Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Is There Potential For Advancement?

Unfortunately, this question is perhaps the most popular and is possibly one of the worst questions you can ask in an interivew. In many cases, you will get exactly what you asked for. A one word answer - Yes!

If you're really interested in discovering the career advancement opportunities in an organization, you need to ask a series of questions that give you a good perspective of their true growth potential. Topics such as the financial success of the company (current and projected), past hiring practices, availability of training, and expectations of employees in this position, will each give you insight into the possibility of the company giving you the advancement expectations you are seeking.

Here are some questions that get you the info you want:
1) What are your sales projections for this year and next year?
2) What will this company look like in 5 years?
3) Is the company expecting to acquire new business or add a new division?
4) What is your policy on internally promoting?
5) What is your policy on internally posting positions?
6) How long have my potential new co-workers been at their levels?
7) How long have my potential new supervisors been at their levels?
8) What are the expectations of a person in this position their first year?
9) What do you expect an employee in this role to have accomplished in 3 years?
10) What type of career advancement training is available to employees?

Each of these questions give you some insight into their advancement opportunities. An organization with a track record of growth or will be adding new business units will obviously need to move people up ands around within the organization. Additionally, companies that try to promote from within and provide developmental training(rather than training that just helps you in your current role - product training, software training, etc) tend to have a culture that focuses on developing internal employees for future promotions.

So, the next time you want to learn about the growth opportunity in a perspective employer, make sure you ask the questions that give you the REAL answer!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Read This Before You Apply To That Out Of State Job

In today's challenging job market, opening up your search to include other communities and other states could be the best way to increase the probability of finding the position you are looking for. While most of the seed companies are trying to find people with experience in that local market, most companies in agriculture are very open to filling position with candidates from another area, and offer relocation incentives and compensation for making the move.

Unfortunately, it is all too easy to apply to jobs all over the country without any consideration to the impact on both yourself and others in your life. In fact, many job seekers do not consider what locations are suitable for themselves or their family until it is too late in an interview process. It's unfair to a potential employer to realize that the location of their position is not suitable for your family after you have started through the interview process. It's even more unfair to your family members to figure this out after engaging interest in a position and not discussing the position's location beforehand.

If you are open to considering out of state opportunities, be sure to have an open discussion with your spouse or family members to determine a list of acceptable and unacceptable geographic locations. Factors to consider include career opportunities for family members, housing prices, recreational activities, weather, schools, and friends & family in the area. You can search different job boards to get a feel for what type of job opportunities there are for a spouse or family members. Also use sites like,, and to get a feel for real estate prices in that area. This is a much better way to get a feel for the primary factor of the region's cost of living and a more accurate snapshot than a "cost of living" calculator.

Relocation is a career option that will certainly enhance your ability to find the opportunity you are looking for. However, be sure to work with your family to make a simple list of desirable locations before you start your search. Doing so beforehand will save you a tremendous amount of headache and inconvenience.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

How To Surpass 95% Of Your Competition With One Simple Gesture

Whether you are seeking a job, or trying to make a sale, a key to your success is building a rock solid network. All too often, people fail when making new contacts and miss golden opportunities to establish a powerful network of friends, supporters, and customers.

Follow up is one of the key components to a successful relationship building process, and Keith has done an excellent job explaining how just one simple step can change your rate of success. Here are a few simple tips he suggests:

1) Put the name and email of a new acquaintance in your database and program your calendar to remind you in a month’s time to drop that person an email, just to keep in touch.

2) Remember – and this is critical – your follow-up shouldn’t remind them of what they can do for you. It’s about what you might be able to do for them. It’s about giving them a reason to want to follow-up

3) Always express gratitude

4) Be sure to include an item of interest from your meeting or conversation – an article, joke, or shared moment of humor.

5) Reaffirm whatever comments your both made – going both ways.

Read the rest of Keith’s tips in his article HERE

Monday, August 17, 2009

5 Steps To A Successful Interview

It’s no secret that today’s job market is filled with people that are as skilled and qualified as yourself. Interviews are becoming an intense competition, and you need an edge to rise above your competitors. In order to succeed, you have to show the interviewer that you not only have the skills to do the job, but you want this opportunity more than anyone else.

Here are 5 steps that can help you make that winning impression.

1) Know as much (or more) about the company as the interviewer. Google is a powerful tool for interview preparation. Research the company, its products/services, the CEO, and the names of the people you are meeting with. Researching will not only improve your understanding of the organization, but your knowledge will also show your enthusiasm to your interviewer. Additionally, when you research folks you are meeting with, you may find some things that impress you about their success or perhaps things you have in common. These valuable tidbits can easily turn the tide from a formal interview, to a friendly discussion.

