Saturday, March 31, 2012

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

1. Your Career Needs to Be Horizontal
"Given the hierarchical structures of most organizations, we will still have upward career paths. More and more however, the real contributors will be the process owners and project leaders that are able to provide horizontal leadership."

2. 10 Steps for Flourishing at a Job Fair
"Career fairs can be the perfect occasions to network with recruiters who could help you land an interview. Don't waste your chance to make a good impression."

3. Nonprofit Careers: How to Make Your Career Meaningful
"Finding ways to combine a smart career trajectory with the causes you hold dear is another way to give back."

4. 22 Tips to Refocus and Re-Energize Your Job Search 
"I've boiled down thousands of pages of advice into 22 game-changing tips that are gaining traction in the real world – tips I’m using in my own job search."

5. Technological Know-How is a Job Requirement
"In a world where everyone must become a technologist, how can we land an exciting technology job in an entirely new category — or simply become more technologically sophisticated in the way we approach our current, traditional roles?"

Friday, March 30, 2012

Regain Confidence Following a Job Loss

Job loss can take a heavy toll on an individual’s self-esteem and may negatively impact that person’s confidence during a job search. If this happens to you, the following may help you regain your confidence and land a job you desire.

Focus on Strengths and Accomplishments

If you’ve lost your job, you may also have lost sight of your strengths and the value you can bring to an organization. If so, it’s time to make a list of all your strengths and professional accomplishments so you can play these up in your resume, cover letters, and interviews. Rebuild your confidence by reviewing your list regularly.

Be Mindful of Your Language

Confidence, or lack thereof, is often demonstrated in your verbal and body language. Consider what your words, tone of voice, and body language may be telling a prospective employer. Employers look for job candidates who are confident in their job skills and persuasive about their ability to do the job. Practice interviewing; focus on using positive word choices and declarative statements like, “I have the experience and skills to do this job.”

Make Sure Your Internal Voice is Positive

When a person is unemployed, his/her internal messaging can be negatively focused on shortcomings or past mistakes. It is very important to change this negative to be more positive. Shift your mindset to focusing on your past successes, your strengths, and the opportunities that lie ahead.

Don’t Take It Personally

It’s difficult, but don’t personalize it if you were part of a company’s downsizing or when a job offer from a new employer has yet to come your way. Several factors impact a company’s decision to lay off or to make job offers, and many of these have no reflection on your abilities. You can’t change the past, so keep your attention on the future as you market and sell your experience and skills to prospective employers.

Remember too, don’t be afraid to turn to family and friends─or even a professional resource, like a psychologist─for emotional support after a job loss and to help you get back on track and regain your confidence.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Finding the Right Post Grad Living Situation

You're done with college, you've found a job and now the next thing on your mind is moving out of your parent's house and settling into a new place. But how do you choose? Do you live alone, with roommates, or with a significant other? Choose an apartment, a home, or a condo? Where will you live? There are so many options but take these things into consideration when looking to move.

1. Make a budget and figure out how much you can spend. This will help you to determine what type of housing you are looking for, if you need one or more roommates and even what city you'll live in. Don't forget to factor in expenses such as groceries, cable, internet and utilities.

2. Decide where you want to live. Chances are if you have a full-time or part-time job, you will want to live close to your work. You may also want to live close (or far away) from your parents or just love a certain town in your state. Decide on a radius of where you see yourself living so you can look accordingly.

3. Decide whether you want to live on your own, with a roommate or two or three or with your boyfriend/girlfriend. First figuring out how much you can spend will help you make this decision. If you need or simply want to live with someone else, take into consideration who else you know who is looking for an apartment or home. Think about your similarities and differences. If you're an introverted homebody and decide to live in a small apartment with a party animal, that may not turn out too well.

4. Make a list of your must-haves. Do you need a washer and dryer or can you go home to do laundry at your parent's house? Maybe you want the bedrooms on the opposite ends of the apartments instead of next to each other or have two bathrooms instead of one. Figure out what you really want but make sure it is possible with your budget.

Once you've determined what type of place you're looking for, how much you can spend, have a roommate or two in mind, start looking. You can find a lot of information online to start with and then take a tour of a few places to see what they are like. At the tour, check out the other people and places in the area to see if it is a good fit. If you follow this advice, you'll find an amazing place for your life as a post grad. Good luck!

When is it Acceptable to Use Personal Information on a Resume?

I am member of several resume writing professional organizations. On a recent e-list posting, another writer posed the question of whether or not she should list on her customer's resume for entry into graduate school that he was a former Abercrombie & Fitch model. My immediate response to this query was a resounding . . . Yes, if the audience is right. Think of how much curiosity this one simple statement would arouse in both male and female hiring authorities.

If you have followed my blog posts, you know that I am not a proponent of putting personal information on the resume. However, there are - like most rules - some exceptions to this rule. Let's explore a few.

Your Information Will Intrigue the Interviewer
Resumes are meant to entice the reader to want to call you. Whether they are enticed by your qualifications or the fact that they want to see a real-life A&F model in-person is irrelevant once you walk in the door and make your interview "sales pitch." If you have something in your background that you feel is a talking point, or a conversation starter, then by all means find a way to include this information.

