Are Your References “Professional”?

What do your professional references say about you? Ever think about it? You should because no matter how good your interview went, if your references don’t say good things about you….you’re not getting that new job you want. Seems kinda harsh doesn’t it? But it’s true, a bad reference can single handedly sink an otherwise great opportunity.Ironically, most people pay little to no attention to their references. I hear things like “I haven’t talked to him in ages.”, “I didn’t really work that closely with her.”, “I’m just his friend” but my favorite is the “one word answers” – yep, no, yes, maybe, absolutely. Joking aside, if you aren’t taking the time to really cultivate and inform your professional references you are putting yourself at a disadvantage in any job search. Someone who takes their job search seriously has educated, informed, prepared and PREDICTABLE references. I recall a candidate interaction a long time ago where the recruiter asked a reference “Would you hire so and so again?”. Simple stuff, nothing major, should be a straight forward response and it was just that….”I wouldn’t hire that guy to stock shelves”. End of interview, no hire, thanks for playing. If your references say they wouldn’t hire you again, it’s pretty bad but when they go out of their way to torpedo your application it’s apocalyptic.Without further adieu, a few quick tips on how to give the best professional references:1) Give people who you know, trust and who will absolutely, positively say nice things about you – I know, right, who WOULDN’T do that? You’d be surprised. I’m not even going to talk about this anymore, do your homework, call your references so when they talk to potential a employer they don’t throw you under the bus.2) Give a former manager – Again, I know, not rocket science. I’m always happy to hear how great a guy someone is, or how they play a mean guitar or how they can finish Halo without dying……….but, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. I want to talk to someone who can tell me what kind of an employee you’ll be once you are hired. Former managers are critical to making sure any potential employer can get the info they need to hire you without reservation. If you don’t have a former manager who’ll say nice things, try someone else in a leadership role. You need someone besides your lunch buddies to say nice things about you, especially in a competitive job market like we have now.3) Make sure your references are available and expecting the call – This one drives recruiters crazy. Nothing more frustrating than leaving voice mail after voice mail for a reference only to follow up with an email that bounces back “On vacation until September 2013″. Good times! It’s common courtesy for everyone involved and will help also make sure our references say nice things about you.4) Have a few people recommend you on LinkedIn – Simple stuff, and frankly it doesn’t matter if this is a former manager or not. With the rise of social networking, more and more companies are searching the web for potential hires. No better way to reinforce that you are a quality hire than to have a well groomed LinkedIn profile that has several people singing your praises.5) Keep in touch with your references to make sure you have a big stable of people to use -This is the final tip, and probably the most important. You want to keep in touch with people who can serve as great professional references. Seriously, think about it. How many former managers can you give that would say nice things about you? The more you have, the better off you’ll be long term. You don’t need to talk to them every day, week or even every month however, you should be just touching base once every quarter or two, JUST in case you need them or, get this…..maybe they need you. That’s right, your former boss may be looking for a job and need a “former direct report” to say nice things…next think you know you guys are colleagues again. So, trust me on this one, figure out who will give you a stellar reference and then maintain and build on that relationship.That’s it, nothing crazy, nothing complicated. Follow these simple tips and I can guarantee you’ll have much more success converting those interviews into offers.

