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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Part 1 - Managing Through Change - How to Survive!

I think we can all admit that the only thing that is constant is change.  The reason we are on projects is because something needs to change.  However, through change there are a lot of emotions that occur.  So the question is how do you manage through that?  Here are some best practices I have learned over the years.


  • Communication - communication is key. The communication needs to be honest, direct and frequent.  People take change differently so be aware that there will be resistance, acceptance, shock, concern and many more reactions.  Be aware of that, and take that into consideration with your communication style.
  • Empathy and Sympathy - it's not just about making the changes, but understanding how those changes will make individuals feel.  Think about a time when something changed in your life, how did you react to it?  How did it make you feel?  If you were ever laid off how did that make you feel? Some of these same emotions may be felt by those on your team. 
  • Be Available - during change it's important that you don't stay in your office.  People are uneasy and unsure.  They may not understand why the change is needed.  It's important you are visible and willing to answer any questions that may posed to you, even if you don't have the answer.  Saying something is better than not saying anything. Being visible is better than not being visible at all. 
  • Perspective - don't forget to keep everything in perspective.  You are dealing with people whose jobs may be impacted, whose roles may change.  Keep that in mind as you communicate and interact with individuals.  This can be a very sensitive time for individuals.  Remember you are human just like they are.
  • Don't Lie - if you don't know an answer to a question, or if decisions are still being made on certain topics, don't make stuff up when you are talking to your team.  Team members can tell when you are lying to them or making things up.  You need to keep trust during this time not lose it.  Trust is hard to gain, but very easy to lose. 
  • Motivation, Engagement & Taking Care of Yourself - keeping the team motivated and engaged during a world of change can be extremely hard.  The team will feed off of your vibe, so watch your vibe, and ensure you have an outlet to vent or discuss any concerns you have.  The team is going to heavily rely on you as a manager to provide guidance and security.  So you need to ensure you are taking care of yourself as you take care of the them.

Team Members

  • Honesty - be honest on how you feel.  If you are angry, confused or have some other type of emotion communicate that to your manager.  You manager is there to help you through the change.  Be open and honest with them about your concerns.
  • Communication - ask questions when you are feeling uneasy.  Don't break down in communication.  There is no stupid question, especially during change.  So ask away.
  • Keep an Open Mind - change will happen whether you like it not.  Make sure you understand the change and WHY the change is occurring.  Most changes make sense (I didn't say all but most :-)).  So keep an open mind and look for how the change may provide you better opportunities or make your work life easier.  
  • Don't Overreact - don't make swift decisions, or jump ship. You never know what the change will provide as opportunities. Think very strategically and understand the change before you start making movements. 
  • Stay Engaged and Motivated - I know this can be hard, but your attitude can really show leadership the type of team member you are.  You never know, your attitude might open up more opportunities for you.

These are just a couple of tidbits I've picked up along the way I wanted to share.  Change is difficult, but not changing is fatal.  Change is constant so it's going to happen, and most of the time out of your control.  Try to embrace change, you never know where the change will lead you.


BA Martial Artist

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Job Search - Don't Let Frustration Overshadow Your Value

Over the last few months I have had clients ask me the following: 'How do you get into the business analysis field without having a job with the formal title of Business Analyst?" "I've applied for business analysis jobs but am not getting any call backs, what am I doing wrong?" I have made it as a finalist in the interview process, but I still didn't get the job offer, what else can I do?"

First, you may not be doing anything wrong at all.  Second, I know it's frustrating,  but perseverance is the key.  Third, there are some fundamental things you should be doing that can help give you that edge during your career search that I see a lot of individuals miss out on.

First let me begin with my story.  Back in 2008 I knew, without  a shadow of a doubt, I wanted to be in management.  I've always had a desire within me to lead since I was young.  At work I would get stretch assignments where I was indirectly leading individuals, but could not land that formal management role.  After a while this got old because I felt as though I was good enough to do stretch assignments, but not good enough to actually be in a formal management role.  You do start to get frustrated and in some regards, bitter.  Every time I would apply for a position there would always be this requirement of "so many years of management experience (directly leading people who report to you)".  Unfortunately I didn't have that direct report requirement and that would knock me out of the running, though I have tons of leadership experience through my career.  I've been in leadership roles since the age of 5, but because at the time I did not directly lead people I would get overlooked.  What added insult to injury to me at that the time is that leading individuals indirectly is harder than leading individuals directly.  Mainly because you have no direct control over their work or performance because frankly they don't report to you. If you can get individuals to follow you that don't report to you, in my mind, shows how great of a leader you are.  Frankly, I would rather have a strong leader than manager.  So for 4 years, yes 4 YEARS, I continued to apply for positions within the company I worked and I wasn't making much headway.  Then I decided that maybe I needed to start applying outside of the company.  So in year 4 that is exactly what I did.  I would always make it to the finals, but I would always be a runner up to the internal candidate.  That again, was frustrating because I felt why couldn't the same thing happen within the company at worked (picking the internal candidate over external)?  Then you start second guessing yourself to determine if you are ready or not.  Luckily in 2012, a management position became available where the hiring manager didn't ask for management experience, but rather leadership experience.  That made all the difference in the world for me.  I prepared hard to interview for this position and I went in with everything I had because I felt this may be my only chance to get into management.  I did get the position and now I work really hard to help people through their career development journey.  There are a lot of factors that may cause you to not get a job and it may not be because you are not qualified for it.  It really could be a better fit situation or there is something better coming for you that you aren't even aware of.

Here are some things I have learned over the last 8 years of my career journey.

