20 Job Finding Tips (updated)


I’ve done my best to help as many people find their next job over the years and learned a few things along the way. Here is a summary of some of those learnings in the hope that it may help others land that dream job.

1. Take advantage of your network of professional (and even personal) contacts. You never know who might know who…. and so I recommend meeting, face to face, with as many of your direct connections as possible – and go to them since you have the time – they will be more likely to meet near their work.

  • In those meetings have a clear understanding of what you want to do next. If you’re not sure, they won’t be sure what to look out for
  • In addition, have a list of organizations you would like to work for – perhaps they don’t know about any job availabilities, but they may know some influential people in those organizations
  • If people don’t know you are looking, they won’t know to help
  • Follow up every 6 weeks or so and remind them gently. People are busy, they forget – it’s not personal and they won’t mind
  • Your Dentist and Doctor etc. are also network contacts you may want to consider

2. LinkedIn

  • LinkedIn is the single most important tool when it comes to job hunting. Make sure it is up to date, the keywords are accurate and fill in all the background fields and use relevant keywords.
  • HR finds potential candidates through LinkedIn now, some organizations are exclusively using this to fill roles.
  • If you would like to add recommendations to your profile then first take the time to create a great recommendation for others. They will likely return the favour. Make sure they are someone you would actually recommend – this will affect your personal brand!
  • Be protective about your connections on LinkedIn. It’s not a numbers game – The quality of your LinkedIn connections affects your brand both positively and negatively
  • Search for companies you would like to work for in LinkedIn and see who’s connected – this might be a great way inside an organization you admire
  • Check out this great cheat sheet to see how your LinkedIn profile stacks up

3. Talk to people in your industry that have a job similar to the one you are looking for, they may get headhunter calls, and if they know you’re looking they can then refer you to them.

  • Call and/or send them a personal note with an update of your status along with what you are looking for. At least they know you’re looking
  • Avoid sending a cold generic update asking for help – include a personal note to them and perhaps include a link to a relevant article and why you thought they might enjoy it too. A little give and take helps

4. Have your resume professionally edited. After interviewing and hiring thousands of people over the past 2 decades, I have found this regularly can be the difference between arranging a meeting and having the resume thrown into the “garbage” file. There are some important elements to an effective resume. Headhunters and potential companies know the difference when they see a professional resume. It gets noticed. Even though LinkedIn has become more important than a resume for adding depth to the background – Resumes can still be an important reflection of your personal brand.

Your resume should be full of accomplishments that YOU brought to the table. Avoid saying things like “led 30 people in a high pressure environment” and focus on accomplishments “led a team of 30 though a 20% quality improvement and generated an additional $300k in new revenue”

Remember: It’s your resume – it’s expected that you will show off in a humble way.

5. Create a professional cover letter to use with headhunters and prospective future bosses. Again, quality is everything here as this is their first impression of you. Same goes for a professional introduction email template when applying for roles. Short, accurate and grammatically sound. Have a few people review it for any mistakes and overall look and feel

6. Volunteer your time to some industry groups or publications. They are often looking for people to help out. This can keep you in the spotlight and in front of the right people. When you volunteer your time, people are more likely to respond in kind

7. Meet with a number of consultants in your industry. They are constantly in front of companies to see opportunities and can give advice on doing some consultant work. They may have some work you can do to bridge the job gap as well which can help on the resume

8. Be open to the idea of consulting (not saying concentrate in this area but don’t discount it). In this economy people may be interested in short term expertise and short term fixes. These can turn into full time jobs (in every meeting you’ll want to look for ways to add value). You’ll also be able to tell prospective companies that you are in demand and busy

Remember a full-time but temporary consulting gig may not mix well with the full-time job finding responsibility and you may be in the same boat at the end of the contract

9. Try to get a list of headhunters in your industry, and contact them with your professionally written resume. Then phone them…. and here’s what I have always found…. you need to call them again. Often it takes an email and 2 calls to get them to call you back

Contact your headhunters every 3-4 weeks reminding them you are still looking, and include your resume each time. I’ve never met one that doesn’t appreciate this gentle reminder approach. A job may end up on their desk that’s perfect for you on the 6th time you reach out (5 months later). Your reminder may be all they need to start the ball rolling. The majority of jobs are never posted (potentially as much as 80% or more) so it’s who you know, but headhunters still play an important role.

