Jul 192011

(By Don Hunter)

Perhaps at no other time in this nation’s history has the issue of work-life balance been so prominent.  That’s because many employees are being asked to do more in less time by their employers.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to get caught up in the “rat race” and find yourself working longer and more often than you should (especially if you believe that it’s expected of you).  But you can only go on like that for so long until something gives.  Before you reach that point, consider the following steps:

  1. Analyze the situation—How much time do you spend at work?  How much work do you take home?  How much time do you spend with your family and friends and engaging in non-work related activities?
  2. Keep a log—Answering the questions above might be easier if you actually track the time that you spend during the day.  The results could be eye-opening.
  3. Ask friends and family for input—These are the people who are affected the most by your work-life balance (or your lack of it).  Gaining their insight could be extremely beneficial.
  4. Prioritize—Now that you’ve analyzed your situation, what things are most important to you?  The answer to this question will help you to better prioritize your time and your activities.
  5. Re-assess your career—If your work-life balance is out of whack, could a change of employment help?  Sure, the job market isn’t the greatest at the moment, but there are opportunities available.  Finding one and making a switch might make a tremendous difference.
  6. Create a plan and then implement it—This is the final step.  A plan is only as good as how well you implement it, so don’t just think and talk about creating more balance in your life—do it!

Remember, your work-life balance will never be perfect, at least not all the time.  However, it’s important to keep striving toward that balance every day, one bit at a time.  Employees who are able to do that discover their job—and invariably all other aspects of their life—are more enjoyable.

So . . . how’s your work-life balance?

If you have any questions, send an email to

Connect with Don on LinkedIn.



Jun 222011

(By Dan Simmons)

Balance.  There seems to be a considerable amount of talk about balance these days.  Both California and the federal budget seem to be uninfluenced by the word.  Companies are now looking at resumes to see if a person lists yoga as a hobby, as this promotes balance in one’s life.  Even Madison Avenue is cashing in on our need for balance.

I admit that I struggle to keep balance in my life.  I suspect I am not the only one.  This current trend in today’s job market is so important that I enlisted my entire team to help write this issue’s feature article.  I hope you enjoy this tongue-in-cheek blog about the workaholic’s vacation.

“The Workaholic’s Summer Vacation” by Dudley du Moore

Once upon a time, I was happy toiling away at work.  From early morning until late in the evening I was engulfed, working.  Then my wife, Patience, began to complain at a whole new level about how much I was at the office and how stressed I was.

Luckily, my boss also suspected that I was headed toward a “burnout” and put me on mandatory vacation that Friday afternoon.  I didn’t bother to tell Patience that I was on mandatory vacation; I simply came home and told her that I had been listening to her and that she should get the kids ready because next week we were going to take them to Disney World.  And so the mandatory “vacation schedule” commenced.

Saturday—Mandatory Vacation Day #1

4:42 a.m.—Put finishing touches on proposal for new client, just as the kids dragged me to the car to drive to the airport.

9:00 a.m. —Touched down in Orlando.  The weather was beautiful, and Patience got us onboard the Disney bus.  This was a perfect place to sit, pull out my laptop, and finish that proposal.

9:45 a.m. —Off the bus and checking in at the hotel.  The room has free WiFi.  I can check email from here.  First email is from the Director of Human Resources reminding me that I am not supposed to be checking work email this week.  Clever.  Wish I hadn’t confirmed receipt.

12:00 p.m. —Lunch by the pool with the kids.  I think I will get in the pool after I review the budget for the next big project at work.  Patience seems a little worried that I brought the laptop to the pool.  I told her not to worry, that I had purchased a splash-resistant cover.  She is so thoughtful.

3:00 p.m. —Disappointed that the kids didn’t have much energy left when I got in the pool.  No worries, they can take a nap while I check my Facebook status and let the people at work know what I’m up to this week.