Your Information Will Show your Passion for Their Industry
I once had a customer that was retiring from the newspaper industry. He was a self-proclaimed NASCAR fanatic. His goal was a job - any job - in the NASCAR industry. He was a volunteer pit crew member, he had season tickets to 4 different raceways across the country and he had never missed a Daytona 500 race in more than 10 years. All of this information was vital to demonstrating his passion and interest in his career field of choice.

Volunteerism, hobbies, and clubs or organizations should definitely be included on two conditions. First, that the information is relevant and second that the experience will demonstrate that you have gained first-hand knowledge of the industry through your "extra-curricular" activities.

You Received a Prestigious or Recognizable Award
I work with a lot of military transition job seekers. One of the hardest habits for them to break is talking about (and listing on their resume) all their awards and decorations. Most of these do not mean anything significant to anyone outside their military branch.

However, there are recognitions, such as the Purple Heart or Medal of Valor, that everyone understands has some value and meaning behind the award. When listing awards or achievements, be sure to talk briefly in the resume why you were awarded the particular honor.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone to Achieve Career Success

I think many of have one of those television shows we consider a guilty pleasure. I can't believe I am going to tell you all this, but mine is Dancing With the Stars. As I was watching the show recently, I started thinking about how many people come to this show awkward and uncomfortable dancing and by facing their fears and stepping out of their comfort zone they achieve amazing results, Many have used the show to launch - or re-launch their careers.

People tend to get stuck in a routine, doing the things with which we are most comfortable and always relying on the skills we know we can count on. But are we living up to our full potential? I challenge you to push the envelope, try something new, and explore your options. Here are some ideas of how you can do just this.

> Try volunteering in a new career field. You will gain new experience, meet new people, and make connections that you never would have made otherwise.

> Take a class to expand your knowledge. One night a week at a community college or an online university course will not take up an outrageous amount of your time. You will learn new ideas, gain new skills, and meet new networking contacts.

> Start taking more risks. I don't mean putting yourself in danger, but have the courage to go into situations where you don't know what to expect. Fear of failure is the cause of a great deal of inaction. Overcoming this fear will move you forward in all aspects of your life.

> Approach every day with an open mind and a positive attitude. If something seems impossible or out of your reach, simply break it down into steps or mini goals you need to accomplish in order to achieve this goal. Taking the goal one step at a time will make it seem more realistic and achievable.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Living with Your Career Saboteur - Last in a Series

You've done it. You discovered your career saboteur, figured out how it operates, faced it, and now you have conquered it forever.


Remember when I said that the career saboteur appears "any time that you think about engaging or engage in an activity that brings you closer to who you want to be"? The operative words in that sentence is any time. Unfortunately, the saboteur is going to keep coming back into your life, right when you don't need him/her the most, when you are getting closer to the life you dreamed. Up until this point, you might have listened to your career saboteur and backed off, fearful of failing, "them" laughing at you, screwing up, or overextending your reach.

But we both know this is nonsense, a ploy created to keep you safe. You are much stronger, more capable, and more successful than you have imagined yourself to be. And look at you now: you are much better equipped to handle your career saboteur. You know the circumstances when he/she appears. You are familiar with his/her name, back story, and other ways that he/she operates. Finally, you have methods to combat your career saboteur.

And I have some news for you, too: you have beaten your saboteur before. There have been times in your life when you have met a challenge head-on, fighting back the fear, trepidation, and uncomfortableness to achieve...for yourself or for a cause that is much bigger than you. You need only remember, and use this information to propel you to future success. So for your final assignment...

Assignment #4: Your Success List
Create a list of things you have accomplished in your life of which you are proud. Keep it available to add to it any time, and to look at whenever you feel the saboteur appearing. Use it as another line of defense against its power.

There is nothing that you can't create from your dreams. Empower yourself, not your saboteur. Now show the world what you can do.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

1. Why You Remain Stuck in a Career You Hate
"I believe there are even deeper reasons for this epidemic of people hating what they do each day for their living.  These reasons touch on underlying emotional, spiritual and behavioral conditions, and reveal a deep disconnection to what it means to live joyfully, authentically, and meaningfully."

2. Why Every Job Seeker Needs to Blog
"Your blog demonstrates your ability to think and your ability to write, and these abilities are important to your future boss."

3. 10 Dos & Don'ts for Shifting from a Military to Civilian Career
"Though transitioning from military to civilian life requires hard work and planning, if executed well, it can be an exciting, purposeful mission filled with large rewards and meaning."

4. Bridging the Gap to an Encore Career 
"A new survey ... estimates that 31 million people between ages 44 and 70 are interested in encore careers."

5. How to Curate Your Own Personal Job Feed
"You have to become a curator of your own personal job feed, narrowing down all of the various websites and listings to a truly personalized stream of opportunities."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Be Prepared to Act on Hot Job Leads

Recent favorable news from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a steady rise in the number of jobs being added to the U.S. economy. Job seekers should be encouraged by the possibility of increased job opportunities and prepared to act promptly on relevant job leads. The following suggestions can help.

Keep Resume and Cover Letter Updated

Your resume and cover letter should always be current, professional, and polished. Use it to succinctly communicate the skills, experience, and knowledge that make you a great candidate for the job. Remember to add some tailored points to both the resume and cover letter to address the specific job you are pursuing. If you always keep a great resume and basic cover letter at the ready, customization should be quick and easy.

