Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Difference Between Goals and Dreams

People often use the terms goal and dream as though they are one and the same. Goals and dreams should co-exist, however they are not the same thing. If you only have dreams without goals to support them, it is easy to become overwhelmed with all the steps necessary to realize that dream. On the converse side, if you only have goals, but no dreams, you risk losing sight of your ultimate destination because you are so focused on the steps necessary to get there.

Dreams tend to be the stuff of our imagination, the things on which we pin our hopes for the future. Clearly defining your goals in life can be the difference between true success and just getting by. A dream without a plan is nothing more than a wish.

Here are some of the key differences between dreams and goals:

  • Goals are written down and have a plan of action attached to them.
  • Dreams are a manifestation of what we imagine our life could be like someday.
  • Goals have measurements or timelines attached to them so that you will know when you have either reached or failed to achieve your goal. A goal is a dream that is assigned a deadline.
  • Dreams are often spoken in more nebulous, non-specific terms such as "someday" or "try."
  • Goals are specifically stated objectives that you are focused on achieving. They define the details of what you envision. For example, you may dream of being wealthy and not having to worry about money. A money-focused goal would be along the lines of this "By the time I am 49, I plan to achieve an annual income of $125,000 per year as a Director of Marketing and will have more than $500,000 in savings and investments in the bank." 
  • Dreams often revolve around things we are passionate about, while goals tend to be tangible results we want to achieve or acquire.
  • Dreams may appear to be impossible or unrealistic  On the other hand goals, while they are daunting, feel achievable because they have a step-by-step plan of action in place. Dreams seem too big to be achieved without breaking them down into smaller step-by-step goals that allow you to monitor your progress along the way to your end-game.

Daily Leap Career Video of the Week: Living a Happier Life

Each week we present our Daily Leap Career Video of the Week. The video we share presents news or advice related to career development, searching for a job, the economy and employment, and other career-related topics.

In this video Adam Carter discusses how to live a happier and more purpose-driven life and notes that he is at his best when he is living in the moment.

Watch the video below for more:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hiring Advice from the Source: HR Forum 2013 Report

Every year I attend the Resume Writer's Council of Arizona's Annual Human Resources Forum. This is a rare opportunity where we get to sit in a room with several HR managers and recruiters and pick their brain about the hiring process. It is always enlightening and I want to share with you what I learned.

Our panel of experts had a combined 66 years of hiring and recruiting experience! They have worked in health care, big box retail, education and state government. They see tens of thousands of resumes every year - in fact, our state government hiring manager said they received 14,000 resumes a month - and hire thousands of employees every year. They were all very passionate about what they do and had some definite opinions as to what works and what does not. Here are some highlights:

  • The importance of networking is greater than ever. Two of the panelists said that they highly valued employee referrals and that those candidates went to "the top of the stack" whether their resume showed they were a match or not.
  • Additionally, they mentioned that if your resume does not show you are a match - in other words you don't have the necessary key words - then networking is more important than ever. If you are not able to show on paper that you are a fit, they suggested being willing to "fight" for your opportunity with networking, follow up, and initiative.
  • However, the recruiters cautioned candidates to carefully navigate the fine line between follow-up and initiative and being an annoyance.
  • The recruiters placed a great deal of emphasis on LinkedIn. They said they welcome candidate connections on LinkedIn and do not mind when a candidate reaches out to them via LinkedIn. They stressed the importance of a quick, concise, and targeted LI profile as well as the importance of a professional photograph.
  • The HR professionals cautioned candidates to be aware that they can see every job you have applied for in their organization. They will discount the candidate who seems to be throwing their resume "against a wall to see what sticks." They are not looking for a desperate candidate willing to take anything. Instead they want someone who is focused and has a clear idea of how they can benefit the organization.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Gauge your excitement to accomplish goals: last in a series

S.M.A.R.T. goals are bound to fail unless they are created from a positive, resonant place (as I covered in my first post) and options are created from that place (as noted in my second post). Now that you have brainstormed a list of options, you can move on to the final component of making your S.M.A.R.T. goals truly work...

