You Want to Be Remembered After the Interview – Just Not as the Crazy or Desperate One

crazy follow up interview

I believe there are many universal truths:

  • Wash your car and it will rain that day.
  • The cat will leave you a freshly hacked hairball right inside the door where you feel it before you see it
  • Polish the floor in one room and that is the room the dog picks to display puppy prints after finding a mud puddle on a desert dry day
  • Be prepared for a meeting and it will be cancelled
  • Forget something for a meeting and it will be the only thing discussed
  • Wearing white and eating spaghetti is a dangerous combination
  • Kids can sniff out if you have actual cash in your wallet
  • Look amazing and you won’t see a single person you know if you go out
  • Roll out of bed looking like death warmed over and you will see everyone you know
  • Drop $50 in a slot machine win nothing, the guy behind you puts in a quarter and hits big
  • Job searching stinks

Except for that last one, most people can laugh off or at least shrug off.  But job searching, that is a completely different story.

The agony of putting yourself out there day in and day out only to be rejected by nameless, faceless people  – if you even hear back at all.  Not knowing why. Feeling insignificant, invisible or unworthy.  It is not fun.

It may come to a point where you decide desperate times call for desperate measures. Before you cross that line, please wait.

There is a fine line between unique and crazy. You want people to notice you and remember you; however, you want them to do these things for the right reasons.

If you are planning a shtick, there are some questions that you need to ask yourself:

  • Who is my audience?
  • How will they interpret this?
  • What is my intent?
  • What is the worst way they could interpret this?

Knowing your audience is very important.  For example, a friend of mine owns her own business and had a job opening.  One candidate had a freshly cut, beautiful live Christmas tree delivered along with chocolate and his resume.  An office of mostly women were good with the chocolate; however, my friend is Jewish and there was no space whatsoever for a huge, live Christmas tree in the office.

The type of job and company should give clues to the type of environment.  For example, there was a woman who was applying for a higher level position in a law firm.  One might naturally assume that the environment was conservative, especially after interviewing with them.

So sending a box of pastries as a follow up is not a bad idea, but the poem describing why you want to work there going so far as to rhyme with the name of the company was way over the top – and eliminated her as a candidate.

Shticks are not always good, they may have the right intention, but the perception is not at all what is intended.  Clever play on words only lasts for so long – about a millisecond.

Receiving a box containing a shoe with a resume crammed in it topped with a note saying, “I’m the perfect fit” goes from clever to eww in less than a second.  Who wants to extract a resume from a shoe?  Let’s hope it was a brand new shoe.

Following up does not necessarily mean that it will speed up communication; however, it will keep you more in mind of the interviewer.

Assuming that you have asked about next steps at the end of your interview, some simple, professional steps to take in following up include:

  • A thank you note.  This is a must.  Reiterate the positives from the interview, as well as your interest in the position
  • Connecting on LinkedIn
  • An email the following week, this can be a simple note checking in to see if there is anything else they need from you in consideration for the position (rather than “when will you make a decision?”)
  • Sending an industry related article

Keep it light, short and business related and remember, filling this position is not their only job and perhaps not their number one priority.  It can take time.  Be patient, be professional and please, be shticky with your friends, not potential employers.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.

To Get Over Fear In Your Career Let It Kick You In The Butt A Little

fight fear

The greatest single constriction that keeps us from reaching our goals, any goal, is fear. No matter what type of goal: personal, financial, career or spiritual, once you boil down all the reasons or excuses the limitation is fear.

I call it a constriction because it is like a choke hold on us, the longer it linger the more it squeezes the hope, joy or optimism from us when thinking of our goal. It suffocates the living breath of this goal.

One of the best ways I have heard to describe fear is: False Evidence Assumed Real.

Fear begins as a notion of unworthiness or inability. Your mind then manufactures or grabs on to things around you to support this idea and it then becomes “evidence”. You then accept this “evidence” as proof, becoming insurmountable and it becomes a reality that you are unable or unworthy.

All this from a notion.

We cannot always eliminate fear; however, I propose that we use it instead of letting it paralyze us. Here is how we can steer that notion for our intent and purpose.

Look fear in the eye and ask yourself, “What is the worst possible thing that could happen to me?”

Death. That is the worst possible outcome of anything.

So is this thing going to kill you? Be honest – is a career move or going after a promotion going to kill you?

No. Now get silly with it. Imagine going on an interview and completely bombing – then the floor is going to swallow you whole.

Or you will get faint from nerves, fall out of your chair, hit your head and there is your interviewer having to call an ambulance.

Can you imagine? That would seem mortifying, but that is a story that I would laugh at. Learn to laugh at the worst case scenarios. Make them bigger and give yourself the giggles.

Honestly, what most people think the worst case scenario would be is looking like a fool. So what? Is it the first time and really, is it going to be the last? Did you die the last time you looked like a fool? Then why would you this time?

The worst case scenario is the least likely –  face it, embrace it, laugh at it and let it go.

If you were not afraid, you would not want it. Another great saying is: there is no growth in your comfort zone. Would it not be wonderful if every time we were ready to stretch ourselves our pinky finger twitched uncontrollably? Think of it – a sure-fire, less physically exhausting way of letting us know that it is time.

