Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Five Personalities of Innovators: Which One Are You?

Whenever I try to conjure up what innovation looks like, the same slideshow of images clicks across my mind: that photo of Einstein with his tongue sticking out, Edison with his light bulb, Steve Jobs onstage in his black turtleneck, introducing the latest iThing. Unoriginal and overdone, to be sure. And not all that accurate.

Because it’s not just about that romantic “ah ha!” moment in front of a chalkboard or a cocktail napkin, it’s about the nitty-gritty work that comes after the idea:  getting it accepted and implemented. Who are these faces? And, most importantly, as I’m sure you’re all asking yourselves: where do I fit in?

Forbes Insights’ recent study, “Nurturing Europe’s Spirit of Enterprise: How Entrepreneurial Executives Mobilize Organizations to Innovate,” isolates and identifies five major personalities crucial to fostering a healthy atmosphere of innovation within an organization. Some are more entrepreneurial, and some more process-oriented – but all play a critical role in the process. To wit: thinkers need doers to get things done, and idealists need number crunchers to tether them to reality.

 

 

The Forbes Insights study surveyed more than 1,200 executives in Europe across a range of topics and themes. Using a series of questions about their attitudes, beliefs, priorities and behaviors, coupled with a look at the external forces that can either foster – or desiccate – an innovative environment, a picture emerged of five key personality types the play a role in the innovation cycle.

This last piece – the corporate environment – is a stealth factor that can make or break the potential even the most innovative individual. Look at it this way: a blue whale is the largest animal known ever to have existed, but if you tried to put it in a freshwater lake, it wouldn’t survive. Well, that and it would displace a lot of water. My point? Even the largest and mightiest of creatures can’t thrive in an environment that doesn’t nurture them.

The themes surveyed in the study are universal; despite the focus on European executives, these personalities are applicable across oceans and cultures. The full study, available here, provides further breakdown of where these personality types congregate by industry, company size and job function.

I’ll leave it to you to decide which one fits you best . You may even see a little of yourself in more than one group.  But remember, none of these are bad. All play crucial roles in developing an idea, pushing it up the corporate channels, developing a strategy and overseeing execution and implementation. These are all pieces of a puzzle, arteries leading to the beating heart of corporate innovation. Wow – can I make that sound any more dramatic?

Nurturing Europe’s Spirit of Enterprise: How Entrepreneurial Executives Mobilize Organizations to Innovate

The Five Personality Types of Innovation: a breakdown

Movers and Shakers. With a strong personal drive, these are leaders. Targets and rewards motivate them strongly, but a major incentive for this group is the idea of creating a legacy and wielding influence over others. These are the ones who like being in the front, driving projects forward (and maybe promoting themselves in the process), but at the end of the day, they provide the push to get things done. On the flip side, they can be a bit arrogant, and impatient with teamwork.  Movers and Shakers tend to cluster in risk and corporate strategy, in the private equity and media industries, at mid-size companies; though they comprise 22% of total executives, at companies with revenues of $25 million to $1 billion, Movers and Shakers can encompass up to one-third of the executive suite.

Experimenters. Persistent and open to all new things, experimenters are perhaps the perfect combination for bringing a new idea through the various phases of development and execution. “Where there is a will, there is a way,” is perhaps the best way to describe them. They’re perfectionists and tend to be workaholics, most likely because it takes an incredible amount of dedication, time and hard work to push through an idea or initiative that hasn’t yet caught on. They take deep pride in their achievements, but they also enjoy sharing their expertise with others; they’re that intense colleague who feels passionately about what they do and makes everyone else feel guilty for daydreaming during the meeting about what they plan on making for dinner that night. Because they’re so persistent, even in the face of sometimes considerable pushback, they’re crucial to the innovation cycle. They tend to be risk-takers, and comprise about 16% of executives – and are most likely to be found in mid-size firms of $100 million to $1 billion (20%). Surprisingly, they’re least likely to be CEOs or COOs – just 14% and 15%, respectively, are Experimenters.