Step three - gauge your excitement around your options
When you explored your options in step two, anything was on the table: you had license to brainstorm the most wild, vibrant options available to you. You didn't judge what you wrote and you didn't hold back. But it's natural that - even from the resonant options you created - there are some options that would work better than others. This is where the "1 to 10" scale comes in.

Pick three options from your list that meet the following criteria:
  • One that would elicit a "quick win" (to build momentum)
  • One that would elicit a "wow, I can't believe I did that!" (for a greater thrill)
  • One that would elicit a "ugh, it's doable...but it's going to be tough" (to celebrate your resilience)
Once you have your three, gauge each of them on a scale between 1 and 10, with 1 being "there is no possible way I would ever do this" and 10 being "there is no possible way I will not do this."

If you are at a 8 or below for any of options, reconsider it. Adjust it in some way, or pick a new one. When you are an 8 or higher, that's a strong indication that you will follow through. 

Now that you have your three options that are an 8 or above, build in to each one:
  1. When you will do it by?
  2. How will we know it is done?
You can set up an accountability with a friend, post something on your Facebook profile, whatever. But set the accountability!

The S.M.A.R.T. framework is a valuable framework with which to frame your goals, but creating them with resonance and excitement will make your goals all the more likely to be accomplished.

Assignment: walk through Step Three above and, in the comments section, create an accountability for all the Daily Leap readers to see!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

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!

© Bellemedia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

  • Make a Stranger Believe in You"No one knows how we arrive in the places or jobs we do. We did not do it by ourselves, we were surrounded by people along the way who gave tiny bits of advice, who we watched, who helped us make and not make choices."

  • Write E-Mails That People Won't Ignore: "Conventions of good writing may seem like a waste of time for e-mail.... But it's a matter of getting things right — the little things. Even if people in your group don't capitalize or punctuate in their messages, stand out as someone who does."

  • Master the 5 Toughest Interview Questions"Here are five tough interview questions that frequently trip up job candidates, straight from hiring managers."

  • The Most Successful Leaders Do 15 Things Automatically, Every Day"Successful leaders are expert decision makers. They either facilitate the dialogue to empower their colleagues to reach a strategic conclusion or they do it themselves. They focus on 'making things happen' at all times."

  • 8 Career-Change Disasters to Avoid at All Costs"If you have absolutely no 'fire in your belly' for your new career area, you won't be willing to put in the time and effort to build your skills and make a successful new start." 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Today’s Popular and Rigorous High School Career and Technical Programs

Today’s high school career and technical programs look different than those of generations past. Now viewed as a key part of high school curriculum offerings, these programs have grown in rigor and enrollment. Once thought to be geared for students who were not continuing on with a post-secondary education, career and technical education programs today are geared toward preparing high school students for college and post-college careers. These are 21st century careers that are often in high demand and can command high wages.

The curriculum breadth has grown as well; students can now choose from courses in business, law, health sciences, culinary arts, web design, construction management, and much more. Learning is typically project-based, and most students pursue school-to-work or co-op opportunities that allow them to gain hands-on experience while earning credits toward graduation.

Business and industry is welcoming this resurgence and its focus because it produces job candidates who possess ”real-world” experience and acquired skills, like creative problem solving, which are often necessary in the work environment. Many business and civic leaders are involved in helping shape local career and technical education programs. They recognize the value of supporting a program that produces graduates who are poised for future success and who may return to their communities to work after college graduation.

Whether you’re currently a high school junior or senior or the parent of one, if you haven’t explored your high school’s career and technical education program, do so soon. It could make a big difference in preparing you or your child for today’s competitive and global workplace.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Dangers of Memorizing Interview Answers

I often hear from people who are getting ready to start interviewing for jobs. Their first instinct is to gather interview questions and memorize their answers to these questions. I often caution people that memorization of interview answers is not the most effective preparation method. Here are some of the dangers you face if you take this preparation tactic.

