Archive for June, 2010

Reposition Yourself As the Center Of Influence

Yesterday, we discussed the importance of a resume and how proper formatting and keywords are critical to getting through the often automated screening process.    But even if successful, getting a job remains an uphill battle involving interviews with human resources, supervisors, managers and executives.  

Wouldn’t it be better to go right to the top?  By shifting your paradigm from one of job seeker to salesperson, this can often be accomplished.   As people who sell already know, success is rarely achieved through anyone but the decision maker.  

Ultimately somebody is responsible for hiring people.  It is not the automated resume screening software, nor HR, nor the line supervisor.   It is generally somebody higher up in the organization that will ultimately give the thumbs up.  By identifying the decision maker and putting yourself in a position to be recognized, you can take proactive steps to not only cut in front of many other applicants but  increase your odds of landing your dream job. 

The first task is to identify the decision maker, which can often be tough in larger organizations.   But remember, your new full time job is to find a career so use this time wisely and with the assistance of websites such as Weddles, Sales Genie or Manta, can be accomplished in record time with incredible accuracy.

Networking is paramount to your ultimate success.  You can’t network too much.   Social networking sites such as  Linkedin, Plaxo, XING or Facebook are great places to start as they give you tremendous economies of scale to reach people that not only you know, but who they know as well.  

Consider the six degrees of separation that put you in touch with anyone one earth.   Often a decision maker may only be one or two degrees away.   Social networking sites bring these people closer, provided you utilize the site to its full potential by posting not only your credentials and qualifications but using contacts to provide references and recommendations. 

Starting a blog based upon your expertise is another great way to interact with the public.     Sites such as WordPress or Blogger are free and easy to use.    Your posts, just like the one you are reading now, can be linked to your social networking sites.   In addition, you can use programs like Networked Blogs to post to a wider audience and in many cases what you right will be picked up by yet another blog to further expand your footprint. 

But your networking can’t be limited to your computer, as putting a face to your knowledge is critical to your ultimate success.   While there are several ways to do this, arguably the most effective is face to face networking opportunities such as Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Club meetings, trade shows or church groups.

By identifying where decision makers may be, you have increased your chances of getting noticed exponentially.  Some of these functions are free, others have nominal costs which should be viewed as an investment in your future.  

At a recent healthcare trade show I met a gentleman who was handing out business cards that said “CFO For Hire”.  This is a perfect example of taking proactive steps to find your new career.

Networking opportunities abound if you seek them out and then use the time to mingle with attendees.   It’s a great opportunity to introduce yourself and share your knowledge with business leaders, who often will create positions for people with talent, especially those who have positioned themselves as the center of influence with viable solutions to problems plaguing business owners. 

As you plan your strategy, consider that only 5% of all jobs are advertised yet 60% are obtained through networking.  By changing your paradigm and shooting for the top you will not only dramatically increase your chances of getting hired, but you will speed up the entire hiring process. 

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Chris Tidball is the author of Kicked to the Curb: 20 Essential Rules For Coming Out On Top When Your Life Has Been Turned Upside Down.  He provides businesses and individuals with innovative solutions to maximizing their bottom line with no new money required.  He can be reached at chris@christidball.com.

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June 30, 2010 at 7:39 am Leave a comment

Reinventing Yourself in the New Economy (Part II)

Yesterday we established that 8 million jobs have vanished during the great recession with Vice President Joe Biden suggesting that many of these losses are permanent.  

So what now?  For the millions who have lost their jobs, this news can’t sit well.  Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken, many of which are discussed in Kicked to the Curb.

First, let’s consider the variety of reasons why you may not get hired.  In a recent discussion with a human resource professional, the following were shared. 

  • I never saw your resume.
  • Your resume didn’t jump out at me.
  • The interview was more of chat than anything else.
  • You never expressed a true desire for the job.
  • Somebody else got back to me first.
  • Other candidates had preferable industry background.
  • I’m looking for a team member with a different perspective.
  • We haven’t been successful with people who share a similar profile to yours.
  • You’re overqualified.

As the list implies, some things are in your control (bold) while others are not, which is no different than most other aspects of our lives.   Your challenge is to maximize what is within your control with the most critical goal of getting not one job offer, but multiple offers. 