Star Pupils. Do you remember those kids in grade school who sat up in the front, whose hands were the first in the air anytime the teacher asked a question? Maybe they even shouted out “Ooh! Ooh!” too just to get the teacher to notice them first? This is the segment of the executive population those kids grew into. They’re good at…well, they’re good at everything, really: developing their personal brand, seeking out and cultivating the right mentors, identifying colleagues’ best talents and putting them to their best use. Somehow, they seem to be able to rise through the ranks and make things happen, even when corporate culture seems stacked against them. Unsurprisingly, CEOs tend to be Star Pupils. What’s most interesting about this group, though, is the fact that, at 24% of corporate executives, they don’t seem to cluster in any one particular job function, industry or company size; rather, they can grow and thrive anywhere: IT, finance, start-ups, established MNCs. They’re the stem cells of the business world.

Controllers. Uncomfortable with risk, Controllers thrive on structure and shy away from more nebulous projects. Above all, they prefer to be in control of their domain and like to have everything in its place. As colleagues, they’re not exactly the team players and networkers; Controllers are more insular and like to focus on concrete, clear-cut objectives where they know exactly where they stand and can better control everything around them. They comprise 15% of executives — the smallest group overall — and tend to cluster on both extremes of the spectrum: either in the largest enterprises (with 1,000 or more employees) or the smallest (with fewer than 10). This makes sense when you think about it: controllers thrive on overseeing bureaucracy (at larger firms) or having complete control over all aspects of their sphere – at the smallest firms, they may be the business owner who has built an entire company around their personality. Controllers pop up most frequently in sales and marketing and finance, and populate the more practical, less visionary, end of the corporate hierarchy: these are the department heads and managers who receive their marching orders and get to mobilizing their troops to marching.

Hangers-On. Forget the less-than-flattering name; these executives exist to bring everyone back down to earth and tether them to reality. On a dinner plate, Hangers-On would be the spinach: few people’s favorite, but extremely important in rounding out the completeness of the meal. Like Controllers, they don’t embrace unstructured environments, and they tend to take things one step further, hewing to conventional wisdom and tried-and-true processes over the new and untested. When asked to pick a side, Hangers-On will most likely pick the middle. This is not necessarily a bad set of characteristics to have; someone has to be the one to remind everyone of limitations and institutional processes. While they comprise 23% of all executives – the same no matter the company size – they cluster most strongly in the CFO/Treasurer/Comptroller role, where 38% are Hangers-On. This makes sense; someone has to remind everyone of budget and resource constraints.

 

As we’ve seen time and again, unbridled innovation is a wonderful thing. But it’s what comes next that’s arguably more important. To get an innovative idea off the ground, it’s crucial to have a cast of characters who can keep that tension between risk-taking and reality at a healthy balance midway between the sky and the ground — where innovation can thrive.

 

Brenna Sniderman

Brenna Sniderman is the Senior Director of Research at Forbes Insights. @brennasniderman.

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6 Tips For Experienced Job Seekers Who Have Been Unemployed Long-Term

The tight job market has affected all demographics — but older workers have really felt the squeeze, particularly if they found themselves out of work for one reason or another. Statistics show that older workers are unemployed for an average of 44 weeks (more than 10 months), according to an AARP report.

After a recent post by my co-founder Sean, on the things employers want to see on your resume, we recognized how easy it is to get frustrated and want to give up during the job search. But staying active and positive is the key to job search success. Follow the tips below to maximize your job search and get one step closer to your ideal position.

1. Sell, sell, sell. Consistently, the biggest mistake we see is that people write a ‘me’ focused resume. A primary example of this is the outdated objective statement – if you have the word ‘seeking’ on your resume, you’re writing a ‘me’ resume. Employers don’t hire you for your satisfaction; they hire you to fill their own critical need. Think of it this way. If you were in sales, would you ever say to a customer “Buy this item because I need the commission”? And if you were the customer, would you buy? A ‘me’ centered resume says essentially the same thing.

