Who IS that masked man?

chalk1In order to market yourself, you must first know yourself, peeling back the layers of learned behaviors (Everyone has a ‘mask’)

The job search process is essentially a highly personalized marketing process.  The process starts with your candid self-assessment, which allows you to gain a thorough and workable understanding of who you are in product marketing terms.

When a Company looks for qualified employees, they seek functional evidence that demonstrates a job seeker’s ability to perform to expectations… especially those “motivated strengths” driven by personal preference and choice.  Remember, JOB REQUIREMENTS represent the HR screening process!

Especially if you are starting a resume “from scratch”, or if you are truly unsettled on next steps along your career path, this becomes a necessary first step in the process.


THIS WEEK’s session, Thursday, October 19, is a look at “Finding YOUR Career FIT,” facilitated by Brian Allen


Pilot OnboardIn The OTHER Job Market, buyers and sellers hold equal responsibility for the recruitment process.  The commodity is available, productive WORK… When employers have a need for someone to fulfill a specific role, often the most desired candidates are employed individuals with the credentials they seek.  Thus the employer must sell their Company to potential employees in the marketplace in order to attract the best of the lot.  Once identified, they simply select their choice and buy their services.

Seize control of such challenges.   Understand the nature of FIT.

Strengths          Strengths differ from skills, in that your strengths were not learned or taught, but inborn.  The kind of things which you find easy to do, when others struggle with the same task, can be thought of as a strength.  Perhaps you have used strengths on the job in the past, and if so, you should consider leveraging that strength in your future.

Unfortunately, many people never recognize their strengths, or don’t see a way to use them in the work roles they have played. But, what if you could….?

 Skills                     What we have learned, developed, or have experienced in the workplace.  Those tasks you have performed for another employer, for pay, in the past.  You need to consider skills in two ways:

  1. Competency, or how good you are at the skill, as well as
  2. Motivation, how you feel about performing the skill.

You want to focus on skills where you have both High Competency and High Motivation for your future career development.

Be careful about those skills with High Competency, but Low Motivation.  If you would rather never perform a skill that you have done well for years, it might not be wise to include that skill in your personal marketing collateral materials.

Interests      What kind of things would you enjoy doing, or learning about, even if there was no paycheck involved? Can you identify some topics or activities to which you are, and have always been, naturally drawn?  These might be called your Interests, and they are a key to career success.

Passions are simply very strong interests, and you may have heard someone give career advice about “following your passion!) Interests combined with skills can be very rewarding in the workplace.

Personality/Emotional Intelligence We are all different from one another, in many different ways.  Those differences do not make us wrong, or bad, but they can create conflict or poor communication between people who do not appreciate or understand natural differences.

Learning how you “see the world” differently than other people do can provide clues to how to better understand or relate to people.  This can provide a major advantage in a person who has to work with others, or lead others.

What are your natural preferences? The answer to this question can guide a person to make better decisions regarding their career.

Another difference that has gotten a lot of attention in recent years surrounds the issue of Emotional Intelligence.  This is the degree by which a person is both aware of their and other’s emotional state, as well as the degree by which they manage those emotions.  It seems likely that the higher your EQ, the more likely you will find success in relationships and in the workplace.

Values     What is most important to you, and what will you protect or defend if necessary? How do you expect to be treated in the workplace, by co-workers and leaders? What are the “rules” by which you choose to live your life? These are the rules that define how you, and others, should behave in society.  These “rules”, or values, can be the most important self-awareness a person should draw from when considering career moves.

If the work you do, or the people and organization where you perform you work, share some of your highest values, you are more likely to feel satisfied and fulfilled in that work.  Where our higher values are routinely violated, or when we are required to abandon some of them on a regular basis at work, the result can be frustration, anger, dis-engagement, and ultimately burn-out.

The problem is that we rarely think about our values, and probably can’t list them if asked. Even though we constantly use them to react to people or events.  Most values are buried deep in our minds.

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Ultimately, your goal is to secure the right employment for yourself…

That must start with your identification of what right is.  THAT requires some exploration, identification of key elements of your Career FIT, and planning to pull it all together, create focus… make it happen!

 

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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?

Task #2 and 3: Building a FOCUSED LinkedIn Network

AjustDaSailsNever allow your LinkedIn usage to spiral out of control… However, that said, you want to get to your statistical ‘tipping point’ as soon as possible to cut the workload.

Your ultimate goal with social media is to STAY FOCUSED.  Only connect with others who share your professional interests or are related to those interests in a complementary way… and can help you meet your goals.  After you’ve created your profile, it’s time to begin to connect to others.  Remember your goals and adjust to your growing comfort and confidence with this ever evolving digital tool.


Our next session is Thursday, September 14th… LinkedIn Primer Task#2&3: Build your social network and explore ways to apply for posted jobs.


