Pearl Harbor Day – December 7, 1941

The sneak attack on the United States forces at Pearl Harbor, HI by the Imperial Japanese Navy occurred on December 7, 1941. American casualties were 3,581 dead and wounded and the U.S. entered WWII in the Pacific as a result.

For many of you, Pearl Harbor was in a high school history book. For you history buffs, you know the story. The (in my opinion) definitive work on the subject is the book “At Dawn We Slept” by Gordan Prang.

at dawn we sleptIt is a great read… as exciting as any novel you will read. As we mark the 73rd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii consider getting a copy and reading the story.

A very short executive summary of Japanese intentions is the plan was to eliminate the U.S. Navy from interfering with Japanese efforts to invade and conquer the oil-and-rubber-rich lands of the southwest Pacific. Their thinking was that by the time the U.S. Navy was re-built, the Japanese conquests would be completed and the Americans would accept it a fait d’acompli (wrong!), as well as focusing on the war in Europe. Despite Japanese planning, they did not know for sure where the American carriers were. In fact they were not at Pearl, escaped destruction and became from the foundation for American success just a short time later at Midway. It was the beginning of the end of the Japanese Navy and hence the war in the Pacific.

If you don’t have the time or interest to read the book, you can find an excellent summation of the events leading up to and including the attack at:

USS_Arizona_Memorial_(aerial_view)The USS Arizona (BB-39) lies on the bottom of Pearl Harbor where a number of its crew are entombed. Oil still leaks from the ship to this day. A memorial straddles the ship and visiting the memorial is a somber event for any travelers to Oahu.

Whether your read more about December 7th, 1941 or not, take a moment today and honor the 2,403 Americans that died that day (and an additional 1,178 were wounded).

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Top 7 Reasons Customer Service Slides

If your job involves customer service (and whose doesn’t!) – this is a MUST read for you!

customer service checkmarkMany thanks to Jeff Mowatt for letting me share this story with you. This article is based on the bestselling book, Becoming a Service Icon in 90 Minutes a Month by customer service strategist and award-winning motivational speaker, Jeff Mowatt. To obtain your own copy of his book or to inquire about engaging Jeff for your team, visit or call 1-800-JMowatt (566-9288).

Top 7 Reasons Customer Service Slides

By Jeff Mowatt

When I’m asked to speak at conferences on how managers can boost business, they often assume we’re going to focus on gaining new customers.  Ironically, that’s the last thing we should focus on. Neglecting existing customers to chase new business is akin to gathering water in the proverbial leaky bucket. We can exhaust ourselves trying to collect more water when we’d be further ahead by simply fixing the holes. The more sustainable approach to growing business is ensuring existing customers are so thrilled that they’ll not only return; but they’ll also recommend you to new potential customers. The challenge is without attention, customer satisfaction often atrophies. To ensure that doesn’t happen in your organization consider these top seven reasons why customer service slides.

1. Assuming customers notice good service 

They don’t. Customers are too busy and distracted by their mobile devices to notice when service is merely good.  Employees need to provide service that’s remarkable.  Fortunately, that doesn’t mean working harder.  It just means choosing words more carefully. Compare, “Do you want us to deliver it?”  Vs.  “Would it be helpful if we delivered that for you to save you a trip?” The second phrase didn’t take more work, yet the wording made the offer more noticeable.

2. Establishing Customer Service as a department

If you set-up a customer service department, it by default means other employees will assume that taking care of customers isn’t their job. That means employees end-up redirecting customer concerns when they should be addressing problems themselves.

3. Measuring sales vs satisfaction

It’s tempting for managers to evaluate the business by focusing on monthly or annual revenues.  That’s fine for measuring how the organization has been doing up till now.  But the factor that determines how the business will do in future is not sales; it’s customer satisfaction. Sales measures success today.  Customer satisfaction predicts how you’ll do tomorrow.

4. Rewarding longevity over service

It’s fine to have ‘service’ awards for long term employees. However, length of service isn’t nearly as important as quality of service.  Customer service cultures that thrive are those where recognition is focused more on internal and external customer service, than on just showing up.

