Pre-Hire Event:

  • Know thyself:  What you offer, what you need.
  • Learn mission, vision and values of organization.
  • Get a clear understanding of your department’s role in the organization.
  • Make a point to develop a relationship with your boss — learn as much as you can.
  • Understand the duties and responsibilities of your job — determine the critical parts of your job.
  • Get all the information you need to do your job.
  • Make sure you have the tools necessary to do your job well.

Post-Hire Event:

  • Attend orientation.
  • Get a copy of the employer’s performance appraisal form and process.
  • Get to know your co-workers.
  • Ask for training that you need.
  • Be productive as soon as you can.

Preventing Poor Performance Reviews/Enhance Your Career by Managing Your Performance*

What to do at the start of the process:

  • Identify/write the critical goals you will be working on.
  • Clarify priorities with your boss.
  • Discuss development opportunities with your boss.

What to do throughout the year:

  • Work on your goals.
  • Solicit performance updates from your boss.
  • Keep your boss aware of the status of your work.
  • Track your achievements — keep accomplishments and positive feedback file.

What to do to get ready for the formal performance appraisal meeting:

  • Review your performance/accomplishments over the year.
  • Complete a self-appraisal.
  • Think about suggestions for your position/goals/development plan for the next performance management cycle.
  • Prepare for the meeting mentally — gird yourself for unexpected criticism.

What to do at the formal performance discussion:

  • Listen and respond professionally to your supervisor’s perceptions and feedback.
  • Be ready to discuss your self-appraisal.
  • Discuss what you can contribute to next year — find out your boss’ goals.
  • Be an active, calm participant in the meeting.

* Source:  Performance Management:  Emerging Trends/Best Practices/New Directions – A Special Presentation by Dick Grote to the SHRM Annual Conference, June 27, 1999

Advances in technology have simplified the collection and distribution of information, making it easier to abolish the role of middle managers. People in the middle used to get information from the people below, massage it and move it up to the people above. Now, computers cut out layers of communication which has changed the whole dynamic. Read more of Tom‘s recent interview with the Washington Post here.

MORRIS ASSOCIATES INC. founder and president Tom Morris will present “Marketing Yourself After 50: Good News for Gray Hairs” on March 1 at the US Department of State.

His presentation will wrap up a four-day retirement planning workshop held at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center in Arlington, VA.

Tom Morris presents “Good News for Gray Hairs” at the National Speakers Association, Washington, DC Chapter, April 14, 2007.

The key to writing a good resume is to understand how people read them, and by and large, they don’t. People glance at resumes quickly for format and general appearance; this takes from less than a second to a very few seconds. Then they start a “quick scan” for keywords and keyword history info (where you worked, what your title was, how long you worked there, and what level of education you have).

If the resume passes that “quick scan” (studies have shown it takes about 10 seconds or less) then they consider putting it in the “yes” pile (if it’s in a pile of resumes they’re evaluating) or giving it what we call “the long read” where they actually read much and perhaps all of the copy in the document.

An exception is if you or your resume has been referred to them by a trusted third source (e.g. your “distant relative” and your “colleague in Shanghai”) in which case 1) it’s usually not in a pile of resumes they are sorting through, and 2) they already have a favorable initial opinion of you from the “recommendation” of the trusted person they know who has referred you.

When people recommend you and your resume to others, those others will likely read your resume no matter how you format and write it. But after that, if/when you start applying for positions that many others are applying for – and your resume becomes just one more in a long list or big pile of them – the “quick scan” tends to become operative.

That said, it’s essential to format your resume so as many keywords and concepts as practical appear right away up top. Once you have your keywords and concepts, be sure to read them carefully and make sure they offer the best of what you do and want to do. They should also represent similar keywords and concepts most likely to be the focus of ads you might respond to.

In addition to keywords, use numbers that stand out by quantifying scope and results. Remember: numbers with a dollar sign ($) or a percent sign (%) stand out and attract the reader’s eye. For example:

  • Managed 18 staff and $2.5 million budget.
  • Led 7-person team that implemented new marketing strategies.
  • Saved $25,000 by consolidating 10% of standard operating procedures.
  • Designed and installed IT system for 450 people in 12 locations.

As always, proofread your resume and ask others to proofread it for you, watching especially for typos and inconsistency.


Read and analyze six or so ads of interest for positions you would apply for to see what keywords or phrases they feature. If those words or phrases apply to you, consider adding them to your resume.

We hear it every year.  “No sense looking now; everybody knows that no one hires in December.” 

Contrary to widespread belief, December can actually be one of the best months to conduct a job search. There are at least five reasons for this.

Less Competition: Since so many people believe December is a bad month to look for a job, they don’t actively search during that month. Hence, there is less competition from other job seekers, and potential employers have more time to consider those who do apply for positions. 

More Access: “Everybody” does not go away for the December holidays. On the contrary, many managers are both catching up on unfinished business and are getting ready for the new year. Many human resources directors are working on staffing plans for the coming year, and are more attentive to personnel matters than they usually are. Thus the last month of the year can be the best month of all to get access to key people.

The Giving Season: As people get in the spirit of the year-end holidays, they tend to be more disposed toward helping others. There may not be a huge swing in this direction, but even a little increased openness by hiring managers works in favor of applicants.

January Hires: January is often one of the biggest months of the year for hiring. However, individuals who are hired in January usually are not the people who waited until then to start their job searches. Those hired in January are often people who were actively pursuing leads in December. (We’ve worked with job applicants who had critical interviews on Christmas Eve or during the last week of the year.)

The January Rush: A lot of people make New Year’s resolutions to change jobs. In January, therefore, the market becomes more saturated with job seekers. If you put off your search until after the December holidays, you’re likely to have to compete with a bigger (and possibly more determined) crowd in January. You also risk losing psychological job-search momentum around Thanksgiving, and you may not get into high gear until mid-or-late January. That means, obviously, that a job seeker can actually lose two months, not just one, by suspending activity in December.