Sometimes It Is A Surprise – Even For You

“Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known” – Garrison Keillor.

Though we have all heard it numerous times and I believe I have written it on various occasions in this blog but earlier this week I lived the experience of “never say never” and “never give up” when I interviewed with a recruiter for a job that I had thought fell off the face of the earth months ago.  I barely remember applying for the position, probably three months ago, but it was certainly a pleasant surprise to receive an e-mail requesting an interview.  It was definitely a great way to start the week.

Though an interview is not a job offer and unfortunately too many job seekers have gone through numerous situations such as this before, what this experience details is that though you might not have heard from the search committee or recruiter in the last few months regarding a particular job that you have an interest in, that doom and gloom is not always the end product.

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

What I have learned from this episode is that though we do not want to annoy the decision-makers, that it probably is worthwhile to periodically keep them aware of the fact that we are still available and that we remain interested in the position.  An e-mail with very few expectations is probably the way to go into such a situation.  If it has been awhile since you last corresponded with the search committee or recruiter, consider attaching the latest updated version of your resume and or any other pertinent information about yourself that can update your candidacy since you last communicated.

Though it seems like a never-ending process (from the candidates perspective) with not much to report in the interim; the search for a new Association Manager can take upwards of 8 to 15 weeks for each particular opening.  Of course that’s all dependent on the kind of pre-planning that took place within the organization and whether the previous manager and Board of Directors planned for this transition or that it was a total surprise from one or both of the parties.

“I know that God will not give me anything I can’t handle.  I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much” – Mother Teresa.

Strength of body and mind, vigor and perseverance are traits necessary during a transition period.  Maintaining your self-confidence during times of stress and anxiety is not easy.  Selling yourself as the best candidate for an available position is not the simplest task around, but it does become easier with time and experience.  For those who are introverts such a task can seem quite vexing, but it is amazing what one can do when necessary and who knows – you might find that inner salesman that you thought always loomed within you!

A job seeker must ponder the future in daily intervals.  Plan for today and who knows what comes to pass tomorrow?  The problem with making grandiose plans is that you unfortunately do not have control over many of the deciding factors within the equation.  Control what you can; control and maintain a positive disposition because eventually this too shall pass.

“I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind.  Some come from ahead and some come from behind.  But I’ve bought a big bat.  I’m already you see.  Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me.!”  – Dr. Seuss.

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) since 1986.  He currently is between positions and is taking the opportunity to author more than 75,000 words or 125 blog postings on the topics of job search, career transition and association management.

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.

Have You Looked In the Mirror Lately?

Robert Kaplan, Professor of Management at the Harvard Business School has authored a book that says it all by its title:  Looking In the Mirror:  Questions Every Leader Must Ask.  In a recent article in the Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge, author Carmen Nobel dissects the new book by focusing in on Kaplan’s belief that great leadership in not all about having the right answers but is about asking the right questions.

“Most leaders spend a lot of their time looking for answers.  Very often, they may feel isolated and alone.  I want to help them refocus their attention on framing and then discussing the key questions that will help them regroup, mobilize their team, formulate a plan, and move forward.”

The author organizes his thoughts by asking his own questions about Leadership skills and aspirations.  “Show me a company or nonprofit or government in trouble, and I will almost invariably show you a set of leaders who are asking absolutely the wrong questions.”

+  Have you developed a clear vision and key priorities for your enterprise?  Do you and your fellow employees have the same clear vision for the organization?  Are your key priorities the same as theirs?  Often Kaplan reports that employee priorities are significantly different than those professed by the Leadership.  It is vital to synchronize those efforts.  Three to five priorities need to be detailed and emphasized by all and eliminate those that don’t achieve success for the organization.

+  Does the way you spend your time match your key priorities?  Too many times we find ourselves too busy to even plan and contemplate.  We all know that busy work isn’t always priority work.  Find the time to prioritize and then share those thoughts with the team.  “When someone asks you to spend time on work that doesn’t match your key priorities, the right action is probably to say no.  Once you have a better matching of your time with priorities, you’ll want to encourage your direct reports to do the same.”