Your job is to think of the potential employer as a customer. You’ve know they’re a hot lead because they’ve taken the time to post the job – so someone is going to close the deal with them. How do you make sure they go with you? By selling to them like you would sell to anyone else. Figure out their pain points. Why are they hiring? Who have they hired in the past? What’s their most critical need? And then go in there with your sales guns blazing; be the solution to their problem.

2. Really tap your network. As you’ve heard before, “it’s who you know” that often helps you land a job. This is especially true with small businesses who cannot afford to post jobs on pricey job boards (or don’t have the time to sift through the hundreds of applications they may receive), but some larger companies also rely on referrals to fill open positions.

Actively keep in touch with former colleagues, friends, and family, and let them know you’re on the job search. If you know someone who works at an organization you’d like to work for, ask them to grab coffee or lunch to strengthen your relationship and inquire about possible opportunities there.

3. Perfect your resume. If you’re on the job search, your first priority should be your resume. It must show your value to potential employers to ensure you make it to the interview round. Make sure resume uses active writing to show hiring managers and recruiters what you accomplished and what you’re capable of.

Make sure that your resume is clean and clutter free. Anything that does not effectively sell your skills needs to go. Clean up your resume by using the ever faithful bullet points. Always keep in mind that less is sometimes more. You don’t need to get too fancy with fonts, language or formatting.
4. Search for free using your resources. Find job opportunities from sites across the Web — from job boards and government sites, to company career sites and newspapers, and more. Set up email alerts or RSS feeds to learn about jobs as they’re posted. Keeping on top of new postings can help you be one of the first to apply and ensure you get your resume in front of employers before the position is filled.

5. Learn new skills. Although you likely have a lot of experience in your industry, there’s always room to learn something new, particularly if you have been unemployed for several months. Look for certification programs or relevant classes you can take to boost your resume and impress potential employers.

6. Use social media for personal branding and networking. According to a study by Jobvite, 16 percent of job seekers (a combination of unemployed and looking, employed and looking, or employed and open to a new job) said “an online social network directly led to finding their current/most recent job.” Of those, the majority (78 percent) attributed their job to Facebook, 40% to LinkedIn, and 42% to Twitter. Since each network can be beneficial to your job search in different ways, it’s important you don’t write off certain online opportunities because you don’t see the value or think your age demographic isn’t right for them.

You should also keep in mind that your presence on these networks represents your online brand. The majority of employers now use social media to screen job candidates, and 68 percent said they have hired someone based on what they saw about them online (such as giving a positive impression or supporting professional qualifications).

What do you think? Are there other tactics that helped you land a job when you were unemployed? Please share in the comments below!

Gerrit Hall is the CEO and co-founder of RezScore, a free Web application that reads, analyzes, and grades resumes — instantly. Gerrit has successfully combined his passion for computer science and the careers space by helping job seekers write the best resume possible. You can connect with Gerrit and RezScore on Facebook and Twitter.

Cross posted from Simplyhired

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15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly

 

Thanks to Copyblogger

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This May Seem Like a No-Brainer…But Correctly Filling Out an Application DOES Matter!

The first impression a hiring manager has of you often comes in the form of an employment application. Filling out the job application correctly makes a good impression and improves your chance of landing a job interview. Follow some simple steps to ensure that your application is properly filled out, allowing you to get your foot in the door to compete for the position you seek.

Step 1
Prepare to fill out the necessary information. Most jobs require similar information on job applications, which allows you to prepare yourself to provide such information. This information includes job history, supervisor names and contact information, educational information and references. Before filling out an application, Rogue Community College suggests that you make sure you have the correct dates, names, contact information and addresses for all of the typically required information.Also, make sure you have a blue or black pen with you when you pick up the application in case you have to fill it out there and cannot take the application home.

Step 2
Read the instructions carefully. Some applications will include specific instructions on the application that require you to fill out the form in blue or black ink or list information in a certain order, according to Rogue Community College. If you do not follow the instructions outlined on the application, you may immediately find your application immediately discarded by the hiring manager. To avoid this, read the instructions carefully and follow them.

