How to Position Myself to Achieve Optimal Interest from Prospective Employers?

I received an email from a job-seeker referred to me as a result of one of my university alumni webinars.

The email asked the question “…how to position myself to achieve optimal interest from potential employers?…and asked about the value of a career coach.

My response was:

The answer lies in the fact that qualifications and experience speak for themselves when properly packaged.

For example a degreed accountant who is currently a controller will respond differently (with regard to resume, cover letter and marketing effort) when applying for another controller position vs an accounting manager position. The first will stress hands-on accounting skills and knowledge; the second will stress management, problem-solving and leadership skills and knowledge.

So first define what  it is you are specifically seeking – and it can be more than one career target. For each career target – fashion a resume, cover letter and marketing plan that speaks to what an employer would want. For example – a firm seeking a tax attorney will want to know how current the knowledge base is, how recent the relevant experience is, etc. You have a number of career paths already somewhat in place but you need different versions of your resume and cover letter to focus on them individually.

As you define career targets… think to where the opportunity lies …go after the “low-hanging fruit” (the positions and career targets that are on the upswing vs those that are not). For example any positions in print journalism are not career targets that makes sense at this time. Research the possibilities for your selected career targets.

So my advice to you is:

  1. Read my book . If you don’t think it has value – let me know and I will refund your money.
  2. Come up with several career targets based upon your personal ambitions coupled with your experience and apply a dose of reality to them based on trends and your research.
  3. Fire up your network and once you have resumes and cover letters in order – follow the advice in Chapter 9 – “Uncovering The Hidden Job Market”.
  4. If you feel a career coach might be of value – sound out the following two individuals – and see if what they offer has value for you. I recommend both  – feel free to  use my name as an introduction.

Angelo Agrafiotis – 973.283.8161 – [email protected] Angelo is in New Jersey.

Marshall Brown – 202.518.5811 – [email protected]

Marshall is in DC.

Good luck and let me know how it is proceeding!

Robb Mulberger

LinkedIn  twitter.jpg 



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!


Ever Wonder Why Washington, DC is part of a square… resting on a point?

What happened to the rest of the square?DC map.jpg

<<<  Washington, DC todayDC map 2

Washington, DC in 1790 >>>>>>>>>>



Legislation was passed in 1790 to establish the new national capital on the Potomac River at a site to be determined by Washington. Land would be taken from both Maryland and Virginia to form the capital city. (To learn why the capital was to be on the Potomac River, see a previous post  Ever Wonder Why The U.S. National Capital is Located Where It Is). The new national capital was to be a square of 10 miles on a side – 100 square miles. Washington understood that commerce was going to be important to the new capital city and he wanted to include the 3 major seaports of the Potomac River:

  •  Alexandria, VA – in 1790 the largest port between Philadelphia and Charleston and then an independent city founded in 1749.
  •  Georgetown – the farthest upriver that ocean-going vessels could travel. Also an independent city founded in 1751.
  •  Bladensburg, MD – located on the Eastern Branch of the Potomac (now the Anacostia River) and was an important seaport for Maryland shipping and commerce.

In order to include all 3 of those ports in a square 10 miles on a side…the square had to be turned to include Alexandria at the lower tip… Georgetown in the left side and just snag Bladensburg on the upper right side. Land was ceded from Maryland and Virginia to the U.S. Government to form the new capital city.

As you contemplate the map and those 3 points, keep in mind that surveying in 1790 was not a totally precise process and there were no detailed accurate maps to layout that 10×10 mile square.

So what happened to the rest of the square?

By the 1840s there had been very little economic growth in the portion taken from Virginia; almost all of the commercial development was north of the Potomac River.

In 1844, the Commonwealth of Virginia petitioned Congress to return that portion taken in 1790.

Congress did so in 1846. Arlington County was formed along the nice straight linesDC map 1 surveyed in 1790 and Alexandria re-established its original boundary lines (not all of Alexandria became part of the capital city).

Here ends the history lesson!!

Now you indeed have some wise comments to make at the next event you attend!

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For jobs and career opportunities in the Washington, DC metro area –  visit the NRI website. Many jobs are listed there …..and NRI Recruiters can find others for you!

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Copyright © Robert Mulberger All Rights Reserved


Ever Wonder Why The U.S. Capital Is Where It Is?

Like a lot of politics…it was the result of a “deal”!!