5. Training focuses on technical vs interpersonal skills

The term ‘soft-skill’ somehow implies that customer communication skills aren’t nearly as substantive as technical skills.  The irony is that customers take for granted that employees have basic technical skills.  What customers do notice are the interpersonal and communication skills employees use to interact with them. Technical skills deliver the work.  Soft skills create the customer relationship.

6. Lack of recovery skills 

When customer service training consists of providing customers with information, transactions, and being polite, that skill set will take the employee as far as the nearest foul-up.  If employees aren’t trained on how to interact with customers when things go wrong, then they’re not fully trained. Ironically, customers don’t notice (or appreciate) your service when everything goes well. The time when they actually notice and judge you is when things go wrong. That’s why of all the customer service skills you can provide, those that get you the fastest return on investment are recovery skills.

7. Lack of reinforcement 

Without regular reminders and reinforcement, employees revert back to old habits of focusing more on transactions than on customers. That’s why we advocate a three phase approach to building a customer focused culture.  Phase One is conducting a customized customer service seminar – including recovery skills – which we film to serve as an orientation for new hires.  In Phase Two we provide employees with monthly bulletins and by-weekly tips.  And finally for Phase Three we teach managers how to stage their own regular CAST© (Customer Service Team) meetings so they can continue to train employees in-house and adapt to changing customer needs. That way you’ll convert a one-time customer service training event into an on-going continuous improvement process.

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Don’t Leave $$ On the Table!! – Negotiating Salary For a New Job

Don’t Leave $$ On the Table!! – Negotiating Salary For a New Job

dollar signOK – your job search has been successful – you have a job offer!! Congrats!! What is your approach to NOT leave $$ on the table? … to negotiate the best salary deal you can get?

The time to negotiate salary and benefits is after you have received a job offer. Why not earlier? Because you don’t want to negotiate against yourself. Your employer contact  knows your compensation history and knows the compensation range for the job he or she is trying to fill (and hopefully you know the range also!). This person is aware of all the answers you and other candidates have given during the interviewing process. Your employer contact has also made comparisons of whom else they have been interviewing for the job and how large the pool is of people to choose from (your competition for the job). From this base of information, a decision will be made as to whom to make the offer and at what salary. These factors will determine if the offer is at the high end of the range or not. Another factor that enters into formula is your current employment status; if employed, the offer may be higher than if you were unemployed. The benefit package is probably formula-driven for the position you are interviewing for, so little opportunity to tinker with it.

What then do you negotiate? Actually, very little. If the salary range is $45 – $50,000… and your last salary was $46,500 and the offer comes in at $47,000 or $47,500 – yes, you are disappointed it wasn’t more. Recognize, however that it is an increase and be assured that the hiring official thought it through and felt that the offer was a fair one. In almost every case, the salary detailed in the job offer has been carefully thought through; the employer wanting to pay as low an amount as is reasonable to attract and hire the talent to do the job. If you ask for an adjustment because you don’t feel it is enough you are not sending not the best of messages!

The best approach is to “pre-negotiate” the salary during the interview process.

If the interviewer asks “What salary are you looking for?”

Answer carefully. Hopefully you know the salary range ahead of time. If so, you answer: “Well, I know the salary range is $X – $Y. My last salary and bonus plan paid $Z on an annual basis. While I would like to be at the high end of your range, I am primarily looking for opportunity first and am prepared to be flexible about the compensation package”.

If you don’t know the range, then you answer: “Well, my last salary and bonus plan paid $Z on an annual basis. While I would prefer to make some upward strides, I am primarily looking for opportunity first and am prepared to be flexible about the compensation package”. Never inflate your current or past compensation. It is not uncommon for an employer to ask to see a W-2…and you’re sunk if it doesn’t match what you have said!

By these responses, you have put a salary number on the table.

If for some reason you aren’t asked this question, towards the end of the interview, say:

“We haven’t discussed compensation. What is the range?” And depending on the response, from there offer one of the two responses above.

Keep in mind that one of the advantages of working with a staffing service (shameless plug for NRI Staffing Resources!)  is that they can negotiate on your behalf without you personally interacting with the prospective employer.

