Posted on: November 8th, 2011 by
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Bill Kaufmann, President of My Greener Future

What is a mini-pitch?   Mini-pitchA well-practiced articulate and impressive response of 20 to 30 seconds to questions that you know will be asked of you in an interview.

OK, let’s start at the beginning.  How do you know the questions that will be asked of you (or at least 80 to 90% of them?). Simple.  Look at the ad, position description or definition of the open position on the company’s website.  Make a list of the “must have’s” and “would like to have” that the company has established.  Then take your resume, which parallels the position to be filled.  Now look at it objectively.  If you were the hiring manager, what would be the questions you would ask?  Most questions will focus on the hiring manager’s query for each item on your resume:

  • What did you do?
  • How did you do it?
  • What were the results?

(This material is covered in another “GETTING HIRED” article called Universal Q & A’s)

Mini-pitches should be practiced and perfected in content and delivery then delivered spontaneously. The key elements of a mini-pitch response are:  define the issue (what were you trying to resolve?), the action you took (what steps did you take?) and the results (what were the positive outcomes?).

Here’s an example to the question:  “HOW DID YOU OBTAIN THOSE RESULTS?” (Imagine you are currently interviewing for an Assistant Product Manager position and talking about an item on your resume about increasing revenue as a Marketing Analyst for a consumer products company)  Your mini-pitch response would be something like this sequence:

First, the issue: “Our revenues had been flat for the past 2 years”.

Second, the action:  “We researched our customer’s buying patterns by analyzing consumer    behavior models.  After comparing the development costs for a new product versus re-branding an older product, we introduced a new line to a new market”.

Third, the results:  “The outcome was an incremental 12.2% increase in new orders from new customers over an 18 month period”. 

This is A 62 word mini-pitch in 21 seconds. You practiced the answer because you knew the question that was most likely to be asked.  When you answer, you will sound confident and competent.  You’ve made a positive impression with the hiring manager because you provided a full response without a distracting narrative of irrelevant details.  It also provides the hiring manager the opportunity to ask follow-up questions.  These questions are critical for you to listen to very carefully, because they tend to give you insights into the issues within the organization that the hiring manager wants to resolve.  Once you understand the hiring manager’s direction, you can guide the discussion to your advantage. Your next task is to link your answers to the hiring manager’s questions as it applies to the issues to be resolved.  But that’s a topic we’ll cover in another GETTING HIRED article.

Mini-pitches are essential to understand, create and practice.  It separates you from other applicants who may not be as prepared as you.  Mini-pitches also force you to target answers in a way that demonstrates your ability to focus on the things that are important.  From the hiring manager’s perspective you show the ability to “think on your feet” in an articulate way.

Take control of your career. Be a candidate rather than an applicant.  Join us at My Greener Future.

Find more information, articles and mini-webinars at our website:



Posted on: November 1st, 2011 by
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Bill Kaufmann, President,

The chances are very high that your first contact from an interested company about a job will probably be by telephone.  Why?  For the company, it’s quick and easy, no need to arrange meetings or schedules and there’s no cost, except time.  From the applicant’s perspective, it’s more nerve wracking when it’s a surprise.  The applicant may have to respond to questions “on the fly” and the possibility to “mess up” is higher, unless you’re prepared. There is no second chance.

Here are 5 suggestions to “Ace” telephone screening interviews:

  1. If you’re interested enough in a company to apply for a position, you should know something about the industry, sector, products, competition, and other key information.  Prepare file cards for each company with the position information along with key information about issues they are facing.  (Use small file cards so you can carry them with you) . Your way ahead of other applicants if you know more than they do when the call comes in.  Also, have at least 2 targeted questions ready so the screener is impressed with your insights, like, “What are the expectations for this function in the first year?” or “What are the items in my resume that caught your interest in me?”.  “Why are they looking to fill this position?”  The answers will prepare you for a follow-up interview and/or present you with the opportunity identified in #5
  2. When a telephone call comes in, try to schedule a time-certain when you can call back as soon as possible.  Most telephone screeners will understand if you are about to go into a meeting, or you have guests or are unable to talk at this time.  Make sure you ask for their name, company and telephone number, even if they say they will call you.  In the time between the original call and the call back, work through and practice your mini-pitches (see the GETTING HIRED series on the website on Mini-Pitches).
  3. Before the call comes in, make sure that your contact information is targeted to your personal telephone and not your business number.  In that way you don’t have to explain yourself at an awkward time.  Be aware that all of your public information is available to the screener, including Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and so on.  Inappropriate or misinterpreted data can end your chances for an interview.  “Google” yourself to see what’s out there in the public domain with a full internet search.  Change questionable information well before the call, even before applying.
  4. When in conversation during a screening interview by phone, have succinct examples that reinforce the results you have stated on your resume.  You know the questions that will be asked, so prepare responses in a crisp well thought out way.  A 30 second response to questions that state the ISSUE that you managed, the ACTIONS you took, and the RESULTS you achieved will provide the interviewer with the information needed.  Remember:  No question is irrelevant.  All questions relate to the needs of the organization and will give you some insights into the issues of the company.
  5. When you start to get a “feel” for the issues of the company, you may be able to engage the interviewer in a discussion about how you have managed or resolved a similar situation.  The more the interviewer can identify with you, then connect your results with their needs, the better off you are.  Many of the issues or needs of the company will show up with the research you uncovered beforehand.  The more you know ahead of time, the better you can respond to the screener and the better able you are to connect your prior results to the job that is open.  When this connection occurs, you will be asked to interview in person.  Then you’re a candidate not an applicant.