10. Ask as much advice from people as you can. This does two things…. makes them feel their opinion matters and in return they will help you more than you know. In every meeting I ask “is there some advice you can offer or some people you feel I should chat with?” Inevitably there are.

I’ve learned that the further away you get from your direct connections the less likely those people are to actually recommend you to someone for a role. They don’t know you and don’t know your job performance. If they have a lead you may need to get someone to give a recommendation to them to (in turn) recommend you to others

11. I’ve created filters in Gmail (but you can do it in many email programs) which are folders to organize anything to do with job hunting. This can help you stay organized and keep job hunting separate from the personal stuff.

12. Make sure your email address is a professional one. A firstname.lastname@[your internet provider].com will be perceived more professionally than honeyjackpot@[free email provider].com. Create a new professional email address for job search if required

13. There are some decent sites out there like http://www.theladders.com . Do some research and these sites may give you an advantage. Another example is http://ca.indeed.com/?r=us

14. Set up some google alerts with key words for your jobs. You’ll get a daily influx of emails to check for potential jobs. “Internet Marketing Job [your city]” might be an example. Use technology to do some of the work for you!

15. http://flavors.me/ – A top way to create a cool intro page about yourself – great to send to someone before a networking meeting – perhaps more interesting than a LinkedIn link for these types of meetings. You may also know someone who can build a professional but inexpensive site that shows the world how good you really are. You will stand out.

16. Some job interview tips that may be helpful. And some more here

17. During the interview ask what the ideal candidate brings to the table and write this stuff down

  • After a job interview send a personal thanks which includes why you appreciated meeting them, why you are excited about the opportunity and why you feel you are the ideal fit for the job based on what you wrote down. Be confident and humble
  • Most people don’t send a follow-up note. Some send an email. How about dropping off a handwritten letter to really standout?

Some other articles that may be worth reviewing

And finally….

18. It can be frustrating at times because it’s difficult to see the finish line. Finding a job is a full-time job. Leave the house early, meet as many people as possible and be clear and concise about what you are looking for. When frustration kicks in it’s time to look for things you are not doing to improve your chances – and then do them. Continue to ask those you respect for help and advice.

19. When you’ve found your job show some gratitude for those that helped you along the way (no matter how much – if they helped they deserve a thank-you). Show them that you weren’t just using them to find a job and now you’re moving on. And for that person who directly helped you get the connection that finally got you the job? A gift card or a nice bottle of wine seems appropriate

20. When someone else asks for help in the job hunt in the future – offer to help. You know the experience they are going through and you know how difficult it is. Don’t forget that feeling when you have a job and someone else is looking. Carry it forward.

Best of luck in your search. The job will come no matter how frustrating the journey if you stick with it.

Graham Kingma

Author, Developing and Managing Your Career, What It Takes To Get That Promotion

The Best Career Management Advice from CEO’s


I always enjoy the direct messages I get from readers. Sharing something they found useful in the book or asking a question that is relevant to their current situation. I plan on using these questions as the subject of the next series of blogs related to career management.

A recent question from David H.:

Graham, let me start by thanking you for writing this book. I can see how many people who are new to the workforce like myself can benefit from the reading your book and applying the clear steps that you outlined. My question is bit general. I was wondering if you can reflect back to your earlier days when you started your career and tell me bit about how you executed the career building/managing steps that you talked about in the book?

Thanks for your question David! This question really made me think as it’s been over 20 years since I started my career. I remember spending a great deal of my own time (before and after hours) attempting to get in front of those that had reached a level of success already. They were 20 and 30 years my senior and they had characteristics I admired. Some were at the VP level and others were in the C-Suite. I asked the same questions each time.

  1. What do you feel is the professional characteristic that helped you to reach your level?
  2. What is the thing you most regret in your career?

I felt these were strong questions that could take advantage of the time spent with those I admired. Small talk wasn’t going to get me any helpful tips or advice.

