Friday, September 18, 2009

Resume Writing Tips That Pay (Part 4)

Whether it was a misspelled word, the wrong prefix on a word, or fragmented sentence, many hiring managers have a zero tolerance when it comes to resume mistakes. Following are more resume writing tips inspired from things seen on people’s resumes during my career in human resources.

Tip: One goal of a well-written resume is for it to be easy reading. When formatting your resume, one way to make it readable is by:

Write primary points without use of conjunctions. Not appropriate to use in all formats, but in some industries it is fine. Example: “Maintained effective, regular communications with all parties involved.”
The KIS approach (Keep It Simple) certainly applies when it comes to most resumes. Keeping resumes visually simple; spacing the points so they can be easily read; using a commonly accepted business-oriented font; and making selective use of “bold” or italics to highlight only very important points.

Tip: Be careful in using words that sound alike but have different meanings. Examples include:

  • “Elicit,” meaning to draw or bring out, versus “illicit;” which means illegal;
  • “Cite,” meaning to quote, versus “sight,” which means vision; or “site,” meaning a position or place;
  • “Taught,” meaning past tense of teach, versus taut, which means tight;
  • “Capital,” meaning a seat of government, versus “capitol,” which means a building in which a legislative body meets.

Colloquial or conversational word usage refers to types of speech or to usages that are not on a formal level. Words that are used in easy conversation, without strict attention to set forms, describe ordinary, everyday language. It is common to see advertising signage with words purposely spelled differently to attract attention. No matter how trendy or common the usage, please resist the temptation to use words in their misspelled forms. Examples include:

  • “Kleen” instead of “clean;”
  • “Boyz” instead of “boys;”
  • “Rite” instead of “right;”
  • “Nite” instead of “night;”
  • “Quik,” or “kwik,” instead of “quick.”

Even when spelled correctly, it is inappropriate to use slang in any form. “Whatever” and “you know” are easy examples.

Tip: Do not use abbreviations. It is better form to spell out words instead of their commonly accepted short versions. For example, write “Saint Louis” instead of “St. Louis.” An exception to this occurs within legal circles, when referencing court cases, it is acceptable to write “v.” instead of “versus.”

In this competitive job market, many people are making use of professional resume writers. Professionally written resumes guarantee freedom from technical issues, and are rich in words that set you apart from others applying for the same position.
Do not let such easily correctable items stand between you and your next career assignment. If word tense, grammar or the turn of a phrase is not your forte’, consider hiring a professional resume writer. Such people write resumes daily and the good ones guarantee their work. Landing the job makes such a move well worth it.

Resume Writing Tips That Pay (Part 1)

Many people are their own worst enemy when it comes to writing a good resume. It does not matter if they have a wonderful background, impeccable credentials or fabulous experience if their resume contains misused words, the wrong word tense or is not easily readable. Following is a series of resume writing tips from things I have seen on some people’s resumes that drive me “crazy:”

TIP: Do not be too focused on tasks and duties performed at work. Give yourself credit for accomplishment by including some achievements. Include such things as:
· Examples of how you performed the job better than others
· Some of the problems or challenges you faced and ways that you overcame them
· Results, results, and results
· Ways that the organization benefited from your performance
· Reference to awards, special recognition or promotions you received

TIP: An objective statement that is too wordy or non-specific. Many candidates lose their readers at the opening line. Statements like "A challenging position that enables me to contribute to organizational goals while offering an opportunity for growth and advancement" are cliché’, too generalized, and waste space. If you are on a career track, replace the objective with a statement stating what you do or something of your expertise.

Tip: A resume should be concise and written in a telegraphic style without using "I" or "me." Example: "Developed new products that added $5 million in sales and increased the company's gross margin by 15 percent." This style gets to the point quickly and communicates clearly.

Tip: Is it “percent” or “percentage?” Use the word "percent" with numbers, and use "percentage" without using a number. Examples: “Over 20 percent of our gross profit came from previous sales.” “A large percentage of Native Americans live in Alaska.”

Tip: Be careful in choosing the right word. Example: Some people write the word "balance" when they mean "remainder." "Balance" means "a degree of equality," e.g., “wanting to balance the checkbook.” "Remainder," or "what is leftover," is used in all other situations, e.g., “put the remainder of my food in the dog's bowl.”