Lastly, an upbeat, positive attitude can be projected into a phone conversation.  An applicant that projects confidence and competence can be detected over the telephone by the screener.  Be that person and you will “ace” the telephone interview.

Take control of your destiny.  Be a candidate rather an applicant.  Join us at My Greener Future.

Find more information, articles and mini-webinars at our website:



Posted on: October 26th, 2011 by
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Bill Kaufmann, President of My Greener Future

Your job search strategy is determined by how open or secret you plan to communicate. You may have excellent contacts that would be of great value, but if you can’t connect with them because you have to keep your search very quiet, their value turns to zero.

One of the determinants for an open or quiet search is your comfort zone. A fully open job search is of course easier, as you don’t have to be secretive with anyone. You can devote a wide-open communications strategy. A limited search means you must segment your communication targets to specific contacts, like past companies, associates in other states or very trusted friends.

For “quiet searches” you have to decide on the degree of quietness. If it’s too quiet, very few people can assist your efforts, as almost no one will know about your search. If it’s too “noisy” you may find it awkward when the word gets out into sensitive areas. If you were in the retail sector, contacting other retail organizations in the region would be near impossible, as the retail network is very active.  Other sectors are less communicative because of competitive factors or geographic distance.

Segmenting your contact list of people and organizations and opting them in or out of your communications circle is the only way to accomplish a quiet search. You’ll need to carefully calibrate your degree of openness. You should segment the type of communication to individuals (telephone versus email or letter), by geography (the furthest away initially), and by levels of confidentiality (who can you trust the most versus the least). Using the telephone for personal contacts may make the most sense since you can make your search more secure without a paper trail. You’re able to tailor your “script” to the individual and your sense of their discretion. Please note however, no matter how quiet your search it will leak out sooner or later.

You have to assume as time goes by that someone in your current organization will get a call saying, “I heard John/Sally is looking for another job”. It will be a random call and you’ll have no way of knowing who is calling whom. If the call is received by a friend of yours or a close associate you work with, they may come to you and ask, “Is this true?”. Or in the worst case, your boss comes to you and asks the question, “What’s going on?”.   Whatever the case, be prepared to respond to the question.

No matter what your situation, you have to assume that sooner or later your boss will ask you about your seeking another job.  You can lie (a very bad mistake) or you can try to turn it into a career discussion.  You can talk about opportunities in the current organization  (or lack of) versus the external world.  You can talk about the need for developmental responsibilities, as you would like to stay in the current organization.  In other words, convert the negative into a positive if you can, by asking your boss for their assistance in expanding your responsibilities or opportunities.  See if you can get an action plan for the next 6 months.  Sometimes it works, sometimes not.  Be prepared for either one.  While it’s difficult for the boss to fire you on the spot, assuming your performance has been positive and documented, the atmosphere can turn a bit chilly.  When this happens accelerate your search with wide-open communications and contacts.  You probably have 6 to 9 months.

How you handle this conversation is important, for now and in the future.  You may want or need references in years to come.  The better shape you leave a company the better your reference.

Be a candidate rather an applicant.  Join us at My Greener Future.

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Posted on: October 18th, 2011 by
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Bill Kaufmann, President of My Greener Future

The more you know about the company and position that you are applying for, the greater your ability to impact the outcome of an interview in a positive way.  Going into an interview “cold” is a mistake.  You should be well versed about the company, its management, the industry, the competition, the products, pricing, channels of distribution, marketplace advantages, customer service and a whole host of meaningful intelligence.  Do your research and you will excite management with your in-depth knowledge and understanding of their business

Your objective is to know as much or more about the issues of the industry than those with whom you are interviewing.  That ‘s usually not hard.  Why?  Because most people you’ll be talking to are oriented within their own functions and not well versed in the broader issues of the industry, competitors or competitive issues.

