Expect the best, but plan for the worse. I recall hearing this advice a lot when I was growing up and passed it on to my own children as they navigated their way through many challenging situations. On a recent assignment with an outplacement firm, I met one-on-one with individuals who had just learned their position with the company was being eliminated and they were joining the ranks of the unemployed. As I spoke with these “shell shocked” individuals and thought about the thousands of professionals around the country who have already been laid-off, or would be soon, the above advice came back to me with new meaning. Although the media has kept us all painfully aware of the dire straights of our economy and the current and expected layoffs, most professionals believe it can never happen to them. And why believe other wise? As one of the gentlemen I met with recently told me, while choking back his tears, “My customers love me, I have a stellar performance record, and I was just promised a raise last week.” He was trying to find meaning in something that made no sense at all – and yet, there was no reason I or anyone else could give him that would explain away the hurt and disbelief he was feeling. My role was to acknowledge his pain and then turn his attention toward an action plan that would lead him through this unexpected career transition. As I spoke to him about next steps, I was instantly aware that he – like thousands of other talented, hard working, and dedicated professionals - had not planned for the worse. Everyday, he did his job and trusted that his career would be taken care of. The fairy tale he had come to believe had been exposed as a sham - and he literally cried. So, what are some of the things you can do while expecting the best yet planning for the worse? Keep your resume up to date. This goes beyond adding each job title and employer as you move forward; a practically worthless activity if you are using the same format and style you began with early in your career. Current resumes bear little resemblance to those used just a decade ago and the resume template that comes packaged with your word processing program is of little value. Find a professional – with credentials – and craft a branded, achievement-focused marketing document that truly sells you. Keep your resume on a CD or portable flash drive and/or save it on your home computer. The gentleman I spoke to on Monday was panic-stricken when he realized that the only copy he had of his resume was saved to his work PC – and he was escorted off the campus before having a chance to download and save his personal documents. Same goes for copies of your performance reviews, awards, kudo letters and e-mails from colleagues and customers. They are nice to display in the office – but keep copies at home. Establish a support team – an “emergency contact list” of who you will call first if your job suddenly ends. When I meet with professionals immediately following their dismissal, I always ask “Who can you call; who will be at home when you get there?” How tragic the one gentleman I spoke to that day would be driving home alone and the only one there to greet him were his two cats. His closest “friends” were his co-workers, and they were dealing with their own personal issues over what just happened. Build and nurture a strong professional network. I can’t tell you how many times I hear recently laid-off professionals tell me “ I just realized that the only people I know are the people I work with everyday – and now many of them are also unemployed.” Join professional associations, and get involved. Volunteer in your community. Connect through online networking services such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Make yourself visible and develop a reputation as someone in the know, with unique qualities and value. Keep learning. It’s not enough to have the skills and knowledge to perform your current job – you need to develop the skills and knowledge to perform the jobs of the future. I met a woman recently who worked as an accountant with the same company for 18 years; they were not using any computer technology to maintain their general ledger books and financial records! Don’t expect your employer to provide you with the training and education you need to remain competitive; take control! Enroll in classes, participate in teleseminars and conferences, read professional journals, get certified. I hope your current employer will weather the storm and your job will remain intact as the New Year shuffles in and for many years to come. But, if the time comes you are facing a career transition – by choice or circumstances – take definitive steps NOW to be ready. There are no more gold watches and lifelong pension plans. You control your career - not your employer, your boss or the HR Department. You can let a job layoff be the end – or you can embrace it, with the proper tools and resources already in place – as a new beginning! Norine Dagliano, of ekm Inspirations, is an independent and nationally certified professional resume writer (NCRW) and job search coach specializing in working with successful professionals who have limited job search experience. For more than two decades, Norine has crafted powerful, achievement-focused resumes and provided logical and straight-forward job seeking tips and advice that has helped literally thousands of professionals in overcoming the anxiety of looking for working… and finding their ideal job. Learn more at www.ekminspirations.com.Career change image from Shutterstock
8 Ways You're Being SHUT OUT Of The Hiring Process
1-hour workshop to help job seekers figure out what's getting them tossed from the hiring process
September 28, 2022
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Can engineering benefit from the lean principles of waste? The simple answer is yes!
To begin, what are the lean wastes?
