Archive for Career Development

I May Want to Be and EEO Investigator: What Do I Do Next?

post it blogIf think being an investigator may be a good fit for you, more likely than not, you’re trying to decide what to do next.   Knowledge is power, so we have developed this list of information to consider in your exploration:

  1. Understand what goes into an EEO investigation. EEOC’s Management Directive 110, Chapter 6 is a great place to start: MD-110, Chapter 6
  2. Are you interested in a Federal position or subcontracting:
    1. If you’re interested in subcontracting, research firms who offer these services to identify the best fit for you and explore their requirements.
    2. If considering a Federal EEO investigator position, research which agencies hiring full time investigators. Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are three agencies with full-time investigators. You can research current vacancies at https://www.usajobs.gov
  3. You’ll need to be certified as an EEO investigator. There are a lot of options out there – both classroom and online. We have an online course that meets certification requirements. To find out more, go to http://www.artofresolution.com/wp/?p=92047
  4. Update your resume. Be creative! Think about your experience and how it fits into the knowledge, skills or abilities that are applicable to investigating (for example, writing skills, analytical ability, time management skills).
  5. There is no getting around experience. It is a challenge common to anyone who transitions career fields. It can be a difficult obstacle to overcome, as most jobs require experience, but you can’t get the experience without the job. As described above, research the level of experience required. If you take training, find out if the firm offers any subcontracting work. At times, we consider tentative subcontracting relationships for individuals with experience in related fields and who excel in our training. This involves continued coaching throughout the first few cases. We only engage relationships with those top performers in the class and when we have the available time needed to commit to a trainee.

We hope you find these pointers helpful. We know from our extensive experience in this field that individuals who thoughtfully research their options; choose a quality investigator certification training course; and continue to enhance their investigative skills can quickly achieve the rewards of being a certified EEO investigator.

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Thinking of Being An EEO Investigator?

questionBeing an EEO investigator can be a lucrative endeavor for the right person. Those of us who are already contract investigators or in the Federal government know it can be difficult, but with the right set of skills, it is quite rewarding. There are many individuals who begin a career investigating after they retire from the government or law enforcement. Others decide to do it in concert with other subcontracting activities, counseling and mediating, for example. If you have been considering whether investigating is the right fit for you, we recommend you do some research. In our next post, we’ll discuss the steps to take if you want to pursue becoming an EEO investigator.

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Improving Your Influence, Part 3: Become the MVP

trophyIn the past 2 posts in this series we’ve been talking about positioning yourself to improve your influence.   We’re going to continue the discussion by focusing on what elevates you to the next level in any organization. Think about whom you consider the most valuable players in your organization or other places you’ve worked.   Now think of any player that has been named MVP, received the Heisman Trophy, or the Jim Thorpe award. What do all of these individuals have in common?  They deliver reliable results, consistently and when the chips are down.

There are many who can talk a good game, but those who have the ability to influence an organization, do more than talk. They deliver. They are the people who get called upon when things get tough. You know you are an MVP when you are called in on a high visibility project with a tight deadline or to give a critical presentation to a client. A lot of times, the MVP employees get criticized for being a “teachers pet” or “golden child”, but in most cases, these employees are delivering – making the boss look good. Make no mistake, being an MVP isn’t easy. Generally, they end up with the lion’s share of the work, but they can leverage this to become an influencer in the organization.If you are an MVP who is looking to leverage your status to improve your influence or if you are looking to become an MVP, here are some ideas for you to consider:

For the MVP: To Become an MVP:
  • Make sure your boss knows you’re interested in to advancement.   If you don’t say anything, they may assume you’re content with the status quo.
  • Continue to stretch. Take an assignment outside your comfort zone.
  • Mentor someone.
  • Look for a mentor.
  • Look for meaningful training opportunities
  • Never turn down an assignment. No assignment is “beneath” you. Say no too many times, and they’ll stop asking you.
  • Volunteer for high visibility projects.   Don’t wait to see if others volunteer first. Be the first.
  • Look for a mentor. 
  • Stop looking at others and focus on delivering.
  • Become an expert in your area.

There is no magic formula to becoming an MVP, but your efforts to deliver results consistently and reliably will put you in a much better position to improve your influence in the organization.   What do you believe are key characteristics of an MVP?