Fear is our internal voice finding a way to get our attention. If you had an twitchy pinky finger, you might just ignore it or learn to live with it. Fear really gets your attention by engaging your mind and body.

Some part of you deep down is telling you that you are ready for more. Listen.

Now that you have a better perspective of fear, here is a secret to conquering it: let it kick you in the butt a little bit. Let it become the dismissive voice in your head that challenges you, not defeats you.

Get competitive!

One of the best ways to get me to do something is to tell me I cannot do it. I am a competitive person – just ask my family, son and boyfriend. I am competitive. Tell me I can’t do something then get out of my way because I am going to do it.

Some of my greatest successes came from this competitive spirit, despite fear.

At one point when I was in the financial industry I was in a new position and expected to get my Series 7 and others. It was at this time that my son’s father was diagnosed with cancer and was going through experimental chemotherapy treatments given a less than 10% survival expectation and our son was very young. I had a lot going on at the time and fear of passing these exams was not helping.

One day my boss told me to just try to pass the 7 and we will see what I could do on the others.  I think he meant it in a supportive way, given all that was going on with my family.

That was all it took.  My competitiveness side kicked in.  Oh, pity me and “see” what I can do without expecting anything?

A few months later I passed the 7, a few months later I then passed the 63, 65, 9 and 10. Tell me “try and we will see what you can do.” Ha!

When I had the idea to start my business, I was told it was a horrible idea, I would never succeed, I was ridiculous for even trying. Those statements at first fueled my fear. For a short time; then competitiveness kicked in.

Fear says, “You can’t do it”  Answer, “Shut up and watch me!”

That’s right – I told fear to shut up. The harder it kicked in the harder I fought back. Get pushed down seven times, get up eight.

Fear can deflate you, defeat you and leave you paralyzed unable to reach goals and dreams – or – it can motivate and fuel you. The choice is yours to make.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies and their leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about Career Polish and what we can do to help you.

What Hiring Managers & Recruiters Won’t Tell You: Stop Being a Whiner

no whine

I can look at a resume and tell you what job the person loved, which one they hated and if they are still ticked off about looking for a job. You can use all the keywords and phrases you want, but that anger or frustration still comes through.

It is not just what you say; it is how you say it. This is translated through the written word and verbal communication.

This is proven in our daily interactions frequently. Think of a time that you sent a written message to a friend or significant other and they responded in a way that was completely off the wall and contrary to your meaning.

Better yet, try gently telling your girlfriend or wife in a very even, soft monotone that you want to not go out to dinner because, “I think we need to watch what we eat.” That “we” will get you. I will bet dollars to donuts that if you meant that you want to eat healthier that is not how she is going to translate that sentence. Have fun with that.

Job searching is not fun. It can be humiliating, frustrating, aggravating, gut-wrenching and exhausting. You may still be smarting from having to look in the first place. Being placed in this situation, voluntarily or not, is much like a death or divorce and as such, you go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

A company downsized, they let you go unfairly or they finagled their way of managing you out – it is not fair and it really ticks you off. You have every right to be mad. I encourage you to get mad, go for it, let it all out. Do it once and do it big – alone in the privacy of your own home. Get it out of your system. Give yourself permission to be mad, then let it go.

It is important for your mental health to allow yourself to be angry but even more important to let it go. It is not healthy to hold on to that anger. It also sabotages your job search efforts. People can pick up on that and it makes them uncomfortable. No one wants to hire the angry person.

It is natural to want to explain, to rally others to your side. You want to feel vindicated, understood or be the good guy who was wronged garnering more and more support for your side as you go to make you feel better.

The problem with this is – no one cares in the business world. It was a business decision. Take the personal feelings out of it and remind yourself that it was business.

If it was a hideous boss that manipulated to get you out of the company, well, they are an a-hole and they will get theirs. Don’t sweat it, it will come. And really, you do not want to be the person to deliver the karma. When it does come, it will come from someone or something much bigger than you that will give them what they deserve.

I had this happen to me and for a long time I about bit my tongue off taking the high road. Karma finally did step in about a year later and by that time, I had let it go. Although, it did please me in a small, dark place deep inside me – I’ll be honest. But I was also glad that it was not me because I could have lost credibility by looking like a whiner or disgruntled employee screaming, “It’s not fair.”

How to Eliminate the Whine from Your Job Searching

 

1. Your Resume – Descriptions

Even if you absolutely hated a job, put on your big person shoes and take a different approach. There is a benefit to every job you had – otherwise someone would not have paid you to do what you did. Find the benefit in the job. How did you add value? How did you contribute? What did you learn?

Find the positives and write about it from that perspective – the positive. This will change your tone and allow you to make minor changes in your verbiage that will make a huge improvement in your communication.

One dead giveaway that you hated a job is lack of information. If you worked for a company for five years and have two bullet points – guess what…. Really dig to find out the value. Think about who you worked with, how did you work with them, what did you do, how did you do it and how did it add value to others?

Even if you worked at the most monotonous job there is, you may have found a way to make your life easier in performing your tasks. Guess what, those are improvements. Write about them from the improvement perspective.

