Archive for February, 2011

Professional Diversification for Dummies: 4 Books that Helped Me Turn Inexperiences into Skills

February 25, 2011 3 comments

GMAT Access Visual Basic VBA Software Project Management Dummies

My last blog, 3 Professional Portfolio Must-Haves, talked about identifying your interests, skills, and inexperiences.  This time, we’re going to look at our inexperiences more in depth.  I’ve found that when I want to know more about a particular subject, I look no further than the …for Dummies series of books.

    1. Excel 2007 VBA Programming for Dummies.

    My addiction to the …for Dummies books started during my junior year of my undergraduate studies.  I was taking a course called Logistics Modeling Methods.  The course was based around using Visual Basic for Applications, within Microsoft Excel, to create simulations to help emulate and solve typical logistics problems.  There were no required textbooks for the course, but we were encouraged to buy a book on VBA to help us throughout the course.  So, I went to, searched for “Visual Basic for Applications,” and sure enough, one of the best-selling, highest rated, and lowest priced books was Excel 2007 VBA Programming for Dummies.  I passed it up, thinking “I’m no dummie.”  So, I ended up buying the 1,700 page VBA book for “Power Programmers.”  After about a week of trying to figure out what I got myself into, I sent the book back and ordered the dummies book.  Best decision I ever made.  I was amazed at how easy to read and overall informative the book was.  And, they throw in a good deal of humor to make the material interesting.

    2. Access 2007 for Dummies.

    I did the same thing in another course I was taking that semester called, Analysis and Design of Logistical Systems, which focused on utilizing Microsoft Access to create an inventory tracking database.  I bought a book called Access 2007: The Missing Manual at the beginning of the semester and found it was just too hard to understand.  Instead of going through the trouble of returning this book, though, I kept it and ordered Access 2007 for Dummies in addition to it.  Again, the dummies book far exceeded my expectations.

    3. GMAT for Dummies.

    After graduating, I decided I wanted to get my MBA, but in order to do that, I had to pass the GMAT.  So, what did I do?  Without thinking twice, I bought GMAT for Dummies!  The book explained the structure of the test and gave examples of all the questions I would expect to see.  It even had two practice tests.  As you can guess, this book helped me pass the GMAT and get into grad school.

    4. Software Project Management Kit for Dummies.

    Just recently, I was asked to work on a project that involved implementing a new piece of software from the operations side of our company.  I knew this was a big opportunity and didn’t want to waste it.  So, I bought Software Project Management Kit for Dummies.  Again, this book exceeded my expectations and outlined step by step what had to happen to successfully implement a new piece of software.

My point here is the …for Dummies series provides a relatively inexpensive and easy to understand way to turn your inexperiences into skills.  As an exercise, look through your list of inexperiences.  Find something you wish you were better at or simply wish you knew more about.  Go to and search for that topic and add …for Dummies (e.g. “stock trading for dummies”) and strongly consider buying it.  Most of these books can be found used on between $4 and $15.  If you haven’t identified your inexperiences, go to and just search for “dummies” in the books category.  Browse the long list of books available and find one that interests you and consider buying it.  Take my word for it, you won’t be disappointed.  And once you’ve read the book, feel free to move that inexperience to the skills section of your portfolio.

Webpage Credit: Online Shopping Dummies

3 Professional Portfolio Must-Haves

February 21, 2011 11 comments

interests skills inexperiences portfolio notebook

Finally, it’s time to start building our Professional Portfolios.  Over time, we will slowly add to our portfolios to create a comprehensive Professional Diversification tool.  It’s important to remember that Professional Portfolios are not resumes.  In fact, they’re very different.  Resumes focus on the past; the jobs we’ve held, the schools we went to, and the awards and certifications we’ve received.  Professional Portfolios focus on the future, which we will begin to discover as we go.  To start, the 3 most essential pieces that create the foundation of our Professional Portfolios are:

    1. Interests

    These are the things you like doing in your free time.  They can be hobbies, but they don’t have to be hobbies.  Even if it’s something you’re just mildly interested in, put it on this list.  Some of my interests include fishing, golfing, the stock market, fast cars, lifted trucks, photography, football, baseball, music, etc.  If you’re having trouble thinking of interests to add to your portfolio (it’s not always that easy), either Google “list of interests” or check out this website that I found.

