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How to quickly move up the corporate ladder? (Part 2)


Corporate LadderThis post on moving up the ladder is a continuation to my last post. So in this post I will provide you with few other ideas through which you can quickly move up the corporate ladder.

Keep learning: This sounds really simple, but it should be very important part of your life, if you want to continuously grow in your career. With organizations, technologies and laws changing every day, you need to keep yourself up-to-date with the current knowledge. I know, it becomes really tedious to handle work, family, and other things at the same time in your busy working life, but it is very important to grow with the world. Thus, you need to always find opportunities to learn new things, it can be learning new stuff to become a subject matter expert at your work, or to diversify your knowledge. If possible, try to get new certifications. If you already have few certification in one subject area, try to diversify (depending on your work needs). Most of the companies pay for tuition reimbursement, so make the best use out of it. Investing in yourself is never going to go to waste. At the least, your manager will get aware of your learning aptitude and your capabilities. I am sure, it will help you in one way or other.

Change your job: Unfortunately, sometimes you might be working in the wrong company. There might not be as many promotion opportunities as you would like. If your primary motivation to get that next promotion is the salary increment, then you might have to change your company, if your company doesn’t have those opportunities available. If you are not one of the person like me, who is looking for challenging opportunities with a minimal pay raise, then this might be your best bet. There is nothing wrong about it. Everyone have their own motivation criteria, so if moving up the ladder is one of your criteria, then go for it. If you can get an opportunity somewhere else that you deserve, then why not? If I were you, I would keep my LinkedIn up-to-date, have my updated resume on job portals, etc. You are not actively applying here, but you are also not invisible to the whole world. So, if people will like you then they will call you. And yeah! Since you are already satisfied with your current job, always apply for the job which you want to have, instead of a replacement job. In this way, if you don’t get any job, no issues. But if you do get one, then you will get the dream job that you have always wanted.

If you have additional suggestions on how you would quickly move up the corporate ladder, then please let me know.  I would love to hear your thoughts.  All your comments are very welcome and appreciated. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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How to quickly move up the corporate ladder? (Part 1)


PromotionI had a conversation a few days ago with somebody about how to get that next promotion. Her company had a huge hierarchical structure, and it seemed almost impossible for her to grab that next promotion. So, what does it take to get that next promotion or getting to the next level?  I am not an expert on the subject, but I have had some insight through my personal experience and few internal promotions, which I would like to share with you here.

Communicate: By communicate, I am not recommending you to butter-up your Boss. I am rather suggesting you to display your work to your team members and your Superior. I might be doing an excellent job of coding (programming), but if I am poor in communicating my achievements to my team, my work won’t get the credit it deserves. Communication is not that difficult as you see. Consider these simpler techniques……..schedule a bi-weekly meeting with your manager to discuss about your progress and what you can do to improve myself. This meeting will not only serve the purpose of your achievements advertisement, but it will also give you an opportunity to get some quality counselling session with your manager. If you don’t get anything out of it, you will at least be able to develop some personal relationships. If you find communicating with your manager is intimidating in-person, then you can also send an e-mail to your manager, and your team members about your bi-weekly accomplishments. You don’t want to spam them with e-mails every day, but you need to shoot them couple of e-mails by showing what you have finished in past 2 weeks, what you are going to do in next 2 weeks, and any concerns (if you have any). This practice will definitely help you a lot in keeping your team informed about your work, and letting them know about your potential.

Be helpful: We are all passionate about helping others. But most of the times our juniors are not the one who will have our promotion done, so many people don’t help their juniors that often. If you think that, then you are completely wrong. If you are helping your juniors then you need to make sure that your effort of leading (helping) your juniors is visible to your manager through your one-on-one meetings or bi-weekly e-mails. Don’t treat your juniors any differently, consider them same as you. You never know, someday someone can become your manager, and they might be the reason for your next promotion. The key here is…….always be positive, and demonstrate your helping nature to your everyone. Whenever you have a discussion with your team, try to add some value to the conversation, instead of being a silent listener all the time. Be friendly, it will take you a long way. You will not only earn respect from your team members, but you will also demonstrate your leadership qualities to your superiors as well.