Step 3
Print legibly. If the hiring manager cannot read the information you provide, you will not find yourself called for an interview. Print clearly and precisely in ink or, if possible, type the information into the application, advises New Mexico Tech Career Services. You may opt to use an erasable pen in case of errors but make sure the application is neat and spotless when you turn it in.

Step 4
Fill out the application in its entirety. According to an article by Bob Lankard on the New York Daily News website, missed information can sometimes result in a hiring manager disregarding your application. Make sure you fill out every section and answer every question. California’s WorkSmart website advises job seekers to write “Does Not Apply” in the space if the question does not apply to you, rather than leaving a blank space.

Step 5
Attach your resume. According to New Mexico Tech Career Services, you should include your resume with the job application unless a job application specifically asks you not to. Your resume may go into greater detail about the success of your educational career and employment history, as well as explain any lengthy absences in employment.

Step 6
Proofread your application. According to New Mexico Tech Career Services, misspelled words may disqualify you from the hiring process in some instances. Avoid this by re-reading your application and, if possible, having a friend read it as well. Proofreading the application also serves as a perfect opportunity for you to ensure that you have not missed any required information or left blank spots.

Tips and Warnings
Before including someone as a reference on your job application, ask for his permission and advise him that he may receive a call from a hiring manager. Copy the application for your records before turning it in and refer to the copy before attending an interview.

 

Reposted from livestrong.com

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I’m a Young Mom and Would Like to Go Back to College. How Can Goodwill Help Me?

First of all I would like to commend you for wanting to further your education.  Being a mom is challenging in itself.  Goodwill can help you in exploring your options.

  • We would first need to explore your needs (financial, childcare, transportation, etc.) and make referrals to agencies if needed.
  • You need to explore your interests and skills.  Goodwill can give you an assessment test.  Actually www.careeronestop has several good self assessments.
  • Once we know your interest and skills, Goodwill can recommend different avenues to achieve your goal.  My Goodwill has several training programs which would be useful in getting a job and continuing the pursuit of your education.  For example I had a client complete her CNA1 and CNA2.  The hospital hired her and paid for her Nursing Degree. Success!!!
  • Another avenue would be the Wal-Mart Foundation program (www.goodwill.org/beyondjobs/).  This program assist single moms get job training and placement in certain areas.
  • Goodwill can help identify local job trends.  What are the areas of job growth?  Industrial Engineering is a growing in my area.
  • Goodwill can set up information interviews.  While on line websites, such as www.americasjobbank.com, have great information; there is nothing like hearing from the horse’s mouth.  You can find out the good, bad and the ugly.  Then decide if it is what you want to do.
  • Goodwill can also help in researching colleges.  You can find information on financial aid and which college would be best for your interest area.
  • If you need a job while going to school, remember that is Goodwill’s specialty.  We are here to help.

Good luck on your new adventure.  You are a great example for your children. Remember Goodwill is here to help guide you through the process and celebrate your success.  That’s my favorite part…

Tempy Albright

Job Developer/Skills Training Manager

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Are You Suffering from the Job-Search Blahs??

That warm and wonderful holiday haze is long gone; so there are no more excuses for putting-off your job search!  The good news is (we’re being told) that the economy is improving…and that more jobs are opening up:  I know…I can hear all of you saying:  “Sooooo, where are they??!!

REMEMBER:  Looking for a job is a full-time job; so you have to WORK at finding the right job for you!   Most importantly, you have to plan your work to be successful.   If you don’t have a daily job search plan and schedule in place, you will find yourself wandering around aimlessly; doing projects around the house, wasting time on the computer, watching TV, etc.  Suddenly the day is gone…you’ve accomplished nothing on your job search…you feel guilty and your stress level goes through the roof.

