Category Archives: job search advice

Five Tips to Improve Your Job Interview Skills

Five Tips to Improve Your Job Interview Skills

Final decisions are made during the interview

I remember going for job interviews and how scared I was. Isn’t everybody? But it can be minimized significantly once you get yourself prepared. Here are a few tips.

Learn about the company

By spending time to learn about the company, you’ll gain self-confidence. Spending a few minutes on the company’s Web site is just the tip of the iceberg. The interviewer is going to be utterly impressed if you can demonstrate in-depth acquaintanceship with the company. Details and facts about your potentially future employers are of utmost importance. You should know the company’s sales, number of employees, various divisions, locations, stock price, key leaders’ names, and other minutiae that you were able to read about. Learn about the interviewer, too, and the interviewer’s team. The devil is in the details. Use LinkedIn for your research. Find out where these people worked before. Impress them with your knowledge.

Offer your knowledge to help

Now that you know about them and their needs, find opportunities to offer your skills as they involve your ability to assist them in their crucial areas. After all, this is exactly what they’re searching for. Hiring managers don’t want people who need a long period of training. Can you help them shortly after being hired? Say so, and talk about it via examples from your past.

Develop a dialogue by asking relevant questions

Prepare a few questions to which you already have the answers. Demonstrate your knowledge and ability to deliver on your commitments. Show via your questions that you’d be a good fit for this position. Detail both your past experience by being a part of a team and your personal contributions.

Differentiate yourself from your competition

All candidates interviewing for the same position have been picked from a large pool of applicants because they seem promising. The interviewer and the interviewing team will have a difficult time distinguishing between all of them. Assume that there are five applicants and an hourlong interview with each. This is a lot of information to absorb, digest, and declare one winner unless there’s something special to remember. Think of a clever way to catapult yourself forward and leave your competition behind by being different and memorable.

Connect with those you interview with

This is basic, but unless you seem likable, the interviewers will not vote for you to be hired. Skills and accomplishments are important, but if you appear less than amiable, your chances are slim. What does it take to appear friendly, you ask? Make eye contact, smile a lot, show enthusiasm, sit forward in your chair, and call the interviewer by name.

How to Change a Career Not a Job

How to Change a Career Not a Job

Career change is possible if you know how

No surprise that in this economy more and more people are toying around with the idea of changing careers. For some, such a change represents an opportunity; for others, it may be a necessity because their industries are shifting, shrinking, or becoming extinct. The question my clients ask with more and more frequency is how to go about it. Regrettably, though, there’s no simple or one-size-fits-all answer, because each situation is unique. In other words, no two people’s circumstances are the same. A career coach cannot make such a decision for a client; the answer has to come from the individual. A career coach can of course counsel, guide, and support the process.

Let’s make sure we understand that I’m not referring to a job change. A career change is a radical change–for example, an executive with a finance background who buys a restaurant, or a manager at AT&T, a very well-known communications company, who shifts into managing an adult community or a nursing home. Those are real-life examples of people who were successful at making those changes; I know them personally. So, the questions are, What drives the process? and What does it take to come out as a winner?

Now let’s agree from the beginning that a career change involves significant risk. Not all career changes work out well. Decisions of this nature have at least two major components: the intellectual and the emotional. The emotional part involves the pain that a person endures and that strongly motivates and impels the person toward willingness to take a risk. The other component is the intellectual part, which involves, say, the person’s need–or desire–to make more money or the person’s disappointment with the industry, or with the nature of the current job, or with an intolerable boss who is apparently not leaving soon.

At the core of the job-changing decision-making process are three questions that require concrete answers:

  • What are the job-changing individual’s values?
  • What does the job-changing individual have to offer a potential employer?
  • What does the job-changing individual expect in return?

Values have to do with one’s feelings about family, recognition, monetary rewards, security, promotions, belonging, commitment, loyalty, and so forth. The answer to the question regarding what one has to offer will be an analysis of skills–such as marketing, presentation, sales, research, and data analysis–and then identification of whether one has the traits that support those skills: is the person aggressive, independent, articulate, persuasive, logical, visionary?

The remaining issue deals with what the person wants in return. This touches on environmental and cultural factors. For example, does the person like to work in small organizations or big ones? How does the person feel about leadership styles, corporate politics, company reputation, work/life balance, and flextime for new parents, for example? And how about critical matters like salary, health coverage, and investment programs versus the minimum levels of compensation and benefits needed?

As you can see, a career change is loaded with complexities. My advice is to consult someone who is equipped to guide you as you navigate this maze. And a challenging maze it is indeed.

3 Tips for Improving Your In-transition Brand

3 Tips for Improving Your In-transition Brand

Everybody has a brand. Is yours a good one?

More than ever, when you are in transition you should have a brand. Why? you ask. Because that is how you differentiate yourself and stand out from the proverbial crowd.

Branding is not about what you like but about what employers like. Your branding statement—whether in writing, on the Internet, or spoken via your elevator pitch should have the triple purposes of gaining credibility, arousing curiosity, and increasing your likability factor. And your work toward those goals will not be in vain, because 90 + percent of employers check out candidates prior to making initial searches via, say, LinkedIn, Spokeo, or ZoomInfo.

Nowadays, employers use Google when searching for prospects. Research shows that 29% of people use two words when searching, 28% use three words, 17% use four words, and only 11% use one word. This means that your résumé or any other information about you should be rich with nouns and phrases. This advice is different from what we were told in the past: that résumés should have lots of action verbs. In fact, a combination of both is best. Yes, certainly computers are looking for keywords, but when people actually read about you, they want to see both action and accomplishments.

A recent study found that 90% of people search on the first three pages of search engine results and that 62% search only on the first page. Good branding work rewards candidates by resulting in a high ranking on Google and LinkedIn searches. To find out what’s out there in cyberspace, here are the most common social media search engines:

Setting it up is a bit time-consuming, but you might be surprised at the information available about you and that you didn’t have a clue about. One of the best ways to find out what people are saying about you is to monitor your reputation via www.google.com/alerts.

It’s very important to communicate properly, for this is how people judge you. And there are certain words and phrases you should avoid because they’re overused and most often meaningless. Here are a few examples:

  • Extensive experience
  • Motivated
  • Dynamic
  • Team player
  • Problem solver
  • Innovative
  • Results oriented
  • Proven track record
  • Fast paced
  • Entrepreneurial

These days 90%+ of recruiters check LinkedIn. Therefore it makes good sense for you to improve as best as possible the information on your LinkedIn page. Here are a few simple ideas:

  • Increase the number of recommendations.
  • Ask questions and provide answers.
  • Update your status periodically.
  • Inform your connections about projects you’re working on.
  • Connect with your Twitter account.
  • Share links to articles of interest.
  • Import e-mail addresses from Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, and Outlook.
  • Connect with ex-colleagues: people on LinkedIn from companies you worked with before.
  • Connect with people you met in person via networking events and whose business cards you collected.

As you can see, branding yourself is of utmost importance. Otherwise, you stay hidden from those you really want to see you.