See my next post for the rest of the advice….

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2013 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How can you land your dream job in this economic environment?


Times are tough, and it is becoming very difficult to find the right job. On top of this challenge, its becoming very hard for a candidate to differentiate himself/herself in comparison of thousands of out-of-job workers. In this market, the candidate needs to be very intelligent with his job search. And hence, I will provide you with few tips through which you can land your dream job easily.

Cleanup your web presence:  In today’s day and age, most of the employers will check your online profile before inviting you for an interview. And hence, it becomes very critical for you to cleanup your online presence. I would recommend you to Google yourself before applying for any position. If you find any unprofessional photos/comments of yourself, please try to remove it from your profile or change the privacy settings.

Do your homework: Technology had made it easier for your future employer to know everything about yourself before they even interview you. I think, we should use the same technology strength to prepare ourselves for the interview. If you are invited for an interview, you should research everything about the company, the job profile, and the culture. You can showcase this research through your carefully designed answers to their questions, which should connect your answers with the research you have done. On every occasion, you should share what you know about the company and why the company should hire you above others.

Use common sense:  Other than few expected behaviors like…..arriving 10-15 minutes early; not chewing gum; leaving all food and drink outside; cutting back on the cologne and perfume; and dressing professionally………you should always bring 3-4 extra copies of your resume. You should also carry 3-4 copies of your portfolio displaying basic design of your process flows (if you worked in manufacturing) or architecture of your software (if you worked in software development) or similar work samples related to your area of work. And yeah! Don’t forget to take notes.

Always follow-up: Even if you are not interested in the job after interviewing with them, you should still follow-up with them to maintain the relationships by kindly declining the job. I always followed up by showing my interest in the job at the end of the interview, and also by writing a thank you letter to reaffirming my interest in the position. In all of my follow up conversations, verbal or written, I have always ensured that I connect my experience with the company’s culture and the position description.

Though these are very simple pointers; if you play your cards right, you should be able to get your dream job through these pointers. What other tips do you have to differentiate yourself from other candidates? Would you recommend any other suggestions to get your dream job?

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Is your e-mail signature helpful to others? – Designing your perfect e-mail signature


Have you ever been in a situation, where you have got an e-mail from a long gone friend without any contact information about him? I am sure, most of us must have received at least one e-mail in their lifetime, which is from their close friend, but it doesn’t provide any information on how to contact them. Let’s take this for an example……Mr. X, who was your close college friend, suddenly sends you an e-mail about few things that he might want to discuss with you. What will you do in that situation? You might want to call him, but there is no contact information provided by him (no signature in his e-mail). And hence, you would rather be satisfied by responding to his e-mail instead of finding his contact information in your address book and calling him. Is that not right?

Imagine the similar situation at your workplace. Let’s say, you get an e-mail from Mrs. Y, who works in the different department, requesting specific information from you. Let’s say, you don’t have any idea on what she is asking for. So, instead of calling her (since she doesn’t have her contact information in the email signature), you would respond to her e-mail, and she might have to wait for few hours to clarify her side through to-and-from e-mail communication. Due to this long chain of e-mails, she will end up losing precious time to resolve the issue at hand. Imagine, if she would have included some basic information about herself with the contact information. Wouldn’t your response be different in that situation? Let’s say, if she would have put that she works in the licensing department as a project manager for XYZ. I am sure, this information would have helped you to put her e-mail in some context, and your response would have been much more quicker and informative.