2. Your Resume – Departures

Often people want to state that it was not their fault for the departure. Do not do it. The resume is not the place to talk about why you left. Save it for the interview. Then you can leverage the powerful tools of tone and inflection to convey the right message. Often applications ask why you left a position – give a short answer not a dissertation. Plant closing, company downsize, recruited for advanced position.

3. Craft Your Message

This is the hardest part. You need to find a way to deliver the message of being let go yet put it in a positive way. No, you cannot tell people that your boss was an a-hole, even if it is true.

Downsizing or closures are easier to deliver, a simple, “Unfortunately, the company downsized; however, this is a great opportunity that allows me to bring xyz to a new organization and really make an impact” can be all you need to say. No need to add “because they wanted to bring younger people in with less experience so they could pay them less and not pay me what I am worth and I hope they burn in hell” in between the two thoughts.

Quitting or getting let go is a little more bitter pill to swallow or deliver. Try as hard as you can to be positive and deliver it in a non-demeaning, professional manner. “There was a change in structure or direction and felt that brining someone on with a background in this direction would be an immediate value; however, this allows me to get back to xyz, which is my greatest strengths and passion.”

The critical element of your message is ending it in a way that focuses back on your, in a positive way, highlighting your strengths, skills and value.

Practice your message over and over and over again, in front of a mirror and whenever you are alone until it comes easily, naturally, professional and positive. Watch your facial expressions and body language when practicing in front of a mirror to identify and eliminate any tells.

Practice it infinitum and eventually your mind shift will be to see it as a positive.

4. Networking

It is very easy to get comfortable with people you are networking with and your connections leading to a comfort in going into the gory details of your departure or job search. Stop that train before it leaves the station.

Your network is a professional network. Sure, you may drum up some sympathy, but in doing so you will not create any allies in helping you find a new position. They will get the impression that you are not ready.

If your network helps you in your search, they are putting their name out there and no one wants to tag their name to the angry person.

After the networking event, grab a bottle of wine (the good kind) and get with your partner or best friend as an accountability person and then let it all out. Set a limit to the whining – half an hour or one glass, whatever works for you.  Make sure your accountability person cuts you off on the whining and you get back to the positive.  The positive is you networked and remained professional!

5. Don’t Get Sucked Into Gossip

Unfortunately, there are those that love a good little bit of gossip or bad news. They may sound innocent enough with, “Oh, I’m so sorry, what happened?”

Answer this with your prepared message. The identifying bait for this type of person would come next. It can come in the form of, “I’ve always heard bad things about that company/manager” or “Did they tell you why?” or even as blatant as, “oh my gosh, tell me all about it!”

Do not take that bait. If they try to bait you to say something negative, do not bite. Remain upbeat and positive with a short statement putting an end to their probing. Smile and tell them that you are very excited to take on the next great adventure or opportunity. If they still try to probe, leave them. Politely excuse yourself to the rest room, to go get more networking chicken or that you just saw someone that you need to go speak to – just leave them.

6. Interviewing

This can be similar to the networking; however, there is intent in their probing rather than morbid gossip. Keep with your message and if you need to expand, do so in a way that is not disparaging to the company, managers or team member and end it on a positive for you. If you were fired, take ownership, let them know what you learned and how you incorporate that into your strengths.

Everyone makes mistakes, organizations downsize, companies close and sometimes you have a horrible leader. It is life. This is one event in your life, not the defining moment. You define yourself in how you learn, grow and move on from this event.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies and their leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about Career Polish and how can help you.

Keep The Conversation Going After The Interview By Saying This

Interview - how do they know you are still interested

Many candidates have performance anxiety about interviews.

Here is a very interesting tidbit I learned from a panel of recruiters and Human Resource professionals: they have performance anxiety, too.

They are not only trying to find the right candidate; they want to sell that candidate on their company.

The key thing the panel agreed on was the simplest concept: most of the time they do not know if a candidate is still interested at the end of the interview because they do not tell them.

The panel said unless a candidate tells them that they are still interested at the end of the interview they are more likely to assume they are not. Assuming incorrectly is costly.

Recruiting takes a lot of time, effort and money. If a candidate shows no interest at the end of the interview, they do not want to pursue a dead end.

They do not like rejection either. It is not a good feeling to think you have the perfect candidate, excitedly call them to set up the next round and be rejected with a flat “thanks but no thanks” response.

Perhaps you heard something during the interview that took the bloom off the rose for the position or company.  I have yet to hear one interviewee at the end of the interview say, “Thank you for your time, this job is not for me.”

Interviewers do not know what you think – you have to tell them. Just showing up and participating in the interview is not a demonstration of continued interest.

To keep the conversation going after the interview, say this one thing:

“Thank you for your time, after hearing more about the company and position, I am very excited about this opportunity.  I look forward to speaking with you soon!”

This ends the interview on a high note and the interviewer is clear where you stand and confusion eliminated.

Let them know even if you ask about next steps. Only asking about next steps is not the same as being interested. For all they know you could be asking because you have another offer on the table or might weed them out if it takes too long.

Job searching and career transition is difficult as it is without adding confusion, doubt or assumptions into the mix. A simple statement at the end of the interview helps clarify your position while letting them feel more comfortable about moving forward.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am a Brand Strategist, Professional Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, sales teams, leadership and companies to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about what we can do to help you.

