Archive | February, 2010

Specifics, Specifics.

22 Feb

You just got out of the interview.  You debrief yourself.  You are feeling fairly good about how you answered the questions.  You liked it because it didn’t feel like an interview – it was more of a conversation.  Good.

Here is what I would like you to focus on and I SO wish we had gotten to talk about this before your interview.  What did the interviewer say?  NO! – not what do you think they said.  What did they ACTUALLY say?  What words did they use?  The words matters.  I see plenty of self-deceit in these moments, we need brutal honesty.   Were you listening?  Listen.

You feel good about your experience.  Why?  We need specifics.  What specifics did they offer you or was it all general commentary?  Anyone can get general commentary.  You want specifics.

“I like your background.”  “You certainly could do the job.”  General.  “I like your background in dealing with the implementation of…” – “I am glad to hear you have managed a team through a merger because we are in acquisition mode.”  That is better.

We want to sell ourselves in specifics and we want to listen for specifics.  If you want specific feedback, you better sell YOUR specifics.  Just as facts on a resume serve as “speedbumps” to the reader, facts in the interview illicit more questions.  More questions signal more interest.  More interest signals more chance of you getting this offer.  That is why you are interviewing, right?

This applies whether you are a construction superintendent, a CFO, a whatever.  I had a construction superintendent tell me yesterday that his projects “were on time and under budget.”   I was thinking, “that is what they all say.”  I asked him, “Can you elaborate?”  He then says, “My last project we finished in 11 months as opposed to the scheduled 13 and we made 14% intstead of 7%.”  He goes on with this nugget, “I also ran 300 guys on that $40 million job with no lost work time due to accidents or safety issues.”  I would say that sets him apart – specifically.

Specifics Sell.  Are you just a construction superintendent or are you a construction superintendent ready to sell what you can do for the company?

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Learnings. Winnings.

15 Feb

I was talking with a gentleman that has been out of work for 13 months.  13 months.  A year and a month.  He attends my weekly meeting for job seekers.   One of my favorite parts of the meeting is where we discuss what everyone learned this week and where were the wins.  LearningsWinnings.  In the previous meeting, we discussed LinkedIn.  This guy had done little more than piddle around in it at that point. 

He goes home last week and completes his profile.  He applied what he learned.  So back to this week – his time to share.  He shares with us that he completed his profile.  Picture and all.  Great.  I was glad he shared that. 

We move to Wins and he speaks up again.  His win?  He has an interview this week.  13 months out and he has an interview.  Someone had found him on LinkedIn.  No job posting, no ad to reply to, just someone saying “I’d like to talk with you.”  Imagine that.  Do I think it happens that fast?  It certainly can. 

I followed up with him after the meeting with an email – here is an excerpt: 

________, if I may, make sure they understand you have put this time off in to perspective.  You know – “it is part of the plan” stuff.  I think employers want to know you are in the game and have examined this.  Hope that makes sense. 

He responded with a thank you and “he would address it.”   I clarified with: 

HR professionals hear people complain all day long about this kind of stuff.  To get their attention you should come in with a fresh perspective on YOUR experience.  Don’t draw attention to it, or have a monologue about it;  just know if you can convince them you have gained some understanding of the benefit of having this time – you are better than the rest.  And ..of course you are. 

My point here is that employers are tired of hearing the complaining of candidates in interviews.  Interviews are not family counseling.  I know this sounds insensitive but you have to shed the “woe is me – I never saw it coming” mentality or interviews can turn in to therapy sessions.  HR quickly goes from “Human Resources” to “Has Reservations” – we don’t want that. 

Unemployment is no fun.  It can be devastating and can have an impact on every facet of your life.  I understand.  The good news is that you have time to reinvent yourself.  You have time to take a look,  examine the situation and make peace with your new found perspective.  During this time, take note of learnings and winnings.  Write them down.  Record them.  Journal. 

As far as LinkedIn goes – you gotta get on there.  A MUST along with your professional resume.  Here is the takeaway – he knew he needed a resume because he was looking.  He never really got the fact that people were looking for him.   They found him.  And, THAT is a learning and a winning.

What a Touching Influence

8 Feb

As I shared with my job search group, I have been looking for jobs, for now on 13 years.  That is a lot of phone calls, a lot of emails and a lot of touchpoints with my clients. 

Being self-employed is closer to unemployed, I guess that is why I have a natural connection with the job seeker that is seeking a solution.  How can you not want to help someone that is genuinely looking for a new gig, that is really looking for a solution?  This is my threat to the employed out there – an unemployed friend or former colleague calls you – give them a minute will you?  Listen.  Encourage.  Assist.

Let’s focus on touchpoints, job seeker.  A quality job seeker understands the value of touchpoints.  These are the interactions in any form you attempt to or actually have with colleagues, hiring managers, anyone that is part of the interview process or is assisting you in your search.

Touchpoints are where you go to selling YOU without looking like you are selling and simultaneously shield the world from what you are dealing with privately, you know – all that maintenance in your life.  You have to have quality touchpoints because this job search is relational not transactional.  Sorry, canned thank you note guy- it was nice to meet you though.  Thanks for your time.  Stop looking forward to hearing from me soon.

I think you can employ a variety of tactics and strategies to get to the end you so desire.  I also believe touchpoints are individual.  We need originality here, folks.  They need to be professional yet an extension of your personality.  And while I hate the talk – job search is a game and one that you need to be in and serious about.  Some of you show up projecting  – I am no fun – and you think it doesn’t show.  We are out here on the playground and you over there going sudoku on us.

A few years ago I attended the Indianapolis 500 – you know the greatest spectacle in racing.  Makes you think there might be something there to see.  The lady in front of me was actually studying.  She had a textbook on her lap.  After she got done studying, she was knitting.  At the 500, between her 4th turn study hall she is knitting a sweater in the month of May.  Who would invite her?  The place to be yet not really wanting to be there and making herself the spectacle.  Look, she is not getting invited next year and with that attitude you are not getting hired.  Besides, no one hires people that knit at  car races.   I thought everyone knew this.

I can say –  do this and do that when you attend a networking event.  I can say when you call, have the next question – and actually ask it.  When you write a note or email, proofread it.  I can give you my 5 keys to better touchpoints but I am not feeling all – here is a panacea laced checklist – I am more of a – let’s build a system together that works for you guy.  If you would like help – call me.  If you want to respond below with something you did in a certain situation – lay it out for us.

You need a process that you can follow in this campaign of yours.  Improving your touchpoints improves your chances of getting an offer.  You can’t control it but you have far greater influence then you think you have in this game.

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