It’s Not Your Fault!

Posted on: March 3rd, 2015 by
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I can’t tell you the number of times over my career I interviewed as a finalist candidate and didn’t get the job. What was wrong with me? It wasn’t until I was a Vice President that I understood why I might not have gotten those jobs earlier.

It wasn’t me… it was them! They changed the rules of the game. Let me give you two personal examples and then some ways hiring companies sometimes cause the issue:

I was the Corporate Director of Organizational Development completing a very successful reorganization of a mid-sized corporation with a sterling reputation, well respected in the profession and in demand. A major corporation looking for Directors for two of their divisions recruited me. I interviewed for one of them and was offered the position. I declined the offer, but suggested combining the two divisions into one job. The EVP was overjoyed that he could get a major contributor for both divisions for a few dollars more. He verbally made the offer and I verbally accepted.

I immediately tried to set up a meeting with my current boss to resign my position while the written offer was to be sent to me for my signature. My vice-president was on vacation so I scheduled the meeting for two weeks out. A week later I called the offering EVP to ask where was the letter of offer? He apologized that the offer couldn’t be put together because an internal candidate heard about the job combination and wanted the new job for himself. Needless to say, I cancelled my impending meeting to resign. Moral of the story: Never accept a verbal job offer. You can be badly hurt.

Another time I interviewed at a Fortune 50 company to find out later that they only wanted to “pick my brain” to find out how I solved a similar problem that they had.

Here are some other reasons why it’s not your fault if you don’t get the offered job:

• Your compensation falls over the mid-point for the position. The hiring manager thinks it may cause issues with peers
• Because of your obvious competence and high potential, others see you as a competitor for higher level jobs during the interview and vote for someone else
• You may scare the manager to whom you’ll report. Too much horsepower to manage
• The manager assumed the budget for the position would be approved. It wasn’t.
• The corporation, business or function was reorganized, changing or eliminating the job
• You were interviewed as “the model”, but were never considered as a hire
• You got caught in a political web. Someone in power wanted someone else.

I’m sure you can identify other reasons why it’s not your fault. The important thing to remember: Life isn’t fair. The job search process may not be fair. But when you connect with your dream job and the organization appreciates your value, it will all be worth the journey.

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Want to Re-Enter the Marketplace?

Posted on: February 24th, 2015 by

Many very talented people are out of the marketplace and want to get back in. They could be a spouse that took care of the kids for a few years, a caregiver, have been unemployed for a period of time, underemployed, or someone who just took some time off between jobs. Whatever the case, there are certain things you can do to reposition yourself to regain traction in the job market. There are at least four target areas for you to analyze and pursue:

#1 – Target the areas that you have the most experience, education and knowledge. Examine in great detail your resume as if you were a hiring manager. What jumps out to you? What are the threads and themes that give you an advantage? How are you unique? What about results?

#2 – Target those markets or geographies that have a favorable supply/demand equation for your particular talents and experience. Examples: Skills in various languages for translations, interpreters, document conversions, transcribers that are in demand in different markets. Or oil exploration workers in some markets. Or retail sales in high growth markets.

#3 – Target the jobs that are in higher demand and will potentially have more job opportunities:
• Healthcare: Nursing, administration, insurance, rehab, reception, fitness training
• Personal services: Individual personal care, tax preparation, accounting, day care
• Process improvement: Productivity improvement, quality, costs, cash flow
• Computer expertise: QuickBooks, SAP business applications, data input, analysis,
• Logistics, supply chain, distribution, trucking: Moving products from point to point
• Sales, merchandising: Retail positions, product/services marketing, brand marketing
• Others that may be unusual within your commutable area

#4 – Target those businesses and functions that need assistance with:
• Improved performance
• Increased revenue
• Enhancing efficiencies, effectiveness
• Reduced costs
• Team building emphasis

Why target these areas? With the economy beginning to turn upward, hiring organizations want to be in the front of the growth curve, accelerating results with jobs that add value and move their organization out ahead of the competition.

Once your in the marketplace, it’s much easier to move up, out or over to a more opportunistic position or function. Your job now is to connect your education and past jobs to open jobs and put together a search strategy to position you better. Use a pro to help you if you need help.

Another alternative is to connect with a product / company you believe in to network with people you know to market a service or product. If you’re good at networking and facilitating small work groups you can develop a small business that can grow into a full-time profession. I know and have helped people who started a home-based enterprise that has grown into a $10,000 a month business. All you need is time, the drive to succeed and networking skills.

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Equal To or Better Than (… Your Competition)

Posted on: February 17th, 2015 by
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As you develop your job search strategy, there’s one concept that you need to understand. When most companies are replacing someone, they want to find candidates that are equal to or better than the person they are replacing. Why? Because they now have the opportunity to increase the performance to a new level needed for the future. No matter how extraordinary or abysmal the performance was before, every hiring manager is looking for someone better.

So what’s the implication for you? First, unless your performance has the potential that is better than the person before you, you’ll fall short. Second, you need to be better than the other candidates interviewing for the same job as you: Your competition. Why replace someone with less skill, ability, or potential than the prior employee?

Some companies may reorganize the open function. Two of the questions you may want to ask the recruiting agent is, “Has the function changed since being vacated?” “Why is the position now open?” The answer to those two questions may give you some insight into the function. If the function has been changed, is it because the demands are higher or lower now? Has the function been split into two or combined with another function? Has the person before been promoted? Has the function experienced a series of turnovers in that no one yet has been successful? You might want to find out why, before you accept an offer.

