>>Back to newsletter index

Make It Happen
Career Management and Work-Life Balance

April 2005 number 7

Whether you are actively looking to change your job, have just left, or are merely exploring the possibility, this newsletter can help. It is a supplement to Leaving the Mother Ship, and is designed to share additional suggestions and ideas. Please forward it on to others who you think may benefit!

FLASH - Tune in to ROB-TV at 6pm Wednesday May 4th; Randall is being interviewed by Michael Vaughan.
FLASH - See Randall's latest online demo video (for speakers bureaus and meeting planners).

1) Research Comes Before Job Search
2) Speaking Engagements and Media Profile
3) Ask Randall (Online job boards, How much notice must I give?)
4) Reader Feedback
5) Career Tutorials and Career Management Action Course
6) Keep Make It Happen Alive

1) RESEARCH COMES BEFORE JOB SEARCH

If you're like most people, you might remember research from way-back in your school days: endless hours at the library, trying to pull together information on a subject that was given to you by your teacher. You spent your time looking through encyclopedias, reference books, and if you are of a certain generation, perhaps doing a "computer search" using the library's online database connection. Then you meticulously organized your notes, prepared your bibliography, and wrote up your "brilliant" analysis. Your instructor marked it, but by the time you got your assignment back, you had long since moved on.

Career research is fundamentally different along a number of dimensions. For example, no one else "assigns" it to you. Another example: if you don't think there is value in doing it, then you simply won't do it.

Career research is used for a number of purposes:

  • To determine what industry to focus on.
  • To determine what companies are in that industry, and what their prospects might be.
  • To target a specific company.
  • To educate you about the industry, and familiarize you with the jargon.
  • To prepare for an interview.
  • To reduce the on-the-job learning that will need to be done after you start.

There is a model that we have long used that can help focus your research activities, called Issues and Trends analysis. The idea is to consider a particular industry, and come up with a one page report that identifies the top 7-10 issues and trends within that industry. Said another way, what are the top items that are keeping the CEO up at night? All of your research and analysis should be focussed on identifying these issues, and understanding the implications. A note: Issues and Trends is even more critical if you are thinking about starting your own business!

To get you started on the analysis, here is a process checklist:

  1. Define the basic industry that Issues and Trends will cover. What companies are in the industry, and how are they different from each other: large/small, Canadian/American/Foreign, etc.
  2. Assemble basic research, using web-based resources and a public library. In addition to on-line sources, use trade magazines, annual reports, brokerage reports on specific industries, and industry association material. Magazines such as the Harvard Business Review, Business Week, and Marketing Magazine also may be good source material. Make sure that the information you use is up-to-date -- certainly no more than one year old;
  3. Read all of the information, looking for both common issues and “red flags”;
  4. Analyze for implications: Answer the question “So What?” and “What does this mean?”
  5. Write the note: Think strategically.
  6. Imagine that you were meeting with a potential investor, employer, or prospect: Does the note give you enough to at least ask questions. Would you feel comfortable defending any of your analysis?

In our Career Management Action Course we start the Issues and Trends analysis by looking at 50 specific questions, divided into twelve categories. While the questions only are available to course participants and coaching clients, we can provide the categories:

  • Industry and Key Companies Identification
  • Suppliers
  • Customers
  • Competitors
  • Regulations
  • Political Issues
  • International Developments
  • Impact of Technology
  • Supply Chain/Channel Analysis
  • Non-Business Infrastructure
  • Socio-economic changes
  • Key Success Factors

The best way to do an Issues and Trends analysis is to read, read, and then read some more. Once you've completed your first version, then you can begin talking to others, to validate your analysis. Your Issues and Trends analysis is complete - at least for the time being.

At this point, you may have targeted a specific company, or you have an upcoming interview with a company in that industry. The next step is company research. Use the same sources as you did for the Issues and Trends, but re-look at the sources through your target company microscope. What can you learn about the target? What are it's prospects? Challenges? Then continue your research using other resources:

  • Use your network to learn more about the organization.
  • Review their web site in detail.
  • "Google" the senior managers and the interviewers. Often they are involved in other activities, or show up on other web sites.
  • Search for Blogs ("weBLOGS") connected to the company. They may be written by outsiders or insiders; they may be "official" or may be unknown to management.
  • Review their financial statements and any online filings (if public). If there something you don't understand, ask for help from your friends.

Going through this process yields significant benefits, beyond the obvious one of appearing knowledgeable. Your decision to join an organization can be made with the honest understanding of the organization's industry positioning - and prospects.

---------

Think about what it would be like if you went into a job interview armed with all of this information. And how you would look if the person before you came this prepared and you didn't? Think again about the title of this article: Research before Job Search.

2) SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS AND MEDIA PROFILE

If you know of any other groups who are looking either for a keynote speaker or workshop leader, please contact us at seminars@LeavingTheMotherShip.com. Ask for a copy of our Demo DVD.

  • CKCO-TV: Interview by Nancy Richards on noon news (April 13)
  • Canadian Business magazine: At long last, Freedom (April 14)

3) ASK RANDALL

I've heard that the online job boards really work, yet at the same time, I hear that most jobs aren't advertised - how can this be?