The answers to the first question gave me a foundation by which I built my career. I’ve outlined 3 pieces of advice I received (there are more items but these really resonated with me):

  • The work you produce is a reflection of you. No matter what you create, produce it with a level of quality that will exceed the expectations of the person or persons that requested it

This has been a constant reminder to me throughout my career. Producing something you can be proud of is difficult. It may require you to research more than you would like, it may require you to become more of an expert with the software required to produce your content. In my case I would add Presentation Ability to this list as well. I remember reading some speaker feedback at a conference I had made a presentation at. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and I was asked to return as the keynote at the following years conference. I remember thinking…all those times I had asked for constructive feedback from those I respect after every presentation for the last decade had paid off. We all have the ability to produce work. It takes hard work and determination to produce great work.

  • Be kind and helpful to everyone in your organization

I heard this more than once. Interestingly the more responsibility the individual had (e.g. CEO), the more I heard this advice. Have a sincere appreciation for everyone in the organization. I tended to treat those in front line positions with more respect and admiration than I did to those in more senior positions, simply because I knew how difficult their jobs were. I remember helping host a visit for Ted Rogers, one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the history of Canada. When he came to visit our division he spent 95% of his time with those who talked directly to customers everyday as well as some time with our receptionist. 

  • Identify ways you can provide unique or extra value to the organization and then work with everyone who might be affected by this to collaborate and improve on the idea, and then implement

This can be a tough one, but you can usually identify areas that need improvement and offer to take on some of the responsibility. Early on in my career I was in a front line position and realized the small organization I worked for could really use a database system for their customers (the idea of a database of customers was relatively new but there was cost effective software available at the time). I researched how to build one, asked others who were on the front lines about the idea and received buy-in and then presented the idea. The idea was welcomed and the database was built within a few months. The organization was far more efficient as a result and I learned an invaluable skill. This was a factor in my promotion a few months later. In another stage in my career I offered to take over a department that was causing pain for the organization but no one wanted to take on the responsibility. It was a challenge but we succeeded in removing the pain points and I was able to add another skill to my repertoire.

So how did these VP’s and CEO’s answer the second question: What is the thing you most regret in your career?

The answer was almost unanimous and very short.

  • I wish I had spent more time with my family

I have never forgotten this life tip. It was hard to forget when the answer was almost always the same no matter who I spoke to. I had to turn down opportunities as well as make adjustments to ensure that I was able to keep my priorities straight. I felt fortunate to have heard this enough times from those I respect to not make the same mistake myself.

Thanks again for your question David H. I appreciate you helping me travel down memory lane!

Graham Kingma

Author, Managing Your Career, What It Takes To Get That Promotion

Preparing for an Interview


I always enjoy the direct messages I get from readers. Sharing something they found useful in the book or asking a question that is relevant to their current situation.

A recent question from Kim P.

I have an interview coming up for a role I have been after for a while. The new role will be my first promotion if I am successful. I am wondering if you have any advice for me to prepare for the interview?

Thanks for your question Kim! There are a number of things you can do to improve your chances of a great interview.

Discussing the role with someone who already has it

If you have an opportunity, ask if you can job shadow in the new role for a day. Offer to do this on your day off (if possible) or offer a vacation day so you are not taking away from your current role. You then have a chance to observe the role and ask some questions about the most important responsibilities of the role you are applying for. You can share these observations in the interview and let the interviewer know how you are preparing (or will prepare) to ensure you take the most important responsibilities seriously. While you are job shadowing, you may gain some insights about the kinds of questions you can expect to hear in the interview from someone who has already successfully passed the interview process.

Role play with your Mentor

I discuss the importance of having a great Mentor in the book. Here is an opportunity to create a practice interview with your Mentor. Come as prepared as you would in the real interview and be prepared for some challenging questions. There are some great articles online with examples of the kinds of interview questions you may hear (examples here and here). Write them down, practice your answers and then practice again and again. Your Mentor can give you some honest feedback about where you succeeded and where you need to continue to work on your answers. The more you practice these challenging interview questions the more relaxed you will be in the interview. An interview question that often comes up is “what would you consider to be your weakness” or something along those lines. Interviewers are looking for an honest answer along with some things you have done to overcome this weakness. Practice answering this question honestly with your Mentor to develop a well thought out response (e.g. I have had a challenge with my public speaking in the past and have been taking some Toastmasters courses in order to help me improve my technique“).