Remember References, Work Samples, and Professional Attire

If a company is moving fast to fill a position or you join the candidate pool late in the process, be ready to respond quickly to inquiries. Have professional references already lined up and professional attire available for an interview or meeting. Additionally, if you are pursuing an occupation in which samples of work are commonly requested, be sure you’ve identified samples you can share.

Create an Elevator Pitch

Every job seeker should have an elevator pitch¾a short speech, typically two minutes or less, that summarizes your qualifications and skills and highlights your potential value to an organization. This pitch should be succinct and compelling, and the best ones will pique the listener’s interest and spark further dialogue.

Follow Up Immediately

When you hear of a hot job lead, follow up immediately to demonstrate interest as well as professionalism and motivation. Find a way to organize and track your job search, including actions already taken and next steps. If your efforts lead to an interview, be sure to send a prompt thank you note.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tips for a Smooth Transition from Self-employed to Employee

As someone who is self-employed, I know all about the perks: flexibility in your schedule, ability to make your own decisions and be your own boss, and direct control over your work environment to name a few. However, these perks are the same things that scare an employer when they are considering hiring you to work for them.

Employers ask themselves can you work an 8 to 5 schedule, can you take direction, and can you conform to company policy? Many employers think of the formerly self-employed worker as someone who is just going to stick around until they can get their business off the ground again.

If you are previously or currently self-employed and looking to make the transition into Corporate America, you have some obstacles that you must overcome in the job search process. Below are some pointers on how to deal with this type of situation on a resume and in the interview.

The Resume
  • Try to avoid referring to yourself as owner or principal on your resume. Think about what area of your expertise you want to focus your search (i.e. marketing, operations management, etc.) and give yourself the appropriate title such as Director of Sales and Marketing or Director of Operations.
  • As a business owner, you do it all - sales, customer service, business management, personnel management, and the list goes on. When writing your resume, remember employers do not want to know everything. They only want the most relevant information to the job they are filling. Focus your resume on relevant experience only.
  • Emphasize your versatility and scope of knowledge, but don't overwhelm the employer with too much information that does not matter to the job you are seeking.

The Interview
  • In the interview you will need to address early on that you were self-employed. Be sure to clearly communicate that while you enjoyed being a business owner, and gained extensive knowledge and skills, you are ready to expand your knowledge and utilize your skills in the corporate arena.
  • Don't give the interviewer the impression you are running from something (i.e. a failed business, long hours as an entrepreneur). Instead, make them feel as though you have chosen to work for their company and that you bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table.
  • Since your experience and accomplishments when self-employed are not verifiable, go armed with references from vendors, clients or business peers that can speak to your ethics, work history and accomplishments.

Stop The Post Grad Pity Party

Being a post grad is exciting at first. You've got the degree in your hand you worked so hard for. Your future is a clean slate. You are thinking about new jobs, new cars and new apartments. You're finally growing up. Yet after a while, perhaps a few months, reality sets in. Maybe you moved away from most of your friends. Maybe you can't get a job or aren't really sure what you want to do. Maybe you've been rejected and can't afford, well, anything. That's when the post grad pity party sets in. Here's how to squash those feelings:

1. Know what happens, happens for a reason. It may seem cliche, but I really do find this to be true. Think of the last job you really wanted but didn't get. Perhaps you would have had an awful boss or co-workers, maybe you weren't set for that kind of work or maybe there is an even better job offer on the horizon.

2. Take a break from worry, stress and anxiety. We put so much pressure on ourselves to find the perfect career, perfect partner and perfect life. Have faith that if you work hard enough, your life will turn out fabulous. Don't think that if you find that perfect job, then you'll be happy. Find a way to be happy in the meantime.

3. Think of it as a learning opportunity. Don't be discouraged by a bad job interview or missed opportunity. Take it all in as a learning opportunity and learn from your mistakes instead of beating yourself up about it.

Always remember to maintain a positive and hopeful attitude even when things seem really tough. Your dream job is out there and if you work hard and act positively, you'll land it in no time.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

When and How to Use Your Cover Letter to Explain Difficult Situations

The resume and cover letter should be viewed as a team. Rarely should you leave something out of your resume simply because you address it in your cover letter. However, there are a few situations that can not be adequately addressed using the resume alone. This is where a brief, well-written note in the cover letter can help overcome obstacles.

Long-term Unemployment
Whether your unemployment was a result of a lay-off, your own health concerns, family leave, or taking care of an ill relative, it is always a good idea to address gaps in employment on the resume. However, you can use the cover letter to overcome the fear that comes along with these issues for your potential employer.

Address your own health concerns in this way: "Although I have taken some time off to recover from a serious medical condition, I have now overcome these issues and have been given a clean bill of health. I kept my skills and knowledge current by participating in several industry groups, and am ready to return full-time to my career specialty." The bottom line is that you can use the cover letter to explain the absence - without providing unnecessary details - and overcome the employers' fear that this may be an issue again in the future.

Change in Career Directions
Most important in this case is to focus on your transferable skills in the resume to showcase how marketable you will be as a candidate. However, you can use your cover letter to further address why you are good fit for this new career field. Briefly address why you want to make the change and the skills and personal traits you can bring to your potential employer.

Unfocused Career History
Job hopping is a major red flag to an employer. Having multiple positions in multiple industries across a short period of time makes the employer fear you will not stay long-term. Once again, use the resume to show the most relevant and transferable skills to your new career focus as you highlight your previous employment.