2) Have your career plan in hand. Organizations are looking for employees that have a drive to succeed and a passion a career in their Company. An interviewer may try to learn your goals by asking you “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Prepare for this by writing down your goals and put a timeline to them. Regardless of your dreams, make sure you know exactly where you want to go, and when you want to be there. Many studies have shown that people with defined goals, have a much higher success rate than those who don’t plan. This shows the interviewer that you are in that successful category

3) Reconfirm the date/time/location of your interview. In the age of digital calendars, it’s not uncommon for people to be overbooked and double scheduled without realizing it. Reach out to the person you scheduled your interview with just to make sure schedules haven’t changed, and that a different time may work better for the interviewer. The last thing you want is an interview that has to end early due to another meeting!

4) Have your 10 best questions memorized, and be ready to ask more as things come up. One of the worst things you can do in an interview is to not ask questions. A lack of questions will ultimately give the impression that you aren’t interested, and don’t really care about the opportunity. Think about these questions ahead of time. Don’t ask the same old boring questions that everyone asks. For example, compare these two sets of questions:

a. “What is your vacation policy?” What is your health plan?” “Do you have a 401k?” “Do you provide training?” “How big is my expense account”?”

b. “What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 6 months? The first 2 years?” “Where will this company be in 5 years, and how will those goals affect this position? ” “What is the process for setting annual goals?” “What are the key challenges for someone to be successful in this role?”

The difference in these questions, and the impression they make is quite different. Focus your questions on success, and your interview will be more successful!

5) Practice closing the deal. Add up the previous steps, and they all lead to this last item. In this competitive environment, if you want the job, you have to ask for it! You don’t want to get passed over because the interviewer didn’t think you were excited about the opportunity. As the interview closes, it’s time to pull together your company research, the questions you have asked, and your career goals. You need to point out why you would be successful in this position, and why this company is one that you really want to work for. Have this 30 second speech well thought out – and don’t forget to include a comment about how disappointed you would be if you weren’t given this opportunity!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Looking For a Job? Increase Your Digital Presence

Google Profiles is a new feature in Google that allows you to create a page and be found online much faster and easier. I guess there are two ways to look at this. The first is that when you want to be found (looking for a job, starting a business, etc), this is a great way for you to move up in searches. The other side of this feature, however, is the potential "Big Brother" effect of Google owning your profile. Could this be used to control what you see? Probably, but it will most likely only effect the advertiesments and features that are marketed to you while using their other tools.

Althought it's in it's infancy Google profiles could easily grow into a resource similar to LinkedIn. So if you want to establish your digital presence, Google Profiles should be one of the best ways to do that, especially of you have common last names like Jones or Smith, etc.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Nail That Phone Interview

The telephone is often described as a great sales tool, but selling yourself over the phone is much more difficult than promoting a product or service.

In today's economy, many organizations are shifting to an interview model that includes a telephone interview as the first step. This process ensures that both the employer and the perspective employee are interested before any additional time and money is consumed in a face-to-face interview. Regardless of how great people are in a sales role, most are not prepared to sell themselves over the phone. The most difficult component of a phone interview is that you can't see the other person. It's much more difficult to adjust your style and answers based on the interviewers reaction, because you simply can't physically see it! You only have the tone of their voice as an indicator - which may not be an accurate representation of what they are REALLY thinking.

However, you can use the lack of vision to your advantage. Here are some thing that you can do to improve your odds in a phone conversation that you couldn't do if you were sitting in a face-to-face interview.

Get up and move around. Try standing up and even walking around a bit during a phone interview. You will be surprised at how you may speak more clearly and confidently when standing.

Remove all distractions. You must try to find a nice, comfortable, and quiet place for your phone interview. Not only is it difficult for you to concentrate on the call, but the background noise is a distraction to the interviewer and you inability to be in a quiet place could be perceived as a lack of planning or interest. If the suggested time is not convenient for you to ensure you talk from a good place for you, ask the interviewer to reschedule for a better time. They want you to be your best as well!

Have a copy of your resume in front of you. Print out a copy of your resume to reference while answering questions. I would not advise you to speak directly from your resume during the interview, but your resume can be used as a cheat sheet for you to ensure you don’t forget any highlights in your experience.

Have a list of your key accomplishments. While many of your accomplishments may be included on your resume, having a list in front of you can't hurt. Quite often you will get asked questions about things you have done, or things that you are most proud of in your career. Be ready for these by thinking of creative stories that highlight these competencies and innovative ideas you want the interviewer to hear. These talking points will help you get in some of your own comments when applicable.

Frequently Asked Questions are asked frequently - so be prepared. In just a few seconds you can do a search on the Internet to find interview FAQ's. You can anticipate these questions and have your responses prepared and in front of you. Typically, these questions will include listing your strengths, your areas for improvement, a difficult challenge or situation you’ve encountered on the job and how you handled it, your most proud accomplishment, interest in this job and/or company, and your career goals. Make a list of these questions with a few bullet points under each question that include the key things you want to include in your response. Have a copy of these questions and your planned responses in front of you at the time of your call, and you will be amazed at how much easier these questions will feel.

Understand the job and why you are the right person for it. Research the company, division and job for which you are interviewing. Print out the job description for which you are being considered. If no job description is available (which is very likely), think about what your ideal job in the company would be or how you think you could best contribute given your skills and interests. Type up these ideas and print them out. This description will help you frame your answers and maintain your focus throughout the conversation.

Be prepared for the money question. In some cases, the interviewer might ask about your compensation needs. Whether or not you are willing to discuss this topic, you should at least be prepared to respond (even if the answer is, “I’m not prepared to discuss that at this stage.”). I’d suggest giving the interviewer a broad range of your expectations - but be realistic! Most likely, the interviewer just wants to ensure you are not completely out the company’s league and it makes sense to pursue further discussions. At a preliminary stage such as a phone interview, you shouldn’t feel compelled to discuss specifics, and likewise, you shouldn’t expect the interviewer to give you specifics. This topic is sort of a courting dance to make sure a second date is possible.

Have a list of questions. Every interview ends with the interviewer asking, “Do you have any questions for me?” Since you know the question is coming, write down two to three questions you’d like to ask ahead of time. Questions that include things like discussing first year expectations, listing key components of success in this role, review where they expect the company to be in 5 years, future career opportunities in the company, etc. show your desire to be successful and gives a long term perspective of this opportunity

Friday, April 17, 2009

How (Not) To Nail An Interview

This website offers some great tips and actual videos of what NOT to do during an interview.

People never cease to amaze me. There is nothing I can add to this

Friday, April 10, 2009

New Management Jobs in Agriculture

I have two new management opportunities this week.

The first is a Fertilizer and Seed Marketing Manager role in Michigan. The the candidate in this role will oversee the purchasing, vendor relationships, marketing plan development, and marketing plan implementation for a 13 location retail agronomy organization. Salary will be $70-$100,000. You can learn more about this position by clicking HERE

The second opportunity is a Regional Sales Manager position in the Midwest. This position is with an industry leading organization in seed treatments and seed related products. In this role you will supervises a sales staff that covers MN, MD, SD, MT, WY, and NE and lead the business development strategies for your region. The expected salary for this position will be $75-$100,000. You can learn more about this opportunity HERE

In addition to these new positions we have over 300 open Agricultural sales, management, and marketing positions in the US. These positions include Finance, Seed, Livestock, Dairy, Agronomy, Equipment, and many other industries. You can search through these opportunities and contact us with any questions by clicking HERE

Monday, March 16, 2009

How To Answer The Tough Questions

Interviews can be stressful part of the job search process. A way to alleviate some of that stress is to make sure that you are well prepared. Below are some common questions that people often feel tense about and sometimes need some coaching on how they might best answer them.

1) What are your strengths/weaknesses?
2) Why are you leaving your current position?
3) What are your salary expectations?

The first question above is a bit of a tricky one and the interviewer is looking for an answer that relates to your work habits. Identifying your strengths can be even more difficult than identifying your weaknesses because they are tasks that you perform with such ease that you don’t recognize them as strengths. You believe that everyone operates that way. To identify your strengths, think about what others have complimented you on and refer back to previous performance appraisals that you have received. As for weaknesses, most people are very good at beating themselves up and so can identify of plenty of weaknesses – think about your negative self-talk. The best advice that I’ve ever heard on answering the question about your weaknesses is to be honest about them but counter your statement of your weakness by turning it into a positive statement about you. For example you might say, “My weakness is that I can get distracted with ideas while I am busy working and so I have learned to keep a notepad nearby to jot down my ideas so that I can remain focused.” An answer like this one should work really well for someone in a creative field of work but hopefully this will give you some ideas on how you can prepare your own response.

The second question is meant to uncover whether or not you are a negative or difficult person to manage. If you are unhappy in your current role – resist the temptation to go on about your gripes regarding your current employer, your boss or your co-workers as this will only serve to give the interviewer the impression that you will be difficult to manage and/or bring the morale of the team down. You should answer that you are seeking a new challenge with a growing company that can benefit from your expertise. Elaborate on the challenge you are seeking as well as what you are bringing to the table in terms of your skills and experience. Formulate an answer that allows the interviewer to see a benefit in hiring you as opposed to an answer that could be taken as self-serving.

The third question often strikes fear in many a job seeker because they are afraid that if they give an answer that is lower than what the employer is expecting to pay – they will be offered a lower salary than they might otherwise have been offered or, that if they give an answer that is too high – they may put themselves out of the running for the job. The best way to answer this question is to say that your primary interest is in finding a challenging position that meets your career goals, with the right company and then provide a salary range. If you are unsure of what the range could be for the type of role you are interviewing for, then check out the salary survey results on monster before you go to the interview.

Preparing answers for these three questions will help you to do well and calm your nerves for your next employment interview. With answers to these three questions under your belt, you can relax and focus more of your attention on evaluating whether or not the position is a good fit for you.

Content Provided by Laura Whitelaw

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Interview the Interviewer

This is a subject and conversation that I have had with so many people over the years. With it there comes a lot of strong opinions from all sides stating their perspective on why/why not to do this, or how to approach it. It surfaced this morning in a discussion about why people will not take certain jobs, and the fact that a high powered engineer we were working with has been turning down job offers in this economy. Do people do that I was asked……the answer is YES and for good reason.

Turning the interview on its head is what some people call it. I get a lot of fear when discussing this subject, as most people discuss being uncertain of how they will be perceived when asking serious and in-depth questions surrounding the role. Logically, I think when people really look at it, there fears are crazy. Why would anyone go into an interview, discuss their capabilities and really leave there not knowing exactly what the role is.

Now I say this with caution, as the approach and how one is to do this becomes ever more important. In speaking to some managers, they cannot stand when they feel the candidate is attempting to take over the conversation and really run the entire process. That is not at all what I saying here and really do not want that to be the point of the message. The real idea here is to leave with a conscious understanding of the role, with explicit information, without the manager feeling like he got grilled. And I think there is an easy way to do this.

One of the reasons most people get caught in not know enough information is the format of the interview. The candidate answers questions, waiting for the 10 second time frame at the end where the manager says “do you have any questions” leaving the candidate not knowing which of the 50 that are going through their mind should be asked first. The key is to re-format the interview without upsetting the flow. Create the flow by making the interview conversational and asking questions, or follow ups to certain subjects the interview wishes to discuss - as the interview is progressing. Doing this will allow you to get details answered without ending the interview with the 2 minute jam as much down the manager’s mouth as I can session.

Interview flow - keep the interview progressing as any conversation. Asking and answering questions without taking over the conversation. Ensure to stay on subject, allowing client to get the information they need as well. They are interviewing you for a role. Do that and you will find it easier to leave the meeting knowing more, the manager knowing you, and the two of you knowing whether or not to continue the process.

Original Article -

Friday, February 27, 2009

Are You Ready For Sales Management?

Great sales people often ask me about what it takes to make the next step in their career. For some it’s a role that shifts them from retail to wholesale sales. For others it’s a discussion about whether or not they are ready to pursue a role in sales management. In all these discussions, one thing is very clear. Many of the best salespeople would make awful sales managers. And likewise, some mediocre sales people will end up being stellar sales managers.

So what does it take?

While the list of what it takes to be a great sales manager is somewhat subjective, here is a list of must-have skills I’ve put together based on many of the successful managers I know.

1. Disciplined and performance oriented. A good sales manager needs to always have an eye on improving the performance of their team. You need to be able to enforce accountability, recognize what needs to be improved, and be a coach to those improvements implemented. Additionally, you must also be prepared to take action when performance problems arise, and are not properly resolved.

2. Always ready to “Tow the Company Line”. Being loyal to your company is a key component to being a successful sales manager. I can guarantee that on a regular basis you’ll be caught between your company’s directives, and your staff’s desires. A good manager must be able to resolve that conflict, get the team on board, and work with his team to develop the necessary strategies to put the team of track to meet company goals.