So, where should you be looking?  Here are a few ideas, though not exhaustive.  Every industry or sector has a number of niches that can be explored.


Management– Who are the key executives and what are their areas of expertise?  Who is in the direct line of organizational reporting for your functional area? (Who, from where, for how long, what experiences?).  You’re looking for insight into management’s background and experience.  Where did they come from? Have they been internal for the past 25 years or did they come from outside the company within the past 6 months?  Has there been a change of emphasis in the company’s strategic direction?  Has there been an expansion or contraction of business over the past 18 months?  Has there been a reorganization? What experiences in other industries?

Annual reports – Core financial and other information.  Who is on the board?  Why?  What is the major theme of the last annual report?  New products?  Financial statements and plans?  What do the numbers tell you?  Employee issues or concerns?  Union or non-union?  Are there any issues that you need to be aware?  What do they say about themselves?  How does it compare to what analysts or objective third-parties say?

Analysts reports, Standard & Poors, etc…  What does “the street” have to say?  Prospects for the future?  If it’s traded, where have the stock shares been over 5 years?  Upturn or downturn?  What are their recommendations?  Are the industry analysts in unison or divided?  What are the disparities?  What are the projections for the future?  Is your role important to that future?

The industry – Periodicals, articles, interviews.  Where does the company stand within the industries they are in?  Are they in the top or bottom tier?  Where had they been?  Is the industry itself old and tired or energized?  Coal mining or iPod?  Is the industry being flooded with foreign knock-offs?  Does the company have proprietary products or are they a commodity?  Where would you fit in?  Do you complement the industry direction or run counter to it?

Competition – Who does what better?  Who is ahead or behind?  What are the key differences between the top five competitors?  Who produces the greatest number of new products/services consistently?  Who has the better marketing reach?  Is there a “silver bullet?  Any mergers?

Talk to employees or past employees (be careful of bias) – What do they have to say about the company and how it’s run?  If they could go to another organization, would they go? Why?  Is there a philosophy of promotion from within?  Are they consistent in the application of policies? How would they rate the “politics” within the company?  What do they say about your function?

Be a candidate rather an applicant.  Join us at My Greener Future.

Find more information, articles and mini-webinars at our website:



Posted on: October 12th, 2011 by
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Bill Kaufmann, President of My Greener Future

There are two sets of “must haves” when looking for your next job.  One is for you to define.  The other is for the hiring organization to define.  The “must have” that you define is a small list of items that you require before you’ll consider or accept another position.  Such items are usually focused on your title, responsibilities, location, compensation, benefits, advancement opportunities, or the type of function and industry where you can succeed.

The hiring organization’s “must have” list is usually focused on the requirements of the position they’re trying to fill.  Such items are usually focused on the experiences a candidate has had with comparable results that they have achieved. Examples could be:  5 years of prior comparable experience, project management, budget responsibilities, and so on.  Usually these are tasks that an applicant either has or has not done successfully.  The greater the compatibility between your list of “must have’s” and the organization’s list, the greater your probability of success to become a candidate rather than an applicant.

Whether or not you become a candidate is dependent upon three things:  Your research, your compelling resume and a highly successful series of interviews. Let’s take them one at a time.

1-Research: It’s imperative that you know more about the industry, segment, company, issues, function and key components for success than any other applicant or candidate.  The more you know the higher your probability of understanding how to manage your job search strategies for success.  You’ll then know how to write your resume and the “hot buttons” of the hiring manager.  Holes in your research will produce holes in your knowledge, which reduces your chances of moving from an applicant to a candidate.

2-Compelling Resume: As a result of your thorough research, you’ll know what the key areas to highlight when creating and tailoring your resume.  In addition, define the results you have achieved, either directly or indirectly, compared to the key elements of the job being offered.  The greater the parallel in content and results with what the hiring manager is looking for, the greater your chances of becoming the primary candidate.  A compelling resume is your guarantee to an interview.

3-Successful Interviews: Once you’ve been invited to an interview, you know you’re a candidate.  Your research and compelling resume have gotten you this far.  Now your job is to “bond” with the screeners and hiring manager through a series of interviews.  They’ll be looking at three things:  Your business acumen, functional competence and organizational fit.  Focus on what you already know based on your research:  Their business and functional needs, your ability to help solve their issues, and your “team” attitude.

Your objective then, is to prepare more extensively than your peers.  Your advantage is the knowledge of the organization’s “must have” list through your research, then blending it with your own “must have” list.  Experience has shown that an organization is more likely to “bend” its “must have” list when they meet a candidate they really want to hire.  You want them to want you.

Your preparation and creativity in melding the two sets of “must have’s” will determine the outcome of your job search.  Be a candidate rather an applicant.  Join us at My Greener Future.

Find more information, articles and mini-webinars at our website: