How do I Make a Career Transition?

The following is another question asked following the webinar I did for the alumni of Georgetown University entitled “Resumes, Interviewing and the World of Work” along with my response:

Dear Mr. Mulberger,

I enjoyed listening to your webinar this afternoon and thought that your presentation was very informative and interesting.

transition-3rd-blogI would like to receive your suggestions on how to go about changing careers from teaching math to working as an actuary. There are certain skills that overlap, however, there are other desired skills that do not show up on the resume. How could the cover letter and resume be enhanced to highlight qualifications? Would you recommend going back to school for an additional degree?

Thank you very much and I look forward to your response.

My response was:

Glad it was of value for you!!

Before you sign up for another degree suggest you find a way to talk to a few practicing actuaries and and/or those who run such a department or internal program.

A quick google search for “actuary associations” brought up: http://www.actuary.org/ with this contact information – 1850 M St NW #300 Washington, DC – (202) 974-6007

The search also brought up other entities…all fertile ground for research.

Suggest you make some phone calls…you will note that the association President slot changes annually.. so they are volunteer leaders…practicing actuaries…. the Exec Dtr runs the assoc. Track down one or more of them and ask them the questions that will give you the answers as to what your challenges will be to make that change. See http://www.actuary.org/content/messages-president

You might ask “I am very interested in making the change from teaching match to being an actuary. Can you spare a few minutes to give me some guidance and answer a question or two?” Most will say yes!

Creative google searching is a great way to find and then gain access to people… I cover it extensively in a full chapter in my book….

Let me know if I can be of further assistance!

Good luck!

Robb

Check the NRI website for current open positions in metro Washington, DC…follow me on Twitter … check my LinkedIn profile!

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When to ask for a raise

The following is a question asked following the webinar I did for the alumni of Georgetown University entitled “Resumes, Interviewing and the World of Work”… along with my response:

dollar signHi Robb,

Thank you for your very strategic advice for resumes and interviews with potential employers. . I have a question for you, what is the best way to ask for a raise in a work place? When is it time to ask for a raise after you’ve been working?

Thank you!

 

My response was:

Glad you found the webinar to be of value!

Your question is one where the answer is divided between two schools of thought:

One is – You should never have to ask for a raise… if you feel you are underpaid and/or haven’t had a raise in some time…you are working for the wrong boss or organization. (In this tight job market – this may not be as operational as when a new job would be easier to find!!)

The second is – You can ask for a raise but carefully and only under certain circumstances. Such as it is review time and you had a good review and there has been no discussion of a raise – you say “we haven’t talked about a raise. I appreciate the good performance review and was thinking that a raise might be appropriate to go along with it.” OR at any time – “let me ask a question – what is the policy regarding raises here – when are they awarded, how often and how are they determined?…COLA or what?”

Of course if there is a promotion or a change to a more complex job, a raise should be part of that change.

To explore open positions in metro Washington, DC where we are seeking candidates – go to NRI’s website. Follow me on twitter and see my LinkedIn profile!

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Delegation Trains Everyone

The inability to delegate is one of the most common failings of managers. Management and leadership are all about getting results by organizing and supervising a workforce. Poor delegation or no delegation is inefficient and expensive. And the worst thing about not delegating is that managers are losing wonderful training opportunities for their delegationworkers.

Managers have many reasons for not delegating:

  • They feel at ease doing routine tasks rather than supervising the work of others.
  • They aren’t familiar with the skills of their workers and therefore unsure of other people’s ability to take more responsibility.
  • They hate correcting other people’s work.
  • They know they can do some things better than other people can.

Delegating is hard work, but it’s work that is needed to help an organization grow and improve. You can tell people what to do, you can show people what to do, but by far the best way to teach people is to simply let them do the work themselves. Delegation provides that training venue.

There are basically two good reasons to delegate:

  • It gets the work done more efficiently…and
  • It provides training and new experiences for members of work teams.

Renowned management consultant Andrew E. Schwartz says, “Too many managers waste both time and energy performing tasks an employee could perform just as well, thereby lowering productivity while raising operating costs. The answer to the problem is easy – delegation. However, many managers still limit their own effectiveness, time and energies, and fail to develop their subordinates by either ignoring or mismanaging the techniques of delegation.”

The ability to delegate tasks and control productivity simultaneously is an essential skill for managers. There are many pitfalls that can undermine efforts to delegate, but there are also some basic steps to help managers ease their workload through delegation while maintaining control.