Strange as it may sound, both are right. Think about what it was like 10 years ago, when job boards didn't exist. How did you find a position? You looked in the classified ads in the newspapers. Maybe you sent letters to prospective employers. Or you went door to door looking for an opening. The best advice in this environment was to network wherever and whenever you could. Your friends, and your friend's friends, became the key to tapping the unadvertised job market.

With the web and the internet, the job search marketplace became more efficient. Not only can you see more openings at once, but you can post your resume for prospective employers and recruiters to look through. Effectively, job boards have sped up the process, and made it more transparent. What the job boards haven't done is change the fact that most jobs still aren't advertised, and that networking is still your best bet.

Just as before, the job search strategy must take a multi-pronged approach: post your resume to the major boards, look through job postings (online and offline), and use your network to its best advantage.

How much notice should I give my employer when I quit?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question, as it depends on many factors. Many people feel comfortable with the "rule of thumb" of two weeks notice, but this is a relatively simplistic number. As each situation is unique, here are several of the factors that go into answering the question:

Jurisdiction and legislation: Some jurisdictions have "employment at will" legislation that allows the employer to fire you with no notice, and for you to quit with no notice. The first step is to determine whether you fall into this camp or not.

Employment agreement: Did you sign an employment agreement when you joined the organization, or are you covered under a collective bargaining agreement? If the answer is yes, then usually there is a clause within the contract that spells out exactly the required notice period, and and your obligations prior to leaving.

Current employer: By changing your departure date by a week or three, what impact will it have? From your employer's perspective, it might mean that you can finish a particular project. Or it might mean that an orderly succession plan can be put in place. When you leave, you don't want to be known as the person who left everyone in the lurch. From your perspective, changing a departure date slightly may impact your bonus or commission.

Future employer: When would they like you to start? Sometimes it is an immediate start, but often it can be delayed by as much as a month. After all, they've waited to find the perfect candidate; another week won't hurt.

And while we're on the topic of giving notice, here are several other points to consider:

  • Do you need to quit, or can you take a lengthened sabbatical, possibly maintaining your seniority, pension, and other rights?
  • Before you give notice to your employer, make sure that you get an accounting of your vacation accruals.
  • When you meet with your manager, imagine you are in their shoes. There biggest concern is likely how to pick up the pieces that you so handily manage. Consider having an outline of how your responsibilities can be handled while your replacement is recruited.
  • Be prepared, especially if you will be working for a competitor, to be asked to leave immediately. While being "marched out the door" doesn't happen too frequently, it does happen.

When you finally do have the discussion with your manager, remember that it is a small world. Even if it is tough to do so, imagine that in two years you will be interviewing for another job with this very same manager. Don't burn your bridges!

4) READER FEEDBACK

We need your feedback! How have you used the ideas from Make It Happen and Leaving the Mother Ship? Do you have any tips that others would find useful? Let us know your favorite article, and why. And what topics would you like covered in future editions? Let us know at feedback@LeavingTheMotherShip.com.

5) CAREER TUTORIALS AND CAREER MANAGEMENT ACTION COURSE

Career Tutorials: These are two hour, no-cost sessions designed to kickstart the career planning process for those serious about making a change for the better in their life. The evening is highly interactive: people learn more from "doing" things than just passively listening. The focus of the evening is career planning in the context of Work-life balance. Participants leave the tutorial with notes, along with a copy of the Personal Balance Sheet Action Planner. Note: this tutorial is a pre-requisite for the Career Management Action Course.

The dates (and registration information) for the tutorials are always available on the www.LeavingTheMotherShip.com home page. The Tutorials are scheduled on either Tuesday or Thursday evenings starting at 6:30pm sharp. If you liked the book, take the next step and sign-up for the tutorial!

Career Management Action Course: This seven-module course uses an innovative combination of self-paced exercises, private review sessions with the instructor, and an interactive workshop to help drive real change. Course objectives include:

  • To focus your personal career objectives.
  • To define both mid-term career planning and short-term job direction.
  • To identify barriers that prevent you from achieving your goals, and design a plan to address them.
  • To provide practical answers for specific-to-you career challenges. (eg addressing manager feedback, deciding when to change tracks, understanding the role of education, etc.)
  • To start developing a pro-active support network: friends, family, workmates, coursemates, and your manager.
  • To provide a framework for career decision-making in the context of an appropriate work-life balance.
  • To develop more focus, direction and the drive to get things done.

Course details are available at www.leavingthemothership.com/keynotes/index.html#3, or by emailing workshop@LeavingTheMotherShip.com. The workshop by itself can also be delivered to employees as part of a company-sponsored career-planning or outplacement initiative.

6) KEEP MAKE IT HAPPEN ALIVE

Make It Happen is a free newsletter, supported by you! To keep this newsletter coming, we rely on book sales, speaking fees, and seminar attendance. If you know anyone who would benefit from our message, please let them know. Thanks!

  • If you enjoy this newsletter, please forward it along. If you received it, and are interested in subscribing, please fill out the form below. (Note: we use a double opt-in system to prevent spam: an email will be sent to the subscriber, asking them to validate that they do wish to receive this newsletter.)
First Name:     Last Name:     Email:

Make It Happen
Copyright 2005 Knowledge to Action Press and Randall Craig. All rights reserved.

Comments and questions about Make It Happen? Let us know: editor@KnowledgeToActionPress.com.
All submissions received become the property of Knowledge to Action Press.