Use your cover letter to express your focus on obtaining a long-term career with your target company. Use a statement like this to overcome the employers' fears. "Although for the last few years my career focus was not clear, I have now realized that (Insert Industry and Career Focus) is where I can put my skills, experience and personal traits to the best use. I am looking for a long-term position where I can bring my employer the benefits of my experience and enthusiasm as I continue to grow and learn."

If you are planning to relocate and are currently job hunting from another city or state, it is important that you clearly state your intent to relocate in the near future. If possible, it would be most beneficial to obtain a local address prior to job hunting. However, if that is not possible overcome the employers' fear with this type of statement. "Although I currently live and work in Arizona, it is my intent to permanently relocate to West Virginia to be closer to my family. I am available any time for a phone interview and can arrange an in-person interview with a bit more notice."

Monday, March 19, 2012

Facing Your Career Saboteur - Third in a Series

You're never going to succeed.

That's too big a risk.

You're going to make an unfixable mistake.

The market is already flooded with career coaches.

The above are all statements that a saboteur whispers in your ear, particularly when you get closer to living your career dream. These phrases of anti-encouragement are actually ones of my saboteur. See, I'm in the same place you are: striving toward a dream of shaping a new career and battling my saboteur along the way. But no matter what is whispered in my dreams are louder.

To face your career saboteur, you need techniques to engage with your dreams as well as to deafen the words of your saboteur. Here are some ways to do so:

Connect with values: When you live your career dream you are living bigger than you have in your life. When you are living big, you are living your values. Create a list of 5-10 values (there is a great list of them here) and keep it with you at all times to read whenever your saboteur come calling.

Talk with your saboteur: When you saboteur starts talking to you, talk back! Say "I hear you. Sounds like you're trying to derail me again. But you're not going to do it, so shut up." Say it in your head or say it out loud. Continue to beat back your saboteur until he/she backs off.

Change geography: If you're having a hard time shaking your saboteur, stand up. Changing your body posture by standing up straight and moving with energy can create shake off the career saboteur. And if you need to change your environment (go outside, change rooms, go to a coffee shop) do so.

Engage your Ideal Self: Your Ideal Self is the opposite of your career saboteur. He/she believes in you, sees your magnificence, understands your potential, and cheerleads you to live your dreams. When the career saboteur is talking loudly, that's a voice...but it's not the voice. Bring your Ideal Self into the conversation and focus on those words to put the saboteur in his/her place.

Assignment #3: Facing Your Saboteur
Pick at least two (if not all) of the above techniques and practice them for a week. Write about your results in the comments section.

Next week: the continued uncare and unfeeding of your career saboteur.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

1. The Big Career Shift: Your Financial Checklist
"Money is the biggest stumbling block when it comes to changing careers later in life. That’s because starting over in a new field, particularly a philanthropic one, or going the self-employment route usually comes with a price tag, at least initially."

2. Don't Let your Job Search Depress You
"If you are looking for a job right now, it is certain to take longer than you would like... So how do you keep your spirits up in such a tough environment?"

3. 7 Goofs to Avoid on a Thank-You Email
"Writing a well-crafted thank-you email following a job interview can give you a positive boost. It shows you're an organized, courteous, eager, and savvy professional."

4. Watch Your Mouth: Office Gossip and Other No-Nos 
"Whenever you hear something juicy about a colleague, whether it is related to work or not, you have the immediate impulse to share it across the hall."

5. Advice I Wish I Had Before Transitioning into Post-Grad Life
"College is the best time to test different fields and career paths and try to figure out what you really want in life. Take advantage of this opportunity by exploring as much as you can."

Friday, March 16, 2012

Ways to Win at Work

To be successful and “win at work” typically requires a consistent combination of positive actions, behaviors, and overall mindset. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting out, consider the following when establishing a path to career success.
Traits that Lead to Success
Just because people who are hard-working, ambitious, and self-motivated are often thought to come by these character traits naturally doesn’t mean others can’t develop similar traits. One way to do so is by observing those behaviors in others and then modeling them. To succeed, you must be diligent, motivated, and committed to doing your very best work. Note though, that success can be defined many different ways. For some it is position and salary and for others it is a sense of pride and satisfaction in a job well done.
Do Every Task Well
Every task you’re responsible for should be done well—even the menial ones. Much of your professional reputation will be based on the quality of your work. To complete tasks well and on time, be sure to manage your time, prioritize the tasks, and use strategies that work for you. For example, some prefer to complete the most difficult task first, while others, who are motivated by progress, begin by finishing several smaller tasks first.
Accept Change and Challenges
You will most certainly encounter change and challenges in your work, probably more often than you may have anticipated. Companies expect employees to adapt quickly to change and work through challenges. The pace of business, technology, and a global economy is rapid, so it is important to stay abreast of and flexible about the changes that impact you on a micro and macro level.
Continue Learning
There should never be a point in your career or life when you stop learning—even if it’s learning from your mistakes. Learning fosters new skills and knowledge that will help you remain relevant and develop professionally and personally.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring Cleaning for the Job Seeker

I am in full Spring Cleaning mode. It is 80 degrees here in Arizona and it is time to clean out the kids' drawers to figure out what does and does not fit for our new season. While I was cleaning out my daughter's closet this past weekend, I started to think about spring cleaning in other areas - most importantly the job search. So many job seekers get stuck in a rut and put their time and efforts into outdated job search methods. Here are some tips for you to make your job search run more efficiently.