7:00 p.m. —Patience and the kids head down to the lobby to wait for the car so we can head to dinner.  I’ve got at least 10 minutes until they grab the car, giving me plenty of time to make sure no emergency issues came up at work.

7:45 p.m. —Dinner was great.  Leg of lamb and garlic mashed potatoes!  Patience was a bit embarrassed that my iPhone kept ringing in the middle of our meal at the restaurant.  Oh, well . . . people understand it’s business.

9:00 p.m. —Kids head to bed and we put on a movie.  A little email check before the lights are out should make my day a very successful mandatory vacation!

May 262011

(By Dan Simmons)

Just a few weeks ago (April 7) The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence™ showed that CEO confidence is again on the rise.  The Measure now reads 67, up from 62 during the first quarter of the year.  As for the employment outlook, CEOs are more bullish than last year, with half now saying they intend to ramp up their hiring.

The report goes on to say that half of all CEOs anticipate an increase in employment levels in their industry, up significantly from 30% a year ago.  The proportion of CEOs who anticipate a decrease in hiring declined to 16 percent from 22% a year ago.

The amount of search work at our firm confirms this improved job market.  If this is the current situation, then wise professionals will take this opportunity to examine their current employment situation since opportunities are more plentiful. After all, it’s wise to “make hay while the sun shines” and land a better position while companies are hiring.

This self-examination is called a career objective statement.  A template and example for this is provided below.  To arrive at this objective, I suggest answering the following questions:

  • Are you really happy doing the functions in your current job?  What functions do you wish to perform during the week so that you will have earned the paycheck you desire at the end of the week?  Are these functions the core of your current job?
  • Where do you want to live/need to live?
  • What are the one or two most likely job titles that would suit the position to which you aspire?
  • What do you expect to earn this year in your current job and are you content with it?  What would you expect to earn in this next role?
  • What professional, educational, and life experience do you have that shows that you’re qualified to take the next step in your career advancement?
  • In what type of organization (size, culture, status, etc.) would you fit in best?  Are you with such a company now?
  • What accomplishments can you provide that demonstrate a track record of success in your focus area?
  • If this ideal situation came your way, are you prepared to resign your present position and accept the new role in the next 30 days?  If not, when?  Why not?
  • Is this the right time for you to make a job change?  What is motivating you to make a change?


Example of a career objective statement:

“To position my career in the way I desire, I would be a ____ or a ____ for a ________ (type of organization).  I want to reside in _______.  I expect to earn between $_____ and ___________ because I have been doing __________ for the last X years and I have a ________ degree.  Additionally, my success with ______ will more than justify this income.  I’m prepared to make this change in the next ______ months.  The right time for me to make this change is ____________ because ____________.”

Once you’ve created this statement, you have clarity in your career objectives and can begin to network with others to achieve this role and boost your career.  If you’d like to start your networking, contact me at  I’d love to hear your career objective.

Apr 082011

(By Dan Simmons)

It’s that time again.  New Year’s Resolutions have been made and by now, have either been kept or broken.  One of those resolutions should have been to make sure you took the time to focus on what you wanted out of your career this year.

Having a plan of attack for your career not only prepares you for the upcoming months, but also allows you to walk in confidently for your annual performance review.  While many dread this yearly event, there are simple steps you can take to make sure you’re prepared to answer the questions that need answering.

The first step: read last year’s review.  Not only does it give you an idea of where you were a year ago, but it also allows you to do a pre-review of yourself based upon the outlined plans made by your boss.  Make certain you’ve achieved your goals and implemented changes and adjustments as directed.

After you’ve done that, here are your next steps:

  1. Make Your List
    Create a list of accomplishments that you’ve achieved during the last 12 months.  Make sure to bring this list to the meeting so you can be prepared for a clearly organized and straightforward discussion.
  2. Attitude
    Walk in with a positive attitude.  No one likes to give a raise to an unenthusiastic employee.
  3. Compensation
    Expect a compensatory increase if you’ve earned it.  If your employer can’t afford one, come in with a list of suggestions they could offer in place of a salary increase.  These might include flextime, an extra few days of vacation, a training opportunity (either online or a conference out of town), or you may also suggest another review in six months when budgets open up.
  4. The Review
    MOST IMPORTANTLY—take a copy of your new review with you.  This is an excellent letter of recommendation, and you may need it someday soon when a great job opportunity comes along.  It’s also a great way to keep you on track to accomplish your objectives.

Wherever you’re at in your current job, make time and take time to focus on how you can prepare for these upcoming events in the life of your career.  Being prepared for your next performance review is a simple step which will make the event more enjoyable.

Mar 112011

(By Dan Simmons)

You have a job . . . but what about your career? They’re not exactly the same.  While you should definitely be thinking about doing your job to the best of your ability day in and day out, you should also be preparing for the future and developing your career.

In short, you need to stay up-to-date with everything that’s happening in your industry, including technologically.  By doing so, you increase your worth and value as an employee and also position yourself strategically for future professional growth.

Below are some of the career development tools that you should consider using in 2011:

  • Training—This encompasses all forms of training.  It could be in-class training or it could be online training.  It doesn’t matter.  Identify what areas in which you need improvement or would like to learn more about, and then take the steps necessary to take this training.
  • Industry events—Conferences and conventions are not only great ways to increase your knowledge, but the networking opportunities that exist at these events are tremendous.  Find out which events are being held this year, and make plans to attend at least one of them.
  • Certifications—If you have the chance to earn more certifications within your chosen field of work, then seriously consider earning them.  They can help you in your current position, as well as down the road, should you choose to move on.
  • Mentoring programs—If your company offers such a program, be sure to take advantage of it.  If not, seek someone out who you think would be a good mentor.  This type of relationship can help grow your career in a number of different ways.

Which of these components is part of your career development plan for 2011?  Do you have a plan?  If not, it’s still not too late to put one together.  Maintaining the status quo is never acceptable, especially these days.

If you have any questions about this article or about how you can put together a career development plan, contact Dan at (888) 276-6789 or via email at

Feb 022011

(By Don Hunter)

To help you construct a better, more powerful resume, here are 10 pointers and areas of consideration in regard to your resume’s content and presentation.

1. Position title and job description. Provide your title and a detailed explanation of duties and your accomplishments. Since job titles are often vary from one company to another, your resume should tell the reader exactly what you’ve done.

2. Clarity of dates and place. Document your work history and educational credentials accurately. Don’t leave the reader guessing where you were employed or when you earned your degree.

3. Explicitness. Let the reader know the size, nature and location of your past employers, as well as what their business does or provides.

4. Detail. Specify some of the more technical or involved aspects of your past work especially if you’ve performed tasks of any complexity or significance.

  • Accomplishments/Achievements – show your responsibilities, but highlight your achievements
  • Quantify and Qualify your responsibilities and achievements, such as “Awarded Top Safety Manager (2009) for leading a team of 30 to 365 days of incident-free work.”

5. Proportion. Give appropriate attention to jobs or educational credentials according to their length or importance to the reader. For example, if you wish to be considered for an engineering position, don’t write a paragraph describing your current engineering job, followed by three paragraphs about your summer job as a lifeguard.

6. Relevancy. Confine your information to that which is job-related or clearly demonstrates a pattern of success.

7. Length. If you write more than two pages, it sends a signal to the reader that you can’t organize your thoughts or that you’re trying too hard to make a good impression. If your content is strong, you won’t need more than two pages.

8. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Create an error-free document that’s representative of an educated person. If you’re unsure about the correctness of your writing, consult a professional writer or editor.

  • Make certain your address, phone number (cell) and email address are current and accurate.

9. Readability, part one. Organize your thoughts in a clear, concise manner. No resume ever won a Nobel Prize for literature. However, a fragmented or long-winded resume will assure you of a place at the back of the line.

