Good Boss-Bad Boss

Good boss-bad boss: How can you tell what you’re in for?

Obviously, you want to know you’re getting the best boss before you start working for him/her. However, sometimes you wind up with a bad boss even when you thought you made a careful choice. Moreover, you might find out that Mr. Hyde turns into Dr. Jekyll only in certain situations.Good Boss-Bad Boss

When Should You Evaluate Potential Bosses?

Ideally, you should start asking yourself (and sometimes other people) at least a few pointed questions during the interview process. When you interview with your prospective boss, what message is he/she sending in your direction?

This doesn’t refer so much to personality as to how the person interacts with those who might become employees. Someone can have a fairly forceful personality and yet communicate with respect and courtesy to potential employees. On the other hand, an overbearing attitude could mean the boss steamrollers over employees.

What Makes a Good Boss?

A lot of factors can determine how you might rank a boss. For example, does he or she build team morale or destroy it by pushing a win-at-all-costs approach? Your preference plays into it, too. A hands-off boss might strike you as near perfect or as wishy-washy, depending on how you like to do your job.

The main question to ask is: Will we be a good fit to work together? In other words, would you have to radically change who you are and how you work to support your boss and meet expectations?

Traits to Consider

Leadership traits or styles that influence your perception of your boss might include the following:

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What does a high-unemployment job market look like? For instance, with the huge increase in unemployment claims and an official unemployment rate close to 15%*, it looks grim. You could justify worrying about your prospects if you’re out of work or viewing it as a possibility. high-unemployment job market

I won’t offer a glib or sugar-coated view of the job market you’re seeing. It presents a daunting picture even to an optimist like me. (There’s a reason I label myself a “realistic optimist.”) However, I see no value in adopting a fatalistic outlook—what I call a “doom and gloom” mentality.

Can job seekers take practical steps to improve their odds in favor of job search success, even in today’s disturbed world? I believe the answer is yes.

Steps to Take in a High-Unemployment Job Market

An esteemed colleague, Jay Block, recently wrote a short post that relates to this challenge. His post, “Securing a Job in a 20%+ Unemployment Job Market,” lays it on the line and then offers a practical approach to make progress.

employer value messageJay begins by stating bluntly that today’s job seekers have to share their value with pinpoint accuracy to get–and stay–in the game. In other words, generalized or haphazard approaches won’t work. You need to share employer value clearly centered on your target job.

On the other hand, you can focus on a few key steps to put you in contention for targeted jobs. Briefly, Jay recommends the following:

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Employment in the New Normal–How Can You Cope? (Part 1 of 2)

What will the workplace  look like in the “New Normal”?

If you’ve wondered how the employment world will function in the new normal (that is, after COVID-19), you’re not alone. Many people speculate about what the future holds. They don’t know what it might involve and worry about its effect on their prospects for career success and stability.

new normal tightrope walkerHowever, such speculation tends to be unproductive, since no one knows for sure about the specifics. Because the current environment is still too fluid and challenging to predict those details with certainty, we’re left hanging. However, I believe it’s safe to say the new normal won’t include a 100% return to business as usual.

How the Workplace is Changing

An article in the May 2020 AARP Bulletin makes a strong case for my belief. For example, it offers one good reason to expect lasting change. “…Companies are doing things in radically different ways, and many will embrace lessons learned instead of returning to the status quo. For older workers, that means adjusting to fewer staff jobs, the immediate need for new skills and an overall flexibility that is far different from the salaried days of even the recent past.”

Furthermore, the article suggests you can expect the employment situation to look substantially different even after the pandemic subsides. The specific challenges remain to be seen. Your best bet rests on developing and executing a flexible career marketing campaign ASAP. The plan must put you on employers’ radar quickly and compellingly, so you don’t come on the scene too late.

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Career Leap of Faith–Can You Do It?

Can you make a career leap of faith if you have to? What if you don’t have to but feel somehow impelled? You make choices and decisions often throughout your professional and personal life. In some ways, you might think you should be used to the process. You’ve done it so many times! On the other hand, some of those choices or decisions could stir a kind of fear in you. How can you handle that?

