What are your priorities for 2023? 


How Do You Learn?

How Do You Learn?

An•dra•go•gy (noun) – the method and practice of teaching adult learners.

How Do You Learn?

An•dra•go•gy (noun) – the method and practice of teaching adult learners.

In Greek, andragogy means man-leading vs pedagogy which refers to child-leading. Malcolm Shepherd Knowles, a renowned American educator, referenced this word as synonymous with “the art & science of adult learning.” He offered five core principles to optimize adult learning:

  • The topic relevance and/or level of impact is critical
  • Hands-on experiences are foundational to learning
  • The timing is aligned to the learning
  • The experience is positive and encouraging
  • There is a freedom to learn in a manner that suits them best

Let’s unpack these a bit further. The first element is relevance. Why should we learn this skill? Will it support our current job? Will it help us get promoted in our current company? Will it give us a leg up when applying for a job in the future? These questions are relevant whether our goal is to upskill (improving an existing skill) or reskill (learning new skills for a different job). We tend to be more willing to challenge ourselves if we understand the benefit. At the end of the day, we can ask ourselves, is this learning a “need to know,” “want to know” or “like to know”?

Second is how an optimized learning experience is structured. Life as an adult is defined by our experiences. We bring this growing body of experience to each new activity. Yet our backgrounds, skillsets and exploits are distinct. The application to learning is no exception. A one-size-fits-all structure can be challenging for us as learners. Nothing can replace the value of a live learning experience when it is generated by an instructor who, like re-shaping a piece of clay, can adapt the learning experience on the fly to the needs of the learners.

The third element is timing. For some of us, this is can be an important factor. How often have we had a less than stellar learning experience because the timing was not aligned with what else is going on in our lives? How long will it take to complete the learning objectives? What level of commitment is required? As a mature adult, life is full of distractions. Some we create, many others are brought to us by others. Our time is valuable so it’s important to align our learning experience with the rest of our life. The result is more likely an impactful experience.

The fourth element relates to the style of learning. The old proverb “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” applies here. Most of us prefer a caring, supportive environment where we are encouraged to think rather than made to feel as if we should get it on the first try, especially when we don’t. Finding the style that works for us as individuals goes a long way to generating the results we seek.

The final element, and often most important, is the recognition that not everyone learns the same way. Many of us learn more effectively in a hands-on environment by doing the work along with the instructor rather than passively listening to a lecture. We want to be guided as we figure it out for ourselves regardless of whether the initial result is correct or not. Our preference is to absorb rather than memorize.

One of the biggest challenges around asynchronous learning (i.e.: independent, self-directed learning like LinkedIn Learning and others) is you watch a video and take a test…wash, rinse and repeat. However, there is no ability to ask questions in real time. Your sole recourse is to watch the video a 2nd or 3rd time and figure it out for yourself or look for an additional resource (perhaps a YouTube video). This works well for some. For many others, the ability to ask questions and have the instructor explain it multiple times is the difference between learning and not learning.

In summary, the breadth and depth of learning opportunities for adults is enormous. Choose the style and format that works best for how you learn.

About The Author

Steve Bradbury is the Founder of My Software Tutor. He is an experienced educator having been an Adjunct Professor for Syracuse University, UCLA Extension and Boston University. MST provides three levels of practical, functional real-time Excel (today) and PowerPoint (soon) training with a live instructor. Use promo code: ICT25OFF to save 25% off all registrations. ICT Community Members save more with a special promo code accessible with your membership.
My Software Tutor is offering an ICT-exclusive, deeply discounted “Excel Fundamentals for Newbies” class on March 8th. Check out the MST site for details.

The Age Conversation Matters – What’s Yours?

The Age Conversation Matters – What’s Yours?

Three things to consider as you embark on your job search

The Age Conversation Matters – What’s Yours?

“The most influential person who talks to you all day is you; so you should be very careful about what you say to you.” ~ Zig Ziglar

The Zig Ziglar quote above is one of my favorites. Age, and what we think it means, is one of those conversations we have with ourselves. And, that internal conversation can change the way the world sees us.

  • What conversations will you have about age today?
  • Will your age conversation center on your schedule, your emotions, or your current stage of life?

Here are a few of the conversations shared with me recently:

  • From a new college grad: “At my age and with a degree I won’t be working weekends in the future.”
  • From women 50+: “My age, experience and education should allow me the opportunity to not stand all day.” and “I have always looked old for my age, in fact my youngest grandchild asked me if I was a 100 yet. Isn’t that cute?”

Yes, there is an “age issue” in almost every job search — yours. My experience is that when age is an issue for the candidate, the potential employer picks up on the matter.

Here are 3 things to consider as you embark on your job search:

  1. Age is a perspective. If you think it matters, it does. At least it matters to you.
    What is your perspective? Is your age an asset or a liability? The primary reason others will focus on your age, as either asset or liability, is that you do.
  2. Age as a requirement for the job. Yes, there are jobs that have age requirements. However, only a small percentage of jobs have such a requirement. When a job does have an age requirement, it is usually very clear.
    When I hear someone say, “I did not get the job because of my age,” my first question is: what was the age requirement? My second question is: how do you know?
    The answers are very telling. Often a candidate will share they interjected age into the conversation during the interview.
    How do you bring up age? Why do you view your age as relevant to discuss?
  3. Age is a process of life. All things age. The aging process does not ensure experience, knowledge, or skills. Nor do your strengths or wisdom show up at a specific age.
    Age does not guarantee the achievement of results, personal fulfillment, a look or energy level. At any age you may seek opportunities to gain experience and learn to leverage all that is unique to you.

Telling others you have XX years of experience rarely helps someone leap for joy and assume you can do the job. It simply states you held a job for XX years — nothing less, nothing more.

If you want someone to value your skills, make sure they know your unique value. Craft your stories to share the information others need. Include: your results, what you have done, what you learned, what goals you want to achieve and how you can help them achieve their goals.

Stop hiding your value. Be found and be visible. Focus your conversations on what matters — to you and the potential employer.

You are the most influential person in the room when it comes validating your value. How do you convey your value?

What conversations are you having with yourself and others?

About The Author

Cindy Key is a transition strategist, personal branding strategist, and career coach. Her specialty is guiding talented individuals from all walks of life, to focus and to look within to align their skills, interests, and experience. Her clients then use the vision gained to communicate and leverage their unique value to create new meaningful employment or job opportunities, gain a promotion, start a business or achieve important individual goals. She delivers real results that transmute work, shift organizations, and change communities by beginning with an individual connection. Have FUN and do work that matters!!! Learn more about Cindy. Contact her at cdkeyconcepts@gmail.com.

How do I beat an assessment test?

How do I beat an assessment test?

Dear StopSign

How do I beat an assessment test?

“How do I beat an assessment test” is a great question, because according to surveys, 63% of employers require assessment tests during the hiring process.

These assessments are typically one of the following types:

  • Skills–Determine the candidate’s clerical skills (data entry, typing), technical, programming, and competencies with software.
  • Simulation–Use everyday workplace scenarios to identify the decision-making style of a candidate.
  • Case Study–Assess a candidate’s communication, presentation, and problem-solving skills; understanding of the industry, and their ability to analyze, interpret, and leverage available data.
  • Personality–Measure personality including decision making, cognitive learning, problem solving, and service orientation.
    If the assessment is to be a Skills test, I have no problem referring you to one of many test prep sites where you can take practice tests and learn what the test requires one to do.

These days, the assessment type most often seen is the personality type.

How do you prepare for a personality assessment?

Short answer: You can’t.

“But, Stop Sign,” you say, “For only $89, look what we get!”

  • Full practice test simulation
  • A detailed guide showing you how to: Choose qualities that match your role.
    • Classify all the traits on the test
    • Navigate the test with essential tips
    • Practice to understand the qualities you must emphasize (I added the emphasis.)

Wow, sounds enticing. I’m confident many readers are right now googling for a test prep site.

After all, $89 is a cheap price to pay to land a well-paying job where you can be miserable or at least find the position and environment tolerable for the few months before you leave or are shown the door.

In other words, if you are thinking of spending the money–Stop doing that!
Save your money.

Here’s why:

  • First, companies use assessment tests to help them figure out whether an applicant will fit the company culture; to answer the question “will we get along.”
  • If you don’t match the culture and fit in, you are more likely to become a problem employee.
    So, what’s a problem employee?
    Answer: Anyone they feel is one.
  • Are they considering generic stereotypes, such as accountants and engineers are quiet?
    Or is what they want based on specific circumstances; e.g., a previous person in the role was either too quiet or too outspoken?

In short, you can’t beat an assessment test, because:

  1. You don’t know for sure what they want.
  2. Even if you do lie or finagle your way into the company, you’ve lost, because sooner or later the fit mismatch will become apparent, and then you’re a problem employee.

Problem employees are usually unhappy and usually seek to leave the company.
Employers don’t want that.

So, instead of trying to beat an assessment, how about acting smart?

Smart applicants know themselves before commencing their job-search. They take an assessment test on their own; so, they understand their own personality type and behavioral preferences.

Smart applicants apply to companies that match their values, for jobs that match their skills.
No lying needed.