Advice to job searching candidates:

  1. Resume - When applying for a job make sure your resume speaks to the required, and any desired qualifications of a job.  This may require you to tweak your resumes for each job to really showcase you have the skills the hiring manager is looking for.  Typically recruiters and/or hiring managers are scanning a ton of resumes very quickly.  If they cannot easily identify you have the skills being requested you may get overlooked.  Remember this is your first chance to market yourself.  I wouldn't suggest you lie on your resume though because recruiters and hiring managers can pick up on that as well.  Just thought I needed to throw that in there.  :-)
  2. Job Applications - Apply for jobs for which you are qualified.  I'm all about going for positions that are a stretch from your current role, but make sure that stretch is realistic.  Also, be realistic on salary requirements if it is asked on the application.  Asking for $100,000 base salary on an entry level position is a bit unrealistic for a lot of professions.  Sometimes it's those items on the application that can take you out of the candidate pool from the beginning.
  3. Social Media/Branding - Make sure your social media profiles are clean.  Though some companies advise it's against policy to decide on a candidate based on their social media, I'm not convinced some companies still don't look.  It's better to be safe than sorry.  If you have information out there that is questionable you may want to clean that up as you are searching for jobs.
  4. Interviewing - Make sure you prep for the interview.  Read the job description thoroughly and have examples of work you have done in your career that align to the responsibilities being asked of in the job description.  Ensure your attire is appropriate for the interview.  Blues, grays and blacks are common and safe colors for the interview.  Also, ladies tone down your perfume and jewelry if appropriate.  You don't want those items to be a distraction from what you are saying in the interview.  In addition, gentleman watch your cologne.  Come prepared to the interview to hand the interviewers with a copy of your resume, and if sample work has been requested have copies for everyone.  Also, remember you are interviewing those interviewing you as well.  You need to determine if this is the right job for you, so don't just think you are the one being interviewed.  Come prepared with some great questions to ask those who interview you.  Also, ensure you send a thank you note after your interview.  You will be amazed how many people don't do this and how many times that has been the decider on whether they get hired or not.  
  5. Perseverance - This is the KEY.  Finding a new job can be quite frustrating.  Especially if you are consistently getting the rejection letter.  Try not to let the frustration get the best of you.   I know it's hard because I have let it get the best of me in the past.  Sometimes it's not that you are doing anything wrong.  It could come down to you and another strong candidate and who fits better in the organization.  I have been turned down for multiple jobs over my career and it's not that I interviewed poorly, actually it's been the exact opposite.  It's because the other candidate had something that would have been a better fit on the team, or they may have done work in that space already and it would take less time for them to get up to speed on getting the job done (learning curve).  What I can tell you is that hiring managers/recruiters do look at how you react to job rejection as well.  Keep that in mind as you solicit feedback and talk to the hiring manage/recruiter.  You just made a connection, you have done networking to an extent, and you never know when that next position will come around and you my be reached out to.  

I do extensive resume and interview preparation as one of the tiers of my consulting business.  If you would like to find out more please visit my website at Paula A. Bell Consulting

Advice to hiring managers/recruiters:

  1. Knowledge - Recruiters ensure that you truly understand what the hiring manager is looking for.  Take time to understand the different terminology candidates could potentially use when applying for the job.  It's important you understand the domain in which you are hiring.  Hiring managers do rely on recruiters and we hope that the recruiters understand what we are looking for.  Also, hiring managers it would be prudent for your to look at your candidate pool as well and create a list of those individuals you think would be great candidates, and compare those to what the recruiter has.  This has nothing to do with lack of trust, but everything to do with ensuring you are both on the same page on what you are seeking.  You may find, based on the candidate pool, you may have forgotten to emphasize a very specific skill you want to the recruiter.  Not only does this help the recruiter understand what you are looking for, but frankly, it also helps the candidates not go through a painful interviewing process if they shouldn't have been in the process to begin with.
  2. Feedback - This the number 1 frustrating thing I hear from all clients, and frankly a frustration I have had.  There is nothing more frustrating than going through a LONG interview process and then the hiring manager or recruiter won't even reach out to you to give you feedback, whether you solicit it or not.  We have got to do better in this space with candidates, especially those who make it as a finalist.  I personally feel as a hiring manager if a candidate has made it to interview with me, it is my RESPONSIBILITY and DUTY to reach out to that candidate and give feedback (preferably on the phone, not through email) on why they didn't get the position.  There is really NO EXCUSE for not doing this.  I don't care how busy you are as a hiring,  it's frankly DISRESPECTFUL to the candidate, and the process, to at least not reach out to the candidate and give constructive feedback.  You had time to interview them you have time to make a 5-10 minute call to provide feedback.  Also, hiring managers, YOU need to contact the candidate, not the recruiter.  As you can tell I'm a little passionate about this topic because this is the area that has caused me the most frustration in my job search journey.   
  3. Searching for Candidates - Open your mind to transferable skills.  Sometimes it's worth taking a risk on a candidate.  I'm not saying take a risk on someone who hasn't shown they have the skill set to do the job, I'm talking taking a risk on someone who is a strong candidate and a finalist  For example, let's say you have 2 really strong candidates.  1 of the candidates is within the group you work now and the other candidate is not.  Maybe it may be prudent to hire someone who can bring in a new fresh perspective.  Sometimes it's good to get out of the norm.  Diversity brings stronger and better solutions so keep that in mind.  I was one of the candidates a hiring manager took a risk on and it paid off beautifully, not only for him but for me as well. 

Searching for a new opportunity can be nerve wracking.  Some professions are harder than others to get in to as well.  Remember, perseverance is key.  You have to keep trying until you land that job.  The above are just tidbits on what I have learned and I would love to hear other's thoughts. 

Paula A Bell Consulting, LLC