Posted on: June 2nd, 2020 by
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How do you influence a hiring manager to at least consider you for a telephone screening interview?   Give him what he’s looking for.  What is that and how do I accomplish it?  The job description gives you all you need to know.


Focus on the top 5 to 8 items on the position description.  They are the key items that are the priority skills or experiences the hiring manager needs.  In order for your resume to stand out from everyone else, your skills and experiences should match those 5 to 8 items.  On your resume, back up your experiences and skills with specific measurable results that parallels the requirements on the position description.


Next, match the language used in the position description.  Some companies use a computer to screen incoming resumes.  The computer compares the words on the resume with the words on the position description.  Make sure your resume reflects the most commonly used words for your function, education and skills.  It sounds simple.  Hiring managers give you the answers to constructing your resume through the position description.


While hiring managers are looking for someone who can do the job, they also want someone who has both hard and soft skills.  Hard skills tend to be function-specific and technical. Hard skills are objectively measured, easy to demonstrate, and easily proven like:  Programing a computer, designing a flow chart, making as sales presentation or auditing the books.  Soft skills are a set of behaviors that are difficult to measure, subjective, and hard to prove, like:  Creative problem solving, collaboration, persuasion, an effective team member.


So, when you’re creating a resume or preparing for an interview, ask yourself, “How do I demonstrate or verify my skills?”  The best way is to provide concrete examples when describing a previous role, skills or experience.  Also, don’t use words that diminish or minimize your contribution.  Words like “maintain” tell the hiring manager that you don’t improve performance or add to results, you just keep the status quo. If you’re a hiring manager would you want someone to keep things static, or someone who will grow and accelerate your results?


Use words that sell and tie them to a result, like. “accelerated revenue by xx%, decreased costs by $xx, improved productively through xxx, or increased days cash on hand by xx.”  These words tell a story about your contribution.  Some words are neutral like created, delivered, analyzed, developed or organized.  Anyone can use these neutral words, but you need to tie them to some form of positive outcome.


Hiring managers can be influenced, but they need to see the connection between what you have done in the past to what the organization needs currently or in the near future.  They need to see solutions that you have achieved to their issues, or provide them with opportunities to improve their performance or productivity.


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Posted on: May 26th, 2020 by
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Today more interviews are being done by video conferencing instead of face-to- face.  Ever see a video of yourself or hear a recording of your voice and say, “Do I really look or sound like that?”  Usually it’s not very complementary.  The same goes for how you look and sound during a video conference call.  Here are some tips to consider when planning a video interview.


You need to look the part – Make the assumption that you’re interviewing in person at someone’s office.  Dress the part, be well groomed, and highly presentable.  Never wear a white shirt or blouse as it will wash out your features.  Also, plaids or confusing patterns will detract from your overall appearance.


Room arrangement – Place your computer at a location where the windows are in front or to the side of you.  If the window is behind you, you’ll appear in silhouette.  If possible, don’t have a busy background scene like a bookcase with knick-knacks to distract the interviewer.  They could be more interesting than you.  You want the focus on your face and what you have to say, not your surroundings.


Lights, shade and lamps – The position of light can make you look attractive or not.  A table lamp with a soft but moderately bright light on each side of the computer will illuminate your features in a pleasing way.  If the light only comes from one side it will put the other side of your face in shade, giving you an ominous look.  Remember:  Windows in front.


Type of devise – Desk top computers are easier to position as they have a built-in camera that is eye-level.  Laptops, webcams, and smartphones can be problematic if they are set to a wide-angle view.  If you get too close your facial features become distorted, as in a fun house, and you’ll appear clown-like.  Because your nose is in front, it could appear twice its normal size.


Angle to the camera – Always try to be at eye-level with the camera. This is more difficult with a laptop computer.  If the laptop is below looking up at your face, the view is very unflattering.  Actors will never allow the camera to be at that angle.  The camera should be at eye level or slightly above.  Look at the camera and not the computer screen so your eyes aren’t half closed.


Voice and sound management– Make sure you and your interviewer can hear and understand each other.  When people interview, sometimes it causes stress that raises the voice volume and tone.  Lower your voice so you don’t sound “squeaky”.  A lower voice is more pleasing.  Also, slow down your verbal pace so you sound more focused rather than rattling on without thought.


Other considerations – When getting ready, put small post-it notes on the computer screen: Questions, key points, position description or other important information for talking points.  The interviewer can’t see them, but they’re a great resource for you.


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Posted on: May 19th, 2020 by
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If you thought your boss was a micromanager when you were both at your normal locations, now that you’re working from home or on your own, the hovering boss may become more of a pest.  The boss may feel they have lost proximity to the work and therefore less control of performance.  Some may tend to increase the amount of contact with you to make sure the work is being done the “right way”.  Some insecure bosses may want to check up on you every 15 minutes, thinking it will produce better results and a higher level of motivation.  What do you do about it?  Develop a strategy to keep the boss happy while keeping your sanity.


Plan ahead – Based on past experiences with your boss, how often does he/she ask for an update or a briefing on what’s going on?  What are the usual questions that are asked?  Figure out a timeline that you can:

  1. Initiate the contact first
  2. Provide the information that you believe the boss will want to know

By being the initiator, you not only provide the necessary information, but you calm down any concerns the boss may have about your ability to do the job while keeping him/her informed.  Also, you may want to set a time-certain to communicate.  One alternative is at the end of the week to report on results.  Another is the beginning of the week to set expectations.  Determine which works best for you, but hopefully not both.