The Interview Was Perfect…So Why Haven’t They Called?

waiting on interviewer phone call

Does this sound familiar….

You got set up with “the one”
You two have so much in common – what you do, where you want to go, what you like doing, it sounds like a perfect match.
You dress to the nines to make the best impression when meeting them.
When you see them, there is an immediate connection.
As your time together progresses you start to get butterflies inside, this just seems so perfect.
They are interested in you, listen to what you have to say, are impressed with your background and even laugh at your little jokes.
You ask the perfect questions and the conversation is effortless.
At the end you know, just know, you have definitely made a connection. This is it, no more going out or talking to anyone else, this is it!
You wait anxiously for the call. That call. Wait…and wait…and wait some more.

What, what happened? It was perfect –why didn’t they call???

Sound like the perfect first date, maybe, how about the perfect first interview?

It is the same excitement, wondering, rejection with the exact same question: “Why didn’t they call, I thought it went perfectly?”

Let me say the same thing any of your friends would say –it is not you, it is them.

Although, we all know this doesn’t help in any situation; yet it really could have nothing to do with you.

  • They could have had an internal candidate already picked for the role and did cursory interviews to appease HR.
  • They could have tried to hire before they got budget approval.
  • They realized that you were over talented and would leave them in a heartbeat if a better offer came around.
  • They could want to hire you but that thing called work is getting in their way; inundated with other responsibilities hiring now becomes the last thing on their list.
  • They could realize they do not know what they need for the position and need to re-strategize the role in the best interest of the department.
    They got hit by a bus.

All of these things have nothing to do with you. What seems to be a major frustration for job seekers is the overwhelming lack of communication from prospective employers.

Throughout the entire process there was exceptional communication until the decision-making then – dead air.

Why?

No, the world has not turned into a cold-dead-hearted place, it could be a matter of time and fear.

It is a buyers’ market therefore HR professionals are getting buried with potential candidates. They have to scan through 300 resumes to find the one.

As hard as it may be, take a look at it from their perspective. They spend a lot of time reviewing, narrowing the field and qualifying. It is a huge investment of time, energy and ultimately money. When they narrow it down, the desired candidate declines at the last minute.

The “why didn’t they call/accept” shoe is on the other foot now.

They get gun-shy, perhaps they delay the process to make sure the potential candidate is truly vested in accepting the position.

They get snookered. They find the ideal candidate and right after they start, it is discovered that there is some little skeleton in the closet that disqualifies them for the position. This can happen to anyone – remember the very public, very large organization that found out one of their leaders had completely falsified their resume – after they were hired and working the role?

Beyond fears of rejection, there are fears of accusations. If they take a candidate too far down the road and do not hire them, are they going to sue them for age or sex discrimination? Companies do not want to get sued and there are quite a few individuals who look for an opportunity to do so. Remember the very large, very public chain of fast food restaurants who got sued because someone burned themselves on a cup of coffee, which was labeled as very hot?

There is no one size fits all answer for why they did not call. Sometimes it is reasons beyond your control and sometimes it is reasons beyond their control. Sometimes, you were just not a good fit.

Just because you have a lovely conversation with someone and they laugh at your jokes does not mean you are a shoe-in for the job. It was a good conversation and they are polite.

There are three things you should do during the dead air time:

1. Stop dwelling on why they didn’t call.

2. Remain upbeat and positive, while sporadically checking in.

There is a fine line between follow up and stalking.

Immediately after the interview, send the thank you note.

A week later (if there was no agreed upon follow up time) send a short message. Something as simple as, “Thank you again for your time last week. I am still very interested in the position and if there is anything you need from me in consideration as a candidate, please let me know. I look forward to speaking with you soon about the next steps.”

Send an article or link to something relevant about their industry or interests a week or so later.

Follow up should have a reason, other than it is driving you crazy not to hear from them.

3. Keep active and pursuing other opportunities.

You may never know why you did not get the call but that does not lesson your value. Do not take it personally, there are plenty of other fish in the sea and the right one will call you back.

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As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am a Brand Strategist, Professional Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, sales teams, leadership and companies to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about Career Polish and what we can do to help you.

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Why Can’t I Tell Them On My Resume The Job Loss Wasn’t My Fault?

resumeThis could absolutely be the shortest article I have ever written if I just answered that question.  It would be comprised of one sentence:

It is not in your best interest.

That would be it, end of article – hope it helped!

Although the reason is simple and easily explained, to understand why requires a little more explanation. I also do not think a seven-word article is very useful.

A Resume Is Not An Application

There are certain elements that are not expected to be listed on a resume that are expected on an application.  These items include address, phone number, supervisor’s name and – get ready for it – reason for leaving.

Your reason for leaving is not expected to be listed on your resume and if it is it would be probably be considered odd for being on there.

You Do Not Get To Pick And Choose

When I have a client that wants to list why they were let go from one position, it is just that one position they want to detail; not the rest of their jobs because they may be due to being fired or quitting.

If you only detail one job then you really send up a red flag.  The reader will notice it is the only explanation and want to know what happened to the rest of the jobs listed.  As you did not give an explanation for any other job, they will assume the worse.  Misconception due to lack of information.