Be confident (but not overly)

Chances are if you’ve been granted the interview opportunity then you have some (if not all) of the skills and requirements for the job. You have worked hard to maintain your work ethic and deliver great results right? Then make sure you point out your successes. Let your interviewer know you will continue to maintain your professionalism, work ethic and will deliver the results that are expected in this role. The interview is a chance for you to demonstrate why you are the best candidate. Make sure you point out examples of why you are the right candidate and add that you are also excited to learn all about the new role from your potential new boss.

Write down examples of your accomplishments

You’ll want to share some of the great things you’ve done inside and outside of work that differentiate yourself from others. Helped out your boss with an extra assignment? Went above and beyond with a project? Made an impact on your team or your department? Volunteering your time to help others? Write these down and practice tying these into those challenging interview questions.

e.g. “I believe I am the right candidate for this position because of my impact and work ethic. My boss recently asked for volunteers for an extra assignment. I happily took on the challenge and delivered the results on time. The impact was an improved efficiency with some of the processes in my department”

Learn the ins and outs of a great interview

There is an endless supply of interview tips so I’ll just cover a few here.

  1. Dress professionally and groom accordingly (buy a new outfit if you can or try a fine thrift store), your confidence will shine through)
  2. Be extra early (nothing starts off an interview worse than showing up late)
  3. Bring a fresh copy of your resume (have someone proof read it for grammar and spelling and always be honest on your resume)
  4. Be prepared to take notes (ask permission beforehand but the interviewer will likely say yes and be impressed)
  5. Limit the length of your answers (people tend to give long answers when nervous) but be accurate and use real examples (see write down examples of your accomplishments above)
  6. More than one interviewer? take the time to look each of them in the eyes regularly throughout the interview
  7. Have a question or two ready for the end of the interview (One of these questions should be “what are you looking for in the successful candidate?”
  8. Write down the answers to the above question(s)
  9. Give a confident handshake and thank the interviewer(s) for their time
  10. Write a thank you letter (handwritten is better than an email) to the interviewer(s) thanking them again for their time and listing why you meet their requirements of the role as listed in #7 above

I do hope this helps you improve your chances of a great interview Kim.

Best of luck – you’ll do great!

Graham Kingma

Author, Developing and Managing Your Career, What It Takes To Get That Promotion

How do you manage work life balance and still be eligible for a promotion?


I always enjoy the direct messages I get from readers. Sharing something they found useful in the book or asking a question that is relevant to their current situation.

A recent question from Mo:

How do you manage work life balance and still be available for promotion?

Thanks for your question Mo!

This is a question we all hear over and over again. If you ask 50 people you will likely get 50 different answers. Why? because work-life balance is a subjective thing. A great deal of the right answer for you depends on your family commitments, job commitments and any extra-curricular engagements you have outside of work.

Mo’s question is a little more specific around still being eligible for a promotion. The requirement for you to arrive early and stay late to be seriously considered for a promotion is very dependant on where you work. Some workplaces reward those that burn the midnight oil. The perception is those people are extremely dedicated to their jobs and their organization and therefore should be the ones to be rewarded with a promotion. I would argue that someone who has the ability to get the work done within the “normal” hours of work and finds a way to get more work-life balance should be the one to be rewarded. Not everyone agrees. If you are at a workplace that clearly rewards long hours and you are willing to make those sacrifices then you have that choice. There will need to be some sacrifices to other areas of your life.

Many workplaces today reward and promote healthy work-life balances. Those that excel in these environments know how to protect that balance while ensuring they provide great value to their organization and deliver on the expectations their leaders have of them. In a recent blog we talked about how to stand out from your co-workers. Make the most of your work time commitments and allow yourself to enjoy lifes most important things like family, hobbies and giving back to friends and the community. Sometimes when extra time is required to do the job right, you may need to get to your sports activity/workout/volunteer program/kids commitments first and then put in an hour or two afterward.

Do you want to find out which work environment you work in? Ask the same question of the person who would hire for the position you are interested in.

Work-life balance means something different for every one of us. I had the pleasure of conversing with Mr. Ted Rogers (founder of Rogers Communications) who determined that his hobby was in fact his work and his work was his hobby. So Ted would happily spend 6 or 7 days a week working on continually improving his organization. I also know of senior executives at very large organizations who quit and opened their own boutique store, making far less money and significantly improving their work-life balance and happiness at the same time. I know of a bank CEO that decided a long time ago he needed to give up golf in order to have time with the family and invest in his career. It was a decision that worked to get him the balance he needed.