    2. Skills

    These are the things you’re truly good at.  They must be things you are uniquely good at, too.  I would consider not putting things like Microsoft Excel, unless you can do some pretty amazing things in Excel.  Think of it this way.  Have you ever done something at work or school and someone says, “Man, you’re really good at that.”  Those are the things that need to go on this list.  For me, I would put things like Photoshop, graphic design, Dreamweaver (HTML), Visual Basic for Applications, Supply Chain Management/Logistics, and Microsoft Visio.  Just like your list of interests, utilize Google to find lists of skills that you may have left out or forgotten.  Here is a good website I found with a long list of skills.

    3. Inexperiences

    I know it’s not easy, but it’s important to point out the things that you aren’t really that good at that you wish you were good at.  Think about it.  If you don’t address the things you aren’t good at, how are you supposed to get better?You can’t just push them under the rug and hope nobody notices.  Use the same list I provided above in the “skills” section to browse possible inexperiences.  If you come across something and say, “Gee, I wish I was good at that” or “That would really help me get a job (or a better job),” add it to your list of inexperiences.

You’re probably wondering why the heck I’m telling you to do this, so now’s the part where I tell you how this all ties together.  Interests are important because they can point out areas of business that you would really enjoy working in.  Skills are important because they can help you identify the jobs you would easily qualify for.  Inexperiences are important because they help you target things that you should try to improve upon to make yourself more valuable in the workforce.  Inexperiences, in my opinion, are the most important of the three “must-haves” listed above, because turning your inexperiences into skills helps you truly diversify yourselves in a positive professional way.

You’ll notice I’ve started my own Professional Portfolio within my blog.  You can access it by clicking the “Professional Portfolio” tab at the top of this page.

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Modified By: Eric Chaump

Webpage Credit:

List of Hobbies and Interests

Skills List – Resume Writing Dictionary

Categories: Portfolio

6 Simple Ways to Get Yourself Fired

February 16, 2011 8 comments blog is centered around the things you can do if you happen to lose your job. Well, I think this is a good time to talk about ways to keep your job. Here’s a list of common mistakes we as employees make during the day that could potentially get us fired. Each of these things are easily avoided and can save yourself a lifetime of regret.

    1. Playing on your iPhone.

    Most people leave their iPhone out on their desk all day so that anytime they don’t have something to do, they can hop on their phone and check their email and update their Facebook status. Others think it’s okay to spend 5 to 10 minutes a day trying to beat their high score on Angry Birds. Let’s be honest, it’s not okay.

    2. Personal Phone Calls.

    You love your boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, husband, fiancée, whoever. That’s understandable, but don’t carry on 2+ hour conversations with them while you’re at work. Your productivity decreases when you’re on the phone, no matter who it is you’re talking to. Personal conversations are extremely distracting to fellow coworkers. And don’t think that whispering is the way to go. It just makes us want to listen even closer.

    3. Surfing the Internet.

    If you’re surfing the Internet, you’re probably not being productive. Most companies have website blockers to prevent employees from surfing the web. They have these for a reason, so don’t go trying to find the holes in your company’s website blocker. You probably won’t have a good excuse when your boss asks you why you were trying to access your Facebook page from your work computer.

    4. Joking About the Need to Get Paid More.

    It’s one thing to say to a coworker, “They don’t pay me enough for this…” But, to say it in a conference room filled with 10 of your coworkers and your boss? People typically don’t take that statement as a joke, and in fact, it’s not something you want joke about in the first place. You should be happy to have the job and salary you do have.

    5. Passing the Buck.

    When someone comes to you with a question or concern, don’t pass the buck. Even if the issue is someone else’s responsibility, try to solve their problem for them on your own. If you simply can’t help them, politely direct them to who they should talk to. Better yet, take a minute or two to walk the person there.

    6. Complaining.

    Nobody likes a complainer. Complaining usually signifies dissatisfaction with your job and can bring down the morale of an entire office. If you aren’t happy with your job, then you should consider finding a new one, before the boss makes you find a new one.