The Explanation

The best time to explain a job departure, and when you will normally be asked, is during an interview.  I did say normally: there may be a requirement during the pre-interview process in which you need to detail each departure.  This is not the ideal case, but it is more manageable and to your favor than putting it on you resume.

Whether you have to write an explanation or answer in an interview, the answer should be the same and follow a few best practices:

  • Be positive, or at least do not be negative.
  • Take ownership and accountability.
  • Be honest and concise.
  • Put it in the best light.
  • End it looking forward.
  • Remember, you are human.

Blaming a former employer is never a good move.  If you are still angry, blaming or being a victim the prospective employer will see that as a red flag.  No one wants to hire a victim.

What was your role?  Did you make a mistake? Were you in over your head? Was there a miscommunication with the client?  Where did it start?

If you were lucky enough to be downsized due to budget cuts or the company that bought out your company kept only their management That is all you need to say.  It is understood.

However, if there is something there, they will find it so it is best to be honest – without going to confessional.

If you were hired for one position and given responsibilities that were over your head, be honest.  Then put the positive on it.  Although you were not equipped at the time you are grateful for the experience.  It made you stretch and realize where you could improve.  It is regrettable that you did not have enough time to master it while there; however, you have been doing xyz since and are not at abc point.

From there you can look forward.  Now that you have mastered this, gained more experience, been exposed to a broader range of skills you know that not only can you bring value to this company, but having the experience you are able to identify possible challenges before they become an issue.

Lastly, remember, you are human – everyone makes mistakes.  Every. Single. Person.  You are not unique in being the only person ever fired or let go from a job. Just as I told my son and many parents have done so as well, it is not the mistake but what you do after it that counts the most.

What did you learn, how can you apply it going forward.  Some of the best experience comes from the worst mistakes.

All of this information would not fit on your resume.  Leave it for the next step in the process.  Hopefully, that will be in an interview because that is the best case scenario.

Best Case Scenario

The interview is your friend for explaining a departure.  This is where you need to use all your senses: watch and listen while you are speaking.  Give your short, concise explanation and either wait if on the phone or watch while you are giving it.

If on a phone interview, listen for their reaction.  Not just what they say, but how they say it.  Listen to their tone and inflection of their voice.  Do they sound hesitant? Do they sound confident or dismissive?  It will tell you how much more detail you need to give or if they are going to move on to the next question.

If you are in a face to face interview, watch their body language as you are speaking.  If you start giving too much detail or going in an area that causes them discomfort or suspicion, their body will let you know. Shifting in the seat, raising of eyebrows, tilting of the head or pulling it back a bit, crossing arms etc.  If you get the vibe they are not digging it, they are not digging it and stop digging yourself a hole.

Please remember, this is not a confessional – you do not have to give every gruesome detail.  Just start with the basic facts and go from there.  If they want more information, they will ask.

Preparation

The question is coming so be prepared.  You want to know what you are going to say but not recite a script.  If it sounds like you are giving them a memorized cliff-notes version, it will send up a red flag.  Know the major points only, not word for word memorization.

Practice, practice, practice.  Stand in front of a mirror and answer the question several times.  Let some of the minor words change, the most important thing is that it flows naturally, confidently.

Practice with a trusted friend and have them watch your body language.  Are you fidgeting, are you showing that you are uncomfortable or do you have any tells?  If you are not natural and comfortable no matter what comes out of your mouth, your body will betray you.

One last thing: you are explaining, not justifying or apologizing. Events happen in life, mistakes are made, the sun still rises and sets.  Focus on the positive that you bring to the position, do not dwell on the negative and you can set the tone so they focus on those positives, too.

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I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at companies, professional organizations and colleges speaking to leadership, sales, teams, transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about career mobility, personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

Stop Ignoring The Most Important Person To Give You Job Search Advice

confidenceWith the ability to have instant access to a wealth of information on any topic known to man, it would seem to be a pretty easy task to become fairly well educated on a desired topic. The flip side to this is information overload which leads to analysis-paralysis.

If you are in the process of making a change in your career – moving up or changing industries – it is natural to do a little research to be prepared. So you begin a search on the internet. You find information on job search strategies, resumes, networking, LinkedIn, interviewing – just to name a few topics that you are likely to run across.

So you pick on and start doing some real research on one topic to get started and that is when the fun starts.

One site tells you that you should always have a one page resume, another says that two pages is preferred or most common. One expert tells you that you should never have a summary on the top of your resume, another says it is an absolute must, and the list goes on and on and on and on….

What you start to quickly realize is there is a lot of conflicting information out there, with an emphasis on a lot of information out there. By the time you amass all the tips, tools, tricks, insight and recommendations your head is about ready to explode. You feel worse than you did when you began the process.

Perhaps you feel like you thought you knew a thing or two but now you feel you really do not know a darn thing about this whole process after all. A sense of doom and gloom starts to creep in.

Should you redefine your brand, resume, LinkedIn, networking, interviewing and everything else that you do every single time you leave the house or apply for a position? Everyone seems sincere and authoritative, even if conflicting, so who do you listen to?