Overcommunicate – The preferred communication method is by email.  In this way, you control the right amount of information and timing.  The telephone is the least preferred method as the length and depth of information is controlled by your boss, with questions that go beyond an update and moves into steps and methods.  The frequency of communications is variable:  More than you think necessary but at least what the boss needs to feel comfortable.  Each boss is different.  Your objective is to lower their anxiety as they’re not immediately on top of things.  As time goes on, lengthen the time of contact.


Initiate an electronic meeting – Every once in a while, initiate a video conference call.  This is not imperative, but it does increase the comfort level of the boss, especially when the boss is communicating with their boss by saying, “I’ve had both written and video meetings with my people and everything is OK”.  It helps the boss with his/her boss.  Also, to increase your “brownie points”, pose a question or two where you are soliciting the advice or alternatives to a question like, “What do you think about….”, or “What is the downside of….”.  In this way the boss feels good about your engaging in problem solving or providing counsel, plus it increases the openness of your communications.


However, always contact the boss immediately when something goes wrong or a deadline won’t be met.  If you wait too long, your credibility will be in jeopardy.


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Posted on: May 17th, 2020 by
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Working-from-home (WFH) is a new phenomenon for many people.  It takes some getting used to.  There are ways to make it more productive and lessen the problems both personally and when a working group.  My suggestions:


Communications – This is where most work-from-home strategies affect productivity and performance, both for the individual and the work group.  As an individual, social distancing affects the interaction that most people need.  We are social animals.  A certain amount of contact with others is necessary.  Keep your personal connections active.


As far as the work group is concerned, the word I would use is “overcommunicate”.  During normal working conditions you have face-to-face interactions that produces give-and-take conversations with a back-and-forth forum that provides clarity to questions, a discussion of issues, potential problems, and a dialog that is needed to understand the goal, objectives, strategies and results expected from each member of a group, and the group as a whole.  Points are made to unearth impediments, holes in the approach, or external influences affecting results.  Unless the boss is extremely articulate, and each member of the group is exceptionally insightful, most communications fall way short when using the written word.  Even electronic videos don’t provide the environment for a deeper meaning to directions, questions or concerns, unless the sessions are deep and convened often.  Even when someone thinks they understand, the piece that falls through the cracks may be the part of the work-product that is critical to its success.  Group interactions are imperative to WFH


Breaks – Take a break every hour or so.  You need to get the blood flowing again while creating a pause in your mental focus.  The break doesn’t need to be more than 5 minutes, but just enough time to re-think what your doing and readjust your passive positioning.


Every 3 hours or so take a longer break, maybe for a small lunch or snack.  The reason why I say “small” is since your mostly passive, it’s easy to gain weight you don’t need.  You may also find that in mid-afternoon a half-hour rest to read a book, watch the news or take a walk will do a world of good.  Some find that a mid-afternoon set of mild exercises give you the stimulation you need to finish the day with renewed energy.


Hours – Unless you have a deadline or get involved in a project, don’t work past your normal hours.  If your normal pattern is 8 to 5 with an hour for lunch, try to keep that schedule.  You’ll find it easier to adjust to a new pattern of work if your hours are similar to your pre-WFH worktime.  If you find that you work more productively in the early evening, no problem.  Take off the morning or afternoon time so you have two-out-of- three segments of work, and one segment doing different things you enjoy.


Define expectations.  Provide constant feedback.  Interact openly with co-workers.  Track progress and results.


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Posted on: May 12th, 2020 by
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We are in unusual times.  You need to take unusual actions to find an open position which will advance your career direction.  While some have been furloughed or moved to a lesser job, others are losing their developmental skills which reduces their marketability.  Here are ideas to help position you for the next step.


First, you need to be proactive and take a firm hand in your effort and time.  A passive response during this time period may set you back a year or more than your more active colleagues.


Redo you resume – Certain words have more impact than others.  The words you use on your resume need to do two things:  Match the skills and experiences that the hiring manager is looking for in a candidate, and show measurable results.  Your resume needs to be compelling so the hiring manager wants an interview to learn more about you and how you achieved your results.  Match the words and experiences defined in the position description with both hard and soft skills.  Make sure you validate the transferable skills and experiences from past jobs to the new one.


Critical skills – In the aftermath of the pandemic, organizations will be looking for those who can increase productivity, reduce cost or accelerate income.  Highlight your skills, abilities, experiences and results in those areas.  Hiring managers are not looking to maintain their status, they have to reverse the stall from the past half year to a higher level.


Upgrade your credentials – Determine what new skills or knowledge are being sought after within your function and industry:  Project Management?  New system or application?  Data Analysis?  Consumer behavior?  Market Trends and Projections?  Find an on-line course to upgrade your certification in the most asked for skills.  You can be one step ahead of all others when the marketplace opens up.  Volunteer in an area that will expand your experiences.  Supplement your core competencies with knowledge and abilities that will demonstrate your readiness at a new and higher level.


Practice interviewing skills – You should be at the top of your game while interviewing by telephone (usually the first contact), a video interview (social distancing) or a face-to-face interview (the last step).  The more you practice the better your results.  Take your resume and view it as would a hiring manager.  What questions will be asked?  Usually the key questions are, “What did you do?  How did you do it?  What were the results?”


Connect with others – People that you know, who are in the function or industry you are pursuing, can be your greatest asset.  They know what is going on, who is hiring, what skill organizations are looking for, when a job may open up, and sometimes, who is the hiring manager?  Make contact with those who can assist your efforts.  Ask for their help.


Preparation and practice are the keys to your next career step.  Take advantage of the time available to you now, before the rush.


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