+  Do you coach and also solicit feedback from your key subordinates?  It is not easy being isolated at the top of the pyramid.  Though many organizations have flattened their org chart, you are still left with few if any individuals to assist you on your daily adventures.  You certainly are there to coach your direct reports but who is there to coach you?  Kaplan recognizes the value of gaining feedback from others within the organization.  “Leadership is a team game.  You have to solicit help from others or you’re likely to under-achieve your potential.”

+  If you had to design your company today with a clean sheet of paper, what would you change?  Organizations do lose their way; sometimes success directs the organizations wildly but much too often reaction to failure can steer the entity beyond its planned purpose.  Take the time and create systems that will allow you and others within the organization to contemplate the current organizational situation and what and where it should be in the future.

+  Do you act as a role model?  Whether you like it or not, you are a role model at your organization and you must act accordingly.  If you cut corners or have questionable ethics, others will notice and shadow your actions.  A Leader will take the opportunity to display positive traits in the desire for those traits to be replicated .  Make sure you act as you speak – no one appreciates a hypocrite.

+  Are you reaching your potential and being true to yourself?  If you don’t really know yourself, how can you be an effective Leader? Know your abilities and know your failings, it is important to improve on both.  “In the end, it’s not about meeting everyone else’s expectations … it’s about reaching your unique potential and developing your own leadership style.”

+  Recognizing Your Passions.  Are you enjoying what you do daily?  Are you jumping out of bed every morning ready to take on your next assignment?  If it has become a grind and your not enjoying yourself or the job any longer, it is time to reevaluate.  Just because there are tasks you don’t like to perform doesn’t mean they just disappear.  Those tasks need to be completed and if you prefer not to do them, then you must assign them to others.  After all, I don’t like to do my taxes but that doesn’t mean that the IRS will look the other way when I don’t file them on time.  As a Leader, if you don’t enjoy performing a function, or more realistically there are others who perform the task better and more efficiently, then make sure you assign such matters to those who can complete the task.

Looking at yourself in the mirror can be an arduous task; you may not like what you see!  You know yourself best and to achieve success you must be honest with yourself and make the appropriate changes within before you take on the organization.  Ever wonder why there are many more followers than leaders?  If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.  Dig deep to find your true talents and most importantly don’t be frightened away by failure; it is a wonderful learning experience.

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) since 1986.  He currently is between positions and has written more than 75,000 words or 125 blog postings on the topics of job search, career transition and association management.

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.

The Association Professional As An Ethical Being

Ethics has always been a primary gauge of an Association Professional and now even more so with the recent adoption of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Standards of Conduct.  At the St. Louis ASAE Board of Director Meeting earlier this month, a  new Preamble and Ethical Standards were approved by the Board unanimously which now sets the standards of professional behavior for all who are members of ASAE.  For the very first time, ethical standards are now in place for not just Association Professionals but for all Business Partners and Consultants who pride themselves as ASAE members.

The Preamble to the document says it all:  “More than 287 million people around the globe look to associations for their vision, their values and their effectiveness.  With this role comes a great responsibility for associations to serve members and the public with integrity.  To fulfill this responsibility, ASAE’s membership of association professionals and industry partners are committed to ethical standards that promote the goal of transforming society for better.”

“The Standards of Conduct embody aspirational ethical standards.  The aspirational standards describe the conduct that we strive to uphold as ASAE members.  Although adherence to the apirational ethical standards is not easily measured, conducting ourselves in accordance with these ethical standards is an expectation that we have of ourselves as professionals.  Among the aspirational ethical concepts which these Standards embrace are those of respect, responsibility, fairness and honesty.”

*  Respect is our duty to show a high regard for ourselves, others, and the resources entrusted to us.  Resources entrusted to us may include people, money, reputation, the safety of others, and natural or environmental resources.  An environment of respect engenders trust, confidence, and perspectives and views are encouraged and valued.

*  Responsibility is our duty to take ownership for the decisions we make or fail to make, the actions we take or fail to take, and the consequences that result.