Tip: The expression "a couple of" is usually plural in meaning. Example: “A couple of customers have reported a shortage in their orders.” However, when using the phrases "a couple of days" and "a couple of dollars," the verb used should be singular. When the phrase "a couple of" is used in conjunction with a period of time, amount of money, or quantity that represents a total amount, treat the expression as singular. Example: "All I need is a couple of days to complete this report."

Do not let such easily correctable items stand between you and your next career assignment. If word tense, grammar or the turn of a phrase is not your forte’, consider hiring a professional resume writer. Such people write resumes for a living and the good ones guarantee their work. Landing the job makes such a move well worth it.

Resume Writing Tips That Pay (Part 3)

Whether it was a misspelled word, the wrong prefix on a word, or fragmented sentence, many hiring managers have a zero tolerance when it comes to resume mistakes. Following are more resume writing tips inspired from things seen on people’s resumes during my career in human resources.

Tip: When two numbers are used back-to-back to identify a person, place or thing, write one as a number and the other as a word. Example: “There are 4 two-lane highways in this county.”

Tip: When writing a resume or cover letter, do not refer to mysterious sources such as: "Leading experts agree….," "A search of current literature indicates…," "Several professors questioned from major universities said they believe….." If footnotes are in order, as with some technical or scientific references, it is acceptable to include them separately.

Tip: Write your resume in response to these common problems:

  • Lack of simplicity;
  • Use of passive voice;
  • Use of faulty grammar and punctuation;
  • Failure to accurately proofread text.
Tip: When preparing to send a digital resume and cover letter via email or to a website:

  • Ensure use of a consistent objective statement;
  • Tailor your text to employer’s stated objectives;
  • Be creative; your resume should be interesting to read;
  • Write in an “active” voice with a friendly style;
  • Use a bulleted format to highlight important points;
  • Again, proofreading cannot be stressed enough.
Tip: When writing your resume and cover letter, think in terms of “sound bites.” Rule of thumb: 80% of your content can be read and retained within 30 seconds.

Tip: Be sure your resume and cover letter:

  • Present the “right” message;
  • Are coherent; and easy to read;
  • Have variety;
  • Are upbeat and positive;
  • Are concise;
  • Use well-placed emphasis on important points.
Tip: Use only “clean” language. Even if you personally know the person to whom you are sending the resume, always, always, always presume that e-mail messages containing your attached cover letter and resume will be forwarded. Do not use any off-color, sexist, profane, or otherwise objectionable language or reference. I cannot think of a good reason why such language should appear in any business communication.

Tip: When formatting your resume, make it readable by:

  • Writing the main points with bullets;
  • Keeping your text visually simple;
  • Spacing the points so they can be easily read;
  • Using a commonly accepted business-oriented font (e.g., New Times Roman, Ariel, etc);
Making selective use of “bold” or italics to highlight only very important points. Many people are tempted to squeeze words into every available space. Thoughtful use of white space on a page is an excellent way to draw attention to important points.
In this competitive job market, many people are making use of professional resume writers. Professionally written resumes guarantee freedom from technical issues, and are rich in words that set you apart from others applying for the same position.

Resume Writing Tips That Pay (Part 2)

I have seen many hundreds of resumes during my career in human resources. Very nice, competent, and well intending people sometimes sent resumes in which they made one or more “little” mistakes. Whether it was a misspelled word, the wrong prefix on a word, or fragmented sentence, how many resume mistakes does it take to prevent getting a job? Many hiring managers have a zero tolerance when it comes to such mistakes on a resume. Following are more resume writing tips inspired from things seen on people’s resumes.

Tip: Resume cover letters must communicate. Review your letter to be sure it does the following:

  • Makes the case that you are the solution to the employer’s problems.
    Gets to the primary subject quickly.
  • Solidly connects employer’s job requirements with your background and experience.
  • Is written such that all sentences and paragraphs are short and easy to read.
    Makes a solid connection with the needs of the prospective employer.
  • Has repeated use of the word “you” (i.e., remember that the theme of your resume is what you can do for them, not the other way around).
  • Minimizes number of fonts used. One is preferable to me, with sparing use of italics and “bold.”
  • Uses a clear and easy to read font that is no smaller than a size “10” or “11.”
  • Makes a simple but clear case that you would like to work for them.
  • Expresses a reason why they should contact you.
  • Factors in a reason to act sooner rather than later.
  • Starts the letter by stating your conclusion upfront.
  • Supports your position by presenting a quantifiable objective(s) and briefly mentions why is/are relevant.
  • Restate major conclusion in a sentence or two at end of letter.
  • Makes it easy to reach you: provides multiple ways that you can be contacted (i.e., home telephone, email, street address, and/or cell number at minimum).
Tip: If in doubt, keep it simple. Use an English word equivalent rather than French or Latin terms, and single-syllable words rather than multi-syllable terms. Examples include: “per day” instead of “per diem,” “per year” instead of “per annum,” “essential” instead of “sine qua non,” “genuine” instead of “bona fide.” An exception is if such terms are common in your industry.

Tip: Use specific, measurable terms versus those that are unclear. Examples: “we received numerous inquiries,” versus “we received 170 inquiries.”

Tip: Eliminate use of repetitive and unnecessary words. Example #1: “assisted in the preparation of…,” versus: “assisted in preparing.” Example #2: “responsible for the directing of…,” versus “directed.”

Tip: Use first-person and second-person words (e.g., "I", "we," "my," "our," "you," "your," "yours," etc.), as appropriate, to personalize your resume and cover letter.

Tip: Sometimes it is possible to be too familiar with a document to see it objectively. Consider having someone else review your resume for you, such as a close friend or family member.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Preparing for a Job Interview (Part 1) - What Will I Be Asked?

You are preparing for a job interview. You invested in an excellent resume, and have purchased appropriate clothing to wear, but what about the interview itself? What will be asked? How should you respond? Following are seven key topical areas about which many organizations assess candidates.

Ability to learn. An organization may want to know who can adapt to changing conditions and will make the effort to continuously improve, learn new skills and upgrade their knowledge. They will try to assess this by use of work simulations, various kinds of tests, and interview questions targeting your approach to learning, and examples of how you exhibited it in the past.

Organizational fit. The most important compatibility issue is centered on the individual’s fit with a corporate culture. Watch for questions designed to determine fit, such as: “What are some of the more recent responsibilities you've taken on?” “Tell about a time when you were dissatisfied with the amount of time you needed to spend at work. Why?” “Tell about a time when you really liked the required pace for your job. Why?”

Numerical accomplishments. Objectives involving measures of quantity, quality or a combination of the two should be memorized and ready to produce. The more objective the measure was the more it will not be open to interpretation.

Level of Motivation. If someone is interested in their work, they usually come to work on time, appear motivated, and are energetic. A trained interviewer will be listening for use of such words as “motivated,” “prompted,” “took action,” or examples of when you took more responsibility. Candidates who did pre-work to learn about the company provide another indication of being motivated.

Knowledge. Do you have the skill and knowledge to perform well? Many organizations are using objective skill tests to determine knowledge level. These tests can take many forms, and the important thing is to expect them and not be surprised by their use. Also, watch for questions in the interview asking for examples of “complex assignments” or “projects you have handled.”

Problem-Solving. Almost every job requires some ability to analyze and solve problems. The most successful employees solve problems with minimal input from their supervisor. Watch for questions, such as: “What problems have you been required to solve?” “Have you ever recognized a problem before others in your organization did? What did you do?

Team player. The ability to function effectively within a work group is a key factor for many organizations in achieving success. Getting along with others is critical to them, and if you are perceived to not be a fit with the team, it could be a “showstopper.” Be alert to questions indicating whether you like working with others and answer appropriately.

The more you prepare for the interview, the better you will do. The better you do, the greater your chances of being hired.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Be Ready - Some Jobs Must Be Won At The Handshake

You have probably heard that many hiring managers claim they can tell in an interview if the candidate is right for his/her organization at “the handshake.” Alas, I suspect it is true. I worked for a busy corporate vice president once who was very proud of the fact he could tell immediately if someone was “the one” we were looking for. If true, it is a shame, because I sense there is much more to a person than can be observed in the first five seconds with them. That said, we must accept for the moment that some number of managers make hiring decisions all too quickly, and now is the time to plot a strategy for beating them at their game.