In another blog I discussed many conversations with CEO’s when I was first starting out. Although I got lots of great gems from these conversations, perhaps the greatest gem came from the question “What is the thing you most regret in your career”? The answer was almost unanimous and very short. “I wish I had spent more time with my family”. We can learn a great deal from those with experience.

Work-life balance is about the choices you make for yourself.

You will likely need to invest significant time and effort at and for your organization in order to continue to be promoted. For that you will likely need to give up some personal life enjoyments and commitments.

To spend more time on your personal life enjoyments and commitments you may need to reduce the time and effort at and for your organization. This may be at the cost of giving up a promotion.

Although the right answer for you is subjective, prioritizing what is important to you and making sound decisions about what comes first will allow you to reach that Holy Grail of work-life balance we all seek.

Good luck and thanks for your great question Mo.

Graham Kingma

Author, Developing and Managing Your Career, What It Takes To Get That Promotion


How do I stand out from my co-workers?

I always enjoy the direct messages I get from readers. Sharing something they found useful in the book or asking a question that is relevant to their current situation.

A recent question from Jess:

How do I stand out from my co-workers? (I have a lot of them!)

Thanks for your question Jess!

Let’s take a look at this challenge in four of steps:

  1. Am I meeting ALL of the minimum standards expected of me in my position?
  2. Am I making an effort to be a positive influence to my co-workers, my boss and my organization?
  3. Have I determined the additional skills required for the position I am interested in?
  4. Do I know who the decision-makers are for the position I am interested in?

1. Am I meeting ALL of the minimum standards expected of me in my position?

This is an area that is easy to overlook in the management of our careers. All of us are great at some parts of our job responsibility and struggle with other areas. When we are endeavouring to stand out from the rest, the key here is to make sure you are not standing out from the crowd in any negative ways. I cover this off in much greater detail in the book, but let’s look at some really quick examples.

  • John is exceeding all of his sales goals and is regularly the sales leader in the group. John is also notoriously in a bad mood some mornings and his co-workers stay away from him because of this. When a job opportunity comes up his boss lets him know that he was passed over because of his attitude. The sales results he constantly achieved were not enough to overcome his shortfalls in other areas. John wasn’t acting like a leader.
  • Priya is always making an extra effort to help out with co-workers and the leaders in her group. She is seen as a go to person when extra work is needed to get done, or train new hires when they join the team because she is very reliable in these areas. Priya is also very social and is notoriously late from breaks and lunches. When the job opportunity comes up she is passed over because of her tardiness. The decision-maker is worried that by promoting her, she is sending a message that it’s okay to be late. The decision-maker also knows that there is a good chance the lateness will continue or even get worse.

Are you standing out from the crowd in a negative light? Make sure you remove all of these barriers since they can easily trump all of the great things you are doing to manage your career. It’s okay to make mistakes from time to time as long as your intentions were good. Just own up to them and avoid the same mistakes in the future.

2. Am I making an effort to be a positive influence to my co-workers, my boss and my organization?

In the book I talk about the fact that acting like a leader will help you become one. So what does this actually mean? Where do you start acting like a leader? The secret is to determine the challenges that your leadership team face everyday and become part of the solution. Let’s look at a few examples of how you can be a positive influence:

  • Volunteer to work with new hires and work hard to get them up to speed as fast as possible
  • Come up with a faster or more effective way to do your job and share what you’ve found with the leadership team
  • Come up with some creative ways to make your workplace a better place to be – share your ideas with the leadership team and offer to play a part. So often we are waiting for our bosses to make our workplace better – be the driver instead of the passenger.
  • Offer to work with those that are struggling to meet their goals (since you are exceeding them right?) – believe me…your leadership team will notice this

Taking some of the burden off of the responsibilities of the leadership team will get you noticed. Remember, acting like a leader will help you become one. Don’t be shy about demonstrating the results you have achieved while being part of the solution.