There are five functions of an effective delegation and controls system:

  1. Planning and Goal Setting – If everyone is involved in the planning and goal setting of a project, it is more likely that everyone will buy into the work involved to bring the project to fruition – which makes delegation easier.
  2. Responsibility and Authority – Before delegating, everyone needs to know which way the responsibility flows. Who reports to whom? That question must answered for effective delegation. James G. Patterson, a business writer and faculty member of the University of Phoenix, advises, “Be prepared to supervise. All projects require regular monitoring – especially in the early stages. So do all employees. But some projects require more scrutiny than others, and some employees demand more direction. Here, too, it’s a matter of matching the task with the person.”
  3. Negotiation – “Can you do this?” If not – training is needed. Give and take is part of the delegation process.
  4. Consultation and Coaching – Think of consultation as the bedside manner of a physician taking the pulse of a family member. The manager needs to know how the patient is doing, and must make suggestions to improve the overall health of the project and that person’s performance.
  5. Review and Control – This is kind of like consultation and coaching, but from one step back. Reviewing project aspects and controlling the work and schedule insures continued progress towards worthwhile goals. In reviewing the project the results should be addressed; and the methods that were involved should be addressed only if they were inefficient or ineffective (or illegal!!).

Delegation can result in some mistakes being made, but mistakes can also be learning opportunities. The manager’s job is to monitor the work and progress so that any mistakes are caught and corrected before they become fatal to the project. Praise should be given for jobs well done. Each time delegation happens there is a chance that everyone will improve his or her performance and standing in the organization.

For more information about delegating – see “Successful Delegation – Using the Power of Other People’s Help”

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_98.htm

And of course Wikipedia’s take on the subject:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delegation

 

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The Art of Persuasion

Persuasion is the process of convincing others of the merits of your position, idea or issue thru presenting facts, the use of logic…and avoiding any inter-personal issues that could become distractions and thereby blocking your audience from seeing and persuasionthen accepting your argument. Persuasion therefore is a two-fold process.

1. Presenting your case:

a. Broadly state the outcome and success story that you believe will result if your course of action or plan is adopted and put into place. Be as specific as you can, but don’t make any “heads in the cloud” statements or promises. Be sure everyone understands your objective and the features and benefits of achieving it.

b. Outline briefly what the challenges and barriers to success are and what resources will be needed to implement or to proceed.

c. Proceed to present in suitable detail what it is that you propose…your idea, solution or course of action. In advance you need to have thought through how much detail is appropriate for your audience. Some audiences – bosses and others – want a great deal of detail… graphs – charts, etc. They are “numbers people” and need numbers to understand. Other audiences are “concept people” and just want to understand your concept and how things will generally work. Part of this depends on how much faith your audience has in you, your past history of being on target with ideas, decisions and actions.

d. You need to build your case step-by-step. Take the temperature regularly to ensure that you haven’t lost anyone along the way, saying something like “Everyone with me? Any questions? OK… let’s proceed.” Pay attention to your audience… and look for any signs of confusion and if questions reveal that an earlier point was missed…go back and cover that ground again. When you have fully made your presentation…do a quick review…ask if there are any more questions…and then ask the decision-maker(s) when you might expect a decision.

e. You also need to think through ahead of time what your presentation format will be; will you use visual aids such as a PowerPoint presentation, or some other graphics? And hand in hand with that is what kind of “leave behind” or handouts you will utilize. If you use a PowerPoint presentation, you can print all of the PowerPoint slides – six to a page – in color or in black and white. You also need to decide whether to distribute your handouts in advance… so that your audience can make notes on them.

2. Remember we said there are two aspects to persuasion? The second one is avoiding any inter-personal issues that could become distractions and thereby blocking your audience from seeing and then accepting your argument. An overview of these issues include:

a. Know who your audience is and what is at stake for each of them. For example, a plan to expand the use of technology and automaton may be great… but if it results in cutting staff, be aware that may be indeed a blow to someone’s turf…their power and influence in the organization. When a “stakeholder” has something to lose as a result of your plan, you may well benefit from talking with them in advance…saying something like “..when I make my pitch to the team tomorrow, it might have an adverse impact on part of your operation… but hear it out and we can then discuss its impact on your department.” Do an inventory of who is going to be involved with your presentation and the resulting decision to be made. What do they have at stake? What might their fears be? Be sure to address them in your presentation.

b. Be aware of whose handiwork you are going to modify or eliminate if that will be the impact of your proposal. Here too you may want to meet with them before the presentation and say something like “…I know that the data center was your baby and that you set it up…and wanted you to know that my proposal to the team tomorrow will have an impact on that…and I ask that you hear me out tomorrow.”

c. Finally… be sure to mentally be alert for any mannerism that annoy or frustrate people. Jingling the change in your pocket for the men… pulling at strands of hair for the ladies. Examine your speaking style for repetitive and annoying words and phrases such as saying “OK” after every sentence, and slang and lingo that might annoy others. Never, never use profanity or discriminatory words or phrases. Be 110% “politically correct”!!

Successfully persuading others involves influencing them. The late (and great) Cavett Robert, a world-renowned motivational speaker said “Influence is the ability to cause others to think, feel and act as we desire”. Use your powers of persuasion to influence your audience to adopt your proposal … or at the very least …as a springboard to modifying it for the benefit of the organization. Good Luck!!

If you want to know more of the art of persuasion – see the Wikipedia link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persuasion

And a great Forbes article on line:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonnazar/2013/03/26/the-21-principles-of-persuasion/

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