As the job candidate, you must seek to control everything within your power and not worry about the rest. Following are some suggested behaviors everyone can control:

Nerves. I hate it when people tell me to relax when there is good reason not to. But to the extent possible, do not present a sweaty, shaky palm in your all-important first greeting. Get to the interview a little early to provide insurance against any problems getting there. Practice the trick of many public speakers by taking a series of long, deep breaths before starting the interview. This will give you opportunity to appear relaxed and confident.

Dress is still important. It is hard to believe that many hiring managers now in their 50’s and 60’s were once “flower children” in the hippie generation and sported long hair and rags for clothes. Why then do some of these same people care what you wear to an interview? It is because hiring managers are looking for someone who can represent the employer well. If they were inviting you to “hang-out” it would be one thing, but business is different. Whether working as a trash hauler or computer programmer, a good rule of thumb is to dress for the interview better than expected. A suit for most “white collar” jobs, and business casual dress is the order of the day for all other (even truly casual), positions.

Details count. For those managers who insist on a good handshake, give them one. Look the interviewer squarely in the eye, grasp their hand firmly, smile, and shake. It should not hurt (either of you), and is a universal way of greeting. Remember all the times your mother said to “straighten up?” Now is the time. Maintaining eye contact and practicing good posture says you are confident and self-assured. Body language telegraphs a lot about someone’s personality and job interest. Looking down frequently, crossing arms/legs, tapping the table, jumping your leg, etc., can send all the wrong messages.

Being in control of those little things only you can control will cause a better feeling about how you did in the interview, and help an employer to decide you are “the one” they are looking for.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Your Resume Leadership Advantage

Picture this: you are tasked with interviewing new college graduates for work in a “fast-track” manager training program. The job requires participants to work in each functional area of the company then be assigned to a position in operations. Most candidates are the “cream of the crop” with impressive academic credentials from top business schools. Each of them spent time abroad studying or traveling. They have excellent grades, a fine resume, speak intelligently, and present themselves with aplomb. But one of the candidates is different from the others. He had “B” –level grades in college, went to a well-known but smaller university, and was employed full-time as a parking lot supervisor for a downtown professional sports stadium while attending school. He worked many nights and weekends, and had responsibility for hiring/managing as many as sixty people. On the strength of the information in this true story, should he be considered for the job?

These days, most graduates from top business schools come with a great education, are well-versed in management theory and are current on business best practices. But one thing they sometimes do not to have is experience leading/managing people. Being able to exercise judgment and accomplish results through others is key. John Maxwell, noted management consultant and expert on leadership said “
Most people who want to get ahead do it backward. They think, 'I'll get a bigger job, then I'll learn how to be a leader.' But showing leadership skill is how you get the bigger job in the first place. Leadership isn't a position, it's a process.

Organizations formerly offered entry-level positions with career tracks to higher management. However, many “flattened” organizations of today have removed these foundational entry level positions. New graduates are hired directly into management or supervisory positions and must learn leadership skills the hard way. Such learning may come at the expense of their direct reports and/or organization in which they work.

Job candidates with leadership skills would do well to repeatedly bring such experience to light on their resume. If they do lack some knowledge of theory but are steeped in real world management experience coupled with the ability to learn, they offer a valuable commodity. A good result achieved through the excellent organizing, managing and leading of people provides the candidate something to talk about and be proud of. When properly done, highlighting of these skills can provide a competitive tipping point over other candidates. Whether from job history, military service or volunteerism, leadership skill and ability are worth tasteful emphasis on resumes and in job interviews.

What happened with the job candidate mentioned at the top of this article? After much discussion, the organization decided to take a chance and hire him into the management program. He thrived. Later, he became a valued leader in the supply chain and said that his people “made me look good.” In reality, he already knew how to manage and motivate people, while the rest he learned.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Picture This - Candidates Dressing Correctly at Job Interviews

Picture this: you are tasked with interviewing candidates for work in a food manufacturing facility. The job requires maintaining high sanitation standards, meaning that hairnets and beard restraints, coupled with long sleeve shirts and long pants must be worn in a wet, hot, work environment. The first job candidate for you to interview walks through the door wearing a gold chain, cut-off shorts and sandals. He is not wearing a shirt, and is sporting a mane of un-combed shoulder length hair. On the strength of the information alone in this true story, should he get the job?