3. Have I determined the additional skills required for the position I am interested in?

So you’ve removed all the potential negatives and you are now a positive influence at work…now what? It’s time to develop the skills required for that role you’re after. I talk about this in greater detail in a recent blog but let’s cover off a few points on how you can go about doing this:

  • Is creating reports a requirement of the that job you’re after? Learn all you can about writing reports and ask your leaders if you can have a report writing project to work on. When you hand the report in, remember that you are proving your abilities to the decision-makers. Make sure that report is excellent in every way. Get assistance from your network to polish the report to perfection. You’ve now shown you can take on extra work, you are being a solution for your leadership team and you are showing off your report writing skills without having to say a word.
  • Being a leader is all about the positive influence on others to help them focus their attention and efforts on the goals of the company. Is there a member of your team that you could volunteer to mentor to improve their performance? Take on the responsibility, improve their performance and prove to others you already possess those leadership abilities

4. Do I know who the decision-makers are for the position I am interested in?

There is a position you are interested in already. Who are the people in your organization that have the final say in who get’s that job? Connect with them regularly and be the solution to them as well. Dropping by and saying hello can be awkward if you don’t have a reason to chat. Bringing some insightful questions with you can get you noticed in a positive way while removing the awkward moments. Some examples of insightful questions/comments?

  • I notice in the annual report (make the effort to review this!) I noticed we are focusing more energy on customer experience. I would be interested in your insights here. I also have some ideas on how we could make improvements in this area and would love an opportunity to get your feedback at some point.
  • Could I take some time to learn more about how you improved your leadership skills? I admire your ability to…..and I am working on the same improvements for myself
  • As an HR professional I know you have great insights into improving skills. Are there some company sponsored courses I can take to help with my continuous improvement? Is there something you can recommend for me?
  • How did we finish the month performance-wise? Is there an area we need to focus more attention on and can I help be part of the solution?

When decision-makers are looking at candidates for the role, you will be well known by the team and be seen in a positive light. You’ll have the advantage over someone that kept quiet the whole time.

Be respectful of the decision-makers time but don’t shy away from these critical connections as you develop your career.


Standing out from your co-workers is all about letting your actions speak louder than your words. When it comes time for that promotion you will be assessed based on your actions and results, not on the things you said you’d do.

Good luck Jess and thanks for your great question.

Graham Kingma

Author, Developing and Managing Your Career, What It Takes To Get That Promotion

What if I have applied for a position and didn’t get the job?

I always enjoy the direct messages I get from readers. Sharing something they found useful in the book or asking a question that is relevant to their current situation.

A recent question from Mikael.

What if I have applied for a position and didn’t get the job? When can I re apply? Should I re apply?

Thanks for your question Mikael!

First off, let me start by answering your second question…Should I re apply? The answer is a resounding YES!!!  you should know that this has happened to almost every person at some point in their careers. Even those you might consider to have the most successful careers have likely been turned down for a promotion at some point, so you are in really good company already.

The key to success next time is using what you have learned through this process to your advantage while remaining calm, cool and collected.

Let’s list some steps and then dive into each one in a little more detail:

  1. Stay Positive and Show Appreciation
  2. Get the Details
  3. Make a Plan
  4. Apply When Ready

Stay Positive and Show Appreciation

It’s perfectly okay to be upset when you hear the news that you didn’t get the promotion. Just don’t let anyone at work see that you’re upset. The interviewers will be watching for your reaction. Yell and scream and they will know they made the right decision and that will likely be your last opportunity for a promotion. When you get the news that you didn’t get the promotion, stay calm and go back and sincerely thank the interviewers for the opportunity. The decision makers likely did not enjoy turning you down for a promotion, they simply made a decision that someone else was more prepared to take on the responsibilities of that role. This is not an attack on you personally, it’s a message that you have some more work to do before you are ready for the job. Use all of that negative energy for good and you will be on your way to developing a plan for the next opportunity. By thanking them you have set the stage for the next part of your plan. Want to really set the stage? go and congratulate the person who did get the position. Be sincere! he or she will likely be an influencer when that role becomes available again and they will have some tips and tricks on how to be successful in an interview.

Get the Details

Ask to book some time with the decision makers to help you understand more clearly where the gaps are between your skills and abilities, and the requirements of that next job. Ask some really good questions and take some really good notes so you understand, from their perspective, what you need to work on. Here are some questions you could try:

  • What are the areas I should be focusing on in order to improve my chances in the future?
  • What parts of the interview did you think I managed well, and what parts do I need to improve on?
  • May I sign up for extra projects related to the position so I can understand the role better and contribute more to the organizations success?

