Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Bring on the “D!”




The cornerstone of every good sports team is a strong ‘D’ – for defense. But when it comes to climbing the career ladder, the best defense often comes in the form of another ‘D’ – Diversify.
Stability and longevity are both things hiring managers are looking for. But perhaps more importantly, they are also always on the lookout for candidates with a diverse range of experience. Not only have those candidates proven their ability to succeed in a variety of environments, but they have also shown their capacity for adapting. And both of those qualities bode well for your hiring potential.
So beef up your resume by diversifying your experience.
  •          Expand Your Education: No matter what field you are in, there are almost always opportunities for continued education. That doesn’t necessarily mean pursuing another degree. It could be as simple as taking a new certification course or working to acquire new skillsets. Particularly in the unmanned and robotics industry, technology is always changing and there are forever new advancements to be made aware of. Keeping up on your education within the field can go a long way to proving your value as an employee.
  •          Volunteer For Experience Building Opportunities: Don’t get stuck on the idea of what your job should entail – always be looking for opportunities to expand that reach. Not every task will be fun or exciting, but volunteering to take on some of the less desirable job duties increases your skillset, your marketability and your experience. Experience that can show your range when presented alongside your typical duties on a resume.   
  • ·         Make Lateral Moves: When imagining your 5- or 10-year plan, it is easy to picture consecutive steps up. But every move doesn’t have to be ascending in order for it to be career building. Sometimes, an opportunity that provides the same level of pay, or even involves the same job title, can mean greater potential, exposure and responsibility. A lateral move can give you new experience, increase your networking opportunities and make you the kind of employee supervisors think of the next time a move up does become available. Under the right circumstances, even a move that does not seem initially lucrative could open up doors you never would have found if you had stayed in the same position waiting for the next step up. 



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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Strategic Leadership: Being a Leader That People Want to Follow



We have all had our share of really amazing, and truly terrible, managers. Which means we all know, first hand, that the quality of our work in the past has directly correlated with the quality of leadership we were working under. Not that you would ever admit to that in an interview or meeting with superiors, but… it’s true. We all work harder for the kind of leaders we actually want to follow.

One of the most memorable pieces of advice I ever received from a manager came early in my career. He explained that a good leader never takes the credit and always takes the blame. It was a piece of advice that resonated with me, as I worked hard to always push the praise for a job well done down the ladder, and to absorb the responsibility when things went wrong, even when it killed me to do so. I truly believe that the ability to do exactly that is part of what makes a person a leader others want to follow.

But what else can you do to be one of those leaders people will always want to work their hardest for?

Set the Example: Thinking back on the worst supervisors from your work history, you can probably pick upon a few who never seemed to put in the same level of effort they demanded from their team. They were always showing up late, ducking out early, and scheduling work “meetings” on the golf course. It often seemed as though they were delegating their entire workload, and they never gave credit for quality work being produced by others. Those experiences should have taught you one thing: being a quality leader means first being willing to lead. And that starts by being the example you want your employees to follow. Practice what you preach, and always hold yourself to a higher standard than anyone else.

Show Interest: Being the type of leader people genuinely want to produce good work for isn’t just about being successful in business; it is also about being a compassionate and caring human being. Show an interest in who your workers are outside of work. Learn the names of their family members and ask about the coursework you know they are pursuing. There is a line to walk, between supervisor and friend, and you want to make sure you are always erring on the side of supervisor; but that doesn’t mean you can’t express a genuine interest in what makes your employees whole people.

Encourage Development: The best leaders are those willing to nurture and grow their replacements. No, that doesn’t mean you are hand selecting the person who will take your place when you retire twenty years in advance, but it does mean you don’t fear or avoid helping those who are working under you to grow in their own career paths. When employees feel as though you are invested in their futures, they are so much more loyal to you and yours.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Advancing Rank: Making the Next Steps in Your Career

Much is coming to light about the Millennial generation and how they both perceive and add to the current workforce. One of the routine complaints against them, however, is that they often enter that workforce with unrealistic expectations of how they will move through it. They have a heightened view of their own capabilities and tend to foresee themselves moving through the ranks much quicker than would be considered normal, or even attainable.

Perhaps you are one of those Millennials, finding yourself in a stagnant position two years later and wondering what went wrong. Or maybe you are somebody who has been in the workforce for over a decade, but you still find yourself a long way from where you want to be. The truth is, moving up the ladder in any career takes a focused determination to do so. It takes planning, and the willingness to advance towards your goal.

Find an Ally: One of the first things you should do is find someone who might be willing to serve in a mentorship role to you; preferably someone who is at a point in their career that you envision yourself eventually being. This is the person you want to express your career aspirations to, and the one you want to go to for advice on how to realize those aspirations.  (For more advice on finding a mentor, click HERE)

Plot Your Course: A lot of people make the mistake of declaring where they want to be in 5 or 10 years, without then thinking about the steps in between. If you hope to be successful, you need to be willing to embrace the smaller moves you will have to make in order to achieve your ultimate desired position. No one advances from file clerk to V.P. of purchasing overnight. Sometimes the most powerful moves you can make are strategic in nature, not necessarily giant leaps and bounds. Relocating, taking on a new job with no salary upgrade, or absorbing a task that no one else wants to do; these are all moves that may be lacking in glamour, but under the right circumstances, can sometimes provide experience and connections that prove far more valuable than simple title changes. So think through the steps that lead to your dream career, and then be willing to work towards each of them.

Improve Your Position: Perhaps most importantly, you need to be open to improving upon yourself if you want to advance in your career. That means pursuing continued education, hopping at training opportunities and becoming an involved and respected member of your team. None of that happens with the snap of a finger. It requires time and commitment; which in turn, proves your ability to do the work necessary to make yourself a valuable leader for the corporation.



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