Flash back to the early days of the republic… the new national government was saddled with immense debt from the revolutionary war as were the states. By the late 1780s, some states – notably the southern states of Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina had paid off their debt while others such as Massachusetts and South Carolina had not. At the same time the debate was going on as to where to locate the national capital…. New York, Boston and Philadelphia were the largest cities in the country – centers of banking, law and commerce – and each wanted to be the national capital.



Enter Alexander Hamilton (of $10 bill fame), Secretary of the Treasury. To establish credit for the new nation, Hamilton proposed to restructure the revolutionary war debt and at the same time for the federal government to assume the revolutionary war debt of the states. Assuming the state’s unpaid debts would assure their creditors that they would be paid. Hamilton’s plan was opposed by Jefferson and Madison; Jefferson on the grounds that it was not fair to those states that had paid off their debt (such as his native Virginia!). To ask Virginia, Maryland, etc. taxpayers to pay off the debt of those states that still had revolutionary war debt was not right! Madison and others opposed it on the basis that the new Constitution didn’t contemplate such actions.Hamilton’s plan was achieved by a “deal”; Hamilton would campaign among his northern political allies for the national capital to be located on the Potomac River (the boundary between Maryland and Virginia). Jefferson and Madison lobbied their southern peers to back Hamilton’s plan, including the federal government assuming the unpaid revolutionary war debt of the states. Virginia and Maryland essentially saying “we will help pay off your debt…but we get the capital”! The deal was cut!

DC map.jpgLegislation was passed on July 16, 1790 to establish the national capital on the Potomac River somewhere between Hagerstown, MD and Alexandria, Virginia – the decision of exactly where to be left to discretion of the new President (and former surveyor) George Washington.

Now you know why the national capital is where it is!!Stay tuned to see why it is shaped the way it is!

Knowledge – always be seeking it!

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For jobs and career opportunities in the Washington, DC metro area –  visit the NRI website. Many jobs are listed there …..and NRI Recruiters can find others for you!

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Copyright © Robert Mulberger All Rights Reserved

Taking Charge When Taking Over

Taking Charge When Taking Over

Where to begin when you are hired to be the boss??


By Marshall Brown, CPCC, President Marshall Brown & Associates. Published in Association TRENDS. Reprinted with permission. While this specifically is geared to a trade association executive, the issues are the same that need to be addressed when a manager at any level is hired to take over an existing team.

Q: I recently became the CEO of a mid-sized association and will be managing a staff of 30. I would like to develop and convey some clear expectations for the staff and give the directors some guidance on implementation. Any tips would be appreciated.

Brown: Too often, executives seem to lead through mental telepathy. Rather than set and communicate clear expectations – the milestones against which we test our progress – they assume their managers and employees know what to do and how to do it. What results is hesitation, indecision and uncertainty. Healthy teamwork, initiative and productivity go out the window.

Properly setting expectations for directors and employees/team members is a critical dimension in quality workplaces, according to a study of managers undertaken in the 1990s by the Gallup Organization. Below are some tips for both you and your directors on setting clear expectations that will set standards for excellence and results:

1. Start with a vision of what you want the end result to look like. Not just what you want done, but the results you want to achieve when the project is completed.

2. Discuss how you define “excellent performance.” Paint a complete picture. Refer to your performance review form. Don’t assume.

3. Focus on the desired outcome, not on describing each and every step. Your goal is to guide, not control. Letting individuals find their own route toward productive outcomes encourages them to use their strengths.

4. Tie the mission of the department to each job. People want to know that their role, whether large or small, makes a difference.

5. Put the expectations in writing.

6. Stay on the sideline. You may be tempted to step in and ‘play the game’ for a subordinate, but if you do, no one will learn.

7. Give feedback, and often! The annual performance review is too late to let staff members know how they are meeting your expectations. Schedule informal review time weekly (quarterly for larger departments). Feedback given along the way sounds more like coaching, not like punishment.

8. Ask for staff members’ feedback on how they think they are doing. Two-way communication clarifies expectations.

9. Give positive reinforcement. Don’t mix negative and positive. Mention the thing you like and you’ll get more of it. Be specific and prompt.

10. Don’t take it personally. When staff members don’t perform as you think they should have, look for solutions, not blame.

This article was originally published in the March 2011 edition of Marshall Brown & Associates’ It’s All About You! Ezine.


If looking for opportunities in metro Washington, DC – check out NRI’s job listings on our website!

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Four Things You MUST Do When You Start A New Job!

Four Things You MUST Do When You Start A New Job!

first 90 daysGetting “On Board”; What To Do…and Not To Do… in the First 90 days!

