Tuesday, March 31, 2015

USING LINKEDIN

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

I’ve mentioned LinkedIn a couple of times now and find that its a really great tool not only to keep in touch with old work colleagues and keep apprised of whats going on in your industry, but also to find a job!
LinkedIn’s job search should complement whatever you are currently doing to find a role via other online tools - sites like Monster, Workopolis, Total Jobs etc... are great but they are just one avenue and they do not take advantage of LinkedIn's greatest strength.
The greatest advantage and feature of LinkedIn (aside from the fact that some hiring managers use it exclusively so this is the only place you would be able to find thatspecific job) is the fact that you can get your existing colleagues and friends to act as your references and based on your “links” to the job/company in question there is quite a good chance that you can be recommended for the role by someone already working in the company.
In the current market, any advertised job posting can generate hundreds (if not thousands) of applications from potential candidates. By using LinkedIn however you are able to get a referral from someone that already works in the company and this could possibly make a huge difference to your chances. LinkedIn takes the traditional formula of networking and modernizes it in a perfect manner. Keep in mind that studies have shown that 60-80% of all jobs are sourced purely through word of mouth – with that being said, having a way to make yourself visible to a larger market is bound to improve your hiring potential.

Step by Step –

  • Logon to LinkedIn and create an account.  Upload your CV/Resume and indicate all the companies and roles you’ve had in the past.  Find all the contacts at your previous roles and add them to your network (sorry, went through this really fast, but I will go through this in greater detail in future posts).
  • Now that you have a network in place, you can start searching for jobs that are close to you.

Finding the Job

  1. Click on Jobs -> Find Jobs
  2. Click on Advanced search (under the Search Button)
  3. Fill in the fields on the next screen but make sure that you sort by Relationship
  4. On the next screen you will be presented with a list of relevant jobs based on the criteria you have selected previously.  Underneath each role however is the phrase “See people in your network who can help you get this job”.  Click on this link and you will see people that are currently in the company that is hiring for that role.  Each layer of your network is given a number so if you see a “1″ for any of these names then that means this is someone you know and have in your direct network.  A “2″ would be someone that knows someone that you know – that is, you share a common contact.  Each subsequent number indicates a person that is that much further away from you.  Remember, with the LinkedIn search you can actually search for a specific company or a specific region to narrow down your search even further and you can even filter by the relationship.
  5. Once you have found someone that can help you, the next step is initiating contact.  If they are in your direct network thats fairly easy as its a simple email from within LinkedIn.  If however they are removed from your direct network by one or two steps, you would need to get a referral from someone that you know.  LinkedIn makes this easy also however as they give you a list of people in common that you share and you simply have to ask someone you know to referr your application onwards.

Establishing Contact

Once you have established contact with the person inside the company that has the job, its a simple matter to get additional details of the role, the name of the hiring manager, details about the company etc… With this information in hand, you can then personalize an application for the role and either have your internal contact forward it on for you or have it delivered directly to the hiring manager.  Aside from the fact that your application has been delivered from or via an internal resource, the personalization itself will make your application stand out even more!
Whether or not you are invited to interview for the suitable positions you’ll apply for using this process; your response rate should be higher than if you just apply blindly to a job. Best of luck on your job hunt!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

MANAGEMENT TRAINING AND SELF IMPROVEMENT

As a manager, it is a key requirement to ensure that your team is appropriately trained on the minutiae of the job. How to find customer information, how to respond to customers, dealing with Irate customers and troubleshooting issues are obviously all things that you would ensure that your team receives. However, how important is it to you to ensure that YOU are receiving the appropriate training and improving your skills?
It almost goes without saying that the only constant in our world today is that "change is inevitable". If you understand this fact then dealing with the constant pace of it is something that is fairly easy to take in stride.

From year to year, and inside each subject itself, what is taught at school and the way it is taught itself changes.  This is natural - new things are being researched all the time and what was considered FACT one day is quite often flipped on its head the next.  With the constant growth and change that we experience every day of our lives dealing with the pace is an issue in and of itself as more often than not, the greatest discovery of the day is just a piece in the puzzle to something much larger.
Now while you could afford to just "coast" along in school as you were being rated and graded against others being taught exactly the same material, in the "real world" this mentatility just doesn't work.  Your competitors in business and in your own workplace are constantly advancing their skills in an effort to be more efficient and provide an even better product or service at a lower price all the time - after all we live in a capitalist society and thats the hallmark of it isn't it?  The customers determine the leader and if you want to be part of that crowd you cannot afford to neglect your personal developement.
While its clear that this is a message that has been learned at the Senior Level, most employees don't realize this and think that Senior Management just decide which way to steer the ship and then step back and let it go on its way.  If you really look at it though, the readjustments and refining of technique are something that Senior Managers do all the time and they base this new direction on what they are learning from other companies and even their competition!
The transition from an average Manager to a top tier Manager is gradual, but knowing the latest trends and information definitely play a factor in this. This is obviously NOT just a matter of being able to spout the latest and greatest "buzz word" that is currently in vogue. The only way to truly advance is to actually understand what you are talking about and to believe in its value and potential. Being ISO certified is easy - understanding that ISO is NOT just paper-pushing which is the common misconception is something else altogether.
For those at the starting point of their management career the focus should be on Soft Skills. Things like Team Work, Leadership, Dealing with Change, Time Management are all crucial skills that are useful for the young Manager and also show a demonstrable return for the company. 