10. Readability, part two. Be sure to select a conventional type style, such as Times New Roman or Arial, with a 12pt font, and choose a neutral background or stationery. If your resume takes too much effort to read, it may end up in the trash, even if you have terrific skills.

I suggest you write several drafts, and allow yourself time to review your work and proofread for errors. If you have a professional associate whose opinion you trust, by all means, listen to what he or she has to say. A simple critique can make the difference between an interview and a rejection.

Jan 162011

Each January, the Conference Board publishes a job satisfaction survey.  In 2010, it showed that only 45% of American workers were satisfied with their work.  This was the lowest satisfaction rate ever recorded in 22 years of taking the survey. 

History has shown that as the economy begins to improve, some unsatisfied workers will work for themselves, others will start their own businesses and hire their colleagues, and still others will drop out of the workforce altogether because their retirement portfolios have improved. 

What does this mean to you? 

It means that as the job market continues to improve, the demand for qualified talent will subsequently increase and opportunities will come your way.  Are you prepared for that? 

Over the past several years, most people have developed a “hunkered down” mentality, and as a result, have not kept their career information current.  Career information includes your resume, your list of references with current contact information, performance reviews and letters of recommendation, and any online presence you hold (i.e., LinkedIn).  As these new opportunities arise, it’s more difficult for individuals to present their qualifications and interview for potential advancement.  Being prepared shows potential to employers that you are organized and serious about reaching your career goals. 

Below are four tips for preparing your career information: 

  1. Review your resume—Have you added recent quantifiable accomplishments to your track record of success?  Does it include recent training, education, or certifications?  Does your resume accurately reflect what you do now?


  1. Touch base with your references to know where they are now.


  1. Do you have a copy of your most recent performance reviews so that you can show you are successful without having references being called?


  1. Are there any other documents, such as letters of recommendation or appreciation, that show you are at the top of your game?  Get those in hand!


Once you’ve assembled your portfolio, you will feel more confident and better prepared when opportunity knocks.  For a complimentary professional review of your portfolio, contact me at

Nov 282010

(By Dan Simmons, CPC)

During the past several months, I’ve presented tips for interviewing success in “Career Corner.”  This has included tips for what to do you before and during the interview.  I’d like to wrap up this series with an article about what you should do after the interview, specifically, the importance of a thank-you note and why and how you should write one.

So . . . you just had a great interview.  Let’s face it, you blew them away! You go home and wait by the phone.  Five days go by.  Then 10 days go by.  But still, no call.  Why?  They may be waiting for your thank-you note.  They might want to see if your follow-through skills are adequate enough to be part of their professional and caring organization.  Instead of blowing them away, you just blew it!

Wait—there’s still time to do the right thing!  Below is an example of an effective thank-you note.  It should be polite, brief, show your enthusiasm for the job, and also mention something relevant from your interview.

Dear Mr. Smith,

Thank you for the opportunity to interview with XYZ Corporation for the Controller position.  After talking with you and learning more about the role, I believe my 3 years of experience as Manager of Accounting with Super Company has adequately prepared me for the job.  I have given thought to the challenge of bringing in new accounting software and would look forward to the opportunity.  I also look forward to meeting with you again and appreciate the time you gave me.

Finest regards,

John Doe, Jr.

Below are five rules for writing a great thank-you note:

  1. Hand-written notes are preferable.  However, if you decide to email the letter, send it right away and use a confirm receipt.
  2. Send notes within 72 hours of your interview.  However, late is better than not at all.
  4. Send a “thank-you” to everyone who interviewed you that day.
  5. Send a “thank-you” after each interview, but don’t send the same one each time.

Don’t blow it.  Instead, blow them away with a great interview AND a great thank-you note!

If you have any questions about this article or about any aspect of the interview process, you can contact me at

Connect to Dan Simmons on LinkedIn.