OK.. you just started your new job or you will very soon.

Just because you have accepted an offer doesn’t mean  your job search is over!! Part of a successful job search is to become acclimated and begin to make meaningful contributions as quickly as possible. Your objective is to cement key relationships, get the lay of the land and ….make no mistakes.

Have you ever seen a football player on the way to a sure touchdown inexplicably drop the ball….or stumble and fall…or quit running 100% and get tackled? It happens!! In each case, the player quit before the job was done.

Well, your job search isn’t “done” until you are “On Board”!

As the phrase goes “First Impressions Count”…and think of the first impression period to be the first 90 days. Give yourself a maximum of 90 days to:

1. Figure out who the key players are in your arena…and spend serious face time with them. Not so much that you become a pest, of course, but your objective is to really get to know them and where they fit in. Your boss is  one of them of course, but who are the others? Typically, they are those who depend on you for specific assistance or performance on issues and those upon who you likewise depend. Tread cautiously  in conversation; some will be more private than others…and don’t get caught up in company nonsense or politics… but engage them professionally to see what makes them tick.

But beware – it may not end with this group. You need “EA” – “Environmental  Awareness” to know for sure who fits into this category. For example you want to have a good speaking relationship with the security guard, the cashier in the company cafeteria and the main building receptionist. Even though you don’t count on them directly nor they of you – you want them singing your praises!

2. Determine how you will be evaluated. What is the criteria that your boss will grade you on to determine if he or she made a great hire… or an “ok” hire? You should have started this during the interview process. Now that you have been hired, you probably have a pretty good feel for what those criteria are… but regardless, have that conversation with your boss during the first few days on the job.  As the first few weeks roll by confirm that you understood the criteria correctly… and do they reconcile with what you see? Check out the organization’s mission statement. Take the temperature on your performance by scheduling some time with your boss every week or so to ask “How am I doing? ….am I missing anything?…etc.”

3. Determine what the really important things are. And be aware they may not be what they seem to be. Is there an overriding project that senior management is really counting on coming in on time and on budget? Are there major problems or issues to be resolved? Making sure that the “trains run on time” is important, but you need to determine what is #1 on your bosses’ “To Do” list and on his bosses’ “To Do” list as well. You don’t want to be guilty of doing a great job on the mundane, but not really earning your pay by making significant and real contributions to the mission and objectives of your department, your boss and the organization.

4. Be on the way to becoming a “Go To” person. Everywhere of course… but particularly in the areas of greatest importance to the organization. Be curious…see and understand the big picture…pitch in at every opportunity you can to make a difference. Be aware of “turf” issues; always volunteer “Can I give you a hand on this”. And rather than volunteer opinions, ask “Would you like my thoughts on this?” If you see something that doesn’t look quite right – either take care of it… or bring it – diplomatically – to the attention of someone who can take care of it. Being a true “Go To” person requires very good EA (as defined above); you really need to see and be aware of what is going on – both in front of and behind the scenes! Note – this also requires that you do so in an upfront and transparent manner… you are above board at all times!

As a “Go To” person… as time goes on, you will be valued for having been in on the ground floor of past projects, successes, things that didn’t go as expected, etc. It is that collective experience and knowledge that begin to magnify your contributions.

OK… four things to achieve in the first 90 days on the jobwrite them down and post them on where you will see them daily… and then pledge to make progress towards achieving them…daily. Good Luck!

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A Touch of Humility Goes a Long Way

Effective leadership can’t be possible without a good dose of humility. All successful people have it. All effective leaders must have it.

I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.

Mohandas Gandhi

EisenhowerHumility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends.

Dwight D Eisenhower

You never know who you are gonna meet on the way down that you treated poorly on the way up.

People with Street Smarts

Eisenhower’s appointment as Supreme Allied Commander to lead the Allied invasion of German-occupied Europe in World War II was largely due to his great ability to get along with people. Ike needed to manage the immense and overpowering egos of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery and have them accept him as Supreme Commander. Ike’s sense of humility was the key to a personality that paved the way for his success.

Ike’s quote above applies to anyone who achieves success due to the efforts and sacrifices of others…and that means every successful manager of people. It is the subordinates that do the real work…to make the deadlines… and achieve the plan the boss put together. People will work long and hard for a variety of reasons but will usually balk at doing so for a boss that is arrogant…doesn’t appreciate their efforts…and generally doesn’t treat them well….in other words, someone without a sense of perspective regarding their own importance; a lack of humility..

