Master Career Counselor

Carla Hunter, President of Career Span, Inc. is a Master Career Counselor (MCC) by the National Career Development Association and a Certified Career Coach by the National Board for Certified Counselors. She is an expert in writing resumes, effective job search strategies and interviewing success. Most recently, with over 20 years of navigating the complexity of today's world of work, she published "Finding Your Place in the World of Work", a career interest inventory (2014) and CareerView, an iPad app. As a private practice career counselor and a workforce development consultant, this blog is Carla's trove of ideas, trends, forecasts, and career tips for finding meaningful work.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Part Two: Three Types of Employer Culture

In the previous post, the importance of matching your resume to the company culture of your potential employer was heavily emphasized.  In today's post, we will identify the three types of employer cultures most often encountered by jobseekers through resume selection and interviewing.

These are broad classifications and each employer may have pieces and parts of all three. However,  an awareness of the predominant company culture is very important when forming your resume and preparing for the interview.

1. The heritage employer

This employer has been around a long time.  Stability, durability, and tradition are the hallmarks of this culture.  The heritage company will likely:

  • Use obsolete words in a job description if they have one
  • Be manager-driven in organizational goals
  • Appear organized and hierarchical
  • All about time and clocking in/out
  • Doesn't evaluate regularly and rarely promotes
  • Policy and procedure rule workplace behavior
  • Disconnected from wider industry network
  • Look for general skills that seem vague and "duty" oriented
  • Ask illegal interview questions because they don't know better
  • Value worker loyalty and longevity above all else
  • Not appreciate diverse and young employees
  • Resist technology at every turn
  • Avoid conflict at all costs
  • May not have savvy company website or utilize social media
  • Have leadership directives by older executives that don't embrace change
Examples: Federal, local or state government, education, coal or energy companies, law enforcement, military, non-profit organizations, religious entities, some banking and financial institutions and factories

2.  The contemporary employer

This employer has succeeded in several business cycles.  Customer service, profitability, and stakeholders are the critical focus of this culture. The contemporary company will likely:
  • Use specific words linked to tangible outcomes in a job description approved by HR
  • Be leader-driven in organizational goals
  • Silos exist but team collaboration is emphasized
  • Evaluates annually and places emphasis on remediating weaknesses
  • Professional development and cross-training rule the workplace
  • All about time and productivity
  • Encourages industry network, partnering opportunities and expertise for the good of the company
  • Look for specialized skills related to the result of a job and how it affects the bottom line
  • Ask behavioral interview questions because they know past behavior predicts future behavior
  • Value worker productivity and goal achievement above all else
  • Appreciate diverse and young employees but doesn't intentionally recruit them
  • Consider the benefits of technology and shift slowly with painstaking buy-in from everyone
  • Addresses conflict only when it rears its ugly head
  • Have official company website but is unaware of the power and potential of social media
  • Have leadership directives that must be approved by everyone in the chain
Examples include the vast majority of Fortune 500 companies

3.  The progressive employer
This newly successful employer is trying to transition out of the incubator stage at a high rate of speed. Employee satisfaction, flexibility, social influence and  the company mission are the critical focus of this culture. The progressive company will likely:

  • Use a job description as a platform to harness talented workers and constantly adjusts to the worker's strengths
  • All about energy and high productivity
  • Employee driven
  • Very flat organizational structure
  • Gives timely feedback and constructive ways for improvement every few months
  • Emphasize family priorities and work/life fit promoted with open spaces, pets and flexibility
  • Telework, at home offices and job sharing are workplace options
  • Strongly encourage industry network, opportunity and expertise that is good for the individual
  • Look for ways to increase employee skills based on adaptation and evolution of technology
  • Ask interview questions that appear on the surface to be random and peculiar (but are not)
  • Value worker engagement above all else while also making a contribution to society
  • Appreciation of diverse and young employees while actively pursuing them through employee connections
  • Harness technology as the driver of business
  • Train employees to recognize conflict as normal progression of team development
  • Have innovative company website, iphone or ipad apps along with brand identity through social media
  • Have leadership directives that are informal. quick and at times, not effectively communicated
Examples include tech start-ups, Tom shoes, Starbucks, and Google.

