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About this blog

Industry consultant Jim McLoughlin addresses topics such as the job application process; career planning; and job security in a bad economy.

Entries in this blog

 

Focus Ahead – Not Behind – When Interviewing

Possibly, the two most consistent patterns I have noted through the years when participating in candidate interviews as a consultant to employing clubs have been: Candidates devote roughly 80% of their submitted documents and interview presentation times to focusing on their past job performances. Unfortunately, this leaves these same candidates only 20% of their interview time to effectively advise what they would do if selected for the vacant job; i.e.- the most vital information a search

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Visiting The Masters Elevates Superintendents' Work Standards - Admission Is Free

I firmly believe that every golf course superintendents should attend The Masters championship as early as possible in their careers because they'll see a standard of maintenance excellence that's not available anywhere else in the world and unless witnessed would not be believed possible.   Granted, no golf course superintendent will ever have Augusta National's budget to work with, but that is not the point.   The point is that every GCSAA member who visits Augusta National will be reachin

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

How Superintendents Can Create A Level Negotiating Field

Back in the mid-1990s, I was invited to GCSAA headquarters in Lawrence, Kansas to attend a series of meetings for the purpose of addressing superintendents' job security issues. No matter how the conversations went at these meetings, I was consistently told by GCSAA Board members, staff and chapter leaders (all acting in good faith) that . . .   "It would not be prudent for superintendents to take the initiative when negotiating job security issues because it would anger/offend their employers

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Stress-Free Job Interviews... Guaranteed!

The interview process between a job-seeking candidate and a search committee can be one of the most inefficient communication exchanges known to man.   The reality is that qualified but interview-inexperienced candidates often do not present themselves well in this typically tense and highly structured sit-around-the-table interview format. Is there a better interview format that would benefit candidates? Fortunately, there is; for example:   A candidate would request a more informal (stress

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Don’t Waste Your Cover Letter

Traditionally, golf course superintendents have used the cover letter when applying for jobs in a very perfunctory manner; i.e.- to make search committees aware of their candidacy and to ask for an interview - little more.   This superficial use of cover letters negates candidates' foremost opportunity to take the initiative throughout the application process...   ....which is what the job application process should be all about; i.e., taking the initiative throughout the entire job applicat

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Maintenance Facility Order Secures Jobs

My Oct. 9th blog post advised that one of the more effective ways for a superintendent to create a visible presence is to schedule an Open House maintenance facility field day one Saturday afternoon each spring.  As a follow-up on this recommendation, this blog is going to focus on the pivotal issue of maintenance facility order versus disorder because -- through my years of visiting America's golf course maintenance facilities -- I have seen the good, the indifferent and the ugly in about equal

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Total Transparency: The Key To Defensive Management And Job Security

Several earlier posts in this series have focused on presenting better ways of securing jobs. This post combines all earlier comments on the subject with the master umbrella concept of "defensive management."   The concept of defensive management is the least understood and least practiced proven management concept throughout the world of the golf course superintendent and beyond.   By design, defensive management techniques are intended to defuse the impact of arbitrary decision-making and

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Why Workaholic Superintendents Are Job-Vulnerable

Myth: Golf course superintendents who consistently allow their personal work schedules to stretch to 60 and 70+ hour work-weeks are perceived as being dedicated to their jobs and are respected for this commitment profession-wide.   This is a dangerous myth that has cost more than a few superintendents their jobs through the years.   Why? Because the vast majority of those responsible for hiring superintendents are private-sector executives who require the managers they hire in their day jobs

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Submit job applications electronically...

Why submit job applications via the hard copy equivalent of the 'pony express' when electronic service is available? The answer is that applicants wouldn't if they wanted to maximize their job application opportunities.   Yet, in this high tech age of the Internet, roughly 90% of golf course superintendents are submitting hard copy job applications via the U.S. Mail. This doesn't make sense because submitting job applications electronically provides the following unique advantages: Immediate

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Never Assume Confidentiality

The issue of 'confidentiality' discourages many employed superintendents from seeking new jobs because they are fearful of putting their present jobs at risk any time they apply for a job despite submitting their applications on a 'confidential' basis. And rightfully so! Where does the problem originate?   The blame for disclosure does not generally lie within the various search committees because they are consistently made up of private sector business people used to routinely working with an

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Binding Arbitration Wins

It should be abundantly clear that engaging attorneys for counseling purposes, or to gain access to the courts of law essentially has been a futile exercise for golf course superintendents from Day One because superintendents will: Always have difficulty finding, engaging and affording qualified attorneys. Always be facing the likelihood of defeat in any serious legal entanglement because employer clubs will always be able to comfortably out-wait and out-spend them. Always have difficulty mov

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Golf's Invaluable Missing Link: Job Descriptions

To my continuing surprise, a vast majority of the country's golf course superintendents are working today without a definitive job description - not realizing that working without a comprehensive job description is a high-risk venture. This is because superintendents' jobs remain undefined without a job description, which means they can be held accountable and become job vulnerable for work they were never assigned; i.e.- a problem that surfaces mostly when either the position of green committee

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Career Mission Statements Spark Candidate Initiative

I have been puzzled in recent years why so many job applicants have consistently failed to include definitive "career mission" statements within their documentation (cover letter, etc.) when seeking a new job. I believe the fundamental reason for this consistent oversight has been because candidates fail to see the role taking the initiative must play within a successful job application process. (See June 26, 2014 blog.)   "Candidate initiative" which starts with a take-charge cover letter (se