*  Fairness is our duty to make decisions and act impartially and objectively.  Our conduct must be free from competing self interest, prejudice, and favoritism.

*  Honesty is our duty to understand the truth and act in a truthful manner both in our communications and in our conduct.

The Core Ethical Standards as an ASAE Member:

1)  Respect and uphold public laws that govern my work;

2)  Be honest in conducting my business;

3)  Respect the confidentiality of information gained through my work;

4)  Act fairly;

5)  Foster an ethical culture through my work;

6)  Take responsibility for my conduct.

It is certainly about time that such a Standard of Conduct is in place for all Association Professionals since as part of an association’s Form 990, Board Members have been obligated to sign a Conflict of Interest Policy for themselves in respect to the actions they partake in for the association during that given year.  Sarbanes-Oxley has demanded such formal action be taken despite the fact that for years Boards have certainly declared their lack of such conflict while doing official business for the association.  Such new obligations of signed forms and appropriate placement of formal personal conflict of interest statements on the agenda only help but remind all who oversee an association that we are all here for the betterment of the membership and society as a whole and not for any particular person or persons.

Many associations have Legal Counsel present at all Board Meetings but for those groups who cannot justify the expense, such responsibility must fall upon the shoulders of the Association Executive who is present to remind all participants what is appropriate and what is “out of bounds.”  We all know that price fixing and directly creating policies and procedures to benefit certain members are not legal actions, but it also behooves those who oversee an association to make sure that they give no real or inference of impropriety.

With Whistle Blower Policies and with the desire for state and federal agencies to find new monies to balance their budgets, it is certainly important for all associations and their Leaders to be as proper as possible and to never give anyone the opportunity to think ill of the organization that many have spent their lifetimes developing and watching it flourish.

Many thanks to countless ASAE Ethics Committee Leaders and members who have worked dilligently over the years to make these new standards what they are today.  All ASAE members appreciate your effort and deliberation.

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) since 1986.  He currently is between positions and has written more than 75,000 words and 125 blog postings on the topics of job search, career transition and association management.

Copyright:  MMXI.  reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.

Thin Line Between Interview Candidate and Consultant

A funny thing happened the other day as I was preparing for an interview, I realized that there wasn’t a whole lot of difference in preparing for a client proposal as an Association Consultant and as a CEO candidate for a job interview.  Both situations demand investigation and contemplation and a closing pitch that will hopefully result in getting the job.

Of course the concern you always have when you are interviewing for an association job, and probably for most others is that you are literally a free consultant and a new set of eyes with an external perspective.  More than once I fear that I have been used for “my thoughts” on a certain issue within an association that I was interviewing with and aghast discovered later that my free advice was used by the same association to improve their bottom-line.

Any candidate must indeed give examples of how he/she would be engaging within this new association and why wouldn’t a search committee or Board of Directors not ask for your perspective on their “unique situation,” but a candidate must be careful not to give “away the store” before they are even hired for the job.

A finalist for an association position must come prepared to overwhelm the deciders.  He/she must have done their homework and have assimilated the nuances of the particular association.  Let’s be honest, though every association will profess to be unique – they really aren’t!  A truly prepared candidate can use the experiences they have from their previous positions to impress the search committee with new ideas and new perspectives.  It’s those solutions that every Board is looking for and every consultant gets paid for that becomes a sticking point.

Obviously every Search Committee wants to know how prepared you are to assume the management role of their association; they are the Leaders who have grown this organization and they want to make sure that their choice is one they can be proud of for many years to come.  We all know too many who are great presenters but we wouldn’t want them running anything close to our association!

So the real talent here is impressing without giving away all your trade secrets.  In many ways it is like an author on a promotional tour – you want people to be interested in your work but you certainly don’t want to give away the plot before the audience has a chance to buy the book.

It is the goal of the candidate to impress but also give the impression that there is much more of that possible for the association if you are hired.  Obviously you will receive bottom-line questions about membership retention and non-dues revenue but it behooves the candidate to speak about some of the success stories you have had at previous organizations but don’t be too specific because one, you only have so much time to impress and two, do they really want to know all the dirty details?