You will sound like a robot
Have you ever heard those "testimonials" on the radio where it is obvious that the person is reading directly from a script? I discount those ads as disingenuous. The same will happen to you if you come across in an interview as though you are reciting your lines from a script. It is preferable to sound human, carry on a conversation, and speak naturally to the interviewer.

You will be unprepared for other questions
What happens if you have only prepared for traditional interview questions and you walk into a behavioral interview where they want you to tell stories or give examples? There is no way to memorize an effective answer to every interview question in existence.

You will not be able to effectively sell yourself
Remember, employers hire because they have a problem to solve or a need to fulfill. Your goal in an interview is to demonstrate how you can meet the specific employer's needs. By only memorizing your "lines" you will not always be able to sell the benefits you can bring to the organization.

You will not be yourself
An interview is often compared to a chemistry test. The employer already knows you have the skills and qualifications they are looking for because they read your resume. The interview is their chance to determine if you fit into the organization or the team and to determine if they think they can work effectively with you. I once hired someone who was a completely different person their first week on the job than they were in the interview. Needless to say, that working relationship was not long-lived because I hired the person they pretended to be in the interview - not the "real" them.

Instead of memorizing your answers, memorize your selling points and the benefits you can offer the organization or team. Walk into every interview knowing how you can solve that company's problems or meet their needs. Prepare your interview "talking points" so that no matter what questions you are asked and no matter what order in which they ask the questions, you are ready to discuss what makes you a cost-effective employee.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Daily Leap Career Video of the Week: How to Negotiate a Salary

Each week we present our Daily Leap Career Video of the Week. The video we share presents news or advice related to career development, searching for a job, the economy and employment, and other career-related topics.

In this video you'll gain valuable tips to negotiate a salary:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Why and the What of Pre-employment Research

In this earlier blog post, I provided a list of resources you can use to conduct company research. Having the resources don't do much good unless you know why you are conducting research and what you are looking for when doing the research. Let's look at both of these questions.

Why are you conducting research? 
There are several reasons to conduct research of a company. The research process should start before you even apply to a job opening. Companies hire for two main reasons; because they have a problem to solve or a need to fulfill. In your research you are looking for the answer to why they are trying to fill the position. If you can find out what need or problem the company has, you can demonstrate how you can be the answer they are looking for.

The more you know about a company before you send your resume, the more you can target your cover letter and resume to show that you fit into their culture, their values, and their corporate mindset. This same research can help you prepare for the interview. Companies often ask questions such as "why do you want to work for our company?" or "what do you know about our organization?" in the interview. Your research can help you successfully answer these questions.

Conducting research prior to a career fair can also help you set yourself apart from the crowd. Many people walk up to tables at job fairs with no information. Make a positive first impression by introducing yourself, telling the recruiter what you know about the company, and detailing how your skills meet their needs.

What are you looking for?
Using the resources in the attached blog post here is a list of what you are looking for when doing your research:

  • Company History and Culture
  • Business Goals and Mission Statement
  • Community Involvement or Charity Projects
  • Company Facts (publicly or privately held, headquarters, number of employees, annual sales, etc.)
  • Company's Most Notable Accomplishments
  • Primary Product Lines or Services
  • Competition
  • Career Path
  • Latest News, Current Events and Developments that Impact the Organization
Remember, an employer wants you to make them feel special - as though you chose to work for them, and only them. They are not looking for an employee that just wants a job. Arm yourself with facts and information to create a positive impression.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Exploring options to accomplish goals; second in a series

When it comes to formulating goals, the S.M.A.R.T method is a succinct and logical way of creating them. But as I covered in my last post, there's more to a goal than making it S.M.A.R.T: there has to be positive, resonant energy around it. 