  • Evaluate your job search methods. Are you sitting at a computer surfing job boards during daylight hours? Internet job searching is for after the sun goes down! Get out of the house and network in the daylight hours. Remember, in an earlier post I shared that 80% of jobs that one recruiter fills are never even posted.
  • Remove the focus from quantity and focus instead on quality. Spend your time researching your target company's history, mission statement, product mix and competition. Show them from the initial contact that you are focused on working for their organization.
  • Evaluate your personal brand message. If you have not yet identified your personal brand (your strengths, skills and what you are "known for" around work). Make sure your resume, cover letter, and interview supports the consistency of your brand message.
  • Freshen up your resume. Make sure it is a document that clearly demonstrates the benefits you can offer an employer.  Use previous measurable accomplishments to define what makes you a cost-effective employee.
  • Clean up your online persona. If you don't have a current, updated professional profile on LinkedIn and Facebook then you are behind the curve. Social media is a tool that is critical in the job search process - use it wisely and to your advantage.
  • Pull out your S.M.A.R.T. goals we worked on at the New Year and revisit your progress on achieving your milestones along the way to your goal. You will most likely become refocused and re-energized by getting back on track with your goals.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

When Do You Stop Being a Post Grad?

It has been over a year since I've graduated college, but I still consider myself a post grad. Which leads me to the question: when do you stop being a post grad? When you land a full-time job? When you get any sort of job? A year after you graduate? Two years?

For some twenty somethings, the post grad title can be somewhat of a security blanket. If they identify as a post grad, they don't feel as if they have to have the perfect career yet. It allows some time to figure things out.

I think you can rid yourself of the post grad title when you feel you're good and ready. Now, five years after you graduate when you're in a "real job" I don't think you can really call yourself a post grad, but for a few years after college when you're figuring your life out, I think it is appropriate.

Just don't use the post grad title as an excuse. Some twenty somethings may use it as an out if they don't feel like entering "the real world". Work hard, job search and network until you find your dream job. Once you're settled in, I think you can officially call yourself a working adult.

When do you think you stop being a post grad?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How to Recover from a Bad Interview.

Did you trip on the way in the door, spill water all over the interviewers desk, or simply fail to prepare yourself for the interview as well as you should have? No matter why your interview went wrong, the feeling of dread that overcomes us after a bad interview is something we all either have felt or will feel someday. The question is what do you do about it? Here are some tips on how to learn from the experience and quickly bounce back to take on your next opportunity.

  • Take an honest look at your performance in the interview. Admit to your mistakes and write them down. Next, determine how you can resolve the issues that caused you to have a less-than-stellar interview performance so it does not happen again.
  • While you may be tempted to bury your head in the sand and pretend the interview did not happen, never miss an opportunity to build a networking contact. Follow up with your post-interview thank you note, just as you would have if the interview had gone well.
  • Ask for feedback from the interviewer. Once you have sent the thank you note, make a follow up phone call to the interviewer. Thank them for the interview, admit that you felt you were not at your best in the interview and ask them for any helpful tips or feedback they can offer. This self-awareness and willingness to accept constructive feedback will earn the respect of the interviewer.
  • Be sure to ask the interviewer to keep you in mind for other positions, in their company or with their colleagues, where they think you might be a good fit.
  • Evaluate your qualifications. Was there a key skill or qualification that you were missing? If so, evaluate what you can do to about this gap in your qualifications. If you feel that you had all the qualifications, but had difficulty providing evidence of the skills, strategize how you can incorporate this information into your answers in future interviews.
  • Last, but not least, move on from a bad interview. Don't beat yourself up about one bad performance. Admit your mistakes and learn from them, but don't dwell on a poor performance. Even the great Michael Jordan had off days!

Monday, March 12, 2012

How Your Career Saboteur Operates - Second in a Series

You have decided that you want to start your own business.

Or you want to change careers.

Or perhaps you want to apply for a promotion you feel you "barely qualify" for, or even apply to your dream company.

Welcome to the land of the saboteur.

Last week's post asked you to think of one to three big, "dream-worthy" things that you have wanted to accomplish in your career but haven't been able to. If you haven't done this already, go back to it now and do it. You're going to need them going forward. Because today we are going to get intimate with your saboteur, rooting him/her out and connecting in a way that you haven't done so previously. But, right now, we need to learn about what the concept of resistance.

In his book Do the Work, Steven Pressfield speaks of resistance, ultimately confirming that "any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity" will be welcomed with resistance.

You know what I'm about to say: your saboteur is what generates the resistance. Because your saboteur only comes into play when you're dreaming big. It's not your saboteur that keeps you from eating a piece of rotten fruit that will make you ill or keeps you from jumping off of a 20-story building. You may think it is, but it isn't. The saboteur is different from your physical survival instinct. The latter keeps you from dying; the former keeps your dreams-and you-from living.

In order to build the resilience to counter your saboteur's resistance, you need to get to know him/her. This is our next assignment.

Assignment #2: How Your Saboteur Operates
At the top of a page, write one of your career dreams from the last assignment. Underneath that, note all of the saboteur-like statements that arise when reflecting on that dream: statements that undermine your power, want to keep you safe, discount your magnificence, and strive to keep you the same. Make the list as exhaustive as possible. Finally-after you have done this with all of your career dreams-answer these questions about your saboteur (note: this requires a modicum of creativity and playfulness; just go with it):

- What is your saboteur's name?
- What does your saboteur look like? Describe him/her physically.
- What does his/her voice sound like?
- Where does your saboteur live? Describe his/her home.
- When do you first remember your saboteur first communicating with you?
- How has your saboteur evolved over the years?
- Under what circumstances is your saboteur the loudest? The quietest?
- What can your saboteur claim credit for costing you in your life?
- What makes your saboteur as powerful has he/she is?

Next week: what to do about your career saboteur.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

1. Top 5 Reasons You're Miserable at Work and How to Change It
"True career bliss might be a high bar to achieve, but career satisfaction isn't. It's up to you to create a career that you love, and you deserve to love your work."

2. Hard Work Alone is Not Enough
"Focused attention is imperative to your career success. It forces you to concentrate your time and energy on a limited set of targets."

3. Find a Job Using Disruptive Innovation
"Applying the skills disruptive innovators use to your job search can help you unearth more, and better, opportunities."

4. What Not to Wear to Your Next Job Interview 
"Most interviewers won't be this candid, but it's undeniable that your wardrobe is a key factor in your first impression -- especially in a hyper-competitive job market."

5. 10 Tips for Landing a Flexible Job
"A 2011 national study ... found that 42 percent of working adults are willing to forfeit some percent of their salary in exchange for more flexible work options."

Friday, March 9, 2012

When to Include an Objective Statement

Some job seekers question whether and/or when to use an objective statement on a resume. Others wonder about using a career summary or summary of qualifications instead. So, what’s the difference, and when should you include one or the other?

Objective Statement vs. Career Summary

The objective statement should clearly communicate the type of job the job seeker is pursuing. It can even be customized to include the specific job title. On the other hand, for those who have experience, a career summary or summary of qualifications should succinctly sum up their qualifications and years of experience in the occupation and/or industry of interest. Qualifications, expertise, and skills highlighted in a summary should be mentioned again, more specifically, along with other experience and skills, later in the resume.

When Is an Objective Statement a Must?

You really can’t error by including an objective statement in a resume; however, omitting one can sometimes be a mistake. For example, job seekers new to the job market who have limited or no work experience must include a clear, concise objective statement. Without it, a recruiter or hiring manager may have difficulty making a connection between the applicant and the company’s current job openings. An objective statement is also important to a job seeker who has very diverse experience, making it hard for the employer to immediately conclude what type of job the person is applying for. This is also true for career changers who are hoping to break into a new role or new industry.

If you’re not sure how to begin writing either an objective or qualifications summary then look for samples. Ask yourself which ones would stand out if you were the employer, then use the standouts to help you draft your own statement. Remember, this is typically one of the first things a recruiter or hiring manager will read in your resume. Be sure it clearly and concisely defines the job you are pursuing and that it doesn’t contain any misspellings or grammar errors.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Strategies for Success in Non-traditional Interviews, Part 2

Earlier in the week, I discussed the strategy for success in the non-traditional interview settings of the panel and phone interviews in another blog post. Today, I would like to address two other growing trends, the video interview and the lunch or dinner meeting interview.

The video interview - With Skype being used by more people, video interviewing has become popular. This tool is especially useful when you are interviewing with a company in another state or country.

Challenge: The video interview comes with all sorts of challenges, especially if you have never used the technology before the interview. You don't want to be late because you can't get your technology working.

Another challenge that you face is controlling how you will be perceived on the video. Unlike the phone interview, you have the opportunity to use non-verbal communication tool such as appearance, body language, and facial expressions. However, if not managed correctly these tools can work against you.

Strategy: Be sure to do a test run on your equipment well in advance of the interview. Try using your internet video teleconferencing for a few test runs before the day of the interview. The day of the interview, get yourself set up at least 15 to 30 minutes in advance so you have plenty of time to deal with any issues. Some other tips:
  • Dress for the video interview as you would for a traditional in-person interview from head to toe. Consider that you might have to step away from the camera for some reason and you don't want the interviewer to see you are wearing a suit coat with your pajama pants on the bottom!
  • Consider your surroundings that will be seen in the background. You don't want dirty dishes, a messy desk, or your kids and dogs running by behind you. Remember, you want to create a professional impression.
  • If your internet connection is unreliable or slow, you need to consider alternatives. You may need to borrow a friend's connection or even rent one of those virtual offices by the hour in which to conduct your interview.
  • Don't forget to look at the camera, not the computer monitor. Think of the video camera as the interviewer's eyes. If you are constantly looking down at the monitor, it will be as though you made no eye contact during the interview.
The lunch or dinner interview - Meeting for an interview over lunch or dinner is often mistaken for a casual meeting by interviewees. There are certainly times where someone may invite you to lunch or dinner just to discuss a potential opportunity, but you should never take the casual approach to these types of meetings.

Challenge: The biggest challenge for the lunch or dinner interview is knowing how to approach the session. These interviews demand the use of social graces that are not usually used in the traditional job interview such as table manners, etiquette, and your treatment of the restaurant staff.