Any candidate interviewing for a new association position will have the need for additional information, after all you don’t have all the nuances and association history afforded you for this conversation.  You can be as revealing as personally necessary but do be aware that overt generalizations may not be enough for the search committee.  You might be forced to answer direct questions on some of their pressing issues.  Issues that would be nice to know ahead of time but unfortunately is rarely revealed to the candidates before hand.

Thus the Catch 22 of any interview – you need to show the search committee that you are knowledgable, experienced and the obvious candidate for the job but yet you must also be prepared to be used as an unpaid external perspective on their problems; what many may define as a Consultant.   If you ultimately get the job, there certainly is no harm; it’s when you are passed over that it really hurts and what makes the interview process so stressful, yet interesting.

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide since 1986 who has been granted with the prestigious designation of Fellow by the American Society of Association Executives.  He currently is between positions and has written more than 75,000 words or 125 blog postings on the topics of job search, career transition and association management.

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.

Your Members Are Your Customers And They Are Changing With The Times

Sarah Sladek of XYZ University, an association consulting firm in Minneapolis has written a new book titled: The End of Membership As We Know It – Building the Fortune-Flipping, Must-Have Association of the Next Century.  She writes that “the era when associations could count on members joining and renewing, even with a relatively unchanging menu of membership benefits, has passed.  Membership is not dead ….but you need to change your thinking and your models to adapt to the way participation is changing as a result of the generational shifts in the workplace, social changes, and the technology-eased access to content and community.”

The book published through ASAE discusses how:

+  Niche marketing is the new competitive advantage.

+  Why organizational culture has an enormous impact on recruitment and retention.

+  What emerging member-prospects value and want.

+  Why and how to focus on member ROI instead of program ROI.

+  How to craft and deliver compelling benefits rather than features.

+  How to extend your reach.

+  Which emerging models are taking root and showing promise.

Membership and retention are the most important concerns for association executives in the coming years and a statistic highlighted by Sladek makes the next decade even more interesting.  She mentions that currently 6% of association memberships are individuals 65 or older but in the next 10 years 32% of association members will be 65 years old or older.

You can account for this dramatic membership change in the next decade by such facts as association members are working longer into their 60′s because they desire to be vital elements of society while of course baby-boomers just won’t leave the stage while they can still can take a breath.  Probably the major reason for postponing retirement is that with 401 Ks and Social Security falling off the side of a cliff, many will need to work later into their seventh decade of life just to make ends meet.

With the demographics of American Society changing very rapidly, it is vital for associations to prepare programs and services for a much more diverse membership base.  It is not just gender and ethno-centric diversity that associations will be seeing in the near future but it will be a generational culture shift for associations in the years ahead.  For associations to succeed and flourish they will need to attract a whole new generation of involved member-customers and the bait will be entirely different from what has worked in the past.

Generational experts have been telling us for years that the baby-boomers are nothing like the Generation X, Generation Y and Millennials and that it isn’t the age of the individual member in particular that is as important as the massive technological changes that have dramatically taken place to evolve our association world.  The internet has changed associations and most of us would admit such evolvement has been for the better.

Association Leaders must determine what their member-customers needs and wants are and whether they can get them from any other source.  They must then become the niche marketer for that member benefit.  As Sladek articulates, it is important to focus on the member ROI instead of the program ROI.  If the member-customer can’t see an individual ROI, they will not be participants.  The value proposition of the association must focus on the individual member-customer and what they need and want.  The era of being all things to all people is long gone – associations and their member-customers can no longer afford to play that all-inclusive game.

Though many associations will survive in the short run because of the aging population base and their continued involvement, it is without a doubt that new members need to be developed and directed into leadership roles.  The worst thing any association can do is present a photo of aging members and leaders as their promotion page of the future.  It isn’t any easy task but who ever said that attracting and retaining membership was a walk in the park?

