Beyond Your NOTION of FIT

A Good ScoutBe prepared!  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  After all, the Boy Scouts have been teaching this idea to kids for over 100 years.

So why in the world would most job seekers show up for an interview unprepared? You see it all the time—they dash in from the parking lot with no particular plan on how to engage their potential employer. Or they relentlessly work the phones only to discover that they’ve offered nothing more than hollow chitchat.

So why IS it that job seekers fail to prepare?


THIS WEEK’s Session, Thursday, August 29…  Closing The Deal II:  Discussion and PRACTICE of good interviewing tactics, including POST-Offer negotiation


chalk1Because it is easier to talk about you, your company and your products than it is to prepare to have a conversation about THEM!

Here’s the big question: what are you doing to prepare that if your next employer knew you were doing it, they would be more inclined to have an open and honest dialogue with you?  The next time you meet with a prospect or client, open the conversation with this simple phrase:

“In preparing for this meeting I took some time to discover a few things that would allow me to succeed in this role…” Then simply highlight the two or three critical things that you did to prepare and watch what happens to the atmosphere of the call. You will blow away the last interviewee (your competition) who opened their meeting in silence, waiting to be interrogated!

The less you talk about yourself, the more you have to prepare to talk about them. In the nine-box matrix, it’s about meeting their expectations!  And the more you talk about them, the more likely they will be interested in you. Back to our matrix, it’s about creating the allusive BUYING SIGNAL, and mitigating any risks about a good FIT.

Not exactly the secret formula you were hoping for. But it is an obvious formula—so obvious that most job seekers ignore it.

Here are ten keys that you can use to create your own successful interview habits:

  1. Learn about their business—their products/services, customers, industry trends, key initiatives, financial status, and competition.
  2. Discover something about the person you are meeting with. Google them, talk to their colleagues, or call others in the industry who have insights. Use a targeted organization networking approach.
  3. Plan questions that establish your expertise and get them to think in new ways. The more thought provoking your questions are, the more your prospective employers will respect and remember you!
  4. Identify the benefits of your value to this potential employer. Your value proposition needs to be clear, concise, credible and compelling!
  5. Prepare ideas that hold value for your ‘next employer.’ Your language needs to reflect a focus on solutions…meeting their needs!
  6. Communicate an outline of your meeting prior to the actual interview. Ask them to review and provide you with feedback. Getting their buy-in before you walk in the door is critical, and it demonstrates your commitment to delivering value.
  7. Identify the resistance that you are most likely to encounter and prepare ideas, case studies, testimonials or expert opinions to help reduce their reluctance to move forward.  OVER-qualified?  No INDUSTRY experience…
  8. Plan how you will close the interview appointment and decide what agreements you need to ask for.
  9. Remind yourself to be friendly and courteous to everyone that you encounter. Your potential employer is constantly deciding how much they like you, how much they trust you and how much confidence they have in you.
  10. BE CONFIDENT in your PRE-Offer and POST-Offer negotiation approaches.  It takes time—often a long time—to build your personal brand. And it takes only a few seconds for it to be destroyed.

Closing The Deal: Putting It ALL Together

JigSaw-partnershipEvery step in the job search process is aimed at obtaining interviews.  It is at that point, a potential hiring manager decides if you are right for the job, and, just as important, it is your time to evaluate whether the job is right for you.

Most interviews follow a predictable format, with steps that both the interviewer and applicant follow to decide if both will benefit from working together.  The best interviews are ones in which both participants are equal and can have a mutually beneficial, interactive conversation regarding the opportunity at hand.


This Week’s Session, Thursday, June 6th… Closing The Deal I: Interview STRATEGIES, including MoneySpeak and PRE-Offer Negotiation


chalk1Think 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, our FIRST 10 steps!
  2. greeting and rapport,
  3. questions/answers, and …
  4. meeting closure.  Get the offer, or awareness of next steps!

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

**  A Career TIP from CareerDFW

The Three Phases of Every Interview

There are three things that must be discussed in every good interview:  First, the Candidate, a discussion usually conducted in the past tense to assess experience, knowledge, and skills… do they meet the potential employer’s REQUIREMENTS?