To be successful you must adopt the paradigm that finding gainful employment is now your new full time job.  You must spend your days putting together and executing a well thought out and deliberate strategy to achieving this goal. 

The first step in this process is to have a resume that will compel people on the other side of the table to call you in for an interview.   The first step in many cases is to get by the technology screening process known as the applicant tracking system, or ATS, employed by many HR departments to parse resumes for a variety of keywords and descriptors used to separate those who will be called in for an interview and those who will not.  

Many highly qualified candidates are excluded during this process for the simple reason that they don’t understand how ATS works.   In addition to key words such as “goal oriented”, “driven”, “executive” or “HTML”, today’s software now utilizes contextualization which puts the keyword into proper context for scoring purposes.  Consider the difference between a person who took an HTML class ten years ago and one who writes HTML every day.  

While keywords remain important, they must be incorporated in complete sentences that provide descriptions designed to be viewed favorably by ATS software.  

Resumes should not be overly formatted, nor should they include pictures as both can choke the ATS software, virtually assuring that your resume will never make it to a human being.  

Often candidates will be given a choice between cutting and pasting a resume or uploading, with the latter being preferable as the employers ATS software will often parse the data and save it in rich text format while cutting and pasting generally results in resumes being saved in plain text which can result in a garbled mess for the recipient, diminishing your chances of getting called back.

Once your resume is out the door, take a proactive, albeit not aggressive, approach to follow through.  Interested employers will contact you, often via e-mail so do a daily review of not only your inbox but junk and spam boxes as well. 

Many people will be tempted to contact the employer directly, which may be appropriate to verify that they received your resume but more frequently may actually work against you.  Additionally, this contact should be made on the phone rather than e-mail.  If employers are interested, they will get back to you.  

While this traditional method of securing interviews is often the primary one employed by job seekers, it is often the most time consuming and least reliable way of getting your foot in the door.   Tomorrow we will take a look at a variety of alternative job seeking methods that can increase the odds of getting your resume into the hands of the right person to increase your odds of landing your dream job. 

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Chris Tidball is the author of Kicked to the Curb: 20 Essential Rules For Coming Out on Top WhenYour Life Has Been Turned Upside Down.  He provides businesses and individuals with innovative ways to improve their bottom line with no new money required and can be reached at chris@christidball.com.

June 29, 2010 at 6:16 am 1 comment

Reinventing Yourself In The New Economy (Part I)

Vice President Joe Biden gave a stark assessment of the economy during a weekend rally in Wisconsin, telling an audience of supporters, “there’s no possibility to restore 8 million jobs lost in the Great Recession.”

This is an interesting and astute observation coming during the week that sees the release of the monthly US non-farm payrolls report, the most closely watched statistic in global markets.

The headline figure is expected to show a sharp drop in non-farm employment, largely the effect of temporary workers hired to carry out the US census coming to the end of their contracts.

According to the Financial Times there was a drop of 250,000 people working the census in May which may result in an uptick in the unemployment rate, especially if job growth falls below the 119,000 analysts had forecast for June.   More importantly, how many of these jobs will be in the private sector, as more federal jobs will only serve to push us further into debt. 

Two other critical aspects of the economic recovery include the housing sector which just last week saw new home sales hit a 40 year low and word from the Federal Reserve that the financial conditions had become “less supportive of economic growth”.

In simplest terms, what does this mean for those who have been kicked to the curb?   The positive news is that companies, in particular in the manufacturing sector, are beginning to hire temporary employees.   The bad news is that permanent, full time private sector positions continue to be scarce which will be the case for the remainder of 2010.  

Aside from the poor financial conditions, employers have been hamstrung by a series of new government regulations and mandates that impede their ability to add new staff.   Adding to the burden comes the expiration of tax credits and cuts at the end of 2010 which, should they not be extended, will contribute to a prolonging of the recession.    

There has been some criticism of Congress not extending unemployment benefits, which more appropriately should have been directed at them for the myriad of missteps taken in their failed attempts to jumpstart the economy.   While extending unemployment benefits in an election year may be politically expedient, the reality is that the only way to get the train back on the tracks is to implement solutions that will reduce our federal deficit and create jobs; in particular tax breaks for small business owners.  