Pilot OnboardLinkedIn will allow you to search for people you know to see if they’re already members. But once you connect to someone, you can also look at the profiles of anyone they know, and in turn anyone those people know. Because of these three degrees of separation, your network can grow rapidly. Before you begin connecting, decide who you want to connect to. LinkedIn suggests in its FAQ, “Only invite those you know and trust.”

I started with twenty contacts from my MSOutlook.  My first line has grown to well over two hundred by accepting and sending out INVITATIONS to people I know, are likely to be interactive within our network, or who could provide resources to me or the Candidates I serve… what’s really impressive is how this translates, numerically, into your second and third lines of contact… we’re talking, WOW!!!

The 411 on “How Not to Be Connected”

If someone contacts you and you don’t want to form a connection with them, you don’t need to flatly reject them and worry about the attendant awkwardness. When looking at the invitation to connect, simply hit “Archive.” The other person does not receive a message saying their invitation has been rejected, and you don’t have to worry about unwanted invitations clogging up your inbox.

Likewise, if you find that an existing contact is blasting you with too much information or making overly aggressive requests for introductions and recommendations, LinkedIn will let you remove that person easily — and without the contact knowing they’re out of your network.

If only it were that easy in real life.

What’s Next?

  1. Check in on “Network Updates.” Found on your LinkedIn homepage, Network Updates are kind of like your Facebook news feed. Check these periodically for a quick snapshot of what your connections are up to and sharing.
  2. Be identifiable. Find out who’s checking out your profile by allowing others to see who you are if you view theirs. When you click the information under “Who’s Viewed My Profile” on your profile page, you’ll be able to view users who have looked at your profile, stats on your profile’s number of views, and its appearances in search recently. To change this, go into your settings and click “See what others see when you’ve viewed their profile.”
  3. Export connections. Transfer your LinkedIn connections to another contact management system? LinkedIn enables you to easily export your connections. Just click on “Contacts,” “My Connections,” and then scroll down and click “Export Connections.” You have the option of either exporting as a .CSV or .VCF file.
  4. Easily find email contacts on LinkedIn. Speaking of connections, the “LinkedIn Companion for Firefox” is a great plugin that helps you identify the LinkedIn profiles of people who are emailing you. It also enables you to easily access other LinkedIn features via your browser.
  1. Leverage the power of LinkedIn Groups. Did you know that if you’re a member of the same group as another user, you can bypass the need to be a first degree connection in order to message them? In addition, group members are also able to view the profiles of other members of the same group without being connected. Join more groups to enable more messaging and profile viewership capabilities.

OK, I’m Prepared… NOW What?

happy-LABOR-dayYou’ve given yourself a Personal Marketing Plan… But, one last gut check:  Do you know where you’re headed (see: Offer Criteria) and HOW you’re planning to get there?  If you are not absolutely clear about what you want as that NEXT STEP in your career, envision an ideal position that will value you for the main characteristics and experiences you want to be hired for.


Thursday, September 7th… Implementing Your PMP:  Learn to manage the “waves” of time management and activity during your job search.


Pilot OnboardSince you need to be concise and clear when developing your Personal Marketing collateral materials (resume, BIO, verbal communication, and your LinkedIn profile),  it’s important to figure out what you best offer in your next position, so you know exactly what skills and experiences to highlight.  Make FIT happen!

RESEARCH: Analyze Your Target Industry

Once you know what you want to do, your next step is identifying where you want to be—think industry, city, and companies. Then, research your industry and key trends affecting it now: Read relevant industry news articles, research companies, and analyze job descriptions you’re interested in.

Find Your CareerFIT and Focus on CAREER Objectives

With your knowledge of your target industry, it’s time to figure out how you fit in (or want to). Identify, describe, and refine your key selling points with your end goal in mind. Then, craft them into 4-6 bullets, shooting for statements that are vivid and that clearly illustrate what you bring to the table over anyone else.

Ask Yourself

  • What is the intersection of your ‘value proposition’ and what your target industry, or specific Company, needs?
  • What are your most impactful areas of experience, knowledge, or skill?
  • What critical problems are you well suited to solve?

Pay Attention to the Nitty Gritty

As you begin to think about the type of career transition you want to make, what IS the next appropriate employment for you… start out by documenting what you already know to be true about your professional self.

  1. Give specific attention to what you spend the most time doing, those functional details of your work that have the greatest impact on your employer’s success, and, especially, what are you uniquely providing that gives value to your role?
  2. Take notes about when you’re feeling particularly unmotivated or unenthused about your job. Write down the tasks that bring you down as well as those that get you excited.
  3. It may seem like a tedious exercise, but if you stick with it, patterns will start to emerge. And it’s in teasing out these patterns that’ll help you build a picture of the role that’s right for you.

Tough Enuf’?