Let’s not forget the well-meaning intentions of family and friends. Some turn into instant experts on job searching and all the elements as soon as they find out you are in that mode. They tell you with extreme confidence exactly what you should do. Sometimes, if you are really lucky, they badger you asking if you have followed their advice to the letter and if not why not and it can turn into berating rather than supporting.

Professionals, websites, articles, videos, seminars, books, friends, family, former bosses, co-workers, networking groups – who do you listen to? You have so many options of who to listen to but odds are you are not listening to the person who has the most to contribute, your most valuable expert.

What if I told you there is one person who knows you better than anyone else and who can guide you? They can weed through the landfill of information and pick out the gems that benefit you the most because it is in line with who you are and what you want.

Who is this person??

It is you.

That’s right; you need to listen to yourself. Your gut, intuition, little voice in your head – whatever you call it you need to learn to listen to it.

No, you do not know the world of job searching, but you know you. And selling yourself in a way that resonates with you is the foundation and vital to your job search success.

You can gather the best advice in the world but if it does not work for you than it is worthless. Listening to yourself allows you to pick and choose among the strategies and suggestions and mold them into your comfort level.

For example, if you read a very persuasive article advocating for colors, graphics, charts and statistics on your resume but your stomach tightens just thinking about it. That would be a signal not to do that. If you choose to ignore this advice from yourself and do make those changes you will probably end up not liking your resume.

This in turn means you will be less likely to utilize it and send it out. That means less visibility and not creating opportunities for you to be considered. This could prolong your job search, deepen your frustration and make you feel worse than before.

If your gut says absolutely no but you think there might be some value in the advice, see if you can find a compromise. Say, “Self, I know I cannot do the fancy-smancy resume, but is there something here we can use? I really want to upgrade the look of my resume.”

Self may very well respond with, “How about using a different font, work with the white space, change your letterhead and make smaller visually impactful changes?”

Now you create a look that you like, that you are proud of and one that you happily send it out. You therefore increase your chances for visibility, communication and action.

The bottom line is this: it is your career, your life, your resume, your LinkedIn profile, your networking, your brand – it should represent you! Do research, listen and then have that conversation with yourself. Find a compromise in order to build a personal brand, make connections, expand your network and capitalize on opportunities.

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I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

You Wouldn’t Marry The First Person Who Asks You – Why Work For Them?

proposalIf you went out with someone once and they told you nothing about themselves for example their values, their goals, family, what they do and other pertinent information and only asked about you – would you marry them if they asked you at the end of that date?

I am hoping the answer to that is no.

If so, then why would you do the same with a job?

Job searching is a lot like dating. The first date was the resume; this is where they discovered you meet their general qualifications. The interview is the second date; this is when they size you up to see if they can introduce you to their friends and family and if you will stick around.

In any long term relationship you have expectations and items that you will accept, will compromise on and things that are “oh hell no”s.

These are your negotiables and non-negotiables. One of the most important ways you can be prepared for an interview is to know what is on your lists.

It is Personal

Your non-negotiables are your non-negotiables. They are items that are personally important to you. I know there are many people in your circle that are trying to help you and it is great to have feedback and guidance. However, in the end, what you decide upon is what you have to live with, not them.

What is important to you – money, opportunity, benefits, location, travel time, duties? There is no judgement, this is your list.

Your list may be quite specific (I will not take less than X salary) or broad (I will not work for a company that is immoral or unethical based on my beliefs).

They Change

My list from 20 years ago is different from my list today. I have grown as an individual, a mother, a family member, a partner and a woman. Twenty years ago you might have foregone money for opportunity. Today you have the experience that you will not accept less salary than what you deserve.

There are many factors that change our non-negotiables. Age, experience, family, personal growth are just a few. Perhaps you have been in one industry for over 10 years and you want a change, even though you are older you are willing to accept a lower pay for the opportunity to get into your new chosen field.

It is Okay to Say No

Just because an opportunity is presented to you does not mean that you have to take it. There is no obligation just because an offer was extended. When you do decline, do so professionally.

Simply tell them thank you, but no thank you. After interviewing I do not think I am the best candidate for this position or the best candidate that you are looking for. Simple, polite and professional.

You can use this same sentiment when telling friends and family. You will be asked, ridiculed or berated for not taking a job. I have had clients that they friends or family members tell them things like: you’re crazy, you will never get another offer like that, that was stupid, what more do you want, you’re being selfish, you can’t afford not to take whatever someone is offering you.

Personally, I would like to coach them on how to tell their friends and family what they can do with those comments six ways to Sunday, but that is just me. Those are rude comments and completely unsupportive. The best way to handle them is to say very little.

It was not a good fit. If they continue to push, and remember this is not their business or the job they have to show up to everyday, stand firm: it was just not a good fit. You do not need to explain yourself or justify your core beliefs about what you want or are willing to accept.

Trust Your Gut

This is the hardest thing I think for people to grasp. Job searching is a gut wrenching process. It makes you question your value as you have the opportunity to be rejected at any time throughout the process or before it even begins.

Going back to the relationship analogy – if the thought of being there every single day all day does not give you the warm and fuzzies then your gut is trying to tell you something. Thinking you will learn to love it is not the best plan B.