Herein lies the problem with history telling us that taking a pro growth stance with tax cuts and the elimination of bureaucratic red tape will ease us out of recession while many idealistic politicians leaders believe that they can defy history with a tax and spend solution proven to fail time and time again. 

Throughout the course of this week, we will examine not only what Congress can do to lift us out of the recession, but steps that those who have been kicked to the curb can take to reinvent themselves in the new economy. 

_______________________

Chris Tidball is the author of Kicked to the Curb: 20 Essential Rules For Coming Out on Top When Your Life Has Been Turned Upside Down.   He is an author, executive and consultant providing businesses with opportunities to increase their bottom line with no new money required.  He can be reached at chris@christidball.com.  To learn more please visit www.christidball.com

June 28, 2010 at 7:45 am Leave a comment

Your Greatest Opportunity Is To Be The Business Solution

From speaking at America’s Claims Event in Las Vegas  to appearing on South Florida’s Business Talk Radio, this has been a great week of sharing success stories of businesses taking steps to improve their bottom line, often with no new money required!

From training and development  to marketing and metrics, we have discussed many solutions that businesses can implement with attainable goals that are guaranteed to increase both productivity and profitability.  

As businesses continue to reduce staff, now has never been a better time to implement process improvement measures that will enable growth and expansion without being hamstrung by a lack of personnel. 

There is no question that many businesses are feeling the economic pinch and actually need to add to staff, but the harsh reality of today’s business climate is that this is age old solution has become cost prohibitive.  Aside from the United States having the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world, business owners are faced with frivilous litigation, increasing workers’ compensation costs, unemployment insurance and now mandatory healthcare obligations.   Simply put, they can’t survive with the status quo necessitating the need to adapt to the new economy.

By providing businesses with innovative ways to grow their business with solutions that don’t require additions to staff actually enables them to reposition themselves in the marketplace.  

Many of these solutions are as simple as redefining traditional norms.   Consider the insurer that needed a certain number of employees to handle their claims volume.  What if simple organizational and process changes could enable them to do 20% more without adding headcount?   This is a very attainable goal as many attendees at America’s Claims Event discovered this week.  

What about the small businesses that needs to expand their portfolio by 20% but are afraid to make additions to staff for fear of new congressional mandates bankrtupting them?   As discussed in yesterday’s interview with Monica Puig, President of the Latin Business Club of America and host of Miami’s Business Radio, simple B2B relationships are key to successfully achieving this goal.   

Herein lies the opportunity for those who have been kicked to the curb.  By being the solution, and offering your services, it is now possible to embark on your own endeavor to service organizations ranging from manufacturers and municipalities to hospitals and financial institutions.  

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Chris Tidball is the author of Kicked to the Curb and provides businesses and individuals with innovative ideas from revenue cycle management  to alternative energy solutions that dramatically improve productivity and profitability with no new money required.  He can be reached at chris@christidball.com

June 24, 2010 at 12:04 pm Leave a comment

How Do I Get A Job In The New Economy?

When the media is throwing around terms like “jobless recovery,” it’s a little easier to understand how a drop in the unemployment rate can actually be bad news.

At least that’s how Chris Tidball, career coach and author of Kicked to the Curb (www.christidball.com), sees it.

“Last May, the Department of Labor Statistics touted the creation of 431,000 new jobs, but behind that nice six-figure number is the fact that about 95 percent of those new jobs were temporary government jobs related to the U.S. Census,” Tidball said. “In this instance, the lower unemployment figure is worse news than a higher one, because an increase in government jobs can actually contribute to a higher long-term unemployment rate. The full report by the Labor Department still paints a bleak outlook for jobs, which is why people need to be extra competitive in the job market.”

How bad is it? Tidball puts it into historical perspective.

“To put it mildly, we have never lost as many jobs as in the current recession,” he said. “Not during the great depression, not after World War II — never. What’s worse is that we have never been confronted with such a perfect storm of government mandates — such as healthcare and the inevitable cap and trade tax — that could permanently derail any glimmer of hope.”

Tidball said his analysis isn’t meant to scare people, but rather, to motivate them.

“I have developed 20 rules that are designed to help people get back to work,” he said. “The key thing is to look at getting a job a little differently. Instead of just looking for work, look at your household as a business, and look for revenue opportunities. They may exist in odd jobs, freelance work, starting a new business, getting a part time job to begin with — or any combination of those things. Worry less about jobs, and think more about revenue.”

