WAVE TWO: Networking IN To A Company of Interest

JigSaw-partnershipWhat is the most critical skill to one’s  CAREER success – yet also the most elusive? Time management? Discipline?  Professionalism?  Reliability?  Yes, these are all desired personal traits and work habits, but rarely SEARCHED for.

How about the more functionally significant skills, like Strategic thinking? Decision making? Business acumen or intuitive ability to forecast and budget effectively?


This week’s Session, Thursday, February 14th… Turning Opportunities Into INTERVIEWS: Networking IN to a targeted organization


bob-maher-4587-editNo. While these are all important, they pale in comparison to communication skills, BOTH personal and professional: Attentive listening, asking relevant questions, showing empathy, and knowing how to handle difficult communications are the most critical to career success.  They are vital to building healthy relationships, exchanging ideas, sharing feelings, gaining buy-in, setting clear expectations, and working collaboratively.

The lack of these skills is at the root of most conflicts, employee performance issues, failed projects, and lost opportunities…JOBS????

You can be a subject matter expert, but if you can’t communicate your ideas, your ideas are of little value. You can have a great value proposition, branding, for the future, but if you can’t get people to buy into it, your vision doesn’t matter. You can be a masterful manager, but if you can’t reassure or empathize with your clients, they will seek help elsewhere.

You might have a skill set/experience to sell, but if you can’t articulate a compelling value proposition, you won’t find many takers. Your ability to communicate determines your success at work or home.

How do you rate your current communication’s skills?  And, more importantly, how do you improve them to enhance job search or career transition SUCCESS?

A famous coach, of Green Bay Packer fame, spoke frankly when he said, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” Mr. Lombardi’s intent was CLEAR. He wanted his players to concentrate on PRACTICE, drilling on the “little things”, the basics, so that they became instinct during the heat of real life.

Such is productive mindset during any career transition, specifically related to your ability to relate your well positioned “story” to others, answer questions effectively, conduct productive negotiations, and, fine tune your personal marketing skills.

THE BASICS

So what are those basics that will allow you to effectively network to identify appropriate opportunities, and then secure the requisite INTERVIEWS in order to “close the deal?”

  1. “Tell me about yourself.”  Practice your two minute drill every chance you get…. it’s the fundamental building material of your communication strategy–your verbal personal marketing collaterals!
  2. Practice your exit and qualification statements… most all potential employers and networking contacts will want to know your current situation and why you are available.
  3. Practice answering both common and tough questions… including pre-offer negotiation tactics. The most asked question during career transition is, “Tell me about yourself.” Appropriate use of your two-minute drill and related verbal strategies, your “verbal collaterals,” is a key ingredient to personal marketing…
  • A verbal resume… A tightly focused, upbeat telling of “your story” told in a high impact two minute format. With practice, can be easily personalized to your listener.
  • An “elevator pitch”… A succinct summary of your qualifications for a specifically positioned function or opportunity. With practice, can become quite spontaneous.
  • A qualification statement that can be used in introducing yourself

Let’s not forget a couple of additional ‘collaterals’ that will help you round out your ability to ‘get the word out’ and serve as evidence of your qualifications.

  1. Brag bytes… Wordcraft various collections of words, phrases and sentences to capture memorable moments or accomplishments–the best you have to offer. “…saved 80% cost-perhire…” Used in MSWord, ‘Quick Parts’ can be quite efficient when building high impact correspondence as well.
  2. Personal Portfolio… Your collection of certificates, examples of work, reference letters, etc that can bring life and interest (not to mention PROOF) to your story.
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Closing The Deal: Determining ‘Next Steps’

Your Career CompassA productive mindset, during any career transition, is your ability to relate your well positioned “story” to others, answer questions effectively, conduct productive negotiations, and, in general, fine tune your personal marketing (NOT sales) skills.


Tomorrow’s Session…Thursday, November 29th… Closing The Deal II: Interview Tactics, including POST-Offer negotiation.


So what are those basic tactics that will allow you to effectively “close the deal?”

  1. Practice your two minute drill every chance you get…. it’s the fundamental building material of your communication strategy–your verbal collaterals!
  2. Practice your exit and qualification statements… most all potential employers and networking contacts will want to know your current situation and why you are available.
  3. Practice answering both common and tough questions… including pre-offer negotiation tactics.

The most asked question during career transition is, “Tell me about yourself.”  Appropriate use of your two-minute drill and related verbal strategies, your “verbal collaterals,” is a key ingredient to personal salesmanship…

  • A verbal resume… A tightly focused, upbeat telling of “your story” told in a high impact two minute format.  With practice, can be easily personalized to your listener.
  • An “elevator pitch”…  A succinct summary of your qualifications for a specifically positioned function or opportunity.  With practice, can become quite spontaneous.
  • Brag bytes…  Wordcraft various collections of words, phrases and sentences to capture memorable moments or accomplishments–the best you have to offer.  “…saved 80% cost-per-hire…”  Used in MSWord Auto Text Format can be quite efficient when building high impact correspondence as well.
  • Personal Portfolio…  Your collection of certificates, examples of work, reference letters, etc that can bring life and interest (not to mention PROOF) to your story.

Think of an interview as the natural extension, the successful result of your effective networking.  Many networking conversations actually become screening interviews, where influential contacts are assessing your qualifications, skill sets and experience relative to an opportunity at hand.

“Perfect practice” of the basics builds the confidence necessary to perform well in formal job interviews. Let’s break down the basics into four areas…

  1. pre-contact preparation/ research,
  2. greeting and rapport,
  3. questions/answers, and …
  4. meeting closure.

All four stages are equally important and deserve your consideration and preparation.

Know the needs of the company

Once your basic research is complete, you must next identify how your abilities, experience and expertise can meet the needs of the interviewer, the company and the job.  This point cannot be over-emphasized.  It is the company’s needs that you must fill, not your own.  Surprisingly, however, by meeting the company’s needs, your needs also will be met.

Your VALUE PROPOSITION

Prepare for your interviews (and networking meetings) by fully understanding the value you bring to a potential employer and hiring company.    Incorporate portions of this information into your interview responses, or use some of the material in your interview closing remarks.  Tell them why you are good at what you do!

The Interviewee’s Nine-Box Matrix of Interview Process… 

Confirm FIT

YOU

JOB FIT
ASK

 

 

 

 

     
ANSWER

 

 

 

 

     
MONEY

 

 

 

 

     

The OTHER Job Market Has a Screen Door, Too!

Compass-seaLJust as in traditional job search, there are four avenues in to more efficient and productive job search: Classified advertising, third-party recruitment services, employer job postings (this trio can be addressed by using the Internet ‘job boards’), and personal contact networking.

One of the many keys to unlocking the screen door of The OTHER Job Market is to sieze control of the process and take actions like that of an equal partner in the recruitment process.


This week’s session, Thursday, June 28th at The Egg and I: An exploration of the third-party world of recruitment


bob-maher-4587-editIn embracing The OTHER Job Market, a successful professional seeking their next appropriate employment will learn the technique of using the services of a third party recruiter.  The term “third party recruiter” goes by many names including contingency agencies, executive search firms, retained search firms, employment agencies, headhunters, recruiters, and temp agencies.  These all fall under the umbrella of the “staffing industry.”

Contingency Agencies are paid by the company after the agency’s candidate is hired…their sourcing process is a paperwork mill.

Retained Search Firms custom locates candidates for a company and are paid upfront or on a progress basis (retained basis). Their sourcing process is often more focused and conducted on a more personal level.

Employment Agencies are contracted by companies to find candidates for temporary or permanent positions.  Often their sourcing and screening activity is conducted in parallel to Corporate recruiting efforts.

Temporary (Temp) Agencies find candidates to fill temporary jobs and “temp to perm” positions.  This includes the Lease2Perm TECHNICAL firms.

The number of temporary employees is growing and this trend is expected to continue.

TMI (Too Much Information)… The American Staffing Association (ASA)

TEXAS specific statistics… Third-party recruitment statistics in Texas

Temping can help you learn new skills and experience, build your network, open up options you had not previously considered and bridge employment gaps.  The goal is to get inside a company.  Here is my list of things you should take into consideration when working with staffing agencies.

  1. Some agencies have skills training to prepare employees for their assignments; others expect you to hit the ground running.
  2. Temp jobs can often be the answer when your cash reserves are running low.
  3. Temping can give you experience in careers you might not have otherwise thought of trying – without a long-term commitment.
  4. Having the flexibility from temping can work well for your job search and personal priorities.
  5. Signing up with a staffing agency is usually quick and easy, much of which can be done online.
  6. Approximately 79 percent of staffing employees work full-time according to the American Staffing Association (ASA).
  7. The ASA notes that 12 million Americans will work at some point during the course of the year in as a temp or contract employee.
  8. Temping is not a step down.  It’s money, connections, a resume gap stopper and an opportunity to get your foot in the door.

*MORE to follow*

Interview SKILL: Becoming a ‘Valued Partner’

Compass-seaLWhether you are an operations manager, an internal HR professional, senior finance executive, or a key player on the IT team—ANY experienced and valued professional job seeker—ALL and EVERYONE should want to become a ‘valued partner’ in the strategic and operational planning–as well as the execution–of their next employer. To become fully engaged, Everyone wants a voice in strategic decisions and to be included in ‘the conversation.’


THIS WEEK’s Session, Thursday, June 21st: Closing The Deal II, exploring and practicing interview tactics, including POST-OFFER Negotiation


chalk1To truly be included, you need to be invited. And you will only be invited if you are seen as absolutely essential to the TEAM.  Remember, team player and team leader CAN BE interchangeable terms.

Here are some tips on becoming a valued partner…

Walk the talk.  Nothing speaks louder than results…. From the recruitment perspective, the best indicator of one’s potential for success is one’s prior experience and results gained.  A partner helps others within the organization achieve their goals. And results require actions, not just words. The better the results you get, the more likely you are to be invited on to ‘the team.’

Deep knowledge... You must have a true understanding of ‘the bigger picture…’ how does your department fit into meeting organizational goals and objectives?  In other words, you’ve done your homework and understand your potential employer’s need.  And you must be able to articulate your understanding to anyone involved in the decision-making process in a manner that demonstrates that you truly get it.

Two of the many ways of accomplishing this image are to…

  1. Keep a file of relevant articles to share with key decision-makers, take advantage of the approaches that email and social media have to offer… create and maintain top-of-mind awareness.
  2. Further, create a set of ‘white papers’ that express, from your knowledge and experience, your perspective on relevant issues to your Profession or industry of choice.

 Listen well Everyone loves to feel that they have been heard and understood. One attribute of leadership is being known as a good listener. And if you can reiterate and articulate what has been said, you will be valued as a partner in the decision-making process.  Remember, the human brain takes IN information more efficiently than it can put out valued communication.

Communicate Like The LEADER You ARE 

Remember, as a job seeker, NETWORKING is your way to share knowledge, ‘branding’ yourself as a valued resource.  It is also your best source of confirming the subjective information you seek to supplement your research of factual information about a potential employer.

 

Big picture thinking Having a strategic vision requires you to see all areas of the business, internal and external.   This is a valuable trait well beyond the C-suite.

If you only have a deep understanding of one area, you are more likely to be tactical in your decisions, rather than strategic. You must be able to foresee problems from the stakeholders’ perspective in order to offer the most highly valued and comprehensive solutions.  Tying all of this together, the best way to be treated like a valued partner is to act like one.

The more you demonstrate your value, the more you will become recognized as the go-to person in the organization and you will be included and have a voice in the big strategic decisions.

OVERCOMING “Call Reluctance”

accountability-partnerTargeted Organization Networking (networking your way IN to an organization of choice) is the first step to getting desired interviews and landing an offer, CLOSING THE DEAL. Still, many jobseekers experience Call Reluctance, an emotional hesitation to prospect and self-promote.  In our culture, it is not the hardest-working, the best-prepared or the smartest who lands the best next opportunity. Rather, it is the person who is most willing to prospect and self-promote.


NEXT WEEK’s Session: Thursday, June 7th… Turning Opportunity Into INTERVIEWS


chalk1Call Reluctance is nothing to be embarrassed about; living with it needlessly is. Call Reluctance is a mental response to a perceived threat. The act of prospecting is not what causes job seeking/ cold call anxiety; it is their “thoughts” about prospecting that do.

One might suggest to just change your thoughts from fearful ones to positive ones. However, positive thinking on its own is insufficient without its crucial counterpart: positive emotions.

Take a deep breath and think about your most recent business success. Your thought just sent happy hormones through your blood stream. Now, think about picking up the phone to call someone who has been on your list, but with whom you have not yet initiated contact. What fear or anxiety is attached to the thought of picking up the phone?

Guess what? Your hypothalamus just secreted hormones that match that fear and anxiety.  We can train the brain to secrete happier hormones (endorphins) so we feel better. And the better we feel, the more positive we become.

Endorphins actually calm the brain. Beliefs are merely thoughts we think again and again. Our beliefs become our expectations, and our expectations become our experience. This has been scientifically proven by behavioral scientists studying cellular biology. By overcoming Call Reluctance, you literally change your body’s chemistry so that fear and anxiety are no longer your go-to emotions.

Below are three exercises to help you set the “feeling” tone for your prospecting success:

  1. At the end of your workday, before you leave the office, sit down with your journal, iPhone or a piece of paper. Write down three things that went well during your day, and why they went well. Repeat this every day! You’ll begin to notice how much better you start feeling immediately.
  2. Monitor the “stories” you tell yourself (i.e., your inner dialogue). An example might be, “Making phone calls doesn’t work in the age of social media.” Until you become aware of your negative stories and learn how to change those stories, no training, coaching, or self-help books will enable you to achieve your goals. Identifying your stories is at the core of identifying Call Reluctance issues.
  3. The opposite of fear is love. Love and gratitude go hand-in-hand. Back to the hypothalamus: when you focus on what you are grateful for, your hypothalamus pumps out happy hormones. When you feel better, you are more solution-oriented—and you’re no longer the victim of any habitual negative thoughts. Psychologists recommend making a list of five things for which you are grateful every morning to set you up for a more successful day.

Accountable to WHO??

accountability-partnerA good accountability partner can make a major difference in one’s job search. I have seen many job seekers flounder because they launch their search efforts before they are totally prepared for the unique adventure ahead.  The power of partnering comes in to play when two well prepared job seekers come together to hold each other accountable for the activities and time management involved in productive search efforts.

You can call this coincidence if you want, I did for a while until I saw it happening over and over, and the people using the accountability partner were giving them the credit for their success. Or you could call it peer pressure … but whatever you call the ‘fuel.’ The resultant energy cannot be denied… it works.


Don’t miss TODAY’s Session at The Egg and I Restaurant in Addison, Thursday, May 10…

Developing YOUR Personal Marketing Plan


chalk1Too many times, we fall victim to distractions from the job search. The trap of sleeping late, watching TV, and playing on the Web can ensnare us. With no one but ourselves to hold us accountable for our job-search goals and plans, time can just slip away. It’s so easy to lose balance between personal needs and wants and our job search.

The other end of the spectrum is becoming a “job search-aholic.” For many of us, our identity is tied up tightly in our career, while others need a job right away just to make ends meet. No matter how great the need or desire for a new position, conducting a job search 24/7 non-stop can actually be a detriment to a successful campaign.

Once burnout sets in and enthusiasm begins to wane, how can you be at your best when you interview or even network?  The buddy system is an ideal way to protect against burnout while keeping on track!

Thoughts on Behavior-based Interviews

Compass-seaLLike falling in love, interviews can be like a next step on the career path of the rest of your working days.  However, interviews can also be mind-numbing disasters that cast you into the depths of self- doubt and depression.   In EVERY interview, you can plan, prepare, and practice your way to a more confident, high performing YOU that can persevere and succeed through this critical stage of a job search.  Even rejection can be turned in to a positive outcome.

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For some time now, ‘behavioral interviewing’ has been a strong trend in the recruitment process.  Being aware of this as a recruitment strategy, planning to take advantage of it, will help you to avoid an otherwise nerve wrecking experience.  In fact, acing that particular sort of interview could be the stepping stone to the career path of your dreams.

Interview Preparation:

Do your background research on industry, company, interviewer(s), and, importantly, the value proposition you offer in the role, the opportunity at hand.

  1. Understand the requirements of the position and how they create expectations of you. Get the Company jo description in advance and understand it! 
  2. Know who will be conducting the interview… use LinkedIn to be aware of their background.
  3. Utilize target organization networking to gain insight into the organization’s needs.
  4. Prepare 2 – 3 points in advance that clearly communicates why you are an excellent fit for the position—and don’t overlook company (department level) cultural issues.

Behavioral Interview Questions: What are they?

They are common questions based on the premise that past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior. They can

·         Provide proof of your potential demonstrated through description of past situations

·         Instead of being situational e.g. “If you are faced with a difficult customer issue, what will you do?” a behavioral question is more like, “Give an example of a situation here you were faced with a challenging customer issue… and what did you do?”

·         This type of question is open ended and allows the interviewer to probe and zero in on specific behaviors and skills to find out more about the candidate

 Interviewers use behavioral interview questions to assess leadership, problem-solving, analytical thinking, time management, communication and interpersonal skills.

Candidates need to prepare examples and stories that demonstrate the themes mentioned above. In addition, as a candidate, you should prepare examples and stories for additional key competencies that are outlined on the job description.

Practice, practice, practice! (Where have you heard THIS before?)

Your self-confidence in your presentation, and belief that you’re the best candidate for the role, is paramount. It’s important to practice responses out loud. Practice with your accountability partner. Practice with family. Practice with friends, fellow job-seekers and an experienced, skilled and knowledgeable Career Services Professional.

Practice so you’ll have a flow and can articulate your examples clearly and concisely. The flip side is, of course, don’t memorize examples verbatim…  as you might sound too rehearsed an unnatural. 

Be YOURSELF.