When preparing for a job interview, whether with one person or an entire team of people, it is important to remember you are representing a salable product: YOU. The way in which you walk, speak and appear makes an impression. Much has been said about the importance of personal appearance by job candidates when going to job interviews, yet examples abound every day of people getting it wrong. I used to know managers who said they decided on a job candidate at the handshake. Studies show this is quite common. In that brief moment, it is not what you say that may matter most to them, but what your appearance says about you. Here are a few things to remember when heading out the door to that hard-won interview.

Candidates interviewing with organizations having casual work environments are especially prone to error in knowing how to dress. Because all not casual clothing is suitable for every work environment, you must determine what is appropriate to wear to the interview. Clothing that works well for the beach, yard work, dance club, exercise session, and sporting event may not be appropriate for a professional appearance at work.

Clothing that reveals too much cleavage, back, chest, feet, stomach or underwear is not appropriate for most places of business, even in business casual settings. Additionally, clothing should be pressed and never wrinkled, and is generally unacceptable if torn, dirty, or frayed. Clothing having words or pictures that may be offensive is unacceptable, but clothing with fashion brand names conservatively displayed (e.g., Dockers, Izod, etc.), is usually okay.

Proper dress for an interview in a business casual environment does not necessarily mean wearing a suit and tie. Even if the interviewer is sitting there in a t-shirt and jeans with big holes in the knees, it is best practice for you to present a clean, neat appearance, and be dressed to a higher standard than the workplace/job requires. Candidates are never down-rated for dressing too well, but frequently are for not looking the part.

Please remember to take a good look at yourself through the eyes of an interviewer before going to that interview, take steps to dress appropriately, and work hard at closing the "sale." Oh, what happened with the candidate mentioned at the beginning of this article? He was not considered a good job fit and did not get the job.

The Human Resource Role In Results-Driven Knowledge Management

A workshop entitled “The HR Role In Results-Driven Knowledge Management” will be presented on June 9, 2009, sponsored by the AAIM management association of St. Louis.

We live in a knowledge-sharing world, and this fast paced four hour program will introduce participants to why knowledge awareness is vital to organizations of every size, and effectively managing it will lead to cost avoidance, savings, improved efficiency and continuous improvement. There is a strong social element to managing knowledge and the human resource function can play a very active part.

To make arrangements to attend this workshop, contact AAIM via the Internet at, or by telephone at 314-968-3600. Not going to be in St. Louis but like to know more? The workshop can be brought to you and your organization by contacting

The workshop facilitator is Gordon Walter, SPHR, who has a background in both human resources and knowledge management. Gordon is currently Managing Member of GENESYS Management Company, LLC, and

Friday, April 10, 2009

In the World of Resumes - Less Is More

On the surface it seems that a resume should be loaded with information, especially if you are at the executive level. A common trap people fall into is thinking that all history, achievement and experience must be included on the resume to properly showcase their accomplishments. While much of this information is important, when you get to the executive level it is understood that all such candidates have an impressive employment history. Therefore, it is not necessary or advisable to mention everything you ever did.

Brief, Direct and to the Point
Most resumes, including those at the executive level, should be short and to the point. A resume is like an advertisement, and ought to cause the reader to want to know more about the “product.” Resumes must contain the most pertinent information and key words related to positions previously held and currently desired. However, the one page rule still exists. If you can possibly get your resume to one page, then do so. A two page resume is acceptable if absolutely necessary, but refraining from multiple pages continues to be best practice. Your potential employer is reviewing many resumes and if yours looks like too much work to read, there is a chance it will be set aside. No one wants a laborious resume to read. Smart executives will make their resume short but replete with the right information.

Be Job Specific
It almost goes without saying that important elements of a resume include not only the length, but content. Consider the job for which you are applying. What skills, tools and behaviors do you possess that specifically relate to that job? If the skill or experience does not directly apply to the position, it does not need to be included. This means that your resume must be different for each job to which you apply.

Sell, Sell, Sell
It is still important to remember that this is the ultimate sales opportunity. Look at yourself like a product. Select your best attributes and salt those into to your resume. This will ensure that only the very best of your skills, tools, knowledge and experience make it onto the resume. It is good to include skills and experience that is common to most executive level positions. Make yourself distinctive from others. Why should the employer remember you? Why should they call you and not the next person? You may want to talk to a former boss or some of your friends for feedback in this area. It can be helpful as well as enlightening.

