Do You Believe in Upskilling?

WIOA says Upskill2“Upskilling” involves work-based training and coaching that results in the growth of an organization’s talent pool by promoting from within. Upskilling, and the visible awareness of opportunities for promotion, reduces employee turnover and increases job-satisfaction. As a strong proponent of Career Management, I encourage career-minded individuals to continually look for opportunities for skill and developmental growth. If your employer provides access to training workshops and courses, take advantage of it. If they provide tuition assistance, grab it! Always keep your eye on 2 or 3 other positions in your company you’d be interested in doing. Depending on the level of responsibility of your current position, your next career move (whether a lateral move or a promotion) should happen every 2 to 5 years. When I was in my early 20s I left my position as an Account Clerk at a small health clinic to take a position as a Messenger working for Chevron Corporation in downtown San Francisco. I literally “pounded the pavement” every day. After a few months, I was given the opportunity to work on a special assignment in Messenger Dispatch. When that assignment ended, I went back to pounding the pavement. Before the week ended, the corporate mailroom requested for me to fill-in for someone who was out ill. I ended up working in the corporate mailroom for the next 6 months. As soon as I reached my required time-in-service, I began applying for other positions. Within no time I went from the mailroom to the 19th floor of one of Chevron’s executive offices. I became the Receptionist of the International Oil Division. While working in this position I noticed two times of day when foot traffic slowed and the executives rarely needed my assistance. I used those times to self-teach myself Lotus 123 and to study my Accounting terms, t-accounts and formulas. Once again when I reached my time-in-service I applied to work in Accounts Payable. I nailed that promotion on the first attempt! From there I promoted multiple times within Chevron’s Financial Services department. At that time Chevron had a robust Training & Development department complete with a computer-based (self-paced) training lab as-well-as regularly scheduled trainer-led workshops. I took advantage of both. Chevron had a tuition assistance program that reimbursed employees 75% of the cost for college tuition and books. I did that too! My career path at Chevron occurred over a 9.5 year-span. I never stopped ‘upskilling’ and I never stopped promoting to higher positions. It only ended when Chevron offered early retirement packages as a part of their downsizing efforts. At the age of 30 I took the package so I could finish college and start a new career in the education industry. Part of the package included one more year of college fees reimbursements. Of course I took advantage of that too. Upskilling works! The WIOA (Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act) legislation aims to encourage more emphasis on upskilling. I hope to hear many stories of organizations and individuals seizing the opportunity WIOA funding creates. I encourage you not to be so consumed with your current work that you neglect to fuel your future. If your current employer creates barriers (instead of pathways) to your professional development it’s time to look for something new. As I always say…

“It’s YOUR career – you take care of it!”

Vice President Joe Biden speaks very well about upskilling. Listen here.


Career Management Tip #2 for LinkedIn

May 15, 2015 1 comment

Hi Friends!

LinkedIn is one of the greatest online career management tools to date. Career management is the lifelong, self-monitored process of career planning that involves choosing and setting personal goals, and formulating strategies for achieving them.  Many times we’re so consumed with our current work – either for a current employer, freelance contract, or entrepreneurial venture – that we forget to manage our own career. Remember, you’re career is YOURS to take care of.  Keep a handle on it even when it seems like it does not need your attention.

Here’s three super quick career management tips for LinkedIn:

Record your accomplishments and projects as soon as they happen.  When you successfully complete a special project at work, go right to the PROJECTS section on your profile and tell us about it!

Keep your profile fresh and up-to-date – Make sure your professional profile photo is current and fresh, and that it looks like YOU.  Make sure the information on your profile is current. If you no longer work for a particular employer or if you’ve graduated from school, update your information.  When a recruiter looks you up on LinkedIn (as they do about 90% of the time before calling you for an interview) you want them to see accurate information from someone who cares about their professional reputation.

If you need a less revealing platform, check out  (“.CO” not “.com”) – Do you want potential employers and recruiters to know that you’re passively open to new opportunities, but don’t want your current LinkedIn contacts to know? Poachable provides an anonymous platform you might find helpful.

As I always say: “It’s YOUR career – you take care of it!” Reach out if you need help!

Success to You,

Michelle Walker-Wade





Career Management Tip

April 27, 2015 Leave a comment

CareerMgmt_ Never back yourself into a corner

Workplace Skills – Knowledge, Integrity and Excellent Customer Service

happy-customersI went to several stores the other day looking to make a large purchase. I had already researched my item online, read lots of reviews, and had a pretty good idea what I was looking for. My visits to local retailers was, more or less, to see which sales reps would be most knowledgeable, prove they could add value, and to see who would sell with integrity. Without these three benefits, I could easily purchase my item from Amazon for a lower price. I visited three retailers: Staples, Best Buy and Fry’s Electronics. Surprisingly, after talking to two representatives at Best Buy I knew I would not be making my purchase there. One representative was unknowledgeable; giving “canned” responses he’d clearly been taught to say, but that he did not understand. The other representative was a little more knowledgeable but was very dishonest. He held back on information and even demo’d the product in a way that prevented me from seeing some of the specific features I wanted. Best Buy was out.