As you can see, these are really easy things to do at work and most of us are tempted everyday to engage in these activities. You have to remember that most companies wouldn’t think twice about firing someone who exhibits any one of these activities, especially in these economic times.

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Dealing With Your Career’s “What-Ifs”…

February 13, 2011 4 comments

hardhat construction joblessSo what’s better?  Being really good at one thing?  Or sorta good at five things?

To preface what I’m about to talk about, let’s take a look at the ever-so-popular construction industry.  Let’s pretend you worked in the construction industry and you were damn good at it, too.  Your dad worked in construction and so did his dad.  But now, the economy has weakened, people are losing the homes they own, and they can’t afford to buy brand new homes, which means: no demand.  Home builders can’t continue building new homes if they can’t sell the ones they just built.  It’s a concept of simple economics.  Well now you’re out of a job and it’s not like you can just go down the street and get a job with another company.  Nobody is building homes.  The construction industry is stagnant and the jobs don’t exist.  Unfortunately, you’ve put all your time and effort into construction and you’re really not that good at anything else.  Now what?  This is why Professional Diversification is so important.

Now let’s go back and look at my initial question.  Is it better to be really good at one thing or sorta good at five things?  I’m sure you could argue this either way, but for the purpose of this blog, we’re going to assume that it’s better to be good at a lot of things.  To help visualize this concept, let’s pretend we own a portfolio of stocks.  The most important part of running a successful portfolio is diversification, right?  Why do we diversify our portfolios?  To minimize the risk.  This same concept works for our Professional Portfolios.  The more skills and abilities we add to our portfolio, the less risk we should encounter.  Risk, in our case, is represented by potential unemployment for long periods of time, like our construction worker example.  We don’t want that to happen.

Take a few minutes to think about your career’s “what-ifs.”  What if you lost your job tomorrow?  What would you do?  Do you have a backup plan?  Stay tuned, next time I’ll be discussing the principles of your Professional Portfolio and lay the foundation to get you started.

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Chasing the American Dream: One Way… or (Many) Others…

February 10, 2011 27 comments

sign diversify diversification purple

Welcome to my blog!  For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been pondering the questions: “What should I blog about? What is my value to others? What makes me remarkable?”  My first thought was, “I’ll just blog about my current career (manufacturing/operations).”   Nah.   Then I started to think of some other things that I was good at, like trading stocks.  I started my own personal stock portfolio a couple years ago and it’s nearly doubled in value over the years.  That’s pretty good if you ask me.  I also thought about the things I truly enjoy doing and always wished I could make a living out of, like graphic design and website development.  Then it hit me.   I’m not going to blog about any of that.   Instead, I’m going to blog about helping people realize their skills and abilities and assemble them into what I call a “Professional Portfolio.”   What is a Professional Portfolio, you might ask?   It’s essentially the same as a stock portfolio, except a Professional Portfolio is a combination of professional skills and abilities that you could turn into successful careers.  By learning how to create your Professional Portfolio, you can prepare yourself for uncertain times.   This process is what I call, “Professional Diversification.”

My inspiration to blog about Professional Diversification was derived from two people who are very close to me.  I just earned my undergraduate degree in business with a major in supply chain management.  I got an internship in the summer of 2009 and was hired full-time the week after I graduated.  After only six months as a full-time employee, I was offered to work on a project that will likely lead to a promotion if I do well.  While I’ve been quickly climbing the ladders where I work, getting raises and bonuses every year, others aren’t so fortunate.  Some people decide to go back to college when they’re 50 years old to be a better candidate for that big position at work, only to find out that once they get their degree, that position isn’t available anymore.  Some people are months away from retirement, but due to budget cuts, they’ve been forced to take pay cuts and demotions.  Some people are at risk of losing their jobs completely due to downsizing.  The purpose of this blog is to help those who are encountering uncertain times in their current work environments by engaging in Professional Diversification.

My future blog posts will help you discover what you are good at, how to get better at what you aren’t good at, turning your personal interests into professional careers, creating and maintaining your Professional Portfolio, and marketing your portfolio via social media networks.

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