Making Judgements About You

Posted on: May 24th, 2016 by
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As a candidate, there are basically four ways a hiring manager makes a judgment about whether you’re the best candidate: Your resume, interviews, references and lastly, your overall comportment, demeanor, manner, attitude, style and conduct. You probably know a lot about the first three items, so let’s talk about the fourth, which centers on your organizational fit.

Judgments are made about your potential “fit” into a job based on each and every contact you have with the hiring organization. Your behavior is as important as a resume. Why? Because behavior is a very telling indicator of who you are, how you will work with others and your potential success. Here are some of the “tells” during the job search process:

Being on Time: Lateness shows a disregard for the time of others. It demonstrates a lack of organization and scheduling. These are not good traits to show a potential employer.

How you shake hands: Firm handshakes show confidence and a more outgoing personality. Too strong a handshake may show aggressiveness and too weak may show insecurities.

Connecting through your eyes: Eye contact is a powerful devise for connecting with others, but only in moderation: Too much is disconcerting, like staring. Too little shows disinterest. Show a high level of interest in every person you meet, while being likable and engaging.

Treating others: You can diminish your candidacy by treating underlings (secretaries, receptionists, etc..) with apathy, and upper levels with exaggerated reverence. Interviewers notice these obvious behaviors. It’s a tip-off to problems ahead if hired.

Personal space: Different cultures have different “rules”. In the U.S., conversational space is usually about an arms length apart. Make sure personal space is comfortable for others.

Nervous habits: A few habits to stop doing: Constantly checking your watch or cell phone, keeping your eyes downcast, a nervous leg bounce, facial or touching ticks and biting your nails

Conversation stoppers: Some candidates interrupt an interviewer’s question or conversation so they can demonstrate how smart they are to make a point. That’s bad manners. If possible, talk about subjects that the interviewer is interested or wants to know more. Don’t make the mistake of talking exclusively about you. Include “the team” when discussing a group effort.

Responding to the interviewer: You want an engaging conversation, so respond to questions with direct and focused answers. Don’t ramble nor leave a void in the conversation as if you expect the interviewer to carry the responsibility of the discussion. Ask intelligent questions that pertain to the strategy or expectations of the organization. Find common ground, especially with the hiring manager.

These are just a few of the “rules of engagement” when on a job search. Remember: Hiring managers and their organization are making decisions and judgments about you every time you are in contact with them. Make each connection count.

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Don’t Be Fooled: Only Trust an Expert

Posted on: May 10th, 2016 by
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Beware of scams! If you’re looking for a professional to develop a job search strategy for you, write a “master” resume, or prepare you for interviews, you must have a highly competent and experienced pro. There are a lot of phony’s out there. Here are some questions to ask a prospective coach:

First off, you want to know how broad and deep the expertise behind a coach. Questions like:
How long have you been a career coach? (Is it a few months or 20 years?)
How many clients have you worked? (Is it 10 or 200?) What’s your rate of success? (97%)?
What levels, functions and industries have you worked? (Does it cover your goal? Senor, middle and lower levels?) A slick salesperson isn’t really going to help you!
Can you provide me with references from past clients in my field? (Even if you don’t plan to follow-up, what was the response? Maybe you won’t like the answer)

There’s a lot of slick marketing and graphic websites that seem to be all things to all people.
If the material sounds too good to be true, it probably is
Is it someone who is between jobs and looking for some easy cash at your expense?
A true professional wants to help the next talented generation to find a better, higher level job
Amateurs, like a “friend”, neighbor or relative can move you in the wrong direction
If you request information, do you get a barrage of emails and sales material? If you’re contacted more than 2 or 3 times, unsubscribe or tell them to take you off their contact list.

How much should good coaching cost?
I know of a woman who spent $5,000 for a resume that was worthless. I rewrote her resume, designed a job search strategy, improved her interviewing skills and helped negotiate her job offer for under $1500. She is now the senior marketing person for a manufacturing company.
The question is, “What motivates a competent coach?” It should be the value of the service to the client and not the money!

How does it work and when does the coaching stop?
Make sure you’re working with the top professional of the organization and not just a gofer working under the name of the principal
Coaching should stop when you get a new and better job and not before
The coaching process should be continuous until you’re hired
Coaching should include all aspects of the job search strategy, including an entry strategy into the new organization

Lastly, check out the coach’s background and experiences before you even start. Respond to the professional coach directly, not just a website. If you can’t personally talk with the key professional, go somewhere else where you can connect with someone you can really trust.

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Skills, Pay, Supply and Demand

Posted on: May 3rd, 2016 by
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Multiple polls say the economy is the number 1 issue in America. How are you affected?

1. Your pay is about the same earned income as it was in 1995, adjusted for inflation
2. If your debt is higher, (student loans) you’re well behind 20 years ago
3. The number of two income families is down from 1995; single providers has increased
4. 93 million people are currently out of work. Other millions are underemployed.

The top 10 highest paid workers in America are in jobs that need an advance degree beyond the undergraduate level: Doctor, lawyer, CEO, engineering manager, computer and information systems manager, and so on. On the other hand, scanning the top 100 jobs, none were unskilled workers. Not surprising.

While education is a consideration, the most important factor is the balance between three factors: Skill level, market demand and talent supply. Jobs that are higher paying have higher skills, are in high demand jobs, with a low supply of talented candidates. I have worked with high school graduates who found very high paying jobs based on their high level of skills in an area of low supply/high growth. On the opposite side, I have worked with unskilled college graduates, who are looking for a job that anyone could do, with or without a degree.

