Leading effective meetings

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Government agencies don’t track “billable hours” as do consulting firms, therefore costs of staff time spent in government meetings are uncounted and usually ignored. This lack of cost accountability can help encourage unnecessary government meetings and unnecessarily long meetings. Any time you’re in an unproductive meeting, you may calculate some of its hidden costs by multiplying the approximate hourly salary of each meeting attendee by the meeting length, and adding together these salary costs. Shocking though the results of your calculations will probably be, they won’t even include the uncountable costs of delays on projects caused by the staff time…

Why professional praise matters

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Particularly if you use it strategically, the various forms of positive professional feedback you receive may help you accelerate your advancement and boost your salary. Here’s why: Outstanding evaluations may help you land promotions. Some federal job applications require submission of annual evaluations. So, the better your evaluation, the bigger boost it will give your application. But even if you’re applying for jobs that don’t require evaluations, brandish your outstanding evaluation anyway to strengthen your case. How? By uploading it to your application as an optional document and by including it in the success portfolio you bring to interviews. Also,…

Tips for post-interview thank-you notes

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The first thing you should do after ripping off your uncomfortable interview outfit when you get home after a job interview is to send a thank-you letter to your interviewer. You understandably may think that you — not your interviewer — deserve to be thanked. After all, you took the time and trouble to truck down to your interviewer’s office; you submitted to a cross examination from an interviewer or perhaps even a firing squad … I mean an interview panel. And you may have even graciously inventoried your weaknesses during your interview. But, unfair though it may be, your…

Help for users of USAJobs

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The next time you apply for federal jobs, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that application procedures have improved in some important ways. First, you probably won’t have to write those odious knowledge, skills and abilities essays unless you’re applying for Senior Executive Service jobs. In addition, USAJOBS.com — the main portal for federal jobs — has been enhanced. For example, you may now save in your USAJOBS account many types of ancillary application documents, including academic transcripts, veterans’ preference documents, annual evaluations and cover letters. This storage feature makes it easier to find these documents when needed, and…

How to target your job interview

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My July 11 column explained how to target your resumes so that they will generate job interviews. Here’s advice on how to similarly target your job interviews so that they will generate job offers. Research each interviewer: When you’re invited to an interview, request the names and titles of each interviewer who will attend the interview. Then, Google your interviewer, review his LinkedIn page, search for his profile on his agency’s website, and milk any knowledgeable associates you may have for insider information about him. In addition, you might be able to obtain his profile for a small fee from…

How to target your job application

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When you’re job hunting, you should target your application to each opening you aim for as assiduously as a dart player aims his darts at the bull’s-eye. Put another way: Hiring managers will probably reject a generic, untargeted application about as fast as you reject your junk mail — and for many of the same reasons. But they will probably give about as much attention to a targeted application — an extremely rare and valued commodity — as you would to a long-awaited letter that personally addresses you. Targeting tips: Your application should describe credentials that are required by your…

Melting icy coworkers

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Suppose you suspect that a manager or colleague is holding a grudge against you for no explicable reason. Perhaps this person seems to, for example, behave coldly or chronically irritated with you, avoid you and/or does not assign you desirable projects. How can you improve the relationship? First, re-evaluate: Consider whether your manager/colleague is really snubbing you, or is indiscriminately cranky, aloof or social inept with everyone, is shy, or is coping with personal problems. Also, consider whether you may have inadvertently harmed your relationship with him by, for example, being standoffish because you’re consciously or unconsciously intimated or you’re…

Interview show and tell

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Consider every job interview a “bring your own success portfolio” event. What is a success portfolio? A package of materials proving that you’re eminently qualified for your target job. Success portfolios are compelling because applicants who provide hard, irrefutable evidence of their success are generally more impressive than those who only provide unsubstantiated, potentially self-serving claims. So when you’re called for an interview, ask how many interviewers will interview you. Then, if possible, before your interview, prepare one success portfolio to give to each interviewer to keep. Package your portfolio in a neatly labeled, annotated portfolio. Your portfolio should include…

Earning a great review

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It’s that time of year again, when birds start singing, buds start sprouting, the days lengthen … and staffers in many federal agencies receive their annual evaluations. So it’s also time to review techniques for earning great annual reviews: Update: Throughout the year, update your boss on your projects every couple of weeks via emails or brief meetings. If you anticipate possibly missing deadlines or encountering other show-stopping problems, tell your boss about them when there is still enough time for trouble-shooting. Also, inform your boss about praise you receive from other managers, partners, stakeholders, instructors, clients, or other important…

Getting hired after 50

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Almost one-third of Americans say they’ll need to work into their 80s because they can’t afford to retire earlier, according to a recent Harris Institute survey. But in light of the difficulty even younger professionals face to find work, how will large numbers of older professionals — who are vulnerable to age discrimination, unspoken though it may be — be able to land new jobs, promotions or change sectors, if they must? Even if you’re well into your late 50s or 60s, don’t be defeatist: I have, over the years, seen many professionals from this age group land new and…

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