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Tips to help you ace a Skype meeting

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Many agencies are cutting their travel budgets to accommodate cuts in their annual budgets. Because of this trend, more meetings that would require travel will likely be replaced with Skype meetings. To impress your colleagues and managers on Skype: Be serious. Treat Skype meetings just as seriously as you treat in-person meetings, and primp just as professionally for them as you would for in-person meetings. Know your fellow Skypers. When your Skype meeting is planned, collect the name, title and contact info of each participant. Check your technology. A few days before your meeting, check that your Skype technology works…

How to address security clearance decisions and changes

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Here is some advice on responding to security clearance decisions and on maintaining security clearances that was provided to me by Derrick Dortch, president of the Diversa Group, a career consulting firm focused on federal jobs: • If you fail a polygraph test, your target agency will not necessarily inform you of this development — even though a failed polygraph would almost certainly doom your security investigation. If you are not informed of polygraph results within about two weeks of taking the test, ask the agency about your results and the status of your investigation. • If you are denied a…

Past transgressions don’t necessarily spell doom for clearances

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Career consultant Derrick Dortch has reassuring words for security clearance applicants who are worried about being approved: “No one is perfect,” he said in a recent interview. “All of us have made mistakes and have blemishes in our backgrounds. So don’t assume that any mistakes you may have made in the past would necessarily doom your application for a security clearance.” A variety of factors, including the particular clearance policies of your target agency, would likely influence the importance of your mistakes or liabilities, said Dortch, who is president of the Diversa Group, a career consulting firm focused on federal…

How to prepare for clearance investigations

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My Nov. 28 column reviewed the basics of security clearances. Here are tips on how to pass investigations required for obtaining security clearances; they were suggested to me during a recent interview with Derrick Dortch, president of the Diversa Group, a career consulting firm focused on federal jobs. * Prepare for the investigations. Obtain Standard Form 86, which you would be required to complete during your investigation. The form is available under “Find forms” on the Office of Personnel Management website, www.opm.gov. Also, do a Google search typing in the name of your target agency with the term “security clearance”…

Clearance process is exhaustive, but can lead to higher salary, more opportunity

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All applicants who accept offers for federal jobs must undergo a basic background investigation that — with some variation according to the opening — is designed to ensure that that they have no glaring deal-breakers in their backgrounds, such as legal problems. But more and more jobs with federal agencies and government contractors are requiring security clearances that involve more exhaustive investigations than basic background investigations. A security clearance is an authorization to a fed or contractor to access classified materials needed to do a particular job. You cannot apply for a security clearance yourself. To obtain a security clearance…

Having staffers advance is a win for all

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If you’re a manager, encourage your administrative staffers to earn career-boosting credentials and avoid stagnating in their current jobs. The more skilled, independent and nimble your staff is, the higher your office productivity will be — and the better you will look. In addition, you will likely improve morale and discourage staffers from seeking jobs elsewhere. To help your staffers ascend, research appropriate career tracks for them. Many responsible federal jobs only require relevant experience, not necessarily college degrees. Appropriate fields for aspiring administrative staffers without degrees include administrative officers, procurement, property management, equal opportunity, human resources, information technology and…

Leaders don't wait, they create

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If you’re aiming for a leadership position, trade any potentially inhibiting passivity and inertia for initiative, perseverance and drive. As an anonymous quote says: “Leaders don’t wait. They shape their own frontiers.” I spoke with Farrell Chiles, author of “As BIG As It Gets” and board chairman of Blacks in Government (BIG) from 2002 to 2006. He offers these strategies for shaping your own frontier: Absorb knowledge. Gain expertise in all business functions of your organization — including procurement, human resources, contracting, information technology, budgeting, project management — even if these topics don’t interest you. You then will be prepared…

Successful leaders know how to 'work the room'

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Kenneth Blanchard, author of “The One Minute Manager” and a management expert, said that the key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority. And the keys to influence are relationships, advises Farrell Chiles, author of “As BIG As It Gets” and board chairman of Blacks in Government (BIG) from 2002 to 2006. How can you — as an aspiring leader or current leader — build potentially pivotal relationships? Network aggressively, Chiles said in an interview. It is easier to win votes for a run for an elective office or gain support for your ideas from people who have previously…

Expand your career network with contacts

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As they say, information is power. So here are some information sources to help you increase your power to network, obtain advice, generate potentially pivotal contacts, get into the limelight and make strategic career moves. Leadership directories. Need intel on a particular fed? Gathering background information on hiring managers before interviews or on new bosses will probably help you to anticipate their emphases and to prepare effective pitches for them. Such background information may also reveal to you shared common ground that will help you establish positive rapport with them. One way to obtain such information is to download, for a fee, profiles…

More suggestions for bereavement help

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Sooner or later, just about every office is touched by a death in the family of a staff member. My Aug. 8 column provided tips on how to handle this type of sad situation. Here are more tips: • Express sympathy only if you are certain a colleague has already been informed of his loss. You could, for example, learn of your colleague’s loss before he does if you receive the news via a potentially fast information channel, such as Facebook, rather than a slower and more formal information channel that is carrying the news to him. Deaths that occur…

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