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

A Plan Of Action Makes Or Breaks A Job Application

Throughout my 25+ year career only about one in four of the 100+ plans of action I have reviewed for my client clubs through the years passed muster and earned their job applicant authors short-list hiring consideration.   Yet, all 37 candidate superintendents (i.e.- 100%) that I have personally counseled through the job application process and who submitted quality action plans were hired -- competing against fields that averaged +/- 35 job applicants. How does this universal record of succes

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Taking Charge Of The Interview Process

The bad news is that due to inexperience many job applicants are not comfortable taking the initiative through the interview process. They are not used to talking about themselves nor of their value to others. Accordingly, they generally pay a price for this shortcoming.   However, the good news is that this is a correctable situation. Interviewing can be a stress-free process that candidates can learn to control from start to finish.   There are two separate approaches to quality-controllin

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Addressing The Delicate Salary Issue

Successful interviewing is all about continuing to take the initiative that started with the cover letter. (See July 2nd blog.)   Questions designed to help candidates take the initiative during job interviews:   Prior to an interview, does it help to practice job related Q&As (especially regarding salary issues) with family and associates?   Of course! Go to Google to find dozens of categories of questions traditionally exchanged at job interviews.   When is the best time to raise t

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Step One Approach To Written Contracts: Create A Visible Presence

My Sept 25th blog post advised that the primary reason why the vast majority of golf course superintendents are denied written contracts is because search committees lack the confidence to judge the technical qualifications of job applicants accurately.   Therefore, logic suggests that the best approach for superintendents to overcome this shortcoming is:   To educate search committees to the point where they would feel comfortable granting written contracts to established and newly hired su

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Plan to WIN, or you WILL lose...

What Is The Best Way To Plan To Win?   Simply stated, the best way to plan to "win" is to out-prepare the field of candidate competitors. The few that do get job offers.   Earlier blog messages in this series that addressed matters such as the best use of cover letters, stress-free interviews and submitting job applications electronically should be reviewed.   FYI: Three of the more effective concepts that best exemplify commitments to excellence that separate winning candidates from the b

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Caution: A Job Offer Does Not Seal The Deal

The blog series now switches to Contract Negotiations.   Too many job applicants once told by the search committee that they are being offered a job drop their guard thinking the task of pursuing their next job has been successfully concluded.   Unfortunately, this is a fundamental mistake because receiving a job offer is simply an 'invitation' to be the first or next in line to have the opportunity to negotiate an employment agreement.   Candidates should realize when offered a job that

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Why Superintendents Are Denied Written Contracts

Two totally independent national surveys that mutually support each other's findings tell a frightful story about the careers/lives of golf course superintendents:   FIRST SURVEY:  Indicates that only about 20% of golf course superintendents enjoy the security of a written employment contract, while roughly 80% of PGA and CMAA members enjoy this privilege.   Few people in the world give thought to the devastation wrought upon families when a superintendent is summarily dismissed - which is n

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Best Communication Opportunity: A “Maintenance Program” Web Site

Yes, there is a second undiscovered web site opportunity that is potentially more valuable to a superintendent than the well-documented highly respected personal career web site. Properly prepared, managed and updated on regular basis, a "maintenance program" (MP) web site's attainable objectives are to promote the superintendents' "brand" in the following ways: To educate course officials/players to the basic elements of the maintenance program.   To educate re: the role and job descript

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Step Two Approach To Written Contracts: Commit To The "Plant The Seed" Concept

This post is intended to complement the message presented in the last post and presents the negotiating sequence that should be considered in the pursuit of a written employment contract.   Acknowledging the fact that roughly 80% of qualifying superintendents are consistently denied the protection of written contracts and suffer the consequences thereof (see Sep 25th blog), the purpose of this blog message is to educate newly hired and already employed superintendents who have been denied writ

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Don’t Run The Risk Of Job Stagnation

Bad economies require every working man and woman to make decisions not often faced in life; for example: what is the better way to secure jobs in a difficult economy: (i) By constructively managing careers to get further ahead; or (ii) By defensively managing careers to maintain present jobs?   Human nature generally dictates that we take the more conservative approach to securing jobs when economies turn bad; i.e.- to hunker down defensively, do a solid job and stay out of the limelight.  

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

Why New Jobs Can Be More Secure

As the job stagnation theme of last week's (Oct 30th) blog post indicated, hunkering down to maintain job security in a bad economy can be fraught with danger. Therefore, the counter-point to this refrain must be that new jobs -- once properly vetted -- can offer greater job security.   Recommended Approach To Changing Jobs To Avoid Job Stagnation After identifying a target job vacancy, superintendents should quality-test the opportunity by working through a comprehensive due diligence test w

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

 

How To Keep 50+ Year Old Superintendents' Careers Vital

Within virtually any other work environment, 50-plus year old executives are looked upon as being at the pinnacle of their careers.   Not so with golf course superintendents where 'aging' is not equivocated to the concept of acquiring 'wisdom' -- but rather too often to the depreciation of an old car with high mileage and little resale value.   While it is true that a small percentage of 50-plus year old golf course superintendents escape this adverse designation on merit, get well-paid and

Jim McLoughlin

Jim McLoughlin

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