If the changing environment isn’t exciting those who are association professionals or those who venture to be association professionals, then I guess nothing ever will.  These are interesting times - rapid change, ailing economy, diverse community and threatening competition; all are factors in developing a new and responsive association footprint.  Remember, if you don’t take the lead in redeveloping and reinvigorating your association, someone else will!

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 Associaiton executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow by the American Society of Association Executives since 1986.  He currently is between positions and has written more than 75,000 words or 125 blog postings on the topics of job search, career transition and association management.

Copyright:  MMXI.

Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.

The Life and Times of an Association Executive

After spending 4 intense days together with fellow Association Executives and various business partners from around the world at the ASAE Annual Meeting in St. Louis, it is quite obvious that anxiety abounds.  The economy is the greatest pressure point for many during discussions in meetings and social events throughout downtown St. Louis while maintaining relevancy and viability for their particular organizations is top of mind for all in attendance.  It is heartwarming to discover that attendance was up for this year’s meeting despite the looming economy and the concerns for the future.

Though many trade and professional groups have regained their vigor since the bottom fell out in late 2008, it is quite apparent that times are just not what they used to be and that new plans and goals are now being implemented to move associations to greener pastures.  In addition to economic concerns, other issues of interest included the old tried and true topics of:

*  Member retention and the association’s value proposition,

*  Innovation and the new means and methods of member communications

*  Ethics and the standards of conduct of the association community and their Boards

*  Global engagement and the inclusion of the international market

*  Diversity of the association environment and cultural competance and membership

*  Advocacy and the reason to be

Member retention and the association’s value proposition.  Associations are becoming more determined to find new and more meaningful reasons for membership.  Networking, education, research and advocacy are still values that many individuals and corporations attest to but with free external means to those ends (Google, Social Media etc.) it is vital to find a new niche to attract the newest generation of members who are diversely different from those who saw association involvement as a major component of their career growth.

Innovation and the new means and methods of member communications.  Innovation works hand in hand with exploring a new value proposition for the association membership.  It is now time to move away from episodic innovation where we provide periodic innovative programs or services to integrating innovation into the association’s culture and making it an integral part of the association’s being.  It is imperative that associations become more creative, innovative and responsive to member and societal demands or their days will be numbered.

Ethics and the Standards of Conduct of the association community and their Boards.  For the first time ever ASAE has adopted aspirational standards of behavior for all it’s members.  The Ethics Committee developed and the ASAE Board approved a universal statement detailing ethical standards and a core set of conduct principles for association executives and professional staff, consultants and business partners.  Though these principles are not yet enforceable and thus aspirational, their development and adoption speaks volumes regarding what is expected of those who are involved in the association community.

Global engagement and the inclusion of the international market.  The American Association Community is determining that it is no longer an island in the sea of lethargy and apathy.  For many associations the only growth market is the international market and the interest is of great importance to those who have become aware of the mutual reasons to belong and participate in a community.

Diversity of the association environment and cultural competance and membership.  The association profession is no longer exclusive to those who for generations have lead – the old boys network is long gone.  Inclusion is the mantra of today’s association and is a vital element of growth within the community.  Associations need to look like society and slowly but surely due to numerous factors, that end product is becoming more evident.

Advocacy and the reason to be.  With the local, state and federal governments all looking for additional revenue to balance their budgets, it is imperative for the association community to continue to be out-front on the value we bring to the nation.  Associations and non-profits are key to the American Rebound from the economic ills we are still experiencing and though the word lobbying is looked upon negatively by all elements of American Society it is vital for the association community to continue to present it’s positive message to those who can make a difference to the historical benefits provided by associations.

Associations remain an integral part of American Society and it is important for those who participate in the community to do what they profess – get involved.  Association professionals need to be a part of the discussion and attendance at their local, state and national meetings within their own profession, like the ASAE Annual Meeting is just one more step in solving mutual problems that can keep us relevant for many years to come.

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted with the prestigious designation of Fellow by the American Society of Association Executives since 1986.  He currently is between positions and has written more than 50,000 words or 100 blog postings on the topics of job search, career transition and association management.

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.