Second, the job itself.  Beyond meeting requirements, each Candidate must be judged for their potential to meet EXPECTATIONS.  As important, will the Candidate “fit in” on the team and Company culture?  This discussion occurs in the future tense… very obvious transition in a “good” interview.

Last, but certainly not least, is the quality of FIT.  While this is the most subjective and dysfunctional part of the process, it is where both sides must come together for a desired outcome.  This is where the job seeker can mitigate the risk of a BAD decision.  When both sides like and find the other to be attractive, a “right” employment opportunity can result.  This is also where the QandA can become more defensive in nature.

Three CRITICAL Interviewing Skills

  1. Asking “the right” questions… and knowing when to ask them.  The best communication happens when triggered by a question… it brings focus to the interaction that must occur.
  2. Answering questions effectively… and knowing when to STOP talking.
  3. MoneySpeak… why do THEY ask and are YOU prepared to answer?

Getting The Most Out of Social Media: Task#1 Your LinkedIn Profile

chalk1THE Careerpilot’s high TECH-HIGH Touch philosophy comes into play with the explosive growth of business professionals using social networks to build relationships, meet new contacts, and market themselves.  While the Internet provides many choices, diving into the virtual meet-and-greet can represent a real challenge.  Which one is worthy of your start-up investment: learning curve time and actual ROI of your efforts…

Where to begin? THE Careerpilot encourages a choice that reasonably assures one’s confidentiality, has a multitude of useful applications, and can serve as your focal point of networking decisions.  A terrific launching site for such an effort is LinkedIn.


THIS Week’s session, Thursday, January 24th… A LinkedIn Primer: Task #1 Your Profile, a discussion to help you make the push-pull decision in creating your digital footprint


Pilot OnboardJoining a network like LinkedIn is simple, but turning it into a powerful networking tool takes a bit of savvy. Here’s a start at how to set up a profile and put it to work — without HIGH TECH, social-networking anxiety.

Plan to spend a few hours simply exploring the site and its many applications… Your first goal is to establish your profile and begin developing your network. Then make time to check in at least once a week to see what everyone is up to.

TASK #1… The Evolution of a Compelling Profile

Before you connect to others, you must first set up a profile page at http://www.linkedin.com. While your page will detail your work history, don’t assume you can copy and paste your resume and be done with it. Your profile page should reflect your professional interests, passions, and ambitions at this point in your career.  It becomes the core of this high tech, written collateral.

As you proceed, keep your goal in mind…

·         Do you want to have that fully optimized, SEO-centric magnet that attracts interested parties TO you?  -OR-

·         Do you want that terrific, user-friendly home page and profile that is easy for a reader to navigate?  -OR-

·         Do you want your profile and homepage to be appealing to both?

A checklist of things to include:

  1. A picture. It’s been said that, “People do business with people.”
  2. A specific and high impact “headline” with keywords relevant to your industry… your headline follows you around through several of the interactive applications.
  3. Preferred contact method and data… At the bottom of your profile, you can let people know how you want to be contacted — through LinkedIn, by e-mail, or over the phone.
  4. Desired information, networking “targets… What you want to be contacted about… At the bottom of your profile, you can select interests like reference requests, consulting offers, or career opportunities. Be sure to update your profile to stay in synch with your career.

…and don’t overlook the “power” of recommendations… start thinking of who you might want to encourage to endorse you and your services.  Job seekers: your references are a great start!

The LinkedIn site will walk you through filling in the blanks, but you’ll want to think ahead about two areas:

Positioning Yourself

Just like on a GREAT RESUME, directly underneath your name will be a short headline of four or five words. More than anything else in your profile, these words are how people find and define you.

Are you seeking to connect mainly with others in your field and industry? Then a simple, title-oriented headline like “Senior Product Development Director at The XYX Corporation” is best. Are you seeking to branch out into other areas? “Leader of High-Performing Engineering Projects” alerts others quickly to the value you would bring to an organization. Regardless of how you phrase your headline, make sure to use keywords that will help others find you.

Be Clear on What You’ve Done, and What You Want to Do…

Whether you are an active job seeker, or simply using LinkedIn to extend the reach of your personal marketing plan, POSITIONING yourself clearly is the epicenter of efficient networking… just as if you were beginning to launch an active JOB search to implement your Personal Marketing Plan!

When listing your past job experiences, use verbs as much as possible. Show what you’re passionate about, and what you’ve learned from each job. Consider listing “non-jobs” you’ve done, like chairing a conference or leading a panel.

Yes, A GREAT Resume!

Compass-seaL

Your work in Achieving CareerFIT led you to the determination of your career objective, exactly what is the best next step for you in your career transition?  It also suggested strongly that you set your straw-man offer criteria to guide you in moving forwardKnowing what your next right employment  is.

This will help focus your actual search. With clarity in your positioning and targeting goals, you can write a great resume to convey “your story.”


Next Session, Thursday, May 3rd: In Sync Personal Marketing Collateral Materials


Your Personal Market Collateral

WRITTEN COLLATERAL…

  1.  A GREAT Resume that positions you clearly as a terrific FIT with your career objectives… and in today’s technologies, a database-friendly, asci version;
  2. A correspondence template package that consistently carries your communication strategy, your message… and in today’s technologies, a reformatted, text only version of your resume ready for email needs;
  3. A high impact, personal biography and/or NETWORKING PROFILE that you can lead with in your referral based networking strategies.

VERBAL COLLATERAL…

  1.  A well rehearsed “two minute commercial,” your answer to the most asked question during career transition, “Tell me about yourself.”
  2. Several, well though out, “elevator speeches,” examples that support your primary, positioning, key words. These are usually your representative accomplishments under the SUMMARY of your resume. (30 seconds to 1 minute)
  3. A succinct “qualification statement” that you can use as an introduction at networking events. (usually 20 – 30 seconds)
  4. An “exit statement” which explains your availability, to address the second most asked question during career transition.

Having your collaterals prepared and rehearsed prior to active personal marketing is central to your success and builds confidence.

Consistency in the delivery of your message is what creates memory… and frequency of your message helps you get there… strive for top-of-mind awareness where it relates to your candidacy.

Your personal marketing COMMUNICATION STRATEGY, your story, must be built around keywords and phrases that best describe your unique value proposition. These words come from your concerted self-assessment process. The challenge is matching the words that best describe your next right employment with the words that best describe a potential new employer’s needs.

A communication strategy that does not achieve that is doomed to otherwise controllable difficulties—and, worst…failure. So, understand that getting recruited involves two distinct elements…

  • Being screened for meeting a JOB’s requirements… a subjective process created by the potential employers of the marketplace. They set the bar HIGH, defined by functional experience, skill set, and knowledge standards so they don’t have to interview every JOB applicant.
  • Being selected by the hiring authority… another subjective process which now involves their assessment of a job-seeker’s FIT with their needs, including personality, work habits, and other ‘cultural’ standards. They cannot hire all qualified candidates. They must choose.

A job-seeker, then, can give themselves choices when they choose to embrace the OTHER Job Market. They improve their probability of success by nearly eliminating the pre-mature screening and rejection process.

Instead, the SMART job-seeker chooses to build relationships with potential employers first, researching attractive trends and targeted organizations in order to maximize probability of success, avoiding the HR-driven screening process to identify appropriate opportunities for securing their next right employment.

JOB SEARCH as a Second Language

Compass-seaLHaving your collaterals prepared and rehearsed prior to active personal marketing is central to your success and builds confidence.

Consistency in the delivery of your message is what creates memory… and frequency of your message helps you get there… strive for top-of-mind awareness where it relates to your candidacy.


This week’s session, Thursday, February 15thDeveloping your in-sync Personal Marketing Collaterals


Your personal marketing COMMUNICATION STRATEGY, your story, must be built around keywords and phrases that best describe your unique value proposition. These words come from your concerted self-assessment process. The challenge is matching the words that best describe your next right employment with the words that best describe a potential new employer’s needs.