TIM WOOD — Who Is This Guy?
Classically defined as the seven wastes within the lean principles. With a little imagination and a dash of common sense, engineering teams can use TIM WOOD as a friend, making things flow better and driving improvements.
Time — It’s Ticking In Your Head!
Do engineers waste time? NEVER!!! Are you sure? How long did it take you to look up a part number for your last project? Have you spent hours on the internet combing for the perfect transformer? Did you rework the drawing because it was missing information? All of these take time.
Time is an engineer’s best asset. With any project, more time is always preferred. Despite our best efforts, everything has a deadline, and you will be out of time. So why do things take so long to accomplish?
Much like production, everything an engineer does has a process—formally or informally. If your process requires you to do unnecessary tasks or wait in a queue for information, it all takes away from our time.
Review what it truly takes to complete a task versus the total time to complete an action. The difference is your opportunity. How can you make tweaks or eliminate wasteful tasks to improve your time?
Inventory — How Can Engineering Have Inventory?
In the classical sense, engineering typically does not have dozens of parts on their desks or stacks of products on the shelves.
How many projects are on your desk needing your attention? How many drawings need revisions from production markups and changes? Do you have software programs written for customers? How many documents need approval?
Each of these “soft” products is inventory. Thinking broader, any accumulation of work ahead of you is your inventory. The more projects, tasks, and activities on your desk, the higher the inventory for you as a worker. How do we deplete inventory?
For administrative tasks, plan a time every day to work through the tasks. Approvals in the ERP system are complete at 9 am each day. Drawing reviews are scheduled at 2 pm on Tuesday. Some days you may have five or more of these tasks, and other days you may have none. Scheduling your time to complete these tasks is essential.
Larger tasks can be managed the same way. Use large blocks of time with no meetings to eat the elephant one bite at a time. Make sure you take action weekly on these tasks to prevent overwhelming inventory numbers.
Finally, do you need to do this task at all? Delegate or eliminate the work. Is it necessary? Am I the right person to do it? If the answer is no, get rid of it!
The goal is to minimize your inventory and focus effort on where you add value.
Motion — Do I Need To Leave My Chair?
Unlike production where work may be completed in different physical locations, engineers typically work in their station and may even be sedentary. So how do I eliminate motion?
Do you walk to meetings twice a day in a different part of the building? Do you need to cross the room to use the copier? Are you required to deliver signed documents to another member of the team? Is your telephone or headset across the desk?
Motion is trickier in an office setting; however, with some creativity, you can eliminate the waste. Can my meetings be scheduled back to back to keep from leaving your office as often? Do I rearrange my desk for better optimization of my mouse, keyboard, phone, etc.? Think outside of just walking back and forth.
Waiting — Why Can’t I Get Any Answers?
How often do you need to wait for a customer to agree to a specification? Does accounting owe you a price for the transformer you are quoting? Is your boss sitting on the drawing approval needed to submit to the customer?
Each time an engineer waits for an answer or another process, this leads to waste. You cannot proceed without someone else’s action. You rely on someone’s actions to complete your own.
How do we eliminate waiting? It is inevitable to be waiting on someone. Can you send an email ahead of time asking for their help to approve the drawing? Could you call your customer asking for clarification versus sending an email? Could you walk something to the accounting department asking for their attention?
Find ways to eliminate or minimize wait times. Take proactive actions to ask for assistance. Ensure all the necessary information is available to the next person in the process. Look for those subtle little items that add up over time.
Overproduction & Overprocessing — Why Do More Than You Are Asked?
Both of these wastes involve doing more than what is expected. Throughout my career, I have been encouraged to under-promise and over-deliver. Why?
Of the wastes, I would say these two are the most difficult for engineering. We are expected to (over) produce products that exceed customer expectations.
Experience will tell an engineer when enough is enough. Over-designing a solution is a waste. Making more drawings than are necessary is a waste. Look for opportunities where you are handling the same item more than once. Can I do both tasks at the same time?
Be careful of the trap of tinkering with a project simply because you have time. If your work is complete, meets the need, and is robust, stop. Continuing to tweak is an example of overprocessing. Learn from your mentors what finished looks like!
Defects — I Hate Doing Something Twice…
Defects are an enormous opportunity for anyone to eliminate wastes! Who likes doing the same task twice because it was wrong? If an engineer needs to do rework, the results are wasted.
Similar to the goal of “zero” safety incidents, engineers need to strive for perfection. This goal is philosophically correct, and reality shows our human side. Mistakes will occur.
How do you eliminate these defects? If you make a mistake, begin by correcting it, and follow up with changes to keep the mistake from returning. Write a procedure, make a checklist, and educate yourself (and your team) to prevent the error. When you have “extra time,” check your work. We all get tunnel vision on projects, so taking another step to verify your efforts is valuable!
When mistakes occur, learn from them. Do not swipe them aside as a trivial element of your work. Take time to make improvements to eliminate the chance of error in the future. We all make mistakes… Some of us learn to keep from repeating them repeatedly.
Is TIM WOOD My Friend?
The concept of eliminating wastes is paramount to a lean journey or continuous improvement. Look around every aspect of life, and you will observe wastes. Knowing what wastes look like is the first step. Your best opportunity is to find ways to eliminate them from your work. Make something better, eliminate an unnecessary step, error-proof your processes, and make things better.
So is TIM WOOD my friend? For years, the answer was no. I had no time for him in engineering because he worked in production. Now that I see him clearly, I embrace him and use him to make me, my team, and my company stronger.
YES — TIM WOOD is my friend!
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Looking for a job has become relatively tough for many people. Even some professionals with advanced academic qualifications, such as bachelor's degrees and even MBAs, are currently having a rough time on the market. However, there are still plenty of jobs out there for the right candidates.
One of the ways of differentiating yourself from other job seekers is by having transferable skills. Broadly speaking, a transferable skill is an expertise that you can use across a wide range of industries.
According to the University of Southern California, many graduates change jobs as many as four times within a period of five years. If you are a job seeker, identifying your transferable skills and articulating them to employers is likely to increase your chances of getting a job.
Here are five transferable skills all job seekers need:
In almost every career, from banking to the hospitality industry, good communication skills are vital. As such, it would be to your advantage if you have the ability to articulate your ideas in writing as well as orally. Since communication normally involves more than one party, you should be a good listener as well.
Employers often look for people who can communicate with co-workers effectively and in an objective manner.
Don't know your workplace communication style? Take our FREE quiz today!
2. Analytical Skills
This is a vital skill in almost every field of work mainly because the majority of businesses generate revenue by solving problems that clients face daily.
For example, cloud-computing companies provide data storage solutions, thereby ensuring that their clients have a backup of data stored on site. Employees can access company data on the go knowing they have secure storage for their information. In such an environment, analytical skills are likely to come in handy when clients face problems such as uploading data or updating certain files. To solve those issues, one would have to identify and define the problem's parameters.
This skill also involves collecting and analyzing data in order to design creative solutions to complex problems.
Most organizations and business enterprises employ more than one employee. Because of this, it may not be possible to have all the employees in leadership positions. Therefore, a few employees who show the ability to lead generally take charge of the others.
Leadership is all about motivating fellow employees and leading them to work toward a common goal. In addition, leaders analyze tasks and set priorities for the other employees as well as identify and allocate resources that employees need.
4. Information Management Skills
Traditionally, businesses kept a few records such as sales, purchases, and salaries in-house. In most cases, this data was no more than a few gigabytes. However, the emergence of social media, the adoption of e-commerce by consumers, and the large number of data points generated by businesses and corporations have upended the traditional model of managing information. As a result, most employers need employees who can sort and present data objects in an understandable manner.
Information management also involves evaluating and synthesizing information against industry standards. Industries where you can apply this skill set include finance, education, manufacturing, and print media.
5. Project Management
Project managers are in high demand in many industries. Your work as a project manager will involve planning projects, assessing potential risks associated with the project, allocating project finances appropriately, and overseeing the execution of the project on time.
You can use this transferable skill in industries such as education, energy, consulting, and even the military.
The job sector is becoming increasingly competitive with every passing day. With this in mind, job seekers need to broaden their horizons when searching for a job.
Leverage the power of transferable skills acquired in previous jobs to get ahead of the competition. Just remember to quantify these skills on your resume. Also, make sure to mention them in your job interview, and you'll surely stand out from the competition.
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.
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