These open ended questions will get the conversation going. You are asking these questions for two very good reasons. 1. you want to know the answers so you can create a specific plan around them. 2. you are sending a message to the decision makers that you are determined to be successful in the future.

Make a Plan

So you have the answers as to what you need to do – that’s a great start! Now you have to turn that into a plan. I go into more detail in the Managing Your Career, What It Takes To Get That Promotion, but let’s list a few ideas here. Let’s say you needed to work on your performance. Talk to the people who perform at a high level and ask them how they do it. Most will appreciate the compliment and share some of their ideas. Need to work on your ability to present? Join a club like Toastmasters to improve your skills. Need to work on your interview abilities? Read some books on the subject, take a course and practice, practice, practice. I talked about the importance of preparation for an interview in a previous blog here

This can take some time and a lot of effort. But you have a goal and this is the practice you need to reach that goal.

Apply When Ready

Mikael asked When can I re apply? the answer is very subjective here. You should re-apply only when you truly know you have improved in the areas that the decision makers pointed out are your gaps. Are you prepared to demonstrate what you have done to improve in these areas? Can you confidently show your interviewers that you have closed these gaps? Are you better prepared to go into the interview this time? if the answer is yes to these questions, then it is time to re-apply.

If all goes according to plan you will be successful in the interview and get that promotion. If not, repeat steps 1-4 again until you are successful.

When you get that promotion you can look back at all the hard work and realize you got that job you wanted and you improved in some areas that will help you with the rest of your career.

When you get that promotion be prepared for someone to come to you for advice this time. It’s your turn to be the mentor.

Good luck Mikael!

Graham Kingma

Author, Developing and Managing Your Career, What It Takes To Get That Promotion

Short Term Goals

I always enjoy the direct messages I get from readers. Sharing something they found useful in the book or asking a question that is relevant to their current situation.

A recent question from Sean.

How do I set short term goals that will help me achieve my long term goals?

Thanks for your question Sean!

Short term goals are critical to managing ones career. In setting your short term goals it may help to determine what your medium and long term goals are. For example, your long term goal might be to become an executive in your organization one day. In order to reach that position you will need to determine what role you need next in order to maximize your opportunities down the road. Perhaps the next role is to become a Supervisor or Manager in your organization? You have now set your medium term goal. To reach that medium term goal you will need to accomplish a number of short term goals to optimize your chances of success. Your short term goals become the gaps between your current capabilities and the capabilities required in that next job (Supervisor or Manager).

How can you figure out what these gaps are? Book a meeting with your HR representative, your boss and your mentor and let them know your medium term goal, and ask for their advice on what you need to do to improve your chances of being the successful candidate one day. You’ll get a list that becomes your short term goals. Ask your advisors to be brutally honest (how professional is your attire? Any behaviours you should improve? Are you wearing too much perfume?). The more honesty you ask for, the more honest feedback you will receive and the better the list of short term goals you will have. While it is hard to listen to a list of items you don’t do well enough today, remember that you are doing this to remove those obstacles in order to reach your medium and long term goals.

Book a meeting with the hiring manager for that medium term role (the boss of the Supervisor or Manager role). Ask them if you can set up a mock interview with them. Go to the interview as if it were the real interview and perform to the best of your abilities. I wrote about some tips for interview preparation here. At the end of the interview (or alternatively ask for a meeting at a later date to get the feedback) ask for some specific things the interviewer recommends you work on to improve your chances for this role down the road. Take the feedback and add it to your list.

Now you have a big advantage over some others… you already know what you need to do to improve your chances of success down the road. For each item on your list you’ll want to do some reading and other research, and interview those that have this capability already.

Need to improve your Excel spreadsheet capability? There are online lessons, books and courses you can take. Improve your capabilities and then volunteer to do an Excel spreadsheet task at work. You get to show your new capabilities and practice at the same time.

Need to improve your public speaking capabilities? You could join a group like Toastmasters to learn and master public speaking. Meeting some of your short term goals might mean investing some money in materials and courses for the best opportunity to improve your capabilities.