Some of his rules are:

  • Have a Plan — We’re all guilty of not planning, of not saving for that rainy day, and it may seem too late after you find yourself without a job. Not so. Look at your savings, your retirement accounts and all your resources. Examine the job opportunities available, from the least attractive to the most attractive. Develop your tactics for outreach, and stick to the plan.
  • Forget Fear — Fear can motivate, but it can also paralyze. Certainly, it can derail a job interview faster than showing up late. Fear can prevent you from executing your plan, and it can prejudice people against you as a job candidate. It forces bad judgments. Remember, things WILL get better.
  • Don’t Let Up — Perseverance is one of the keys to success. You will knock on a lot of doors, and you may bloody up your knuckles, but you better your odds with every new door that you knock on.

“At the end of the day, the idea is to be courageous,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to do something you haven’t tried before. Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself. When people get kicked to the curb, it’s typically the lowest point of their lives, but if they pick themselves up and attack all the opportunities open to them, in many cases they discover that being kicked to the curb was the best thing that ever happened to them.”

Don’t forget to catch Chris Tidball on Miami’s Business Radio, today at 11:30 Eastern, where he will be discussing ways to reinvent yourself in today’s new economy.  

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Chris Tidball is a career coach, business consultant and motivational speaker. He is a former executive of a Fortune 500 company who reinvented himself in his post-corporate life. The author of Kicked to the Curb (www.christidball.com),  he provides businesses with new and innovative ways to improve their bottom line.

June 23, 2010 at 10:16 am Leave a comment

He Said, She Said; Who’s Really At Fault?

If you were rear-ended who is at fault?  What if another car makes a left turn in front of you?  How about a car backing from a parking space as you proceed down the aisle of a parking lot.   At first glance you may say that the other person was at fault, but is that always the case? 

The reality is that far more accidents than most people realize have shared culpability.   In fact, a review of all jury verdicts from the state of Florida found that in multiple vehicle accidents juries assessed fault against both parties 79% of the time!

As an insurer, you certainly shouldn’t expect to set a benchmark that high, as very few claims actually make it to trial.  But what you can do is bank on the fact that if fewer than 35% of your collision claims are closing with comparative fault money is being left on the table. 

Let’s take a look at an actual claim scenario, and the response to jury polling after the verdict was read.  The situation involved an 18 year old student making a left turn from a northbound lane in front of an oncoming vehicle which was proceeding in the out of two southbound lanes.   The impact to the vehicle turning was to the right rear door while the damage to the southbound vehicle was to the front end, causing airbags to deploy and the driver to fracture her facial orbital lobe on the windshield pillar.  

To many the liability may seem clear against the 18 year old, which reinforces the need for prompt and aggressive claims investigations to gather and preserve evidence.   

In this particular case consideration was paid to the fact that the vehicle turning left had crossed the first lane and virtually all of the second lane of oncoming traffic prior to the collision, thereby establishing control of the intersection.   The southbound vehicle should have seen the vehicle turning and most certainly had the last clear chance to avoid the accident.  Both of these facts were taken into consideration by the jury which assessed 25% negligence against the party who many would assume had their right of way violated.  

In addition, the investigation concluded that the driver who was injured was not wearing their seat belt, holding the victim 15% liable for the injuries being claimed which resulted in a 40% assessment of negligence against the injured party.  

It is often said that the devil is in the details, and in this case the details proved to be incredibly valuable for a case that would have settled for far more money with a lax investigation.   By taking the time to understand the facts,  inspecting and preserving the damaged property and effectively utilizing experts, the insurance adjuster was able to effectively leverage an accurate outcome that properly identified fault on both of the parties. 

As a general rule, about 15% of all claims are settled with a missed subrogation opportunity.   By many estimations, this result is low as it is benchmarked against other insurance carriers who are also missing many opportunities.   In studies which I have been involved with, missed subrogation opportunities have been identified between one quarter and one third of the time.  

So how do you drive your claims organization to improve accuracy?   Investigate, investigate, investigate!  This can’t be said enough.    Are statements taken from all parties?    Has all damaged property been inspected?  Was there a scene investigation?  Were primary and secondary liability factors and mitigators considered?  What duties were owed, what ones were breached?  By taking the steps to complete a thorough investigation, not only will quality improve but so will results!