Strategy: Brush up on your table manners and dinner etiquette before the meal. You certainly don't want to use your interviewer's silverware or drink out of their glass of water, simply because you don't know the rules of etiquette. Some additional considerations:
  • Be wary of what you order. Ensure that you avoid hard to eat or messy foods such as spaghetti or barbecued items.
  • Take small bites so you can quickly and easily clear your mouth before answering questions.
  • Don't order alcohol. If your host insists, and is drinking something themselves, take small, slow sips of your drink.
  • Treat the staff with courtesy and respect. Never send your food back and don't be "fussy" about how your food is prepared.
  • Ladies, consider what the meal will do to your makeup. However, never reapply lipstick at the table.

Conquering Uneasiness about Technology

If you didn’t grow up in the era of digital technologies, including social media sites and smart phone apps, you may be uneasy about technology. At work, do you find yourself wasting energy on concealing your lack of tech know-how? If so, it’s time to switch your mindset and focus your efforts on learning the technology that’s been holding you back.

Start with Commitment

Getting comfortable with technology requires a commitment of time and effort. Start by learning those technologies that will help you professionally; then pursue those that interest you. Sharpen up on the basics of common business/industry software applications. Master your email program or smart phone to better organize and manage your work schedule and tasks. Try out smart phone apps or other device applications that provide access to relevant business information or tools for improving efficiency. Learn how your company or co-workers are using social media, like LinkedIn or Twitter, to share business-oriented information, including following industry leaders to find out what they are saying and doing.

Turn to Sources that Can Help

Although many of these skills can be self-taught, you shouldn’t feel like you have to go it alone. For example, spend time talking to co-workers about what they are doing with various technologies, and ask them to share a few tips. Do the same with friends or family members who can assist. Look for training opportunities at work, classes at community colleges, or workshops offered through the community, including public libraries.

With diligence, practice, and time, you can become far more knowledgeable and competent using technology, and one day, you may find that you are the one who others turn to for advice.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ways to Keep Your Post Grad Mind Sharp

When you graduate college and you're no longer taking classes, reading textbooks and surrounded in an academic world, it can be hard to keep your brain sharp and ready to go. Especially if you haven't landed a job yet and you're quickly burning out from the elusive job search. Here are some ways to keep your brain muscles fit:

1. Join a book club. Be on the lookout for book clubs near you, especially ones filled with post grads. You can choose based on a genre of book you enjoy or perhaps find a club that featured challenging books to really get the brain juices flowing. This is also a great way to network and connect with others. If you can't find a book club in your area, start one!

2. Download "mind friendly" Apps. There are so many brain teaser, word search and other similar Apps available for iPods, iPads or even simply online. Check out word games that you will enjoy playing and you won't even realize you are working that noggin!

3. Exercise! Working out isn't only good for the body but the mind. Research shows regular exercise helps you learn faster and increases blood flow to the brain. Just another great reason to lace up the sneakers.

4. Take a class. It doesn't matter if it is an academic class or a cooking class, but learning something new will help challenge your brain and keep you from getting bored with a routine 9-5 or the monotony of job searching. Bonus points if you can use the class knowledge towards your potential career.

Even though you may not be working your brain as hard as you were in school, you can use these simple tips to challenge your brain and keep your mind sharp. Remember the old saying: if you don't use it, you'll lose it!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Strategies for Success in Non-traditional Interviews, Part 1

Last week I talked to you about my attendance at an annual HR Forum where we discussed hiring practices with national and global HR and hiring managers. One of the main things I confirmed in talking with these professionals is that the process of landing a job is changing dramatically. Along with the changing job search process, the traditional face-to-face one-on-one interview is also evolving.

Let's examine two of the most common non-traditional interview practices, their unique challenges they pose to you, and establish the best strategy to achieve success in these interviews. I will address two additional methods on Thursday.

Panel Interviews - While the concept of a panel of 2 to 5 people conducting interviews is not really that new, the fact that a larger number of companies are using this method is new.

Challenge: Any time you get more than one person conducting an interview, you find that each one comes into the interview with different opinions, objectives, and agendas. The biggest challenge is to find out as much as you can, in advance, about who will be interviewing you.

Strategy: When you are called for the interview, ask the caller about the interview process. Ask who you will be interviewing with, whether it will be one-on-one or a panel, and if it is a panel who will be on the panel and what positions they hold in the company. Some other tips:
  • When answering a question, focus your attention on the person who asked the question. However, be sure to make eye contact with each person on the panel - whether they are asking questions or not - during your answers.
  • Try to take a seat where you can make eye contact with everyone on the panel, such as the head of a conference table.
  • Bypass your seat and approach each panel member to introduce yourself. Shake hands with each member of the panel before taking your seat whenever possible.

Phone Interviews - The phone interview is often used as an initial screening tool. In these cases, the call consists of 5 to 7 questions that assess your qualifications and serve to assess your viability as a candidate. However, the phone interview is used as a more in-depth tool - especially for positions that are not in close proximity to where you currently live.

Challenge: The biggest challenge with the phone interview is the lack of face-to-face contact that hinders your ability to "read" the interviewer's reaction to your answers and make that personal connection. In addition, you may be tempted to multi-task during the phone call because you are not in-person.