Is there someone you know who does an item on your list very well? Book a meeting with them (offer to buy them a coffee) and ask them how they developed the capability. They might share a few insider tips on what to do (and what not to do!) and they’ll certainly appreciate the compliment.

Now you have your list, and your plan to accomplish your short term goals. After you have accomplished a goal, go back to the person who made the suggestion as well as anyone who helped you and let them know what you did to improve your capability in that area (and thank them for the gift they gave you!).

When you have accomplished all of the required short term goals you will be very well prepared for that medium and long term goal opportunity when it presents itself. You’ll soon develop new medium and long term goals which will require a new list of short term goals. You’ll be improving yourself every step of the way.

Good luck Sean and thanks for your great question.

Graham Kingma

Author, Developing and Managing Your Career, What It Takes To Get That Promotion

So it’s finally here

plant is in hands

I have spent a few decades fortunate enough to lead people, listening to their career questions and genuinely caring about the advancement of their development and their careers at every level. Over those same decades I’ve been told this is not a common characteristic of bosses. I do know that the greatest leaders I have had the pleasure of working with (and for) always take the greatest pleasure in helping others succeed. I’ve had some fantastic bosses like (alphabetically) Larry Austin, Rael MersonJohn Mozas and Mike Mroczkowski. Not only are they great leaders, but they have managed their careers as effectively as anyone and found a work life balance that would be the envy of most. Needless to say, I have modeled my leadership style very much around what I have learned from these four. If you’ve already read my book, these four would be my A-List Mentors. I’ve also had some not so great bosses that can remain nameless. I’ve learned a great deal from both groups (what to do and what not to do) so I am thankful for all the learning opportunities and experiences they have given me over the years.

Over those decades I have listened to great career questions, watched people’s careers blossom and seen them make some mistakes along the way (and made a few myself). A few years ago I got the idea that this collection of career stories I had witnessed and the advice I attempted to share might be better saved on paper. I never imagined it might be a publication one day. It was simply a paper I could share with someone who was interested in taking their career to the next level. So I sat down and started writing, changing the names of the people but keeping the general lessons learned as accurate to the original story as I could. I paid close attention to those that had accepted and tried the advice given, and those that had ignored it and continued on. I continued to add to the collection of advice and stories for years, sharing the ones that seemed appropriate any time someone inquired. I’ve had the pleasure of helping those with front line positions become supervisors, supervisors become managers, managers become directors and directors become executives. Among many lessons I learned, I realized two things:

  1. Many of the ingredients in a successful promotion were similar at all levels
  2. Some of the most rewarding moments of my career are experiencing the look of sheer joy on someones face when they finally accomplish their personal goal of getting promoted

At some point along the way I added “publish a book” to my bucket list and decided that Developing and Managing Your Career would be the topic. I continued to add stories and update the advice sections and listened carefully to the advice of those I respect. Those like (alphabetically) Wendi Bacon, Merrill Barber, David Bradshaw, Dave Burns, Ken Campbell, Kim Chernecki, Mike Christodoulou, Paula Courtney, Liban Gaashaan, Chris Graham, Philip Grosch, Teresa HuangSheldon Laporte, Robin Long, Justin Morawetz, Fred Nieto, Keith Roseland-Barnes, Dianne SaltAmar Sidhu, Winston Siegel, Bruce Simpson, Anu Singer, Donna St. Hilaire, Erik Tallmeister, David Tsang, Cheryl Twynam, Jeff Welton and many, many more over the years that have provided encouragement, perspective and great advice helping make this book possible. I also received endless amounts of encouragement from my wife Angie who always believed in me, and in the bucket list project.

So it’s finally here, from a fleeting idea to a reality (after a number of years and a great number of edits). I can only hope there is one person, somewhere, who finds something in the book that may help in their goal of getting promoted. The book is mainly aimed at those looking to improve their chances of getting that first promotion and generally improving their brand at work. It may be useful for those that are earlier on in their careers, although I have been told it will help anyone along their career journey. It’s also a relatively short read but is longer if you complete all the work exercises.

If you are interested in learning more about the book, you can find the links here:

Amazon Bookstore (Kindle or Kindle App)

iTunes Bookstore (iPhone, iPad)

Kobo Bookstore (Kobo eReader)

Thanks for all your support.

Graham Kingma

Author, Developing and Managing Your Career, What It Takes To Get That Promotion