Then they research a target company, its history, and its people, especially the interviewers (once known). This includes:

  1. Asking questions, such as “What’s their/your management style?” and “What’s a typical day like?”
  2. Noting their communication style (open/guarded; direct/indirect).
  3. Inferring their values. That’s right—taking your best guess.

If one follows this methodology there’s no need to beat the assessment; no need to lie. Instead, you can feel confident. After all, if they tell you, “thanks but no thanks,” you can feel good that you probably dodged a bullet.

And if they do call you in, you’ll be very confident—you really are a fit.

About The Author

Ed Lawrence is a National Certified Résumé Writer (CPRW), National Certified Online Profile Expert (NCOPE), and is certified in DISC, MBTI, and Skillscan. He has volunteered with the ICT for seven years. Learn more about him at www.linkedin.com/in/educate.

The StopSign is a job-search column offering serious career advice with a touch of humor to help you stand out among the crowd that follows the same-old, same-old advice you find all over the internet. Feel free to send any questions you’d like answered in these posts. We’ll tell you what not to do and where to go—not!

5 Stress-Busting Tools to Take on Your Job Search

5 Stress-Busting Tools to Take on Your Job Search

Got job search stress?

5 Stress-Busting Tools to Take on Your Job Search

When we’re out of work, or searching for it, we often forget, or fail to take seriously, vital stress-relieving strategies that support our emotional well being. Consider and take action around these tools to strengthen your health…and therefore your ability to survive and succeed in our challenging and changing work realities.

Ask not what you can do for a potential employer, but what a potential employer can do for you. Feeling in control is vital to stress reduction, so inject this mindset into your job search and interviews to inoculate you against some of the stress of this process. Ask prospective employers about their mission, expectations, work environment and other traits important to you, a technique that also communicates confidence, self-respect and skill under pressure.

Your Successes
List your many strengths from building efficient project teams to baking ‘top chef’ chocolate cupcakes. Because various forms of rejection are common job search ingredients that can eat away at our self-concept, regularly review your impressive skills to reinforce your self-esteem and confidence.

Convene and consult people who praise, encourage, and if necessary, thoughtfully criticize you. Think of them as essential members of your job search team who motivate you to keep going and catch you if you fall behind.

Noise Reduction
Go on a media diet by cutting back on the constant feed of news about stubborn unemployment numbers, rising debt, etc. Beyond appropriately figuring current events into your job search strategy, this information does little more than ramp up our stress and wear down our spirits.

Balance the stress of your job search by working out, volunteering, basket weaving or taking part in other enjoyable activities that temporarily take you away from the job of job hunting. And try to kiss goodbye any guilt from doing so because these breaks strengthen your psyche, body and therefore your ability to find work.

    About The Author

    Jordan Friedman, aka The Stress Coach, helps thousands of stressed and anxious people worldwide work, sleep and feel better. He is a pioneer of stress management and wellness promotion, first as director of Columbia University’s Health Education Program and now as President of The Stress Coach, a chill factory that produces stress reduction training programs and resources.

    How do I beat an assessment test?

    The Stop Sign: Am I a Stalker?

    Dear StopSign

    The Stop Sign: Am I a Stalker?

    How often can I follow-up with a lead without being a stalker?

    Dear StopSign,

    How often can I follow-up with a lead without being a stalker?

    What an interesting question! The topic is often neglected and needs more attention. And it leads to even more questions. For example, what type lead? Is this a networking lead or a job lead? Also, what’s the communication channel? What’s the history between the parties?

    Consulting our library of vast resources (googling the internet) resulted in the usual mishmash of answers:

    “Follow up between five and 10 business days.”
    “Follow up after at least five to seven business days.”
    “Next day.”
    “Same day.”

    Apparently, we should not follow up in two to four days.

    StopSign doesn’t like absolutes. We say—stop paying attention to dictates that specify a precise number. Everyone and every case is different.

    Instead of using some number pulled out of a hat (or pulled down from the internet), we need guidelines, such as this one my parents taught us: Don’t bother anyone. BTW, StopSign considers bothering to be the step just before stalking.

    There are two common symptoms that you are bothering people:

    1. They tell you.
    2. They ignore you.

    In both cases, the communication is mostly one-sided: from you to them.
    In the first case, you communicate until they tell you, “Stop!”
    In the latter, you just keep digging that hole, because you haven’t heard back.

    If your outreach is welcomed, the other person will reply. If your follow-up is wanted, they usually reply within a few days.

    StopSign tries not to tell people what to do, but in this case we will make an exception.
    We suggest following the platinum rule: Treat people the way they want to be treated.

    How do you find out how they want to be treated? First, ask them. When should I follow up? When should I expect to hear from you?