So, how do you avoid these situations? What kind of information should you be putting in your e-mail signature? Well……..answer is very simple. You should include your name, your designation, your company’s name, your work address, your work e-mail, your work phone number, your work mobile number (if any), and your professional picture (if possible). Your name and designation should help your responder to put your e-mail in some context. Your work address might be useful, when your responder might want to mail something in response to your e-mail. Obviously, your e-mail address and phone numbers would be very handy for your responder, if they want to reach you quickly. And yeah! Though your professional picture is optional, I would highly recommend you to upload that on your Outlook or embed in your e-mail signature. Professional profile picture helps your responder to remember you by the face.

If I were you, I would have my e-mail signature as follows. Also, note that all of the contact information provided below is fake, and hence, please don’t contact me through that contact information. You can rather reach me through my ‘Contact Me’ page, which contains various ways to connect with me.

Sample E-mail Signature

I hope, these tips will help you to design your perfect e-mail signature, which can help your responder to get all the information that they need, in order to quickly respond to your e-mail. Do you have any similar tips like this, which can make your e-mail communication effective?

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Make your part-time MBA work for you


Have you currently graduated from a part-time MBA program? Do you find it difficult to capitalize on your MBA? Well……you are not alone. Recently, one of my colleague, who has finished her part-time MBA, asked me similar questions. Though she has finished her part-time MBA, she was not recognizing any benefits from it. While I don’t have magical solution to make your MBA work, I have few suggestions which can help you.

Communicate with your manager:

GenerationXIf you are like me, and if you are also working on your MBA while working full-time, then you should communicate your intentions to your manager before you even think of starting the program.

Some of you might be hesitant to share this knowledge with your manager, since you might be afraid to see the reaction from your manager. While some managers will see this communication as an effort from your side to change your existing job, 90% of the manager see this as a potential growth opportunity for their employees.

What can happen here? Either your manager will be impressed by your initiative of pursuing further education to help towards your job, or he will just neglect your entire conversation. Well……you don’t have anything to loose here. But if you don’t have this conversation with your Boss, then you have everything to lose.

I remembered, when I had this conversation with my boss…..he was not only impressed by my decision to improve my knowledge, but he also took the initiative to find out more information regarding the tuition reimbursement program in my company. As a result, I ended up paying only 30% of my total tuition cost for the entire program.

Implement your learning at work: 

Most of the people who pursue their part-time MBA want to get a head in their existing job, so that they can get promoted to the next level. Though the idea behind this thought process is very nice, they lose their focus in middle of the program.

I have seen numerous MBA students, who get busy in their day-to-day coursework that they forget to implement their learning at their workplace. Thus, at the end of their MBA program, they have this knowledge which they can’t apply to their existing job, and hence think of changing their job instead of growing within the same company.

By implementing your learning at your current workplace, you will not only practice your knowledge and get better at it, you will also increase your visibility within your peers. Imagine, if you are working in software company as a software developer and going for your MBA in finance. Though these two subjects are completely different, you can still use your finance knowledge to assess the business impact of your new project. Wouldn’t you look more prepared when you are presenting your next development idea to your VP, and providing him with all the stats on how this project will help the organization to succeed?

Thus, you should always try to find opportunities where you can practice your MBA learning at your work place.

I hope these examples were helpful to uncover the full potential of your part-time MBA program. In the meanwhile, if you have any other ideas through which you can make your part-time MBA work for you, then please feel free to share those here.

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
 

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Few tips to keep your Resume current while working


I have seen many people in my career, who only updates their resume when they are in the process of finding a new job. I would definitely recommend against this practice. With the current market place, one should keep his/her resume updated at all times. If an unfortunate thing happen to you, then you will be ready with your latest resume in no time. In order to keep your resume up-to-date, following are few things that I would recommend you to do………

Keep your recommendations updated: Do not just wait for someone to write you a recommendation. If someone (for example a friend, colleague, professor, customer, or client) praises you for your recent work or assignment, you might ask this person: “Would you write me a short note restating that so I can include it in my resume or LinkedIn Profile?” The chances are….. they will be happy to do so and they might even like your initiative to keep your profile updated. If they reply that they’d like to write you a note but are very busy right now, you can offer to do a draft of the note, which they can edit, put on their stationery, and sign. In this way, you are not becoming a burden on them and still getting your things done.