3. Business based decision making skills. This is more of a mindset than a skill set. Your decisions must be based on what’s right for your business – not on the emotion of the decision. You need to understand your business, your customer’s business, and what it takes to make both successful. Then act accordingly.

4. Customer focused. In a sales management role, it’s very easy to become employee focused. You can get caught up in basing your daily activities around implementing things with your staff, and helping them with concerns or opportunities. However, what you must never do, is lose focus of the customer.

5. Sensitive to needs. As a manager you need to understand what drives each of your employees, in addition to what it takes to gets things accomplished with your supervisor or senior management. If you can understand their points of view and what drives them. Good things will happen.

6. Put the ego away - forever. Being a great sales manager is about being a great leader, coach, and business developer. It is not about how great you are and your past victories. You will need to admit when you are wrong, and have the ability to change your point of view

7. Be a problem solver, not a problem identifier. Simply pointing out problems and telling others to fix them is not leadership. Helping others develop and implement solutions to their problems is what makes a great manager.

8. Healthy and Energetic. As a manager, you’re an example to everyone. Stay healthy and you’ll have more energy. Increased energy = increased performance potential. It is that simple!

9. Solid core values. Without a strong value system, it’s tough to make a good decision. Without sticking to your values and principles, your team will wander and not produce results.

10. Thoughtful and a good sense of humor. It’s a lot easier to follow the leadership of someone you enjoy being around!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What a NASCAR Race Taught Me About The Job Hunt

I just got back from my first NASCAR race, the Daytona 500. I’ve never been a huge fan of racing but I had an opportunity to join some friends down there and didn’t want to pass it up. I’ve got to admit, watching 40 cars coming out of a corner at 200 miles per hour is an impressive sight to see, and one I won’t soon forget.

The excitement of the event along with the unique culture of the fans around me made it a perfect experience to write about. As strange as it sounds, all you have to do is look around and take in the sights and you can’t help but notice several things that a NASCAR race and a job search have in common.

Here are the top 5 things a job search has in common with a NASCAR race:

1) Race cars are setup different for each track. Every week the pit crews of each racing team make adjustments to the cars that are different for each track they race on. Whether it’s tires, suspension, brakes, or a dozen other things, the car is fine tuned for the track conditions of each specific race. Resumes are no different. A race team would never build a car and leave it setup the same for the whole season, so why do the same thing with a resume? Make the necessary adjustments to your resume to best fit each job you are applying to and your odds of winning that job will greatly improve.

2) Every winner experiences a setback during the race. In each of the races I saw, the winner spent some time at the back of the pack. Whether it was due to a driving mistake, a mechanical problem, or just unfortunate luck, each of the cars that won race had to come from way behind to do so. A job search is no different. It’s so easy to get discouraged early on. However, with a good network (pit crew), the right setup on your resume (car), and a winning attitude, you can win the race

3) The spoken word is remembered longer than your accomplishments. It’s no secret that many of the NASCAR drivers have a bit of an ego. I guess when you make millions of dollars each year to take your life into your own hands; you do run the risk of developing a bit of an attitude. What I noticed right away was that it’s rarely what the racer DOES that gets noticed by the media, it’s what they SAY that gets repeated, and repeated, and repeated. In many cases, it’s when they make a negative comment about a former sponsor or employer. That doesn’t go over well with the public, and will never go over well for a job seeker in an interview. What you say in a job interview can never be taken back. Be smart and stay positive. Regardless of how you perceive your last employer, all the interviewer will remember is your negative attitude. If you talk bad about everyone you’ve worked for in an interview, the people conducting the interview will naturally assume that will talk bad about them once you’re hired.

4) Playing unfair rarely results in a win. In each of the races I saw last week, there were a few drivers that aggressively tried to take others out of the race to improve their position. Sometimes they succeeded – but they never finished the race in the top 10. Careers and job searches typically have the same results. It’s human nature. Help others and they will be inclined to help you in a time of need. If you take advantage of others, odds are you aren’t going to find a lot of help when you really need it

5) Don’t pass out on the 20th lap of a 200 lap race. I had to comment on this one. There was a nice young man behind me that was really having a good time at the race. Unfortunately his fun took a hold of him just 20 laps into the 200 lap Daytona 500. He didn’t wake up until the rain (that eventually called the race) started hitting him in the face – about 3 hours later! It could have been his one opportunity to see Daytona and he missed it. Searching for a new job or establishing a career is important. You need to stay focused and on top of things. Taking a casual attitude to your search could result in you missing the best opportunity of your life. Stay healthy and awake. You never know what you might be missing!