Compass-seaLToo 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.

Personal accountability, it seems, is something nearly everyone would like to have—and which many of us think we could benefit from working on.  In active job search, it would help a job seeker in identifying and maintaining focus on appropriate tasks and activities that generate success.  And from the more strategic career focus, it will create the confidence to be aware of, and act on, appropriate next steps along one’s career path.


This Week’s Session: Thursday, August 31 at The Egg and I in Addison…

Developing YOUR Personal Marketing Plan


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.

Pilot OnboardIt’s about adding good habits to your routine.  What behaviors should you engage in every day for greater grit?   Here’s a handful of the Careerpilot’s suggested habits to get you started.

  1. Set Realistic Boundaries… You can’t be mentally tough if you don’t take responsibility for your own situation. That means being firm about what is and is not acceptable to you instead of letting others influence your behavior and mood in ways that you don’t agree with. The mentally tough, in other words, “refuse to let other people dictate whether they’re going to have a good day or a bad day.” You must identify and rely on your unique internal voice/ compass.
  2. Accept Responsibility… You can’t get better if you don’t admit your short comings and weaknesses… and you can’t learn from mistakes if you refuse to accept responsibility for them. “Rather than make excuses for their mistakes or failures, seek explanations that will help you perform better moving forward.” Be assertive in creating your internal voice/ compass.
  3. Be Realistically Optimistic… When it comes to the right outlook for optimum resilience, it’s all about balance. Blue sky optimism will only lead to disappointment, but knee-jerk negativity will ensure you never even try to reach your full potential. To maintain just the right amount of optimism the mentally tough “strive to re-frame their negativity,” replacing “exaggeratedly negative thoughts with a more realistic internal voice/ compass.”
  4. Monitor Your Emotions… Contrary to popular belief, mental toughness isn’t about suppressing your emotions, it’s about being aware of and honoring them. The truly mentally tough “monitor their emotions throughout the day and recognize how their feelings influence their thoughts and behaviors.” They know sometimes reaching their greatest potential requires them to behave contrary to how they feel.
  5. Practice Self-Compassion… Nor is mental toughness about being your own harshest critic and strictest taskmaster. Instead, those with exceptional resilience speak to themselves with kindness and compassion, not judgmental self-bickering and bargaining. They forgive themselves for mistakes and cheer themselves on as they work toward achieving their goals.

So You Have a GREAT Resume…NOW What?

Compass-seaLStep #3 in Our 12-step Process had you beginning to develop your Personal Marketing collateral materials.  Like any good chemist with a fully stocked laboratory, you’ve made all those 1001 decisions, you’ve begun to practice your verbal collaterals along with your resume’s development… it FEELS like you’re ready for an active job search.  Better prepared, YES… READY?  Not without confirmation and coaching of your references… BEFORE you tackle social media branding.


NEXT Week’s session: LinkedIn TASK#1: Developing a Profile that is in-sync with yet amplifies your communication strategy


Pilot OnboardHow can one accomplish this critical element of your Personal Marketing Plan, your ‘digital footprint?’  Use the time you spend on LinkedIn to address your three critical tasks:

1.   Task #1 is to keep your profile as a dynamic reflection of what you learn from your networking experience, tweaking your way to better search page results.  This is worth more time in the beginning of your career transition, but regular time throughout.

2.   Task#2 is to be interactive by participating in appropriate Group discussions, ‘like-ing’ comments of your choice, private messaging the writers of those comments as potential new contacts, following targeted Companies, and regularly ‘updating your network by ‘share-ing’ articles or posting brief ‘white papers’ than express your knowledge and expertise.

3.   Task #3 is using available JOB seeking functionality.

More and more business professionals are using social networks to build relationships, meet new contacts, and market themselves. For the uninitiated, however, diving into the virtual meet-and-greet can be daunting. Where to begin?

For first-time users, or the “technologically timid,” or for anyone in career transition, the answer is LinkedIn.  While Facebook may be #1, it is more analogous to a cocktail party.

LinkedIn, on the other hand, while it is a solid #2, is more like attending a chapter meeting of a professional association.  Developed specifically for business, the site doesn’t run the risk of blurring your professional life with your private one; and with its Membership base growing exponentially, it serves virtually every industry and profession.

Joining a network like LinkedIn is simple, but turning it into a powerful networking tool takes a bit of savvy, some consistent time, and a commitment to controlling your ‘digital footprint.’  Set your job search habits to take full advantage of LinkedIn’s ever-changing algorithm and functionality.

LinkedIn can be your ‘digital roadmap’ to finding new contacts and being found!

Your Personal Marketing Collateral Materials

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.
  4. A clear and complete LinkedIn Profile, one that is based on your communication strategy and in synch with your other written collaterals.

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 collateral materials 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.

As we learned last week, 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.