Again, creating a S.M.A.R.T. goal around eating a food you hate will not make you more likely to eat it. So before you create your S.M.A.R.T. goal, you need to do some energy work around it, which is why I recommend to clients that they spend time visualizing that ideal future state. Describe it in detail: who and what is around you? How does your body feel? Is it sunny? What's the temperature like? 

Once you spend some important time feeling it, it's time to get to the nitty-gritty of the goal: the details. 

Step two - explore options
There is more than one way to skin a cat, and there is more than one way to accomplish a goal. However, when we approach goal setting we tend to be limited by our Rules (yes, capital 'R') which I define as our mental models on how we think things ought to be.

I can only apply for a new job if I have a perfect resume is a rule.

My network is not big enough is a rule.

I am not smart enough to go back to school is another rule.

However, after spending time in a resonant place (step one) your rules melt away. You are now in a place to truly explore possibilities. 

So do it, and do it boldly.

What are the different ways you can go about accomplishing this objective? What actions and possibilities are available to you? Brainstorm them and write them down. There is only two rules for this endeavor: no judging the possibilities and no holding back.

Once the possibilities are out there - generated from a place of resonance - it's on to the third step...

Assignment: get back into your resonant place and feel it. From there - and only from there - start brainstorming options to accomplish the objective you want to overcome. Enroll a friend if that would help you be more productive.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup: Relax, Showing Up, and Boosting Your Cred

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!

© Bellemedia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

  • Relax! You'll Be More Productive"[T]he energy employees bring to their jobs is far more important in terms of the value of their work than is the number of hours they work. By managing energy more skillfully, it’s possible to get more done, in less time, more sustainably."

  • 10 Strategies for Boosting Your Online Cred: "[E]mployers are researching you online during their review process. What will they discover? You can play a significant role in creating the right first impression online if you take a proactive approach."

  • The First Secret of Success is Showing Up"But never forget that chance plays a role in finding opportunities ... It's important to be in the right place, preferably at the right time. And it's impossible to get started without first showing up."

  • 20 Reasons Gen-Y Should Not Work Free"Many employers don’t give internships any credence at all when reviewing your resumes. They figure, 'she worked for free; this job doesn’t tell me whether she was good enough to be hired'."

  • These 5 Workplace Habits Are Making You Look Amateur"When you exhibit a professional image, you increase your own confidence while simultaneously boosting the confidence others have in you and your capabilities. It's a win-win." 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Working on the Web: Five Internet Jobs

Most of us didn’t go to college to get a degree for an Internet-specific career. However, we do possess skills that can be used in Internet-related jobs, which are increasingly available for fair pay. Read on for a recap of several of these jobs, as discussed online by authors Dawn Rosenberg McKay, Matt Smith and Marie Wilsey (see sources noted below to read full excerpts of their online articles).

Blogging: Are you an expert in something and want to share your knowledge with the world? Start your own blog and consider ways to attract advertisers as a source of income. Or, if you want to write for someone else, many companies host blogs about their products. In these blogs, you might promote a product, write a “how-to” tip, or offer a review. Check online job websites or surf Google for blog-writing opportunities.

Website content writing: Similar to blogging, companies hire freelance writers to create website content, such as welcome pages, product descriptions, and company backgrounders. Writers also craft social media posts for companies on Facebook and Twitter. The more often sites or posts need updating, the better. Companies prefer writers who are skilled in writing clearly and concisely.

Online professors: The list of online college courses is growing, and the need for professors willing to teach online courses or develop interactive or videotaped courses is in demand. These jobs require technical proficiency as well as teaching skills and may require regular follow-up with students taking the course. If you’re a teacher, check for colleges in your area that offer workshops for learning online teaching methods.

Customer service: Not all companies use large call centers for customer service. Some employ people who are working from home to service products, make reservations, or schedule appointments. The demand for customer service jobs remains high, and the flexibility to work from home is attractive.