Update your resume as you go: In addition to asking for recommendations, you can also add to the items in your Resume by creating them. Let’s say, you are in the same job from last 2-3 years, but your responsibilities keep on changing. In this case, you want to make sure that you keep a note of all of your job responsibilities somewhere. I would recommend you to keep your resume located somewhere on the cloud using something like ‘Windows Live’ or ‘Google Docs’. In this way, when your job responsibilities changes or you take on more tasks, you can go ahead and update your resume right away.

Create work artifacts as you go: I would recommend you to keep a personal folder in which you can keep all of your documents or artifacts. By artifacts, I mean…..something that you created during your coursework at school or during your employment at your current company. Few examples would be….. Scanned copy of your performance review, project plan that you might have created, any framework diagram, or any documented e-mail showing your accomplishments. These documents will prove very handy during your job interview. Imagine if you were interviewing a candidate for one open position in your team, and he comes to an interview well prepared with all of his achievements documented. I am sure, you are more likely to hire that person as compared to any other person without documented proof of success.

I hope these tips will help you to keep your portfolio up-to-date with the current artifacts. If you have any other ideas through which you can keep your portfolio current, then please feel free to share it on my blog through your comments. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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What should you not have in your online Resume?


ResumeIn my last blog post, I have provided you with some tips to create your online portfolio, but I forgot to discuss what you shouldn’t put in your online portfolio. While you want to maximize the reach of your online portfolio by putting as much information as you can to find new opportunities, there are few things that you should not put there. Following are my recommendations…….

Don’t include personal information: This goes without saying….. Never put your personal information on your website (or Blog). For example: Your age, birth date, etc. Actually, I would also recommend you to remove your birthdate from your social profile as well. There are various online data mining sites, which can collect your information from different public websites and gather all information at one place. Thus, putting key personal information out from your portfolio is a wise decision.

Don’t put private information: Let’s say, you have a PDF format of your performance reviews from your past employers, and you did a really good job there, and now you want to show that to the world. Please do yourself a favor, and DON’T DO THAT. Of course, you can carry your past performance reviews with you during your interview to strengthen your case, but it’s a really bad idea to put it for everyone to see. I would also not put any personal conversation that you had done with your Manager over the internet. Let’s say, you have many documented e-mails to prove that you did a really good job at your work, please keep a hard copy of those documents and show it during your personal interview, but don’t make it publically available.

Don’t put your company related work: Most of you must be working at some company, and most of your work must be related to the company that you worked for. You might want to include these artifacts in your online portfolio to strengthen your future employment chances, but please don’t do that right away. Please ask your employer/management, if it is ok to upload these documents online or not. Sometimes, you might be unknowingly violating any copyrights by making those documents public. So, make sure to ask your HR Department, before you make any document public. Let’s say, if all of your work is related to your company, and still you want to show that to the world, you can do that too. Edit that work, and make it as generalized as possible, and then run by HR to see if you can upload that to your website now. Once you get your employer’s approval, there is no harm in putting those artifacts on your portfolio.

Don’t put confusing documents: If you have any project documentation that you have worked on, and you want to include that in your online portfolio, then don’t do it right away. Any portfolio item that needs context and explanation to be understood is not likely to be a very powerful document in a Web-based portfolio. You can insert little text boxes that attempt to explain the relevance of the documents, and you can even try using voice-overs to explain how the documents demonstrate your important points, but it’s not the same as being there yourself and responding to questions that the viewer might have. Thus, leave out those specific documents that must be explained to communicate the message effectively.

I hope these tips will help you to create a better online presence for yourself, while controlling what goes online and what doesn’t. If you have any other ideas through which a person can control his/her online image, then please feel free to share it on my blog through your comments. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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