U.S. Grant

U.S. Grant

Ulysses S Grant – our 16th President and the general that won the American Civil War for Lincoln – had an overriding sense of humility. And for good reason. Grant, West Point class of 1843, was forced to leave the Army in 1854 for allegations of drunkenness. He then failed at every effort after that – farming, bill collecting, selling firewood on the streets of St Louis. He finally became a clerk in his father’s leather goods store. When the Civil War broke out the North needed experienced officers. Grant re-joined the Union Army and quickly came into his own. Having failed to support his family in civilian life, he found great success leading men in battle. Why? To a great deal, how he treated people – friend and foe alike.

A general’s greatest accomplishment is the capture of an enemy army. Which is what Grant did in February, 1862, when his army captured the Confederate army defending Ft Donelson on the Tennessee River. Customarily such an event would call for a ceremony where the surrounding general would offer his sword and sidearm to the victor. When a subordinate asked Grant when and where the surrender ceremony would take place, Grant replied “There will be nothing of the kind. Why should we injure the spirit of brave men, who after all are our own countrymen and brothers?”.

Grant could have celebrated… could have gloated… but he didn’t. Just as one of the first things discussed with Robert E. Lee at Lee’s surrender at Appomattox was Grant asking if Lee’s men needed rations. Humility and thoughtfulness again.

Hu-mil-i-ty (noun)  A modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.

Important for all to keep in mind as we go through life, dealing with people and facing adversity. And perhaps one of the greatest lessons each of us can teach others!

Recommended reading for more about Eisenhower & Grant:

Ulysses S. Grant – Soldier & President by Geofferey Perret – Random House Eisenhower – Soldier & President by Stephen Ambrose – Simon & Shuster

Managing Change

The ability to manage change successfully is a skill to be valued. If you have managed change in your job or a previous job, be sure that appears  in your resume’s lead in “Summary of Experience and Accomplishments” and also in your cover letter. If you don’t have that experience, try to obtain it in your current position by asking to be included in whatever change issues are in process or anticipated. Major change doesn’t happen often, but small changes are part of everyday organizational life.

The following is a mini-book review of a new book by Barbara A. Trautlein, PH.D. entitled “Change Intelligence; Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change That Sticks”

The ability to handle constant change can mean the difference between organizational success and failure. Even though there are many tactics for managing change, the author cites research indicating a high failure rate for major organizational changes.

Change Intelligence book cover“We know a lot about organizational transformation…We’ve developed multiple models for leading change…We’ve conducted studies and found that positive change requires, among other things, a commitment from senior management, a ‘guiding coalition,’ and a ‘compelling vision.’ With all of this knowledge and all of these methodologies, why do 70% or more of major change initiatives fail? It’s not that any of these models or tools are wrong or useless – they are just incomplete. Successful transformation requires more than book knowledge and theory. To lead change, change leaders must know themselves.”

The author refers to CQ as “Change Intelligence” which she defines as the skill set required to lead a team or company through major change. ”You  can’t just tolerate change… you have to take charge of your career and your company and lead change.”

Adapted from a book review in Staffing Success, published by the American Staffing Association.

My Spin On Managing and Effecting Change

I think Trautlein got it right when she refers to the need for real leadership to effect major change.

From my personal experience the process of effecting change is two-fold:

The first part is a semi-democratic determination and planning process… the second part is autocratic implementation!

Part 1 – Determine why change is called for; what will the impact be of the change?;  what will be different as a result of the change?; what are the component steps for of this change?, etc.

An example is in order. An organization wants to centralize several administrative functions; the branch offices will no longer perform these administrative functions – rather they will be concentrated in a single central corporate office.

The steps to do this should be determined collaboratively… carefully and slowly. Lots of input from all – be sure everyone with a dog in the fight gets to weigh in on how this will impact them and their department. The individual decisions that come out of this process are determined almost democratically – a consensus is necessary on each to proceed. If it cannot be gained, then either there is not a need to be fulfilled or the need has not been thoroughly explored.

The point is that the different implementation steps to effect the change should be determined very collaboratively – virtually democratically. When this has been done… and each step to be taken has been documented and all parties have reviewed it… the person in charge… the leader…says “OK…anything else we need to decide? Have we covered all the bases? Speak now or forever hold your peace. Once we pull the trigger on this I need to approve any and all deviations from the plan.”

And then part 2 kicks in – the implementation of the change. And it needs to be done autocratically; no deviation from the plan without authorization. Why? Otherwise, people will pick and choose what parts of the plan they will ignore. In our example, a branch manager may want to continue to purchase office supplies from a favorite vendor rather than follow the plan that included centralized purchase of such things by the central corporate office.