You have to plan your days, your weeks….and work your plan to get a job. Schedule time to make phone calls (cold calls and follow-up calls), search for job leads using online job search resources and to complete online applications.  Set your alarm every day, get out of bed and get dressed (professionally)!  Come to Career Connections to check the Job Boards, to update your resume, for help in practicing for your interview, to research companies—and to network with fellow job seekers.  Seek out job fairs and networking opportunities, schedule time at JobLink centers and the ESC office.  Be sure you’re taking advantage of all job search resources.

Become an expert in all of these strategies.  If you do, you will be successful in your job search. You never know where the right job lead will come from, so be sure to cover all your bases—every week!  Happy Hunting!!

Ruth Owens

Career Connections Specialist

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15 Tips for Composing Clear, Concise & Responsive Emails

1. Determine Your Desired Outcome

Most people know roughly what they want, but do not take the time to clearly think it through. This is how we end up with ambiguous or rambling email. Without a clear understanding of our desired end results, our thoughts are disorganized and we can easily confuse the receiver.

There are 4 types of email:

  1. Self Fulfilling Email – The email itself is the point. You want to tell the receiver something, either a compliment or information. No reply is necessary.
  2. Inquiries - You need something from the receiver in the form of a reply. For example, advice, or questions answered. The reply is your desired outcome.
  3. Open-Ended Dialog – to keep communication lines open, for the purpose of some future result or benefit.
  4. Action Emails – The goal is not the reply, but some action on the part of the receiver. For example, a sales pitch, or asking for a website link exchange.

Which type of email are you sending? What is your desired outcome?

The clearer your intention, the more focused you will be, the better you can cater email for the intended result, the more likely you will get your desired outcome.

2. Quickly Answers, “What’s the Point?”

People want to know “what do you need from me?” Answer this question quickly. Skip long introductions, backgrounds, compliments and details. Jump to the point. State it clearly using minimal words.

If action is needed, make it clear what the desired action is from the recipient.

And if no action or reply is expected, say that! “No reply necessary.” It’ll be like music to their ears.

3. State Benefits Clearly

If a pitch is presented, make sure it includes many clearly stated, easily understood benefits for the receiver.

Too many pitchy emails focus solely on the sender and why the action will benefit the sender. If you don’t present incentives, or they are difficult to understand, the receiver will say no – resulting in a waste of time for both.

Also, make sure the incentives are realistic, the exchange is fair, and there truly are benefits to the receiver. Do your homework before contacting someone. Put yourself in their shoes, “Would you act on the offer?”

Example, emailing a high profile website like lifehacker for a link exchange is not a fair exchange. It’s called spam. If they don’t display links to other sites, likely they won’t display yours.

4. Remember to KISS

KISS = Keep it simple, stupid (I didn’t come up with this)

When we send out a long email asking for something from the receiver (time, favor, etc), we are essentially saying “I do not respect your time.” Show them you appreciate their time, by making email short, and simple to answer.

Using as few words as possible, introduce who you are, context if necessary, and why you are emailing.

Being brief doesn’t mean we have to be boring. We can be creative with our wording, add a dash of personality where you see fit, but still be brief.

5. Save the Whole Story – Stick to the Facts.

People tend to say too much in email. We feel compelled to describe all the details and disclose the whole of our existence so that the receiver can understand the whole picture. Truth is, unless you already know this person well, they really don’t care.

Unless asked, you don’t need to overly elaborate anything. Simply stick to the facts – it’ll help you keep your message short.

6. Pretend Face-to-face Intro

If you just met someone new at a party, would you open your mouth first and give them a rambling story about your life? Probably not. Typically, we close our mouth after a quick intro. In email, stopping talking is equivalent to hitting the send button.

 

Treating email introductions as if you are meeting them in person is another trick to keeping messages short.

 

7. Text Message Trick

When we are on mobile devices like the blackberry or our cell phones, we lack the fluidity of the computer keyboard, and as such, we get to the point really fast.

Now, pretend you’re on a mobile device, what would your message be now?

8. Avoid Excessive Compliments

Some people have the idea that the more compliments they throw out, the more likely the receiver will comply with their offer/need/pitch.