Why Make a Career Leap?

Career Leap of Faith

If your professional life moves well along a set path, you don’t need to make a career leap unless you choose to. After all, why rock the boat? As we all know, a leap can turn out badly–of course, you’d like to avoid that if you can! No career leap comes with an ironclad guarantee of a good landing.

So you can sit tight and stick with the path you’re on, if it has been working well for you. Unless that path becomes unsatisfying for some reason, you’re fine.

However, what if you don’t have a choice? Whether a global health crisis pulls employment security right out from under you or your employer does it for some other  reason, you find yourself out the door, unemployed.

Suddenly you face an urgent need to take action–to make a career leap in one way or another.

Brave in Life Challenge

Career Leaps Take Courage

“Every great move forward in your life begins with a leap of faith, a step into the unknown.” (Brian Tracy, Canadian-American motivational public speaker and self-development author)

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Top 6 Career Advancement Tips for Executives

You can increase your career success odds by following these Top 6 Career Advancement Tips for Executives:Career Advancement Tips for Executives

#1: Make Conscious Choices and Decisions

One of the top career advancement tips involves thinking about your professional goals and what you want to achieve; then deciding what you need to do to reach it. When you are trying to establish a professional goal, you should have a sense of purpose, as well as explore ideas. This can help you decide where you want to focus.

You might look at more than one goal to begin with, but eventually you need to focus on a preferred direction. In that way, the development of your career path comes together based on your chosen direction.

#2: Create a Flexible Plan

Nothing stays the same forever, and certainly that’s true of our professional lives. I advise executives to start with a plan that includes built-in flexibility when thinking about how they will gain experience to reach their professional career advancement goals. Be aware that you cannot anticipate everything that could happen in your professional life. Frequently events occur that are beyond your control.

If your plan is changeable, you can look at what’s happening and regroup. Perhaps you will stay on the same path or maybe you will choose to alter it somewhat. Your goals might change a bit or your career development might change, based on conditions you face that you didn’t expect. Flexibility is important. Otherwise you can get thrown for a loss because you don’t know what to do when things change.

#3: Do Ongoing Networking

Global NetworkingWhen you consider ongoing networking, I encourage you to think about role models. Having a role model forms a big piece of my career advancement tips for executives. Find a sponsor who can advise you and show the way to professional advancement. I always recommend cultivating a network of professional resources and identifying possible role models. Look for people whose achievements you admire. Adapt each person’s actions to your own style, preferences, and goals.

Be willing to reach out to people respectfully, build your network, maintain it, keep in touch with it. If you have someone who’s willing to be a sponsor, maintain a closer relationship with that person. Actively participate in your network in order to keep it thriving. When you do this, you will uncover more opportunities as you go along. Your professional advancement then becomes more doable.

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Cover Letter Tip #2

What do you need to know about cover letters? As a follow-up to my last post, this post provides cover letter tip #2. It’s the second in a planned short series. (Look at cover letter tip #1 to see what you’ve missed!)

What are Some of the Worst Mistakes You can Make with a Cover Letter?

Avoid MistakesYou can go wrong in many ways. For instance, in the worst-case scenario, you could end up with a cover letter NO ONE WANTS TO READ if you commit one or more of these mistakes:

  1. Generic or I-centered opening
  2. Boilerplate effect
  3. Wordy, rambling content
  4. Resume repetition/redundancy
  5. Generic closing
  6. No call to action or statement of intent

Why Does a Bad Cover Letter Happen?Too Much Information

I believe there are at least two common causes of a “bad” cover letter: (1) providing too much information and (2) failure to focus on “why you should talk to me.”

When you take too long to get to the point or overwhelm employers with details, you put yourself at a big disadvantage. You must catch their attention quickly and compellingly, or you might not catch it at all.

How Can You Avoid Creating a Bad Cover Letter? Here’s cover letter tip #2:

Remember that your target reader is a busy hiring manager or executive who might have the attention span of a two-year-old child!