If there is a flaw in the plan, it will surface pretty early in the process in which case a review of that aspect of the plan is called for.

In summary, organizational changes need to planned and determined democratically by all impacted and then implemented autocratically by the leader. Without a strong hand at the helm implementing, success will be hard to achieve.

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Don’t Let Your Quest for Success Lead You Into “Resume and/or Interview Fraud”

Don’t let your quest for success lead you Into “Resume and/or Interview Fraud”!!

The fall from grace not too long ago of former Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson points out something recruiters have known since the resume was invented – a significant percentage of resumes are fraudulent – as was Thompson’s.

Scott Thompson

Scott Thompson

A person’s resume is one thing over which they have TOTAL control. Therefore, there are NO excuses for Scott Thompson’s resume claiming a degree in computer science – which he didn’t have. He lost his job after 130 days at Yahoo.

The very same is true of YOUR resume… it is your work product …you are 100% responsible for its content!

Resume fraud comes in two flavors:

  • Errors of omission – hiding gaps in your work history or otherwise not revealing information that is part of the big picture regarding your background and qualifications.
  • Errors of commission – claiming a non-existent degree, a job title you didn’t have or accomplishments that weren’t yours.

Two other examples of well-known professionals that should have known better:

George O'Leary

George O’Leary

George O’Leary and Ronnie Few. Who?? George O’Leary’s dream job was to be Notre Dame’s head football coach. And he was. For five days in 2001. He claimed to have a master’s degree and to have played college football for three years… but neither were true. Bye – bye George.


Ronnie Few

Ronnie Few was Washington, D.C. Fire Chief beginning in 2000 for 22 months….until it was discovered that he lied about his professional and educational achievements in his resume. Bye-bye Ronnie. The list goes on and on of professionals well up the ladder of success who lost their jobs and creditability over fraudulent resumes.

So – how do employers guard against hiring someone with a ponied up resume?

They verify, verify and verify. A strong reference check will verify every degree and every professional affiliation. Modern search engines and internet search capability can lead prospective employers to the truth in a number of ways.

They look for red flags. Employers look for things that don’t make sense. They look for inconsistencies in stories, experiences and anecdotes. For hires of any significance, multiple interviews by several interviewers is the norm. Interviewers will compare notes to see if things mesh or not. If it doesn’t smell right – they will keep digging. If it doesn’t add up… they just pass on your candidacy.

They will do a Google search on your name. They will search on your full name (e.g. – Robert Harris) and your nickname (e.g. – Bob Harris). They will also search social networking sites as well such as LinkedIn and Google+. The questions is – what will they find there that will not hurt you, but rather help you?

The title above includes “interview fraud”. What is that you ask? Simply put, it is you making incorrect and misleading statements in an interview. If it is on your resume, you will probably be asked about it… in which case you will make statements that at the least “puff” your credentials and at the worst are incorrect .These incorrect and misleading statements will hurt you just as much as a fraudulent resume will once they come to light… and come to light they will with diligent interviewers!

In summary, resume fraud is more common than you would think.. so make sure your resume and interview is 100% truthful!! Don’t follow in the footsteps of Scott, George and Ronnie!!

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Career webinar available upon request

Drexel logo“I wrote “The Ultimate Job-Seekers Guide”  because I saw the challenges many job-seekers faced were of their own making – they had poor resumes, didn’t interview well and overall just didn’t have a process  in place.

Out of the book, I developed a one-hour webinar
entitled “Resumes, Interviewing and the World of Work” (outline below). I have done it for Drexel University (where I got my MBA) alumni where it  has been captured for their alumni website. I am scheduled to do it for Georgetown University on October 17th  and am pursing doing so for Penn State and the University of Maryland (among others).

I am offering it to these alumni groups at no cost – my way of “paying back the system”… as well as marketing my book. If you think YOUR alumni group could benefit from such a webinar, either send me contact information ([email protected]) or let your alumni resource folks know it is available and to contact me.

Webinar outline:

“Resumes, Interviewing and the World of Work”

What will the participants take away?

  • Some Absolutes You Need to Know About the World of Work.
  • Resumes – The Key to Your Next Job – Better Get it Right! The “Dos and Don’ts” of resumes; 10 ways to guarantee that your resume will eliminate you from consideration!
  • Interviewing – The Bridge Between You and Your Next Job. The right way and the wrong way to interview; the common mistakes candidates make.