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Chris Tidball is the author of Kicked to the Curb and will be presenting with Sequoia Finacial Services at this week’s  ACE Conference (America’s Claims Event) in Las Vegas on a variety of innovative ways that insurance carriers can utilize manpower and technology to improve their bottom line, reduce premiums and become more competitive in the marketplace…with NO NEW MONEY REQUIRED!   He can be reached at chris@christidball.com.

 

June 22, 2010 at 9:14 am Leave a comment

Effectively Investigating Low Impact Car Crashes

As summer football workouts get under way, the drills and the hitting only reinforce the resiliency of the human body.   Hits to the head, back, neck and side are often exponentially harder than many auto accidents; yet each year millions of dollars are paid out to compensate people for even the slightest fender bender. 

Having investigated auto accidents for a number of years it often amazed me to see people walk away from totaled vehicles, roll overs and head on collisions with a few bumps and bruises while others claim injuries when there is no visible damage to their car. 

Is it fraud?  Is it possible to be injured in an accident with no visible property damage?  The answer to both could be either yes, no or depends.   Most certainly insurance fraud is an issue that plagues our society, costing the average family between $400 and $700 dollars per year according to the FBI

Fraud comes in all shapes and sizes, from a staged accident to a person claiming to be hurt when they really weren’t.    According to the Insurance Research Council, more than one third of all accidents involve claims for opportunistic fraud.   Many of these claims involve low impact accidents.

So what is an insurer to do when a person files a claim for injuries, yet there is little to no property damage?  Exactly what should be done with any claim; Investigate, investigate, investigate.

A cornerstone of your investigation must include photos and measurements of both vehicles, as it is possible to have significant damage to one car and virtually none to the other, as may be the case with a Ford Focus rear ending a full size pickup in which case the former would under ride the latter, resulting in extensive front end damage and virtually no rear end damage. 

Measurements are critical as well, as these can not only validate that the two cars indeed strike one another but can provide a bio mechanical engineer with critical data when determining velocity and resultant G-Forces exerted on the occupants claiming injury. 

Statements should be taken from all parties, including any witnesses.   Particular detail should be paid to  not only the accident but any conversation or comments that may have followed, which can be indicators of opportunism.   Consider the situation where the person claiming injury grabbed their neck and said, “I better call my lawyer.”

A thorough investigation will also include a detailed investigation into medical history.   Did the party claiming to be hurt have a history of claims?  Have they been in multiple accidents?  Is there a pattern of claiming injury only when they aren’t at fault?  Were there pre-existing conditions or intervening circumstances?  What was their pattern of treatment?  What was said to their medical provider? 

By obtaining ten to twenty years of medical history, either through a voluntary medical release or discovery, critical clues can be unearthed to either validate or refute what a party is claiming.  

Video surveillance, hospital checks in metropolitan areas of all known prior residences and canvassing of neighbors also provides valuable insight into claims that may be presented.  

Lastly, a biomechanical engineer can review your case or even the vehicles, and provide an estimation as to the speed at the time of impact and even the likelihood of injuries based upon statistically valid sampling of accident victims from similar situations.   However, you should keep in mind that they will not be able to say with 100% certainty that a person was or was not injured, just what the probability was which makes it that much more critical to meet the injured party and their attorney to assess credibility and witness potential. 

Companies have adapted a wide variety of approaches to investigating low impact claims, ranging from aggressively fighting them to utilizing software applications to assist in gauging velocity and force on the occupants.   The reality is that there is no one size fits all, as every case must be evaluated upon its merits with all evidence being considered.   While there is generally a correlation between force and injury, there are exceptions to the rule, albeit rare on rare occasions. 

When implementing processes to maximize your internal efficiencies and accuracy of settlement, consider your approach to low impact claims handling with particular attention paid to steps that should be taken during the investigation.  

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Chris Tidball is the author of Kicked to the Curb and provides the insurance industry with innovative procedures and solutions to increase organizational efficiencies and maximize their bottom line.  He can be reached at chris@christidball.com

June 18, 2010 at 8:22 am Leave a comment

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Chris Tidball is a claims and revenue management consultant and author of the "20 Essential Rules" series of self and organizational improvement books. You can ask him a question at chris@christidball.com

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