Respect Yourself and the Opportunity

It is actually more disrespectful to take a job you do not want rather than decline. It is also disrespectful to you and it sets you up for failure if there is absolutely no give and take of value.

If the opportunity has a component that you could learn a certain skill while I am there and provide benefit to the company than you are making a contribution, which means this is a compromise.

Stop Talking Yourself Out of It

Talking about what you want does not make it happen. I can talk about winning the lottery but it does not make me a lottery winner. Talk is anticipation of action; however, it is only an expression, not an action that carries you forward or moves you back.

I cannot win the lottery if I do not play and even if I play it does not mean I will win. If I play there is absolutely no guarantee that I will; however there does remain a chance – no matter how miniscule.

You have to apply, talk to them and participate in the process. An offer and acceptance is a combined decision and is a step – either forward or back. Without an offer there can be no action, without trying there can be no offer.

Find Your Support

I already touched on the non-supporters who would condemn you for not taking just anything; what you need is to find the circle that supports you for not taking it. Those that do not ridicule but rather listen. They may be few and far between but they are out there.

They may not be in your immediate circle so go out and find them. It could be a networking group with the sole purpose of supporting job seekers, it could be a faith based group or a recreational group that you find one or a few people that are true supporters.

You need them, find them and support them, too. My best friend has been my person for a long, long time. Sometimes her most supportive statements are: they suck, do not apologize, why do you think that or move on.

It is an individual process; however, you are not alone. What has been the most helpful advice or encouragement that someone has given you during job searching?

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I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

5 Blunders That Could Ruin Your Interview

Head SlapOne of the biggest frustrations of interviewing, right after not getting the job, is not being told why you did not get the job.

It is a competitive market with a lot of quality candidates out there. However, what could have cost you the job are some simple mistakes that you yourself made.

From the moment you release your resume you are on stage. Everything you do from here on out with regards to the job is being watched and judged. Slack in one area and the curtain closes.

They Like Me

We like to be liked; I believe it is human nature. During an interview we really want the interviewer to like us. The problem in this is when being liked and or being likable trump being relevant. When you spend more time trying to be their buddy rather than demonstrate your value in the position, your experience, skill sets, expertise and being the solution to their problem.

Yes, you want to build a rapport and demonstrate that you are the right fit both in terms of qualifications for the position as well as within their culture.

Always Pick Multiple Choice Answer C

I remember hearing that when in doubt on a multiple choice question, you should always choose answer C if you do not know the answer. I am not sure who came up with this advice and I never saw the wisdom in it.

You might be asked a question and you immediately see more than one way to answer it. It is a mistake to assume you know the intention of the interviewer. Ask. Simply ask the interviewer if they are looking at the situation from perspective A or perspective B. The interviewer might not be aware that there is more than one possible viewpoint. This demonstrates thoughtfulness in your answer and an expanded view on the topic.

Not Even In the Same Ballpark

It is great to prepare for an interview and have examples to answer the “tell me about a time…” question. The problem comes when we have memorized those stories and relay them when they are not relevant to the actual question being asked.

Relevancy comes from addressing issues related to the position, industry, company and situation. You must demonstrate that you get their need and you can solve their problem. Do not leave them to try to connect the dots – show them so they can walk out of that room saying, “That’s our person!”

Unlike the financial industry, in the career industry past success is an indicator of future success.

It Is Assumed

Several recruiters, hiring managers and human resource personnel have told me that an interview could have gone well, but they never followed up because at the end of the interview the candidate never expressed that they were still interested or wanted the job.

Do Not Assume. Just because you showed up and answered the questions does not automatically equate to you still wanting the job. Your silence could leave the interviewer wondering if you did not like what you heard but you are being too polite to tell them you are no longer interested.

Speak up. At the end of the interview reiterate that you believe this is a good fit and are very excited to join their team.

Dead Air

You showed up early, were completely prepared, aced the interview and closed strongly with an “I really want this job” – yep, you have got it in the bag.

Nope, not so fast – your work is not done.

You are not done with the “I want the job”, that is your face to face closing but not the end.

Follow up with a professionally worded ‘thank you for your time’ correspondence. Be sure to highlight the strengths and positives from the interview. Thank them for their time and re-iterate your interest and excitement for the position.

This will reinforce all the positives that you have and give you an additional edge. Surprisingly many hiring managers will keep those follow up correspondence to put in your personnel file because it demonstrated a positive quality about you.

You should arrive early, be prepared, look the part – all the traditional wisdom for interviewing; however, you also need to pay attention to the details along the way. As the sayings go – the devil is in the details and it only takes one pebble to start an avalanche.

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I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

4 Things Not to Say to Your Dog or an Interviewer

luke suprisedOne of my top cringe-worthy sayings is “I’m a people person.” When I would interview someone and they would tell me this I would respond with, “That’s nice, I’m a dog person.”

Dogs are incredibly intelligent creatures. Although there are times that I challenge my own conclusion on this when they do weird things like eat their own waste or vomit, but overall, they are intelligent. They understand what you say not only in words but in body language and actions.