Be also aware  that employers wants some consistency regarding salary levels for the same job. It avoids the hard feelings that arise when workers doing the same or similar jobs find out there is a significant difference in their comp compared to others doing the same work.

For further information on the subject – see The Ultimate Job-Seeker’s Guide – Chapter 11- Congrats!! You Have an Offer!! Now what?? Evaluating Job Offers; Negotiating Salary and Benefits.

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Pullezzzz answer my question!

Some tips for effective interviewing…

Kids have a knack for answering questions with concise, factual answers like “I don’t know” or “I guess so” or “nothing happened.” They’re young people, so we don’t expect enlightening answers that open doors to stimulating conversations.

On the other hand, I need more. I would like to know what happened at school, if they had a good time at the mall, how they feel about their teachers, etc.

There many ways to fail an interview … and one of them is not answering questions in a concise and alert mode. I write in my book (Chapter 8 – Interviewing – The Bridge Between You and Your Next Job) that you should never answer a question for the first answer the questiontime in an interview. Rather, you have anticipated the questions you will be asked and in turn drafted and rehearsed the best possible answer. You still have to be 100% alert during the interview itself so as to give the best possible answer in a manner that enhances your employability rather than detracts from it.

The thing about recruiters and employers is that they want direct, factual answers to their questions, not a long-winded response that has very little to do with the question at hand. In order to make the interview go smoothly, in addition to having rehearsed your answers, adhere to the following 6 requirements…and remember – interviewing is a single elimination process!

1. Listen to the questions: Some people have the tendency to formulate what they’re going to say before the interviewer finishes with his or her question. This can cause you to take off in a direction that may be headed the wrong way and is hard to correct. If you need clarification, ask what the interviewer meant by the question…just don’t do this too often, lest you come across as daft.

2. Think before speaking: All too often you might want to answer a question as soon as it’s left the employer’s lips. This is a mistake, as you want to deliver of the best possible answer before you blurt out an inadequate one. The interview is not a game where the fastest job candidate to respond wins. Occasionally taking time to reflect shows thoughtfulness on your part. It also speaks to requirement number one: listen.

3. Don’t talk too much: When you’re talking with a recruiter, over elaborating on an answer may be more harmful than helpful. Recruiter Mark Bregman says in his article “Don’t be De-Selected” this about being loquacious:

“You risk boring the interviewer, or worse, they don’t ask all of their questions, because you wasted too much time on early questions. Then, the interviewer might not have an opportunity to really get the key info they need to screen you in.”

When you go into too much detail, you come off as someone who talks too much. For me, and I imagine others, this is a great irritant and makes me want to end an interview.

4. Make your answers relevant: Everything you say must be relevant to the interviewer’s direct question. “If the question is ‘How did you improve processes?’, don’t start describing in detail the products you were making; just answer the question,” advises Mark. This is also a sign that you have no idea how to answer the question. In this case, ask for more time saying, “This is a very important question, one that I’d like to answer. Could we return to it?” Or admit that you can’t answer it.

5. Don’t ask too many questions: Career advisors encourage interviewees to ask questions during the interview to make it seem more like a discussion, as long as you have enough questions to ask at the end. Mark says this can backfire if you ask too many questions. I see his point. Interviewers are busy people and don’t want you to take over the interview.

6. Say enough: Finally it’s essential that you effectively answer the interviewers questions with enough detail and plenty of examples of your successes. Many times a job candidate won’t provide enough information for the interviewer to make a decision on whether or not the candidate makes the cut. You don’t want to let opportunities to pass you by. Many jobseekers I talk with regret having not sold themselves at the interview, which was due, in part, to not elaborating on an answer they knew they could have nailed.

Effective communications at an interview requires the ability to listen and then answer the questions with transparency and accuracy. Take your time, respond with accomplishments, and most importantly – just answer the questions. On the other hand, don’t give answers like most children do!

Compliments of as adapted

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Veterans’s Day – November 11

Today is Veteran’s Day – a national holiday and a day off for most folks. What happened on November 11, 1918 to warrant this?