Next, I visited Staples. The rep there was pleasantly honest about the item and the add-on services Staples could (and could not) provide. At one point I said: “Wow! You’re giving up a lot of information here.” He responded: “Our store manager is big on honesty, so that’s how we do it.” I was sold on their integrity; but unfortunately they did not have the specific model I wanted in-house any more. I put Staples on stand-by while I went to visit Fry’s Electronics.

Now at Fry’s, I find myself working with a rep who I’d give a 75% on knowledgeableness. What he did not know, however, he proved exceptionally driven to find out. He called three other reps as well as his department manager and went online to do some research. He found all the answers I needed and was even able to get me some added perks for the time I spent waiting for him to find good answers. He kept saying “I don’t want you to get home and be dissatisfied with your purchase.” I can appreciate that! Fry’s Electronics got the sale.

I’m pleased with my purchase, and have visited Staples for additional purchases since then. I went back to Best Buy and found the sales rep who had originally given canned answers. I encouraged him to take time and really learn his products. Employers want people with great soft skills,who can communicate knowledgably and who are driven to give great customer service. Customers come back to businesses they trust.

“Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that the first question we will all be asked when we arrive in judgment before the Heavenly Throne is “Did you conduct your business affairs in a trustworthy way?” – Rabbi Daniel Lapin


What it takes to be a great leader: A recommended reading list

February 12, 2015 Leave a comment

From the looks of things we have lots of reading to do! Reading great texts like ones mentioned In this article is the fastest, least expensive way you can ever go about getting a strategic thought-leader to mentor you. Do you have an innovative idea? Do you play a leadership role in an organization? Are you in the process of stepping up your professional “game”? Well… choose a title and start here! Enjoy.

Our image of a great leader is outdated, says Roselinde Torres of management consultancy BCG (TED Talk: What it takes to be a great leader). That all-knowing superhero who both lords over and protects his followers is neither realistic nor effective in today’s business, she says. To prepare for a global, digital, fast-paced future, she offers three questions we should ask of tomorrow’s leaders: How diverse is your network? Are you courageous enough to abandon the past? Where are you looking to anticipate change? Below, read works that explore these crucial questions, with commentary by Torres.

How diverse is your network?

Jazz vs. Symphony
John Clarkeson
BCG Perspectives, 1990

“John Clarkeson, a former CEO of BCG, wrote this piece nearly 25 years ago. ‘Prescient’ best describes his take on how future leaders wouldn’t be able to rely on exclusive decision-making authority, the overwhelming force of personality, or a monopoly…

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Categories: Workforce Development

What Did That Hiring Manager Say? Take an Inside Look

January 24, 2015 Leave a comment

recruiter-angry-620x350We’d all love to believe when our résumé and cover letter hits hiring manager’s hands rays of blissful light springs from it, and skittles candy rains down from the sky and fills the room. Right?  Well, I’m sorry. I’m here to help, so  cannot leave you living in fairyland. Hiring managers probably roll their eyes at more résumés than you can imagine. I’ve noted a few of their comments below. It’s up to you to take an honest look at yourself (meaning your résumé and cover letter approach) and take some corrective action. Here we go…

“Every time a job seeker uses a meaningless descriptive word on their #resume like energetic, another hiring manager becomes just a little more exhausted.”  (posted by B. S. on LinkedIn)

  • What to do: eliminate the fluff!

“If I have to spend more than 30 seconds finding out what you have accomplished, forget it … Likely, I will ignore the whole thing…”

“Of the probably close to 1,000 I’ve received, I’ve read less than a hundred submitted cover letters from start to finish. Why? Most people do not take the time to make the letter worth reading.” (poster: Jenny Yerrkin Martin of Careerealism)

“If you’ve been unemployed for a long stretch of time, it makes me wonder what’s wrong with you…” (poster unknown)

  • What to do: Stay enrolled in some type of job training/college course AND get busy volunteering at a reputable organization.  List both on your resume.

“Applying online is a losing game… We build our application process to weed out candidates…” (poster unknown)

  • What to do: Focus more on networking (both in-person and virtually) to get your foot in the door


Michelle Walker-Wade Workplace Literacy Expert

Michelle Walker-Wade
Workforce, Training & Development

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10 Things to Refuse in 2015

January 2, 2015 Leave a comment

10 Things to Refuse in 2015i-refuse-to-lower-my-standards-to-accomodate-who-refuse-to-raise-their-standards

  1. Refuse to be unfocused 
  2. Refuse to be unauthentic
  3. Refuse to live undisciplined 
  4. Refuse to live marginalized by any system or institution
  5. Refuse to ignore your inner-knowing
  6. Refuse not to accept responsibility for your own life-outcomes and life-choices
  7. Refuse to not set SMART goals  with a strategic plan to accomplish them
  8. Refuse to allow processed foods and fast foods to be your regular go-to meals
  9. Refuse to buy things on credit when you can save-up for a few months and spend cash
  10. Refuse to be stagnated in any area of your life.

Wishing you an AWESOME new year! No excuses…

Michelle Walker-Wade Workplace Literacy Expert

Michelle Walker-Wade
Workplace Literacy Expert