My estimate is today :
  • 60% of companies are heritage
  • 35% of companies are contemporary
  • 5% of companies are progressive
Result: HUGE impact on entrepreneurial spirit of individual workers that must be reversed.

In the next decade:

60% of companies need to be progressive and entreprenuer based
35% of companies will move to contemporary cultural styles
5% of companies will be heritage only because they swallowed competition

Viability, technology and a global economy have redefined organizations.  New job growth must connect to versatile and adaptive workplaces that inspire innovation.

  The question for you is:

How will you let an employer's culture define you? 

Next post:  Resume words attracting each culture and how that affects you.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Marriage Made In Heaven? Your Resume and the Employer's Culture

The next series of blog posts will focus on the critical bond between a successful resume and the company culture of your potential employer. Many if not all jobseekers fail to consider this important influence in resume writing, interview preparation or accepting a job offer.  What I'm about to tell you can alter the course of how you job search and save a lot of energy and valuable time.

Let's start with a macro approach to understanding the symbiotic relationship of your resume style and the company culture of your potential employer.


Today's workplace has three basic categories of employer culture. The descriptions I'm going to share with you aren't based on size (small, medium, large) or sector  but upon acceptable norms, leadership and behaviors within the company's culture.  The key to a successful resume, interview and job search is to identify a company with a culture you admire, value and attract. In the end, this will help you sustain employment and acclimate to workplace expectations.  Your resume becomes the match-maker.

Right this moment, your resume may fit one type of employer but not the employer you want to attract. The culture doesn't match you. The values aren't congruent.  You're frustrated and unhappy with your search efforts. In fact, you've almost given up because there doesn't seem to be anyone hiring.

The reality is your resume may not be tailored in the ideal or exact format that will marry your talent to the right employer who needs your skills and a company culture that values your contribution.   

Let me illustrate what I mean.

Imagine you're fishing.  You have an expensive rod and reel with the strongest line, sinker and hook available. You spared no expense and did all your research to determine the perfect rod.  Does that guarantee you will catch a fish?  Of course not.  You can know without proper bait and the availability of fish;  no rod, reel and hook will ever succeed regardless of how much money you spent.

The job market is the same.  You've worked hard. You've been a great success.  You have much to bring to the table. But, no one is biting.

Your resume is the bait to attract the best employer for you.  Your critical tasks:

1. Identify the right species that will want and eat your bait.
2. Locate the body of water they live in.
3. Determine their feeding times.

The result could be amazing.  Your resume if written to match the company culture, will weed out employers you don't want to work for. After all, you are interviewing too.  This method works like a moth is drawn to a flame because it resonates with an employer and speaks identical language.  If it doesn't then you're not fishing in the right pond and you'll be foreign to the environment.  One more piece of advice:

NEVER use artificial bait.

Next post: What are the three types of employers and the resume formation that matches each one?

Stay tuned.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Are the Unemployed Unemployable?

An NPR article has me pondering the world of work universe with one HUGE question:

Can an unemployed person be truly unemployable?

We all agree the global economy and technology have definitely been game-changers. They forced outdated, slow or inefficient processes to become obsolete. Does that mean a person who is an expert at those processes also becomes a dinosaur?

Of course not.

The reality of this complex, turbulent job market is quite simple: The worker who is unwilling to be re-trained can become unemployable because they refuse to adapt and learn new ways of working.

The employable workers share common sustainable traits:
  • positive attitude
  • willingness to learn
  • problem-solver
  • strong determination

Perhaps the strongest ability needed today is an enthusiastic attitude to let go of the old and embrace the unknown.

Imagine for a moment, you are the employer. Would you hire an experienced worker with no enthusiasm or an inexperienced worker with enthusiasm?   The angst of change has robbed many unemployed workers of the energy and enthusiasm to be re-trained.

A possible solution

Unemployed workers who receive benefits longer than six months must be retrained. Their former job is likely not coming back. That doesn't make them unemployable. It makes them choose whether or not they're adaptable and willing not to become fossilized.