Strategy: Prepare for the telephone interview in the same way as the traditional interview. Have your notes and research in front of you so you can reference these materials as needed. Sit at a desk or a table in a room that holds no distractions for you. Some additional strategy tips:
  • Without the added benefit of non-verbal communication, you must pay extra attention to your tone of voice. Speak clearly, but speak with enthusiasm and clearly state your interest in the position.
  • Dress professionally for the interview, as though you were going to an in-person interview. You will feel more prepared and professional than if you do the interview in your pajamas and sweats.
  • Don't forget to smile, it can be heard in your tone of voice. If possible, put a mirror in front of you and address yourself in the mirror. You will be amazed at the change in your tone of voice!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Discovering Your Career Saboteur - First in a Series

Everyone has "voices" in their head, guiding their thoughts, choices, behaviors, and attitudes. You have a voice in your head that tells you to buckle your infant child securely into his/her car seat and to drive safely on the road. You have a voice in your head that tells you not to eat the fake fruit in a display bowl. We're constantly in dialogue with voices such as this; they help us make decisions.

But there is one voice that we need to pay particular attention to: our inner critic, or Saboteur.

The Saboteur-as the name implies-is the voice in your head that sabotages attempts to connect to your higher self. It does so by questioning your worthiness, commitment, ability, or anything else it can get its hands on to keep you from moving forward with what's important to you.

Let's say that you want to find a new job. You know how to or know how to go about finding how to write a resume, networking, creating a cover letter, and enhancing your position as a candidate. There is information on the internet and experts abound to help you with this. It's the saboteur that keeps you from acting, wanting you to remain exactly as you are despite your desire to change.

Any time that you think about engaging or engage in an activity that brings you closer to who you want to be is when the saboteur comes out.

You don't have a knowledge problem, because you know everything you need to know or have the means to find out. You don't have a failure problem because you've failed before and have kept persevering. You don't have a commitment problem because you have made and kept commitments all of your life. You don't have a worthiness problem because you are worthy of and deserve anything that you dream for your life.

You have a saboteur problem.

In this series throughout the month of March, we will focus on discovering your career saboteur, how it operates within you, what you can do about it, and how to live with it. Each post will conclude with an assignment to complete that pertains to the day's topic and will move you forward in your understanding of this powerful internal obstacle to your success. To get the most out of this series, complete the assignments.

Assignment #1: Identify Your Saboteur
Think of one to three things that you have wanted to accomplish in your career but haven't been able to. Make them as big as possible: starting your own business, freelancing, applying for a promotion, asking for a raise, or anything else that-logically and objective-is possible. It should speak to your highest values, your dreams, and/or a calling that you feel.

Next week: how your career saboteur operates.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

1. Top Five Strategies for Kicking Off a Career
"Even if you think you've exhausted your parents' career advice, or that you already know everyone they could possibly be connected to, make a point to catch up with them every couple of weeks."

2. 5 Exercises to Muscle Up Your Job Search
"Here are five invigorating career exercises to try that should create momentum through conversations, cold calls, informational interviews, networking, and volunteer events."

3. 11 Great Employee Qualities: Do you Have Them?
"Manage yourself by knowing your roles and responsibilities in your company. In addition, learn to know what it takes to go a step beyond what your current role entails."

4. Four Ways to Find a job While on Vacation 
"The key is to come up with strategies for some career activities that you can do from Cancun, Austin or at home."

5. Six Ways Your Business Card Can Still Pack a Big Punch
"The more connected to the web we are, the more precious the real world is, so it is important to make a connection."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Grabbing Control of the Outcome of Your Next Job Interview

One of the most common complaints about the job interview process is the feeling of a lack of control over the outcome. Most people do not enjoy the fact that their career "fate" is at the hands of a random group of questions. I would like to discuss the 4 factors that go into determining your success in an interview. I think you will be surprised to find out just how much control you actually have over your own success.

Factor #1 - Packaging
This factor contributes an estimated 40% in determining how successful you will be in an interview. Packaging is your image, your non-verbal communication, and how well you sell the fact that you are the right candidate for the job. Dress professionally, control your body language, and ensure you demonstrate how you will embrace the company's culture to gain control of this factor.

Factor #2 - Responsiveness
This factor also contributes an estimated 40% to your successful outcome. Responsiveness is all about how you answer the questions you are asked. Do you talk for 15 minutes without ever answering the question? Did you come unprepared with no research on the company or the job? These are examples of how you can lose control over an interview. However, if you prepare for the interview in advance as these articles suggest, how well you respond the questions is completely within your control.

Factor #3 - Qualifications
Believe it or not, once you get to the interview stage, qualifications only represent an estimated 10% of your success. Make no mistake, your qualifications are critical to being invited for an interview. However, the interview process is more about emotions - do you fit in with the team, do they like you, do they think they can work with you, etc. - than about qualifications. You can't control your qualifications today. However, you can make a conscious effort to improve your qualifications by the types of positions, training, or education your pursue in the future.

Factor #4 - "Other" items
This elusive "other" category is completely beyond the scope of our control. Take comfort in the fact that it only accounts for about 10% of your success. Items that may fit in this category: they hired their nephew instead of you, they did not mesh well with your personality, or you reminded them of their ex-girlfriend and the wound was too fresh to even consider hiring you.

Don't waste your time and energy focusing on those things outside of your control, instead focus on Packaging and Responsivness. These two factors - upon which you can have a direct impact - represent as much as 80% of your success in the interview.