Transcription: The job of transcribing the spoken word has been around for a long time. Many at-home transcription opportunities service the medical and legal professions. Additionally, companies use marketing tools such as audio podcasts; videotaping of research groups; and other radio, television or film projects that require transcription. It is not an easy job, and typically these jobs require training and experience; however, if you are a quick typist, this might be an interesting job for you.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Test Your Resume IQ

I often tell people that resumes are like beauty. They are very subjective and everyone has a different opinion of what it right and wrong or good and bad. I think one of the reasons that I enjoy writing resumes is that there are no rules. Me being the "rebel" that I am, I enjoy creating a document that works for the individual and does not have to comply with a set of rules.

Although there are no hard and fast resume rules, there are guidelines that you can follow to ensure your resume is as effective as possible. Take this "test" to see how much you know about optimizing your marketability with your resume.

True or False: When writing a resume, more is always better.
False. There is such a thing as too much information. Your resume should seldom be longer than two pages and must only contain the information that is relevant to the job and the employer for which you are applying. Providing too much information will hide the important info and may scare away your potential employer.

True or False: Your resume must contain every job you have held since you graduated high school.
False. A resume is a generally accepted ten year picture of your work history. If you have only been in a professional career field for six years, you don't have to go back ten years. However, no matter if you have 25 years of experience, you should not go back further than ten years to avoid age discrimination.

True or False: Your resume should be generic enough to cover a variety of career fields.
False. There is no such thing as an effective generic resume. If you try to appeal to everyone with your resume, you will end up targeting no one. Pick a target, define your marketable skills in that career field, and highlight your most relevant accomplishments to effectively target a specific career field. This may mean that you need multiple resumes.

True or False: Employers like to know about your interests outside of work.
It depends. I know that is cheating, but whether or not you add your outside interests or volunteerism depends on how relevant they are to the job. If you have been a mechanic volunteering as as forestry worker for the last ten years and you want to work as a forest ranger, then you better include this info on your resume. However, most employers don't care that you like macrame and long walks on the beach.

True or False: A great resume will get you the job.
False. A resume is not designed to get you the job. Its purpose is plain and simply to land an interview. Few employers see a resume and make the decision to hire you without first conducting and interview. However, keep in mind that a poorly written resume can cost you the job opportunity.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Daily Leap Video of the Week: A New Kind of Job Market

Each week we present our Daily Leap Career Video of the Week. The video we share presents news or advice related to career development, searching for a job, the economy and employment, and other career-related topics.

In this video Wingham Rowan explains how people who need jobs with flexible hours can connect with the employers who need them.

Watch the video below for more:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The 5 Most Common Military Transition Mistakes

I have been working with veterans and teaching career development skills to transitioning service members since 2007. In these years I have assisted thousands of veterans in the job search process as they make the switch to the private sector as a civilian employee. Below I have compiled a list of what I have seen to be the most common mistakes that transitioning service members tend to make in their job search.

Starting Too Late
In this earlier blog post, I detailed a timeline of the military transition process that started as far out as 18 months. There are some veteran's who don't have get the chance to start the transition process well in advance. However, if given the opportunity to plan your transition in advance, take full advantage of the time to get your plans together so you are not caught unprepared.

Lack of Planning
I meet veterans all the time who have no idea what career they want to target when they get out of the military. Writing a resume and entering the job search process without a target is like going fishing with the wrong bait - your chances of success are lowered immensely. Take the time time to figure out what you want to do, research the qualifications or education required in the field, and find out if what you want to do and where you want to live are a match in terms of job prospects.

Undervaluing Yourself
Whether you are a Chief in the Air Force or a Marine who has served for 4 years, by doing your research in advance, you will be able to identify your prospects and find out where your skills fit into the private sector. The military takes away the focus on the individual and highlights team accomplishments. While team work is important, give yourself credit for what you brought to the team and how you can add value in the private sector.

Not Taking Advantage of Resources
Most veterans don't take advantage of the multitude of resources that are available to them. For starters, go through your installation's Transition Assistance Program. It may be a week long, but it is full of relevant information that you can immediately apply to your job search. Also, don't let pride get in the way of utilizing the unemployment insurance benefits that may be available to you if needed. Check with your local transition office to find out what resources can help you, and take full advantage of all the resources to which you - as a veteran who served our country - are entitled.