    But what if it’s your first reach-out? It’s awkward to do a sort of cold-call and ask when they will get back to you.

    In that case, state your intended follow-up method and timing. E.g. I will call you next [day of week].
    There’s a decent chance the person will reply.

    If they don’t reply, then it’s time to fall back on the golden rule: Treat people the way you would want to be treated. You don’t want to be bothered. You don’t want people sending you continual unwanted emails, messages, or texts. (That’s called junk mail.) So, don’t do that to other people.

    Instead, follow up a couple of times at spaced intervals.

    For example, as part of our outplacement work, we reach out to recently laid off workers to tell them how their recent company has arranged outplacement services for them.

    If I get their voice mail, I leave a message introducing myself and stating I will call back in two business days. If I don’t reach them on the second phone attempt, I follow up with an email three business days later. I make the final attempt to reach them nine or ten business days later.

    People have responded to the email. People have responded to the final reach-out. Sometimes they missed the first reach-out attempt or were just too busy to respond.

    The key is to establish a follow-up procedure that respects the other person’s time and does not seem impatient. For example, never send an email and follow up with a phone call later the same day.

    A lot of “it” is feel. I recall how when my wife and I were looking for a house, we met a realtor who came on too strong for us. We didn’t like her communication style and we ignored her later reach-out attempts. One day, we stopped by an open house—weeks after we had stopped communication with her—only to encounter her again. She was very friendly, remembered our names, and didn’t bother us. My wife and I liked her style at the open house—the interaction felt good. Maybe, we were in a different place at that point. Maybe, she realized she had come on too strong. But, she treated us the way we wanted to be treated. We hired her and used her as our buyer broker. She found us our house.

    To sum up:

    1. Don’t bother people.
    2. Do establish a routine that follows the platinum rule or the golden rule.

    About The Author

    Ed Lawrence is a National Certified Résumé Writer (CPRW), National Certified Online Profile Expert (NCOPE), and is certified in DISC, MBTI, and Skillscan. He has volunteered with the ICT for seven years. Learn more about him at www.linkedin.com/in/educate.

    The StopSign is a job-search column offering serious career advice with a touch of humor to help you stand out among the crowd that follows the same-old, same-old advice you find all over the internet. Feel free to send any questions you’d like answered in these posts. We’ll tell you what not to do and where to go—not!

    Resumés Don’t Work. This Does.

    Resumés Don’t Work. This Does.

    Ask A Recruiter

    Resumés Don’t Work. This Does.

    Hi. I’m Peter Gray, executive recruiter. Let’s talk about resumés.

    People ask me for help writing their resumé all the time. And yes, I can help you with your resumé.

    But here’s the thing. No matter how amazing your resume is, it’s not going to get you the job you want.

    Here’s why.

    When employers hire based on resumés, they don’t really care how well written, or impressive, or interesting, or beautifully formatted a resumé is.

    All they’re really looking for in a resumé is…experience doing the exact same job they’re hiring for.
    So if all an employer knows about you is your resumé…the only job your resumé is ever going to get you is a job just like your last job.

    Which is probably not the job you want, right?

    To get the job you want, you’ve got to go beyond the resumé. Put it aside. Do some other things. Let’s talk about that.

    Let’s do a little thought experiment.

    I want you to imagine your dream job. No matter how much of a reach you think it is.
    Now imagine your phone rings. And it’s the person who could hire you for that job.
    They say, “I’ve heard a lot about you. Could we meet?” So you meet with them.

    It’s not about a job. They want your advice on some tough issues they’re dealing with. Because they’ve heard you’re an expert.

    And you’ve got great advice for them. So it’s a great meeting.

    As the meeting is ending, they say, “Thank you so much for your help. You’ve been so incredibly helpful to me.”

    And just as you’re leaving, they stop you and say, “Hey! I hope you don’t mind my asking … do you have a resumé?”

    Okay. End of thought experiment.

    Now, that was make believe. But it could really happen.

    My question for you is, what do you have to do to make that happen?

    And I’ll give you a big hint: it does NOT involve working on your resumé.

    Originally published on April 24, 2021.
    Prefer to watch, here’s the video link.

      About The Author

      Peter Gray is a recovering Wall Street recruiter, now recruiting social impact leaders & fighting bias in hiring. Midwest transplant. Introvert. he/him

      Peter began his career in executive search at Korn Ferry after working as a management consultant at CSC Index, the firm that pioneered business process reengineering. Peter earned an AB in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard University, and an MBA from Columbia Business School. After over 20 years as an executive recruiter, this year Peter started his own recruiting firm! Peter Gray Executive Search.