There is a difference between being genuine and saying what’s on your heart, and going out of your way to compliment someone. We humans are exceptional at detecting unauthentic phrasings and remarks – even in email.

Compliment only if you really mean it. And remember to be brief if you need action from the receiver.

9. Be Personal and Personable

Personalize email with relevant remarks to the receiver, put in a quick comment about their site, product or work. Address the person by name, sign email with your own name, and a friendly comment like “Enjoy your weekend!”

10. Make it Easy to Be Found

In your signature, include appropriate URLs for your website, blog, portfolio or product. Make sure the links are functional so they can read more about you in one-click.

11. Use Simple English

When the writing is too formal or uses irrelevant technical lingo, it is difficult for laymen to understand. Plus, you come off sounding like a legal document or spammer. Neither is good.

Write like you talk, using conversational English. Be authentic and realistic.

Trying to sound professional will come off as if you are trying to sound professional. Use your real voice – it’s more endearing and approachable.

12. Font Matters

There is nothing worse than opening an email and become blinded by the brightness elicited by all the words displaying in bold. It makes me want to instantly close the email for the sake of protecting my eyes.

Alternatively, fonts that are too small, too large, or otherwise hard to read (ie. 8 point, times roman font, all bold.) makes us not want to read the email as well.

Beware of your fonts in your ‘presentation’. Do not bold the entire email, use easy to read fonts (ie. Arial), and use a standard size. Do not use extravagant colors since they don’t work well on all monitors and can be hard to read.

13. Formatting Matters

Make emails easy to read and quick to scan by using bullet points, numbered lists, and keeping paragraphs short. Highlight keywords (bold or italic) for emphasis, without overdoing it.

14. Minimize Questions

Ask questions that matter, and limit the number of questions and favors you ask in an email (one or two max). The more questions (especially open-ended ones) asked in one sitting, the less likely you are to get a response, and the less likely all your questions will be answered.

Also, ask specific questions instead of a general open-ended ones. Be reasonable and thoughtful when asking. Don’t expect the recipient to solve all our life problems. For example, “How can I get rich quick? How can I become successful?” are too broad. Break them down into specifics and ask the one question that really matters.

You can send additional questions in separate emails. Key is in keeping the line of communication open by not overwhelming the receiver.

15. Trimming of Words

Like grooming a garden, read through the finished email and trim out words, sentences, and paragraphs that do not contribute towards your desired result.

Check for potential ambiguities and unclear thinking. Can you rephrase sentences for clarity using fewer words? Check for excess commentary that doesn’t add to the email’s main point. Remove extra details disclosed, unnecessarily.

 

Case Study:

This morning, I received this little gem in my inbox (bold and everything):

Subject: We Are Looking For Offers For Our Database

effective-email-case-study.gif

My first instinctive reaction was “What the *bleep*?” I actually stopped reading the moment the email flashed open, because my eyes hurt from the brightness of the bold fonts. My follow up questions were: What do you need from me? What the heck are you selling? Why should I care?

After reading it about five times, I’m still left confused as to what they do, or what action items I can take – aside from giving up my phone number (which I would never do).

Reviewing our 15 tips above, a more effective email might be:

Subject: Opportunity for Free Traffic

Hi Tina,

I’m writing on behalf of <web-url>. We make it easy for bloggers to network with one another.

Our site gets X monthly page views, just having your website listed in our network will expose it to many new readers.

Here are some websites currently in our community: <list of related and well known websites>.
Joining takes less than 5 minutes and you’ll love the results: <web-url>

Let me know if you have any questions.

<name>
<company name>
<site url>

Take Home Points:

  • No rambling stories or long intros.
  • Get to the point quickly.
  • Next action clearly stated.
  • Present benefits.
  • Fonts and formatting matter.
  • Review for conciseness, simplicity and clarity.
  • One question per email.
  • Be yourself – that is, the concise version of yourself.

 

Courtesy of thinksimplenow.com

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