It’s Time For A Little Networking

Every industry and profession has it – a yearly gathering event to get together, share war stories, learn from each other and contemplate the future, it’s called the Annual Meeting.  It’s ironic that many of us who have spent our careers as Association Execs planning and organizing such events but still look forward to attending these gatherings as members of professional societies.  Such a meeting is taking place starting this weekend in St. Louis at the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Annual Meeting.

Though these kind of meetings have changed over the years with a greater emphasis on education and less on partying, no one can ever discount the importance of networking with your peers.  The value of any association is the opportunity to get together and discuss mutual interests and on occasion actually solve problems that affect all within the profession.

For many who have been attending these meetings over the years, they have fond memories of great speakers (there were a few we would rather forget), spectacular venues, energetic trade shows and never-ending friendships.  These are the meetings where we cut our teeth on a profession that has grown and changed with the times and once again is challenged by the future.

Associations, like all in corporate America are at the crossroads of relevancy.  Society and it’s needs are changing even more rapidly than in the past.  Companies and associations that were created to react to societal changes are now falling by the wayside themselves:

* Borders, which became a huge player in books and music at the end of the last century as an alternative to the family-operated corner book store now finds itself out of business after a long and painful collapse.  Can Barnes and Noble be next?  Amazon and the e-readers have certainly eliminated the home bookshelfs for many.

* Blockbuster became the nation’s purveyor of video tapes and dvds in the 80′s and now finds itself irrelevant due to such newer concepts as Netflix and Red Box.  Direct streaming of movies and tv shows through your game apparatus or iPad has changed the entire industry.

* Associations were the sole caretakers for professional and industry research, information and education while maintaining the exclusive pathway for interaction between individuals within the community; needless to say those days are long gone now with Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  Associations are now tasked to improve their value proposition.

Times, they may have changed but there is still a need to get together and that is what many in the Association Community will be doing in St. Louis.  Because the weather will not be hospitable for outside cavorting around the Arch,  I suggest you will find many not-for-profit types mixing it up at local eateries and pubs.  This is a golden opportunity for many to make new contacts and welcome back old friends.  There is nothing like an Annual Meeting to bring out the crowd and find answers to pressing concerns.

For those in transition, such a meeting as the ASAE Annual Meeting (or any other similar event) can provide a non-stop occasion to “rub elbows” with those who may know of openings or can put in a good word for you with those who are currently looking for a new hire.  Such a meeting also gives your contacts an opportunity to engage with you personally and not wonder silently “whatever happened to you know who?”

Networking will never go out of fashion and despite the numerous new means to make contact, person to person interaction will never go out of style.  There is no better way to get the sale or for those in transition - a new job than looking into the eyes of the decision-makers.  Annual Meetings will continue to be the home for networking and making new relationships and for those who believe the days of attending association meetings are long gone, I suggest you visit the numerous hospitality booths at the ASAE trade show this weekend in St. Louis - they continue to seem to see real value in this community!

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 in the association community worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow by the American Society of Association Executives since 1986.  He currently is between positions and has written more than 50,000 words and 100 blog postings on the topics of job search and career transition.

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.

How About A Few Questions For The Interviewer?

Many interviewers will tell you that the questions asked of the employer is just as important, or maybe even more important than the answers provided during an interview by the candidate.  Questions provide an insight into what is most important for the candidate and highlights the thinking prowess of the potential hire.  Unfortunately most candidates aren’t prepared for this important aspect of the interview which certainly can be instrumental in a decision going your way regarding your future career.

Preparation is vital for anyone going into an interview but regrettably many forget to rehearse their own inquiries as part of the process.  Candidates are so anxious over everything from attire to maintaining eye contact that they forget to contemplate what they would like to know from this interaction.  It is also important to realize that the answers may not be as important to a candidate as much as how and which questions are being posed.

Marc Cenedella, CEO of The Ladders suggested that a candidate should always focus on the 3 key achievements the employer is hoping for from a person in the position.  He suggested that you pose such a question prior to the interview when you are scheduling the time and place.  By focusing on these 3 achievements, the candidate can emphasize that he is the right person for the job and certainly can zero in on the singular need of the employer.