Forethought and Training Makes Managers

Senior management in every industry is well-known for setting-up our best skilled workers for failure. It is as if we are specifically trying to sabotage our own companies by reducing the workforce skill level and using poor management to try to fix it. A fancy new title and a raise does not a manger make. A top-notch management selection process and training program is the only road to ensure future success.Leaders Make Great Managers:The best worker does not make the best manager, the natural-born leader does. Though scholars continue to argue the finer details, it is widely accepted that “leaders are born and managers are made.” Leaders are followed. The directives of Managers are carried out. The Leader is the person spreading news from the grapevine, teaching trade tricks, and from whom co-workers seek advice. At breaks, the Leader can be found telling “there I was” stories with an attentive audience and organizing the weekend fishing trip or bar bash. The Manager is the person given that title by executives to be in charge of people, projects, and money.In theory, anyone can be taught to manage well. Managers can be taught efficiency, organization, project flow, and even to earn the respect of those they manage. Managers, as the theory goes, cannot be taught how to lead. Though it is possible that the best worker is also a natural leader, this is rarely the case. Instead of looking to the firm’s best workers to serve in open management roles, consider promoting and training the natural leader. Management selection processes should begin pre-hire with an eye on identifying potential leaders. These employees should then be observed in their current role for signs of leadership and future advancement.Tiered Management Structures:Think large when developing the structure of management. All large companies were once small. So, instead of waiting until the company is large and then having to revamp the entire reporting chain; develop the structure at the outset. It is better to have a structure with unfilled positions, or those not currently needed in the smaller organization, then it is to remodel the entire structure at a later date to adapt it to the growing firm.In some industries, the lowest level of management is the Shift Manager, Department Director, or Section Chief. In construction, we refer to this position as Foreman, Job Supervisor, or Superintendent. Each firm must chose these titles carefully and the reporting hierarchy with which they are associated. For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that the person who manages workers directly is called the Department Manager (DM). The Department Manager keeps the work flowing, assigns tasks, coordinates with other departments, ensures items are in-stock, and briefs the client, all while still working alongside their subordinates to facilitate the day’s activities. Department Managers report to the person who manages a number of departments, a position that is primarily office and paperwork intensive, usually called the General Manager (GM). GMs, in turn, report to a member of the Executive Staff, usually the Chief Operating Officer (COO).It is not uncommon to further break up the management levels of DM and GM into subcategories. For example, the DM category could be sub-divided into: Junior Department Manager, Department Manager, and Senior Department Manager. A Junior DM may be the term used to describe a new entry into the management ranks who works under the direction of a DM or Senior DM. A DM would be an experienced manger with a bigger workforce and larger job assignments. Finally, a Senior DM would have the most experience at assisting with employee training, x-large projects, and those jobs requiring specialized skills or in dealing with detail-oriented clients. The Senior DM would likely run the largest or most complex department. The GM ranks could be similarly divided.It is also wise to have pre-management positions that introduce potential entrants to the ranks without the accompanying official responsibilities. Thus, an Assistant Department Manager would serve as a normal crew member most of the time; but would be available to take over a portion of the project as needed by the DM. Additionally, they will fill-in as acting DM when the DM is on vacation or off work for personal reasons.Management Training is Essential:The most successful restaurant-chain in world history, McDonald’s, is the brunt of many jokes. They are, however, so successful because they are experts. Not only are they experts at “flipping burgers,” their world-renowned Hamburger University is a benchmark for educating management trainees on operation procedures, customer service, cleanliness, and business development. Similarly, Disney, United Parcel Service (UPS), Dell, and many others have been recognized as best-in-class for management and/or customer service training.Unfortunately, many other industries have the opposite distinction. They are recognized as the industry that provides no management training or has the worst customer service. Digging deeper will usually find that these industries promote their best hopefuls with a new title and a pay bump, only to throw them to wolves by telling them to go run the workplace. Throwing a fellow in the Mississippi River to teach them to swim may have been accepted in Tom Sawyer’s day, but is a procedure doomed to fail with management trainees. At the very least, each level of management should be given initial training followed by annual re-occurring training that delves deeper and broader as employees move up through the ranks.The best place to start is with the job description. What skills/tools will make the new manager improve company profitability and enhance reputation? Focus on key business areas:
Customer Service
Communicating Professionally
Reoccurring Duties
Completing Paperwork
Management & Team Building
Organization & Time Management
Technical Skill Enhancement
Role in Company’s Profitability
Official Employee Interaction
Merit Shop Responsibilities
Next, find outside vendors of one to two-day seminar-style courses and add self-study activities (books, books-on-tape, videos, webinars, etc.) that specialize in training new or advancing managers. Those activities that are specific to your company (completing a Job Report, corporate marketing soft-skills, or parts scheduling, for example) should be taught in-house by the DM team or executive staff.Skills can be taught in week or multi-week long training intensive courses where a trainee focuses only on management training until completed. Or, conversely, management trainees can complete classroom training intermixed with field-work over an extended period of time (say, six months for management training).Whatever your company’s approach, it must incorporate four overarching themes to profit and succeed in the new economy:
Develop a management structure for where you want your firm to be, not where it is.
Hire even entry-level technicians (apprentices) with potential management in mind.
Constantly analyze the workforce to identify leaders for future management positions.
Train, train, and re-train.

Searching For the Best Real Estate Agent – Getting Some Latest Tidbits of Information!

Have you ever wondered why are there so many real estate agents out there who are busy making transactions on how to sell and buy your house? Well, you got to be extra careful when choosing the right real estate agent of yours. Agents can be deceiving but you can make your own choices as there are a lot of options to choose from and the decision lies in the palm of your hand. Searching for best agent can be a little bit easier and even a little too difficult but if you will bear these helpful tips in mind then surely you will be in a right path towards selling and buying a home successfully.First thing you should know is why are you searching for the best real estate agent? Is this a good move for me? Definitely, the answer would be yes since home and selling needs to have a good sales agent that could maximize marketing and achieving good results in the end.Know your Realtors! As they say, Realtors are real estate agents but not all real estate agents are Realtors. This is due to the fact that agents should follow the Code of Ethics and meet some certain educational criteria and right experience in the field of an expert and valid Realtor. Hire a true and professional real estate agent so that you won’t regret in the end.Ask some ideas from your friends about how you are going to get the right person to work with and deal with process. Considering some referrals is a good way to search for the best agent of yours and don’t hesitate to ask about the background and status of the referred real estate agent.Browse some real estate ads via all forms of media. You can scan through the net or whatever forms of advertisement where you can find good real estate agents with excellent expertise in the field of business. These agents are good persons to work with. In fact, Internet is a good information tool to grab those professional agents and take time to surf the net on how to get these agents instantly.Skilled agent can be grabbed in some Open Houses. Attending such events would open your mind and will give you ideas on how these agents can be the best option to work with in the future. Try to observe their skills on how they promote the materials needed for marketing the house. They can be good sales speakers in terms of introducing house features and the like. Take a quick view on how these agents know the quickest way to sell your house and finding some quicker home buyers in the market rather than making volumes for sale signs.Match those persons for your needs and don’t be in a rush to hire an agent without investigating their backgrounds. Always remember that a quality and reliable agent is the one you can trust in any ways and where you can benefit a lot from them.
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