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Cover Letter Tip #1

I can’t give you any hot stock-market tips, but I can offer useful tips for cover letters. This post provides cover letter tip #1. It’s the first in a planned short series.

Here are a few questions you might ask about submitting a cover letter with your professional resume:question marks

  1. Do I need a cover letter?
  2. Do employers read cover letters?
  3. What makes a good cover letter?

Do I need a cover letter?

Maybe. If the job strongly attracts you, I’d say yes, you do need one. It can’t hurt (if you do it well), and it gives you a possible second chance to connect with the employer.

The key point in this answer is “do it well.” A poorly written cover letter could hurt your chances of being considered by an employer.

Do employers read cover letters?

cover letter tip #1Again, the answer is, maybe. It’s possible quite a few of them don’t. However, we know that some do. So, if you don’t want to risk losing out, create a good cover letter for each job opportunity you’re seriously interested in pursuing.

Only a few employers read the cover letter first, then the resume. On the other hand, if they read it at all, they will probably look at the resume first. What matters most? You want employers to be attracted to your letter by giving it some “meat” they can relate to. Then they might, indeed, read it.

What makes a good cover letter? Here’s cover letter tip #1:value proposition

Opinions differ on this subject. My take:

Your cover letter should present your value to the targeted employer  both concisely and compellingly. It must make you stand out to that employer as a potential asset well worth checking out. What’s more, it should not read as if it went to hundreds of employers in a mass (uncustomized) mailing. Finally, your letter (and resume) must be error-free!

Proofread your letter or have someone else do that before you send your submission to an employer. Then recheck to make sure your value proposition comes across clearly. That can help you open doors!

P.S. Cover Letter Tips #2 and #3 (or more) will appear in future blog posts. In the meantime, if you need help, call (508-263-9454) or email me (!

Senior Manager Job Search Strategy—Ignorance is Not Bliss!

It can be tough to spot and prepare for all your job search issues. As a senior-level job seeker, you know you need a focused job search strategy to target desired open positions. However, you could feel daunted by creating and executing a senior manager job search strategy.  Those closest to you might also face concerns about it.

These issues can often arise in an executive job search: confidentiality, ageism, and job seekers’ personal views versus reality.

Confidentiality and Senior Manager Job Search Strategy

senior manager job search strategy

If you’re a senior manager who is employed but looking, you probably worry about protecting your current job. You want to leave on your terms, not your employer’s.

That means you don’t want to signal your job search plans. You might need to find clever ways to conduct your confidential search in stealth mode. For instance, if you reach out to your professional network, use caution about how and with whom. Word can get around!

Ageism Requires Boldness, Resilience and Confidence

Because of your position, you might encounter ageism when you launch your job search. After all, most senior managers and executives don’t reach that level by their 30s. A professional resume writer will likely advise taking some steps to minimize age in your resume. For example, you can omit jobs from 20+ years ago. However, that’s only the first stage.

boldness keychainWhat’s more, you can do everything “right” and still face ageism hurdles. If you interview with younger managers, you could sense age discrimination. Act promptly and decisively to counter the impression they might be getting and convince them you’re too valuable to pass up.

Personal Views vs. Reality

If you haven’t launched a job search in years, you might wonder what to expect. Prepare to adjust “on the fly” and avoid being thrown off by things you didn’t plan for. Don’t focus on issues you imagine will block your success.

In the end, job search strategy for senior managers involves presenting yourself as a worthy candidate. Share with confidence the value you offer potential employers!

I often suggest senior managers think of their job search strategy like a major project at their company. They make a plan and maximize the existing resources.  In other words, you should carefully plan and implement your job search, keep track of critical actions, and watch for roadblocks.

Five steps you can take as a senior manager to plan your job search strategy and conduct a successful executive job search:

  1. Beef up your network before searching.
  2. List possible obstacles and create a contingency plan.
  3. Share with involved partners, such as family.
  4. Value your contribution realistically.
  5. Remember the end goal.

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