Failure to Translate Your Military Skills
Keep in mind that less than 1% of the population has served in the military. It will be difficult for a potential employer to determine how you fit into their work environment if they don't speak your language. Here are some resources from a previous blog post that can help you ensure your ability to remove the military language from your resume and interview answers.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Why your SMART goals fail (and what to do about it); one in a series

The act of setting goals is an important, well-researched practice to achieve personal and professional success. The experts say if you want to make something happen in your life, set a goal around it, particularly a S.M.A.R.T. goal

So why is it that you still fail to accomplish a goal, even after you have set one? Because no matter how specific and measurable you make your goal and despite how realistically achievable, rooted in reality and timely it is, there is still a high likelihood that you will fail to live up to the expectation you set for yourself.

We often fail to achieve our goals because we are setting goals that we are not that in to. We may think that we want to take some classes or advance in our current jobs or take a leap toward a new career. We may even set concrete goals around these notions. But if there is no resonance, no excitement around them, we will fail. Every time.

Think of a food you hate: what goal could you set to make you like that food? Or think of a household task you despise: what goal would motivate you to do it? Do you now see why it's so difficult to write you resume, go to a networking event, create a business plan, or conduct an informational interview?

Goals are only part of the answer; resonance is the other part. In this series, we'll explore way to build and work with this resonance.

Step one - visualize the future state:
Think about your goal, and then life a month after you have accomplished it. 

For example, if you were to leave your job for one that is more appealing to you, what would your world be like? How excited would you feel? What would be available to you that isn't available to you right now? 

By spending time in this "place" you are visualizing you future, a powerful way of creating resonance and making goals stick. When you visualize, you cultivate a positive, prosperous point-of-view. You dwell in the outcome of your goal and the magnificent change you have created for yourself. When you visualize, the goal not only seem possible but you can't wait to accomplish it. 

Get the image in your head and spend time in it. Hear the sounds, smell the smells...feel it.

Assignment: write you goal on a piece of paper. Then, look at it, close your eyes, and imagine what it would be like to accomplish it. Explore the positive changes to your being: the way you behave, the depth of your relationships, the way you spend your time, how you are "being" while you are doing. What does it feel like to you now? Comment on this below.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup: Career Risks, Loving Your Job, and More

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!

© Bellemedia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

  • 3 Career Risks That Can Pay Off"Remember the root of the word 'risk'... It comes from the Italian word risicare, which some translate as 'nothing ventured, nothing gained.' Risk isn't something to take lightly, but you shouldn't let fear inhibit your dreams."

  • 5 Ways to Rekindle Love for Your Job: "Whether it's taking on a brand new project or improving the way you do your current job, taking on a new challenge is just what the doctor ordered to break your boring routine."

  • Don't Live Your Life, Lead It"When we lead our lives, we set a vision and intentionally resolve to advance from a lower state to a higher state. We are not resigning to live life as it is."

  • Working Less Could Save the Planet"When Utah decided to close state offices on Fridays in 2008, the result was a 13 percent reduction in energy use. Employees reported increased happiness, absenteeism went down, and state employees were estimated to save between $5 million and $6 million annually by skipping one commute per week."

  • 10 Tips for Women Starting Their College Careers"Whether you're completely funded by Mom and Dad or not, you should consider starting to earn your own money. There are plenty of jobs to be had on campus and off, and if you can find a job that allows you to study, that would be ideal." 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Phone Interviews: Another Interviewer Tool

Phone interviews are used by some employers as a technique for screening candidates quickly and more cost effectively. They are particularly beneficial when interviewing long-distance candidates. Phone interviews are typically shorter in duration; often lasting around 30 minutes,and as such, questions exploring experience, skills, and strengths are less in-depth.