Cenedella also stated that the candidate must see any interview as a sales call and not a friendly conversation.  He advises that you should get the chit-chat over with quickly and focus in on the purpose of the meeting – your employment.  Be friendly, professional and always make sure you are in selling mode.  Always keep the inteview directed to that goal and if the interviewer meanders off into time-wasting territory that it is the candidate’s chore to bring the conversation back to the job and to why you are the best person for it.

The following are some questions you may consider asking, though it is always best to make sure they are relevant to the particular situation:

1)  What is the company’s or association’s goal or expectations for this year?  Are they on track to achieve it?

2)  How does the Board of Directors interact with the CEO and staff?

3)  What was the length of tenure of the previous employee and why did they depart?

4)  How are staff members reviewed and how often?

5)  Are there any internal candidates for the position?

6)  What is the timeframe for bringing a new person onboard?

7)  Is there any additional information I can provide you that will make your decision easier?

There are differing opinions on raising the compensation question early on in the hiring process.  With job boards now making salary figures more apparent and with associations now revealing their 990s on-line via GuideStar, the money subject most of the time can be left unaddressed until you are selected and contractual negotions begin.

On many occasions potential employers breach the sanctity of not discussing money by asking the question right up front, prior to even scheduling an interview.  Though everyone knows that salaries are an important factor in any employment conversation,  it is vital not to taint the waters, unless initiated by the employer until both sides have a better picture of the outcome.  You certainly don’t want to give the impression that money is your sole interest.

It is important to remember that interviews are a selling opportunity.  An opportunity for you to give the best picture of your candidacy possible.  In preparing for the inteview, make sure that you rehearse your key messages but also take time to formulate your questions for the company or association.  By asking just the right questions, a candidate can improve his chances for ultimate success.

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow by the American Society of Association Executives since 1986.  He currently is between positions and has written more than 50,000 words or 100 blog postings on the topics of job search and career transtition.

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.

3)

Keeping It Fresh

For too many job seekers, the search is a lengthy experience and seems to ebb and flow dependent on the current tide.  That tide being everything from the season of the year to the motivation of the job seeker.  It is imperative for those in transition to keep it fresh at all times or you too can fall into a routine with no semblance of an ultimate conclusion.

Fresh has a variety of meanings, please consider the following definitions as a motivator for your future:

new to one’s experience; not encountered before

*  novel; different

*  recently made, produced or harvested

*  Bright and clear; not dull or faded

*  Untried; inexperienced

*  SLANG:  Excellent; first class

With Labor Day fast approaching and what historically is the start of the fall hiring season, it is important for job seekers who have seemingly been at this forever, to “freshen up” your approach to employment and give a new spin on your candidacy.  If you have been using virtually the same resume or cover letter template since day one, it is now time to start over and strengthen it with action words and a greater emphasis on your talents and less on where you have been.

Rewrite that resume with results in mind.  What have you been able to provide to your employers in the past?  Increased income?  Greater participation?  Increased Exposure?  Tangible results are vital for a successful resume.  Make sure you take credit for everything that was a positive for your former employer but never accentuate the truth.  As a team member, you can take credit for it’s accomplishments but be careful not to acknowledge actions and deeds that you had very little involvement in.

Make sure that you update your resume; no employer is interested in somebody whose last entry is 12 months ago.  Post your volunteer efforts and consulting that you have done since your last employment; just make sure that there aren’t any holes in your resume.  Create a LLC for your side business, it has become the expected activity for those between jobs.

With more and more articles being written in business journals and daily newspapers about companies which would rather hire those currently employed than those within a search - you need to give the impression that you have kept yourself busy, you have improved your skills and that your creative juices are still overflowing.

Your Cover Letter needs to be much more flamboyant!  You need to gather the attention of recruiters who make an instantaneous decision upon receiving your “ordinary,” run of the mill document.  I recently wrote an entertaining and thought-provoking Cover Letter for a position that I really wasn’t qualified for, but got an interview anyway.  It is the unexpected that will get you attention and interest.  Do keep it professional – but put some effort into making it fresh.  Though I wasn’t ultimately offered the job, I did make a contact with the headhunter and have kept in touch with him since.