November 11th was once known as “Armistice Day” in celebration of the armistice that ended the hostilities of World War I – also known as “The Great War”. It started  on July 28, 1914 with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo and ended June 28, 1919.During the almost four years of war some 9 million combatants died and total casualties were almost 39 million (dead, wounded or missing in action). Carnage and destruction reached un-heard of levels due to the introduction to warfare of machine guns, tanks and chemical weapons.

The Last Two Minutes of FightingSoldiers of the U.S. 353rd infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France wait for the end of hostilities.  This photo was taken at 10:58 am on November 11, 1918 – just two minutes before the armistice went into effect.

While WWI ended with the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919 (which set the stage for WWII – but that is a different history lesson!); an armistice , or temporary cessation of fighting, was signed between Germany and the Allies and went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

President Woodrow Wilson asked the nation to set aside everyday tasks for a few moments of contemplation at 11am every November 11th.

It became a day of parades and celebrations, but it was not until 1938 that Armistice Day became a national holiday. In 1954 President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill changing the name to Veteran’s Day to honor American veterans of all wars.

And now you know why we have a national holiday on November 11 and why it is called Veteran’s Day!

And…. as you enjoy the holiday on November 11 this year, give a moment of thought to the 4.7 million Americans that fought in Europe during the “War to end all wars” and the  117,000 that made the ultimate sacrifice.

For further information see:

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Four Very Important Days 150 Years ago (July 1 – 4, 1863)

Four very important days – July 1-4, 1863….

Lest we forget, July 1-4 of 1863 were very important days to ensuring the continuity of our nation.

The Battle of Gettysburg July 1 – 2 – 3 …often referred to as the “high water mark” of the Confederacy… pitted two West Point graduates.. Robert E. Lee (CSA) and George Gordon Meade (USA). After 3 days of fighting in brutal heat and humidity (in wool uniforms by the way), Lee retreated back to Virginia. Never again would the Confederacy cross the Mason-Dixon Line.On July 4, 1863 John Pemberton (CSA) surrendered the Confederate stronghold ofVicksburg, MS after a prolonged siege by U.S. Grant (USA) and the Union Army. Never again would the Confederacy control the Mississippi River.

While the war would rage on for almost two more years, the ultimate outcome was never in doubt. Gettysburg and Vicksburg were the two Union victories the Confederacy couldn’t overcome.As you celebrate the Fourth, keep in mind the brave soldiers on both sides that fought and died in America’s seminal event 1861-1865.

God Bless America.

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Does your Resume “Mirror”?

Don’t Let your Resume Do You In!

The process of screening resumes more and more is being done by scanners looking for specific descriptive words and phrases detailing specific areas of expertise and/or experience. The odds are that this is certainly true for many large organizations and sample resumemany of those that ask you to submit your resume via a web portal.

What does this mean for you?

It means that you need to write your resume to include the EXACT words and descriptive phrases that are found in the job listing or ad. As noted in Chapter 7 (Your Resume: The Key to Your Next Job – Better Get it Right!), every resume submitted needs to be custom written to present your credentials truthfully yet be in sync with what the organization is seeking. It needs to be as perfect a match as can be… word – wise. You may be 100% qualified for the job in question but never make the cut to get that telephone call if the resume screening process includes looking for key words or phrases that are not in your resume!

Website designers know that for a website to be included in the results of a particular internet search, the website in question must contain key words appropriate to the search.

For example, the NRI Staffing Resources’ website includes all of the possible job titles and skill sets appropriate to NRI’s four areas of specialization (accounting/finance, legal, healthcare, office admin/clerical). This tactic increases the chances of an internet search for a job in any of these four areas will bring up the NRI website.

The same principle applies to your resume; rather than trying to get a hit on a search engine, you want a hit on a scanner looking for certain key words and phrases! So it is absolutely necessary that the EXACT words and phrases that detail the desired credentials of the candidate to be hired… be in your resume! Your resume needs to “mirror” the job listing or ad!

What if you are conducting a campaign rather than replying to a specific ad or job posting? Do a search to find an previous ad or job posting for the position you are seeking and include those key words and phrases. If you can’t find an appropriate ad, look to the organization’s mission statement for any descriptive words or phrases that detail the organization’s values, etc. The point is if your resume is to be screened via a scanner, you really need to have the right words and phrases within it. So – think creatively!

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