A communication strategy that does not achieve that is doomed to otherwise controllable difficulties—and, worst…failure. So, understand that getting recruited involves two distinct elements…

  • Being screened for meeting a JOB’s requirements… a subjective process created by the potential employers of the marketplace. They set the bar HIGH, defined by functional experience, skill set, and knowledge standards so they don’t have to interview every JOB applicant.
  • Being selected by the hiring authority… another subjective process which now involves their assessment of a job-seeker’s FIT with their needs, including personality, work habits, and other ‘cultural’ standards. They cannot hire all qualified candidates. They must choose.

A job-seeker, then, can give themselves choices when they choose to embrace the OTHER Job Market. They improve their probability of success by nearly eliminating the pre-mature screening and rejection process.

Instead, the SMART job-seeker chooses to build relationships with potential employers first, researching attractive trends and targeted organizations in order to maximize probability of success, avoiding the HR-driven screening process to identify appropriate opportunities for securing their next right employment.

***

“WORDCRAFT” your resume and other collateral materials…Create a forward looking “story” of what YOU CAN DO. Target your accomplishments, such as increased sales and profits, reductions in costs, etc. Focus on achievements that support your qualifications for your job goal.

Are you challenged in finding the right words?  LinkedIn can be a valuable tool for you to use in self-assessment.  Access the LinkedIn Profiles of other professionals like you… experiment by searching for a person like you in LinkedIn.

KEYWORDS become personalized phrases by incorporating adjectives and adverbs that uniquely FIT you…

Those phrases should be confirmed for the reader and listener with high-impact accomplishment statements (behavioral evidence, like the bulleted information in a well written resume)… a well-‘crafted’ accomplishment statement can trigger appropriate questions that allow you to expand on your strengths, with…

…positive, supportive examples, elements of your career story—PROOF of your value proposition.

ADVICE OVERLOAD vs. “LISTENING TO YOUR MARKETPLACE”

Compass-seaLMany people talk about “information overload” and “decision fatigue” when it comes to how to conduct your job search, or write your resume, or develop your LinkedIn Profile…or answer those challenging interview questions.


This Week’s session, Thursday, November 30th… Development of YOUR Personal Marketing Plan (PMP)


chalk1THE Careerpilot  believes there’s another side to the coin… Receiving options is actually motivational and liberating, with the right mindset.  Asking for someone else’s advice isn’t about getting the right answer out of them. Rather, it’s about adding perspective to your view so you can choose the right answer for you.

So, how can you ensure another ‘second opinion’ doesn’t cloud your judgement?

First and foremost, understand that your ‘core personality,’ defined by your unique strengths, skills, interests, preferences, and values (Step#1: ASSESSMENT), drives your “gut feel” on matters of choice.  TRUST that!

In THE Careerpilot’s 12-Step M.A.P. for career transition, Steps #1 and #2 are in place for one simple reason: If you don’t have a grip on what you want to do next in your career, work toward giving yourself that grip!  Your core personality should be represented in your offer criteria BEFORE development of your Personal Marketing collateral materials, like your resume!

If you cannot connect your motivated skills and strengths to supportive and confirming episodes from your actual experience, you should be utilizing your first wave of implementing your Personal Marketing Plan (Step#9) to identify and resolve this vital issue. Only then will it become effective to proceed with Step#3 in the development and practice of your collective communication strategies (keywords) in the design of your collateral materials, both verbal and written.

Remember: Perfect practice makes PERFECT!

Turning Good Opportunity into INTERVIEWS

chalk1What is the most critical skill to one’s  CAREER success – yet also the most elusive?

While many skills contribute, ONE stands out… 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.


NEXT Session: Thursday, September 21st…Turning Opportunity into INTERVIEWS: Targeted organization networking made simple.


Pilot OnboardA 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, in general, fine tune your personal salesmanship 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. 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.
  • A qualification statement that can be used in introducing yourself

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?