If you haven’t updated your LinkedIn Profile recently – it is now the time.  Those recommendations you currently have are dated (not meaning that they are old as much as you haven’t received new recommendations recently) - if you haven’t asked for some new recommendations from friends and associates in the last few months, this is now the time.  Make sure that your pertinent information on your resume is in sync with your LinkedIn Profile – this is not the time to confuse a potential employer.

If you haven’t already, it is vital to include your LinkedIn Profile address on your resume and in your Cover Letter signature.  It is a wonderful means to promoting yourself beyond the one or two page resume.  Those recommendations can be quite valuable in determining whether you should receive an interview.

Finally, it is also time to freshen up your attitude.  Sure you have been at this for awhile but that employer who needs your skillset is right around the corner.  With the right attention and intention, this fall might be a new beginning for you and your career.

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow by the American Society of Association Executives since 1986.  He currently is between positions and has written more than 50,000 words or 100 blog postings on the topics of job search and career transition.

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.

You Don’t Have To Have A Patch On Your Arm To Have Honor

In the 1992 production of A Few Good Men, the Aaron Sorkin legal military masterpiece directed by Rob Reiner, numerous memorable quotes and speeches will go down in cinematic history.  Jack Nicholson, portraying Colonel Nathan Jessup’s “You can’t handle the truth” might be one of the most remembered and repeatable lines in any movie this side of Tara and “Tomorrow is another day” in Gone With The Wind.

However, probably the most remarkable and poignant dialogue of the drama comes at the end of the film when attorney Lt. Daniel Kaffee, played by Tom Cruise states to the two marines he just defended in a trial that resulted in their court martial: “You don’t have to have a patch on your arm to have honor.”

Honor is a trait sought by all but achieved by few.  Business is a rough and tumble life where we all make excuses such as: “It’s not personalIt’s only business.”  In reality, excuses just don’t cut it; you can’t wish away a negative by redefining your actions.  Honor, above all is worth maintaining and in today’s world, a goal more difficult than ever to attain.

“Confidence….thrives on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance.  Without them it cannot live.”  – Franklin D. Roosevelt.

One of the most difficult personality virtues to demonstrate for any individual, especially one in transition while seeking a new position is honor.  To detail such an attribute in a conversation or during an interview is downright impossible without presenting oneself as a egotist; obviously not a side of you that needs to be detailed to a potential new boss.

Your personal Honor is best presented by the stories you tell in life that can be relatable in a job interview; your reaction to adversity or how you treated contemporaries the way you would want to be treated.  It is one of those traits that comes out best without actually mentioning it.  It is how you live your life and it is how you treat your fellow man.  As Roosevelt stated, confidence is the end product of honesty and honor and all three virtues will put you in a better place when seeking new employment.

“The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught.”  – H. L. Mencken.

Honor is defined as honesty, fairness or integrity in one’s belief and actions; a source of credit or distinction, high respect, as for merit or rank. It is so unfortunate that the standard is so low when one searches for an honorable being.  Too many individuals make excuses for their actions but if you are to standout amongst the competition, honor is a great place to begin. You needn’t look like an alien when describing your life patterns, integrity need not be tossed on the garbage heap along with all the other reachable goals.  One can be honorable without appearing like a societal freak.

Dependent on how one presents himself and how one reacts to the world is how he will be treated.  Philosophy is one thing but actions are what really matter.  With the right philosophy on life and with the appropriate presentation skills utilized, it will not be long until you too remark “You want me on that wall, you need me on that wall” to the next recruiter or search committee.

“There are three classes of men; lovers of wisdom, lovers of honor, and lovers of gain.”  – Plato.

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associaitons in his career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow by the American Society of Association Executives since 1986.  He curently is between positions and has written more than 50,000 words and 100 blog postings on the topics of job search and career transition.

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.

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