salt Lake City?", you may ask. Well, a change in scenery often can be motivational. I had the opportunity to visit Salt Lake yesterday on business. I didn't have a completely "free day;" but, I did have time to enjoy my view of the Wasatch mountain range during my lunch break. I walked away from the trip rejuvenated -- open space and great landscapes just do that for me!

How does this align with my career/business?

  1. I am determined to explore ways to develop additional business west of the Mississippi
  2. And, I took advantage of a new technology -- mobile blogging -- to share this picture with you!

How will you leverage your "free day fantasies"?

PS -- I sent this message using PIX-FLIX Messaging service from Verizon Wireless! To learn how you can snap pictures with your wireless phone visit

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Can Pension Plan changes impact your Career Development?

Alcoa recently announced changes to its defined benefit pension plan (no longer will it be offered to new employees beginning March 1, 2006). The plan for new employees will be replaced by a 401(k) plan with defined company contributions and company match of employee contributions. Recent accounting regulation changes suggest that Alcoa will not be alone in making adjustments to company retirement plans.

Not linked to career development, you may think? What does this trend signal for your career?

Employee contributions to retirement and healthcare plans have become the modus operandi for most companies. I’m sure most of us have become quite accustomed to it. However, these aren’t the only HR arenas in which some of the responsibility has been shifted to employees.

Another trend has been the move towards self-directed learning. “What’s that?” you may ask. Well, you may recognize it as e-learning or online courses you can take at your desk, on your laptop or even from your home computer. Or, maybe you have the ability to apply for tuition reimbursement that enables you to continue your education or pursue an advanced degree.

I’m not necessarily debating the pros or cons of self-directed learning (although I’m eager to hear your views). However, this trend strongly suggests you adopt a proactive approach to your career development:
  • Make it a point this year to become aware of all learning options (formal and informal) that your organization offers.
  • Figure out which ones will be beneficial for your current (or your next) opportunity.
  • Create an action-oriented development plan … in other words, “just do it!”

Let 2006 be the year you take charge of your career!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

How will you step out of your "comfort zone" in 2006?

New Year’s is a time for both planning and reflecting. In our last post, we mentioned why it’s important to document our career highlights and low-lights. So, now I’m going to challenge you a bit.

What will you do differently in 2006 to advance your career objectives?

Sometimes it’s easy to coast, to take the familiar road on our way to professional success. There’s a somewhat famous expression (I apologize for not being able to reference the source) about the definition of insanity – doing the same thing, in the same way and expecting different results.

What will you do differently? I have a couple of thoughts or ideas – how about:
  • Sitting with a new group of people at lunch (which could be a way to expand your network)
  • Taking on a leadership role in a professional association (which could create a “safe space” to try out new skills)
  • Learning to speak a different language or use new software (which could increase your marketability)
These are just a few examples. What do you have in mind?? Come on, I dare you!