So, what does this all mean for you?

1. Be careful about choosing a major in high school, college, graduate or technical school. The path you chose must be able to progressively sustain you for 20 years or more.
2. If you currently have a degree in a low demand, high supply function, get an advanced degree, certification or accreditation in a high demand, low supply area
3. If you’re well into your career, seek a transfer to another function that is connected to your skill set. Expand your experiences, create additional value and multiply your options
4. If you have skills or a hobby that can move you to a different but highly desirable job, find out what you need to do to qualify to make the transition
5. Find a volunteer organization where you can gain experience in a function that is different from your current role. Test it out.
6. Change your career direction by taking a lower paying job that has an accelerated career path that will take you faster and further over time
7. Ask your boss if there’s a way to expand your area of responsibility or take courses to expand your skill set
8. Take night courses in a tangent skill area. Moving from marketing to finance is too great a leap, but shifting from sales to marketing isn’t.

Shifting your career strategy isn’t difficult if you have a plan and determination. Expanding your skill sets is an impressive attribute that hiring managers want to see.

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Why is Your Resume Rejected?

Posted on: April 26th, 2016 by
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If you send out 10 resumes you should receive a positive response for a telephone interview from at least 2 of them, or a 20% rate. On the other hand, if you send out 10 resumes and never hear back, something is wrong. What’s the difference between these two examples?

First of all, you should get some kind of response even if they only say that they received your resume. If you don’t get a “thank you for applying”, it tells you something about their management style and professionalism.

Secondly, your resume should match at least 70% of the position description requirements. Don’t expect to move your candidacy forward if you can’t meet what the hiring company is looking for. One of the major reasons that applicants never hear back is the resume doesn’t even come close to the job specs.

Third, your resume must show results that can be applied to the open position, and better yet, show that you’ve done it before. Nothing will effectively turn a hiring manager’s attention to you then by demonstrating success from a past experience to apply to a current issue.

Fourth, if your sending out a multitude of generic resumes and don’t hear back for a telephone-screening interview, chances are you’re way off the mark. That’s why generic resumes don’t work. Each resume has to be tailored to fit the requirements of the job without fabricating your experiences. If your experiences aren’t at least 50% of the position description, your chance of receiving a telephone interview is very low. A compatibility of 70% or more means a higher percent chance for a telephone interview. The rest of the interview has to do with compatibility and “fit”.

Rejection always hurts. You may think that hiring organizations fail to understand what you can do for them. That may be true. But who is responsible for convincing them of your value? You may not be communicating your value well enough. No one is saying “no” to you because they know you personally. Rejection comes from the analysis of your background compared to what they need.

When your resume and “fit” are compatible at 70% or better, you’ll find that your response rate will start to move much higher. Why not 100%? Because are other factors like:

•They’re looking for same-industry experience or a higher level of complexity

•They want an MBA, a specific college major or more specialized experiences

•They don’t want to move you across the country when a local, quality candidate is nearby

There’s one best way to get a better job. Show the hiring manager that you can make a significant difference to his results beyond all others.

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Thinking About Becoming a Consultant?

Posted on: April 19th, 2016 by
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Many a professional, frustrated or tired of their jobs, have asked me what it’s like to be a consultant, and if they should try it. They envision “the good life”: World travel, your own boss, free time, and excellent income. Question: Why does an organization need a consultant In the first place? Primarily, the organization needs help with an issue that requires an outside, objective view. They need an outside expert. Note the word “expert”. If you are not an expert in a field or subject, why would anyone want to hire you as a consultant?
Here are some pro and con thoughts to consider:

You’re your own boss. You can make your own decisions. Well, at least some.
You have a great deal of freedom and flexibility in your work, schedule, time and fees
You have a great deal of diversity and variety in the work. Each consulting project is uniquely different. On the other hand, the expectations for results are very high.
Financial rewards are much greater than your current income. Well, maybe.
If you’re very well known in your profession, you have a leg up on the competition
Marketing skills and excellent contacts are two of the keys to success. If you don’t have either, move this consideration to the minus column.

If you’re not the very best, forget it: Competency, relevant experience and prior successes
Others will be implementing your recommendations. It’s frustrating when you can’t do it.
Consulting assignments are gained through referrals. Who is going to refer you?
Travel is unending with marketing presentations, actual on-site consulting or follow-up
Marketing is a constant never-ending process. It usually takes up to 30% of your time.
Your financial horizon is about 3 to 6 months out. Your income is zero when not consulting.
The lack of social contact in an office means there is no one to bounce ideas around
The costs are high: Personal/family benefits, insurances, retirement, creating a corporation, legal advice, accountants, tax support and so on.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS – What happens if… ?
The economy falters, companies can’t afford consultants and few full-time jobs are available
Your reputation for quality work isn’t widespread. Where do the referrals come from?
Your family life is disrupted with your travel and lack of time with them
Major swings of income cause pressure that some families can’t handle.

This list is only a small insight into the issues to move from a full-time job to consulting. You need to be: Expert in your function, known in the industry, independent in your work, highly confident in your abilities, interpersonally swift, have a skill in marketing and a group of influential leaders willing to refer you to others. No small feat. Think very long and hard before making the jump. On the other hand, I never regretted nor questioned my decision 35 years ago.

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