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Improving Your Influence, Part 2: Creating Strategic Alliances

This is the second in our series How to Improve Your Influence. In our last post, we discussed assessing where you are. Today we’re going to discuss how to create strategic alliances as part of your strategy. In essence creating strategic alliances is the ability to build coalitions internally and with external organizations to achieve common goals.

handshakeThis ingredient is a component of political savvy. There is often a negative connotation with being “politically savvy”, but really, what about it is viewed so badly? After some quick research, we found a short survey to see how savvy we were. Curious? Here is the survey http://www.politicalsavvy.com/docs/quiz.html.

If the results surprised you, you’re not alone. Political savvy gets a bad rap, but it is an essential part of creating strategic alliances. Without alliances, you cannot improve your influence. So how do you go about building alliances? The first thing you need to know is that it takes time. You can’t decide tomorrow to start building strong alliances if you haven’t laid the groundwork. However, here’s some advice for wherever you are…

  1. Always Be At Your Best. You never know who is looking at you, so always try to be the person known for being a great team player. If you have a reputation for always complaining when someone asks you to do something, you are really starting at a deficit. Those with strong alliances are known for doing whatever it takes to get things done. Those who are always at their best attract others to become one of their allies.
  1. You Are as Good As Your Word. If you are known for keeping your word, then your ability to attract quality supporters will be easier for you. If not, you’ll have to work on standing by your word. Who wants someone in their corner they can’t count on?
  1. Quid Pro Quo. If you want someone in your corner, you need to be in their corner. You have to show your value to the person with whom you are cultivating an alliance. Don’t keep tabs on what you’ve done for others. Instead, do the right thing and people will notice. They’ll be there for you when you least expect it but need it most.
  1. Treat Everyone Respectfully. This one is related to number 1. We’ve all seen people who ignore or treat people poorly who are “lower” in the organizational food chain, and it is bad business. People who have strong strategic alliances treat everyone respectfully. Consider alliances at various levels. There are those who are your peers; there are those with superiors; and then there are people who may be lower than you in the organization, but can be valuable allies. Treat them right and they’ll be in your corner throughout their career.
  1. Work on Relationships. Alliances are all about people. The advice we’ve discusses throughout this post are all relationship-based. This will be easy for those of you who love to network and collect friends wherever your go. If you are not great at establishing new relationships, start by strengthening the relationships you already have. The more you practice your interpersonal skills the easier it will be for you to grow your network.

We hope these ideas have made you think about building strategic alliances in order to improve your influence. If it’s something you want to do well, it’s something you grow and cultivate. We’d love to hear your ideas on building strategic alliances. In the meantime, take a look at someone who is known for ruthlessly creating strategic alliances. While we don’t agree with his methods, it’s fun to watch him work… Frank Underwood

 

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Improving Your Influence in an Organization… Step 1: Determine Where You Are

This is a part of a series of how you can improve your influence in your organization. Today’s post focus is on assessing where you currently are.Untitled

Whether you work in the federal government or private sector, your image and reputation is everything. This is true whether you are an employee or a manager, although being a manager creates an even bigger burden because you have to worry about your personal reputation and image, as well as that of the unit or group you manage. In order to improve your influence, image or reputation, you must first take an honest of assessment of where you stand today.

An easy place to start is to see how you were rated in your last performance review. Did you manager tell you what you were excelling in and what you need to work on? Take that advice as a starting place to improve. Many times employees discount the review believing the manager doesn’t understand how hard they work, but frankly, you have to take it seriously unless you already have another job lined up. What if you weren’t given anything specific to work on? It never hurts to ask your manager for specific feedback, and it is almost guaranteed your manager will appreciate your initiative. Here are some ways to approach the conversation:

 

  • For those who haven’t been giving specific feedback on areas for improvement. I’m always looking for ways to improve. Based on your observations of my (or my unit’s) work, what’s an area I can work on?
  • For those who already know what they need to work on: You’ve told me I need to work on my writing skills. I did some research, and there is a writing course being offered next month that I’d like to attend. What do I need to do to be considered for the class?
  • For the superstar who get’s consistently high ratings. I think it is important that I work on skills that will help position me to take on more responsibility. What do you think is one area that will benefit our work unit and help me to develop my leadership skills?

 Develop a plan to work on the areas identified for improvement. If you think you have no need for improvement, you are likely to stay exactly where you are. In addition to asking your manager for feedback, you can ask friends, mentors, colleagues or work with a coach. The point here is the get an honest assessment of how you are viewed.  

Here are the keys to Step 1:

  • Find out how you are viewed by your manager and colleagues.
  • Select at least one area for improvement or growth.
  • Develop a plan to improve in that area.
  • Consider a career coach.

Just by engaging in Step 1, you will already begin to improve how you are viewed.   Next time, we will talk about Step 2: creating strategic alliances.

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