In Summary
Brevity is appreciated by the reader and keeps a resume focused. It can make the difference between a resume being read favorably or not at all. After creating your resume, read through it and look for places to slice and shorten phrases by using more precise terms. Look for information that seems superfluous. The effort to shorten a resume, and the subtle use of key words for the position desired, will be rewarded, and help you get an interview and the job.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Professional Resumes – Best Left to Professionals

Anyone can write a resume, but not everyone can make a good and professional resume. Many agree that creating the right resume is a difficult task with a lot at stake. The resume is a person’s first impression to a potential employer who may be looking through hundreds of resumes to fill a position. Your resume needs to get noticed, impress, and cause them to remember it. Your resume is a first impression, and you do not want it to be the last.

Selling Yourself
A job seeker must think of themselves as a product and, like a product, needs to be presented in the best possible light in order to be “purchased” by a potential employer. It is hard for some people to talk about themselves, let alone sell themselves to others. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to get over this inhibition when writing a resume. You need to see yourself as the best person for the job and not be afraid to say so.

Best Foot Forward
Seeing that your resume can either open or close the door to the career you want, you should consider hiring someone who makes resumes their profession. Think of it this way. When you want a portrait, you go to a photographer. When a company wants a product brochure, they do not print them on their Lexmark, they hire a professional printer and designer. They do this because they want it to look good and make the best impression. Professional resume writers know how to sell you and how to write the resume to get noticed. This is an art that not everyone understands. Having someone who knows which information to present and the format to present it in takes some of the stress off of you and helps get an interview and the job. Think of a lawyer. If you were being sued, would you represent yourself in court? Probably not, because you do not know the proper etiquette and rules required in court to best present your case. The same applies with resume writing. Since you are not an expert, why not get an expert to write it?

Positive Difference
Professional resumes can be the difference between someone getting the job they’ve always wanted versus their resume residing at the bottom of a large stack of paper. When an employer sees a professionally written resume they see commitment to quality. They see an effort taken by someone to look their best and who takes the same approach in work. Employers will also see specific information they are looking for. When someone has a lot of experience and it is difficult knowing what experience to include. Sometimes the individual has experience they failed to consider, but a professional resume writer knows to ask about. Professional resume writers know the most effective information needed and words to use.

Cost of a Poor Resume
Employers look for professionally presented resumes when processing the high volume of resumes received. They “weed out” resumes with poor presentation, those without needed qualifications, that have grammatical and formatting errors, or are simply too long. This work may be done by an assistant to the hiring individual, or not even by a person at all. Many companies use sophisticated resume screening software to greatly reduce the number of resumes available for review by staff members. A professional resume writer understands the process and knows how to present you in the best possible light. They make sure that your resume gets to the top of the pile. It may cost a little more to have your resume crafted by a professional writer, but then again, how much will it cost if you do not get the job?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cover Letter Best Practices

Cover Letter Best Practices

A well-written cover letter introduces you, prompts the reader to want to know more about you, and establishes your credentials. A good cover letter partners nicely with your resume and a strong networking process.

  1. Address letter to specific person whenever possible.
  2. Ensure all comments are in good taste.
  3. Personalize letter with:
    A comment about the recipient organization.
    Contractions such as “you” and “I.”
  4. Keep sentences/paragraphs simple and short.
  5. State a problem the organization has that you can solve.
  6. Use a conversational, direct style.
  7. Create professionally printed stationery with contact information included on each page (as applicable),
  8. Use good grammar with all words spelled correctly.
  9. Demonstrate that you are ready for and enjoy a challenge.
  10. Personally sign letters to be posted via U.S. mail.
  11. Use pen with contrasting ink with pleasing color.
  12. Indicate how and when you will follow-up.
  13. Send unsolicited cover letters and resumes early in the week.
  14. Print each letter individually.

    Ensure that cover letter puts you in positive light and creates a good first impression.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Advice For New Managers - Seek Advice

Do not be afraid to ask questions. You must build a network for seeking advice and counsel. No leader is an island. New managers cannot succeed alone in overcoming the complicated challenge of taking over a department, function or entire organization. You have inherited problems and mistakes left over from predecessors. They may be far from obvious. Things often are not what they first appear to be. It is essential that you help your team find ways to accelerate learning about markets, products, technologies, organizational capabilities, and culture. Identifying and leveraging the best advisors -- internally and externally -- is the most effective way to do this.