 With this knowledge in place (and keep in mind, retraining is key as if you don't use it ... you lose it!) the focus should be shifted towards industry and technology specific disciplines. You should aim for courses that not only provide you with an improvement but that can demonstrate an obvious return on investment to your company. 

Things like Process Improvement and Cost Minimization are both emphasized in ITIL and Six Sigma certifications. Ensure that you are keeping abreast of the latest trends in your industry - read trade publications and technical journals, network with your peers in similar positions ... SPEAK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS! ... find out what they are interested in and what they would like to see your company provide to them. 

While Managers today have less time then in days past - if training if structured correctly it can be useful and relevant and should be able to show an immediate impact to the organization. It is key to remember to that training cannot be a single event and should be considered a constant - just like change - as that is the only way to stay in the race and eventually - WIN IT!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

TO SOURCE, OR OUTSOURCE ... THAT IS THE QUESTION!


Continuing our discussion about ITIL Service Strategy, lets start talking about Sourcing.  Sourcing is about analysing how to most effectively source and deploy the resources and capabilities required to deliver outcomes to customers. A sourcing decision is key in determining the best combination of suppliers (internal vs. external) to provide the most cost effective and efficient delivery of services.

Outsourcing

I've spoken about outsourcing at some length in the past (here, here and here), but those posts were focused more on whether or not you should outsource.  Lets talk here about what outsourcing is and why some businesses utilize it.

In a nutshell Outsourcing is using another company/organization to perform services on your behalf for your customers.  Now you could outsource lots of different things - HR Functions for your own internal team, IT Support for your customers etc... - what makes the decision on whether or not you should outsource is the question of value.  Are you able to provide more value to your customers and shareholders by outsourcing vs. doing the activity in house?  Generally speaking this question of value has been driven by financial considerations, unfortunately, most financial analyses do not include all the costs related to sourcing options, leading to difficult relationships with service providers, involving unexpected costs and service issues.  

What should you outsource?

Generally speaking you should outsource anything that is non-critical to your business.  By focusing on your core strengths you can be more successful and removing tasks that are only peripherally related (if that) to your business will allow your organization to focus even more on the things that make you successful.

Once candidates for sourcing are identified, the following questions can be used to clarify matters: 
  • Do the candidate services improve the business’s resources and capabilities? 
  • How closely are the candidate services connected to the business’s competitive and strategic resources and capabilities?
  • Do the candidate services require extensive interactions between the service providers and the business’s competitive and strategic resources and capabilities?

Dependent upon the answers to those questions a decision needs to be made on whether or not to outsource some or all of a service.  If the responses uncover minimal dependencies and infrequent interactions between the sourced services and the business’s competitive and strategic positioning, then the candidates are strong contenders - conversely however if the answers show a strong relationship with the business' competitive or strategic position, then care must be taken.

Sourcing vulnerabilities

When outsourcing - especially in the instances where outsourcing a key service, care must be taken to ensure that businesses do not get impacted negatively.  Some of the key vulnerabilities that might be experienced are:
  • Substitution:  ‘Why do I need the service provider when its supplier can offer the same services?’ The sourced vendor develops competing capabilities and replaces the sourcing organization
  • Disruption:  The sourced vendor has a direct impact on quality or reputation of the sourcing organization.  This is of significant concern for those organizations that have outsourced their support or engineering and design organizations.
  • Distinctiveness:  The sourced vendor is the source of distinctiveness for the sourcing organization. The sourcing organization then becomes particularly dependent on the continued development and success of the second organization  

One key concern/issue with outsourcing is responsibility.  Outsourcing does not mean that a service or its performance are no longer important. In most cases, it often means that the service is so important that it should be provided by a service provider that can do a better (or more cost-effective) job. Just because a service has been outsourced does not remove the responsibility from the vendor. While a 3rd party could be providing technical support on a product or service, the customer always has recourse to organization that they purchased the original product/service from..

Other types of Sourcing

While most people consider Outsourcing (& Insourcing) as the only two options, there are in actuality a variety of different ways that services can be sourced.

  • Insourcing - internal parts of the organization do the work.  Clearly defined departments with specific responsibilities.
  • Outsourcing - a 3rd party that specializes in a specific role, provides that service to an organization through a well defined plan with specific deliverable's, KPIs and SLAs.
  • Partnership - a formal arrangement between 2 or more parties to work together on a specific role or responsibility.  The focus here tends to be on strategic partnerships that leverage critical expertise or market opportunities.
  • Co-sourcing or multi-sourcing - a mix of insourcing and outsourcing where a number of external organizations work together to design, develop, transition, maintain, operate and/or support a portion of a service.
  • Business process outsourcing (BPO) - a growing trend (especially among the larger multinationals) where an entire business function (customer service, technical support, accounting, HR etc...) is provided by a 3rd party.
There are a host of other common (Application Services, Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO), Cloud etc...) and uncommon ways of sourcing services, in fact the only real distinction is that businesses will do what makes sense for the business!

Cancellation - the final step in a long and drawn out process

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