So how do you go about figuring out if you’re equal to or better than your competitors?

1. The most important needs of the hiring manager will usually show up in the first 5 items of the position description. Compare your experiences with those top 5 items. If you fit those items at an 80 to 90% rate, you’re OK. If it’s less than 50% you need to focus both on your potential and past history of success.
2. Find the job requirements: Education, years of experience and so on. If you don’t fit the model they have described, your chances are less than 50% you’ll even get a response
3. Find out the name of your predecessor, then Google it. It’s amazing what an Internet search will tell you. While you’re at it, Google the hiring manager to find out where you might have a common experience or bond: Like past companies, schools, geography and functions managed in the past.
4. Ask key questions when interviewing. Here are three:
a. What was of special interest to you about my resume?
b. What are the short-term issues that you need solved immediately?
c. What are your expectations for results from this position within the first 12 months?

The closer you become to the model they require and the results they need, the closer you become to be the finalist candidate.

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7 Ways You Can Be Interviewed

Posted on: February 10th, 2015 by
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The common advice for a job interview is, “Be Prepared”. But prepared for what? There are many different types of interviews. Here are some examples:

THE TELECONFERENCE – By using Skype or Facetime you can be interviewed via computer in your home. Usually it’s a screening interview to see if a face-to-face interview is worth the cost. You’ll be one of 10 or 15 to be screened. Many times the questions are scripted so be expansive in your answers to demonstrate two things: competence and results.

THE PRE-INTERVIEW PROJECT – You are asked to complete a project, program or report prior to the face-to-face interview. The objective is to see if you are familiar with the work to be done. During the interview you’ll be tested on the practical application to see if you can explain what you did and why. If someone helped you complete the project it will show through.

THE FIRST INTERVIEW – This interview usually lasts about an hour. The interviewer’s objective is to identify “knockout” factors. Prepare by going through your resume and identify the results you’ve achieved for each and every item on the position description. You need to demonstrate expertise for each item listed.

THE SECOND INTERVIEW – This interview is focused on relationships and your ability to fit into the organization. You have already been vetted for competence. Now it’s time to be vetted for your ability to integrate into the existing organization and people. Focus on teamwork and your ability to interactively contribute to the working group. They don’t need a potential problem child.

THE CASE STUDY – You are given a case situation and expected to role-play in a near real-life environment. You are being tested to see how you deal with stress, organize the work, prioritize activities, plus your ability to manage a crisis. There is no way to prepare except to review other case studies available on the Internet.

THE CONSECUTIVE INTERVIEWS – You are to interview multiple people, one after another. Make sure you have enough time to review your prior interview and then prepare mentally for the next one. Understanding who is next, in what function, will help your preparation. Answer the questions based on the perspective of the interviewer and their function.

THE GROUP / PANEL – This interview is in a group setting with 3 to 6 or more people around a conference table asking questions about your experiences. It’s important to know who (or what function) is asking the question, which is why you need everyone’s name and job. Always answer the question looking at the person asking, to make it as personal a connection as possible.

The questions that you ask are also extremely important. Be prepared with impressive questions relating to the job you’re seeking, like, “What are the expectations for this position in the first 6 to 12 months?”

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Tell Me… What Problems Have You Solved?

Posted on: February 3rd, 2015 by
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Ask yourself, “Why would a hiring manger ask the question “what problems have you solved?” Simple answer. Almost all hiring managers have a short-term problem. As an interviewing candidate, find out what the problem is, then position yourself as the solution. Hiring managers are looking for candidates who:
• Have solved a similar problem in another organization
• Can successfully help me solve mine
• Are at the right organizational, level, pay rate, and is ready for the job
• Are a good fit in my department and won’t be a problem child
• Can also help with longer term strategic issues we will face in the future
• Can move up the organization

How do you respond so the hiring managers see you as the answer to their prayers? Here are some techniques to give you the advantage:

1. Take the job description for the open position and identify the 5 most needed experiences, which are usually at the top of the job description. Less important items are at the bottom.
2. Tailor your resume to parallel these 5 critical items. Highlight them at the top half of your resume so it’s the first thing the hiring manager sees after your name
3. Whenever possible, use the exact words within those 5 critical items from the job description
4. Insert a measurable result you’ve achieved in solving a similar problem
5. Design your resume to show progressive skill advancements over the past few years
6. Toward the end of your resume, identify activities that show support experiences to the 5 critical items: Computer skills, association membership, awards, and so on
7. Use the same technique during your interview to match your skill sets and experiences with the stated needs of the hiring manager as defined in the position description

Most hiring managers are looking for problem solvers, but their unsaid slogan is: “Trust then verify”. Since they can’t always take the word of a candidate, the hiring manager may or may not ask: “You’ve told me what you’ve accomplished, but now tell me:
• How did you measure your results?
• Who can validate your achievements?
• What role did you play? Were you the leader, a team member or in a support function?
Be prepared to answer in a succinct and straightforward way. Don’t give incoherent answers.

If you’re a problem solver, you’re in a perfect position for an interview, as long as you are credible and can verify your achievements with solid answers. Talk about results, not activities.

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