For some, phone interviews can seem less intimidating than in-person interviews. It may be easier to get comfortable in your own environment, and to focus on the questions and responses without the concern about physical appearance. You can also have reference information at your fingertips, for example, your resume or notes to help you answer anticipated interview questions.

One important thing to consider with a phone interview is that you are unable to communicate through or respond to the other person’s non-verbal body language. You will have to rely on voice quality to convey your interest and enthusiasm in the job and company. And, you won’t be able to fully interpret the interviewer’s receptiveness to you or your responses.

So whether a phone interview feels more comfortable to you or limiting, it is a formal form of interviewing many employers use. As such, like any interview, it requires you to be prepared and do your best. If done well, it can often advance you to the next interview step.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tips for Success in the Meal Interview

Although a rare occurrence, the job interview - or even networking meeting - conducted over a meal can be a dangerous minefield to navigate. There are several reasons that companies conduct these types of interviews. Often, hiring managers feel that they get a chance to see the "real you" over a meal or in a social setting because people may be more relaxed. Also, upon your hire you may be required to take clients or vendors out for meals. Before making the hiring decisions, leaders want to assess your manners and demeanor in an informal setting.

The "meal" may just be coffee or drinks or could be a breakfast, lunch, or dinner occasion. Regardless of when, what, or where your meal interview takes place there are some guidelines that you should consider before you go.

  • Think carefully about what you order. Don't order the most expensive item on the menu. Conversely, you also should order more than a side salad.
  • Don't order baby back ribs or other messy foods that are hard to eat and stay clean at the same time.
  • Never order alcohol, even if the interviewer is drinking. If the interviewer insists on ordering you an alcoholic beverage, just let the drink sit. Alcohol and interviews don't mix!
  • Be mindful of the fact that even if you are in a casual setting and a relaxed environment, this is still a job interview. Your dining partner is observing your behavior and your manners and listening to the answers you provide - just like in a traditional interview.
  • Pay attention to body language and non-verbal communication the same as you would in any other interview. Don't come across as too casual or comfortable in your posture, eye contact, and speech patterns.

Interestingly, there is a story that Henry Ford, of Ford Motor Company, often used meal interviews when hiring his management members. If you were out to eat with Mr. Ford and you salted your meal before tasting it, in his mind the interview was over. He believed that you would be closed minded and would make decisions without gathering the facts first - just from this small mealtime behavior.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Daily Leap Career Video of the Week: The Career Ladder

Each week we present our Daily Leap Career Video of the Week. The video we share presents news or advice related to career development, searching for a job, the economy and employment, and other career-related topics.

In this video professor Candis Best provides 7 tips for creating your own career ladder, including the importance of finding a mentor.

Watch the video below for more:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Your Self Introduction: Where Can You Use It and What You Should Say

Whether you call it an elevator speech, a 30-second commercial, or a self-introduction, the bottom line is that you need to have the ability to quickly and succinctly introduce yourself in a business setting. It is hard for many of us to talk about ourselves, much less to do it in public! In order to increase your effectiveness and ease your stress, prepare your intro to use in a variety of settings.

Where Can You Use It?
A self-introduction can be versatile enough to be used in a variety of business settings. If you are a job seeker, you can use it when networking with people you have never met before. You can use your commercial at a career fair when introducing yourself to a recruiter. Use the introduction to answer the question "tell me about yourself" in an interview. You can even use your self-introduction to help shape your LinkedIn profile.

As a business person, your self introduction can be used at company meetings. It can be used when you meet new co-workers or a new supervisor. You can also use the self introduction to build rapport and create relationships with potential vendors or suppliers.