I cannot say, “I’m going to walk to the store” because the mention of the word ‘walk’ starts a frenzy in my house. Of course, when something has been destroyed in my house and I say the phrase, “Who did this?” I get a trio of blank stares and head turns with perked ears with the implied response of, “We don’t understand what you are saying, we don’t speak human.”

There are phrases or words I cannot use if I want to maintain an environment of peace and calm; there are also words or phrases that I have learned I just cannot say to my dogs. These just happen to correlate with phrases that you should not say to an interviewer.

You Understand

No, really, they do not. Dogs and people are going to understand what you tell them, not what you intended to tell them. Telling a dog, “I cannot play with you right now because I am too busy, you understand” does not equate to them getting the fact that you have a deadline.

What they know is you are ignoring them. Period. You might as well tell them that you don’t love them anymore. Dogs do not connect dots. Cats chase glowing red dots, dogs are oblivious to dots.

When talking to a hiring manager and they ask you about a situation, ending your response with “you understand” is the same as telling them “I really do not have a good answer to your question so I am leaving it up to you to fill in the blanks for me.”

If you are asked a question that gives you the opportunity to highlight a skill set or accomplishment for goodness sake take full advantage of it. They will not know how wonderful you are and what a great fit you are for the job if you do not tell them. Do not assume they are connecting the dots. You know what they say about assuming….

I Didn’t Mean To Put That There

My pack has always included big dogs. I had a Great Pyrenees, Sheppard/Husky mix and currently a Lab – pictured above. The thing about big dogs is there is nothing they cannot reach. My kitchen counter tops are clean and bare by necessity, not design. I can put something in the very back of the counter or lock it in the oven and as soon as I leave the room it is eaten. My Lab can unlock things. He laughs at child locks.

At this point it is of no consequence to the dog in telling them that I didn’t mean to put the food item there and that it wasn’t for them. They don’t care. If I put it there and it is within reach then it is fair game. That means if they can reach it, they will eat it. Plain and simple.

For an interviewer this equates to putting something on your resume that you do not want to discuss or highlight. Everything on your resume is fair game. If you list it and I am a hiring manager than I have full opportunity to explore it.

Often I have found people will include items on their resume that are actually weak areas or tasks that they do not want to do. When reviewing these items in resume reviews I am told, “I didn’t mean to put that there, I really did not have a lot of exposure to it but I thought it would look good on my resume.”

No, it does not, especially if you cannot speak to it with authority and confidence. I am not a technical genius to say the least. If I were putting a resume together for myself I would not mention proficiency in certain applications because the truth be told, I might have worked in them, but it was a slow and painful process.

Trying to make yourself look better by listing something you are not skilled at and then going a step further by trying to proclaim you are proficient in it is one sure fire way of discrediting everything that you have said to that point and everything after.

If you cannot speak to it as a value add then leave it off

Biscuits are Not a Priority

My dogs live for treats, and tummy rubs, but mostly food related items. Biscuits are a priority for them. I call all treats ‘biscuits’ because this is their favorite word. My dogs are spoiled, they get biscuits for things like going outside and pooping. What an awesome life they live, they get rewarded for doing what they have to do by nature. I would have a revolt on my hands if I proclaimed that biscuits were no longer a priority in my house.

You need to know the hiring manager’s biscuits. Factors include industry, clients, target markets, skill sets; what are their goals, mission statement, short and long term plans. If customer service is their biggest biscuit for the position for which you are interviewing then you darn well better come prepared with a box of results, value and accomplishments related to customer service.

If, on the other hand, you tell them that customer service is not high on your priority list or worse, tell them that you do not like it, you have just lost the job. One, you were not prepared for the interview; and two, you are not the right fit.

I once interviewed a young lady for an investment associate position, she would be responsible for tracking orders in the market, spreadsheets for clients and verifying costs basis. She was doing fine until she told me that she wasn’t really a math person. Math was a pretty big biscuit for that position.

I Don’t Have Time

I don’t know about your dogs but when mine want to go play and I am trying to finish something up and tell them that I don’t have time right now I get the look. One will give me the pathetic look, one will give me the disdained look and the other gives me a look of sheer confusion. This is important to them, how do I not have the time? Do I not love them anymore? Next thing you know I will tell them that I don’t have any biscuits.

Telling a hiring manager that you do not have the time to learn a new system, technology or skill set is telling them that their job and company are not a priority for you; now or in the future. You do not see it worthy to give them extra time to be a part of the team.

If you are asked about the company for which you are interviewing and you tell them you did not have time to research it, you are telling them you do not care. You are not engaged or interested in the position. It could very easily translate that you are only looking for a paycheck.

My dogs have taught me about unconditional love. No matter how bad my day, if I am out of the good biscuits and they have to suffer with the yucky ones, or have less time to play, they still love me. This is just one wonderful thing about dogs.

Jobs, on the other hand, not so much. Start slacking on the biscuits, giving less time or effort and they do not show unconditional love; they show you the door. You have to put in as much as, or more, than you expect to get back to reach that point of satisfaction, joy and success.

If you are going after a job you have to want it; and wanting it means you have to know the ins and outs and be excited to do that and more. This is best demonstrated by doing your homework, being prepared, communicating your value and be engaging in the process.

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I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.

–Lisa

Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

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