What Should It Contain?
As I mentioned, the personal introduction should be short, sweet, and to the point. It is often called a 30-second commercial for this reason. I don't expect you to time yourself, but keep the intro to right around 30 seconds so that you don't monopolize the conversation and you keep your listeners' attention. Your self introduction should answer the following questions:

  • What is your area of specialization?
  • How many years of experience do you have?
  • What are your key skills or traits that make you good at what you do?
  • Can you offer an accomplishment or story that demonstrates your abilities?
  • What makes you unique or sets you apart in your industry?
  • What are you looking for out of the conversation? (In other words, what is the purpose of your conversation with this person: a job, a networking lead, an introduction, new business opportunities, etc.)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Reinforcing safe communication: last in a series

The ability to create and maintain a safe space where communication can occur uninhibited is a terrific workplace skill. After coming to terms with what you are up against and obtaining buy-in from your team to design a safe psychological space, the last step is to reinforce the behaviors that lead to unparalleled group communication. Regardless of your position within the organization, as a leader you have the ability to reinforce this new group dynamic, one that will enable quick cohesion and allow productivity to soar.

Step three: reinforcing safe communication
There are two distinct things you can do to reinforce the behavior that you want to see: mine for conflict and reaffirm others' behavior.

Mining for conflict
When you mine for conflict, you turn your listening up to a different level. You are not only hearing the words that are said but also the intent behind the words. Further, when mining for conflict you become acutely aware of the "energy" behind the words and the energy of the group. When someone answers with a response of "possibly," the person's tone of voice when giving the response speaks volumes to what they are really thinking. When mining for conflict, it is your duty to bring those issues to the surface and have a discussion with them in an attempt to get stronger buy-in from your group.

A great question to ask to mine for conflict is "why won't this work?" It forces the team to bring up what they are already thinking about: possible aspects of failure or what they are saying "yes" to or "no" to when making the decisions that have to be made.

Mining for conflict isn't a hindrance in that it brings up conflict; the conflict is already there. It just brings it to the surface sooner so that it can be worked through.

Affirming conflict
When conflict comes up, sometimes the discussion can get heated. Ideas clash and personalities can become forceful. So long as no one's character is being attacked and only the ideas and concepts are being debated, this is exactly what the group needs to happen. Thus, you are encouraged to - while in the middle of a debate with a group - to say "this is good. This debate is exactly what we need to have." This sends the message to group members that what they are debating are important things and that the conflict isn't something to shy away from: it will make the output stronger, and it will make the group stronger knowing that they can have these unfettered discussions with respect and in the interest of their goals.

Communication is an essential component of the workplace, but we do not often talk about what we mean when we say "communication." It's those unarticulated expectations and standards that can quickly derail communication. By intentionally designing a space of psychological safety and diligently reinforcing it, positive group dynamics are created and output soars while group members feel closer and stronger.

Assignment: in your next meeting, turn up your listening to hear what is being said behind the words: worries, intent, and other avenues for conflict. Further, ask the hard question "why won't this work?" to evoke an even deeper conversation between team members.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

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!

© Bellemedia | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Friday, February 1, 2013

Another Great Site for Job Seeker Tools

The U.S. Department of Labor’s website provides developmental tools for job seekers, laid-off workers, students, businesses, and career professionals. To complement what you’ve found on Career Transitions, check out what has to offer.

The general categories on the site include the following:

Explore Careers: Assessment tests, career coaching, career trends, and even a section entitled “What’s Hot” can be found here. If you’re not sure what you are interested in as a career, this would be a great place to explore.

Education and Training: This is an excellent area for exploring education and training programs and finding colleges that offer those programs. There’s also information on scholarships and other ways to finance your college education.

Resumés and Interviews: If you’re writing a resumé or interviewing, and particularly if it’s been awhile since you’ve done either, this section is for you. There’s even a checklist available so you don’t forget anything when attending an interview.

Salary and Benefits: Many people want to know what salary and benefits they can expect in a particular career or what jobs are trending and where. This section links to these topics and more.

Job Searching: This section includes a list of best job-search sites, information on how to apply using online job sites, and even provides assistance with negotiating and networking.

People and Places: This section redirects you to local job assistance resources, such as unemployment benefits, employment training, and government and private sector resources.