Archive for the ‘Career’ Category

Guest Post: Five Common Interviewing Mistakes to Avoid


by David S. Martin, Managing Partner, Sterling Martin Associates

As Executive Search Consultants, we have a unique perspective on the interviewing process. In today’s extremely competitive job market, it is more important than ever to avoid obvious gaffes in your interview, mistakes that are sure to knock you out of contention. Here are five easily-correctable errors I have observed that caused candidates to be disqualified.

A weak opening statement

Frequently, at the start of the interview, the interviewer may ask you to “take a couple of minutes to introduce yourself and indicate why you are interested in the position.” Your opening statement is a great opportunity to “knock it out of the park” and set the tone for the rest of the interview. So don’t just recite your resume experience; the interviewers have already reviewed that. Yes, you can provide a brief overall summary, but the real question (not usually explicitly asked) is “why are you here talking with us today?” They are not looking for someone who is simply interested in applying for a job. They are looking for someone who really knows the organization and is excited about its mission. Take the opportunity to demonstrate how your experience can help the organization achieve its goals and objectives. Also, notice the time frame specified.  The interviewer said “a couple of minutes,” so don’t carry on longer than that. Be succinct and to-the-point.

Here are some things to think about before your interview:

•          What makes you stand out among candidates?

•          Have you done your homework? Interviewers like to see that you have, and

there is no excuse not to be well informed about the organization in the Internet

age.

•          How can your experience help solve the challenges of the job?

•          Can you relate your experience to the requirements of the position description?

Be convincing in your opening statement, and it will help set the tone for a good interview.

Not Answering the Question Asked/Giving Rambling Responses

I hear this all the time from clients: “They didn’t answer my questions!”  If they ask about your management style, don’t carry on for five minutes about strategic partnerships before finally mentioning something about management. Stay focused and listen carefully to the question asked. Think of your initial response to a question as being a “headline” or sound bite – crisp and to-the-point; then be prepared to back it up with more detail and specific examples. You might say, “The short answer to your question is, my management style is flexible according to the situation and is also very participative…and I’d like to expand on that briefly with an example if that is OK”. Boom! You answered their question, then provided additional depth and a specific example as back-up.

Not providing specific examples or anecdotes

A good interviewer will often ask a question and then ask you provide specific examples of how you have done that in the past. This is known as a “behavioral vs. theoretical” approach. It is easy to say what you would do in the future, but can you provide specific examples of how you have done this in the past? When interviewees provide specific examples, the interview team often takes note and then mentions it in their feedback after the interview. Of course, you cannot anticipate every question, but you can anticipate many of them. Review the position description; what questions might arise from that? Where have you accomplished in your career that relates to those things? Be prepared with examples for interview questions relating to: leadership, management style, relating to clients/members, ability to generate new sources of revenue and budgeting/financial matters. These areas are typical interview topics.

Poor eye contact/body language

If you are interviewing with a search committee or interview panel, don’t forget to make eye contact with each panel member during your responses. Look at the questioner (not your notes) when they are asking you a question. During your response, be sure to make eye contact with each member of the interview team, not just the person who asked the question. Start your response by looking at the questioner, then, as you continue with your response, look around the table at every person there. I have seen situations where the candidate makes eye contact with only two members of a three-person panel and never has eye contact with the third interviewer. This is awkward, and that person likely feels that you do not think they are important in the hiring decision.

Hand shake: Have an appropriately firm hand shake — not too limp and lifeless, but not hand-crushing either! Of course, wearing clean, pressed, appropriate business attire goes without saying.

Showing up late or too early for the interview

Showing up late seems like a basic no-no right? It’s amazing how often it happens. Of course there can be challenges with traffic, public transportation, etc. If you show up late, it will not only be frowned upon by the interview team, but you are likely to be flustered and more nervous at the start of your interview.

On the other hand, don’t arrive too early for the interview – five to ten minutes early is probably appropriate, but showing up 30 minutes in advance (unless you have been asked to arrive early to fill out paperwork) makes you look desperate.

So here is the solution: Arrive at the location (i.e. their building) early. Find a parking space. Check to see if you have to sign in with security so you are not delayed by that. Then find a nearby coffee shop where you can relax and review your notes before the meeting. Or sit in the building’s lobby or in your car. Read your notes; rehearse your opening statement; or check emails on your Smartphone. Then walk into the interview cool, calm and relaxed.

Bonus Pointer:

Don’t prepare “overly creative” materials for follow-up interviews

It is not unusual to be asked to prepare a presentation, such as a PowerPoint, for a follow-up interview. While it is fine to be somewhat creative, don’t go overboard. Doing something outlandish can backfire in a big way and cause you to be disqualified.  A small dose of creativity or humor goes a long way, but don’t be excessive and “shoot yourself in the foot.” Just be certain to answer the questions they have asked you to address.

Also, you may have a list of questions when you start the interview, many of which are answered during the conversation. Don’t finish empty-handed. Try to have one or two original, but relevant, thought-provoking questions in your “back pocket.” Then you won’t find yourself in the position of saying “All of my questions have been answered” at the end of the interview; that may fall a little flat.

David Martin, a 22-year veteran of the executive search field, is Managing Partner of Sterling Martin Associates, an executive search firm headquartered in Washington, DC which he founded in 2006. For more information visit http://www.smartinsearch.com..

Marshall Brown: Career Coaching & Leadership Development Video

I have created a new video that speaks to my passion for what I do and how I work with people. Please take a look and leave a comment:

Guest Post: Maximize Your Job Search Efforts

by Bill Barnett

Massive outreach to a strong professional network is the best way to find new job opportunities. It’s also a good way to test your personal strategy. You’ll talk with tens — maybe hundreds — of people.

It sounds easy. Once you have the contacts, one big blast should do the trick, right? No way. Unmanaged outreach is the path to missed opportunities. Using your professional network in a carefully planned and thoughtful way yields better results.

Take a strategic approach. Make different kinds of contacts when the time is right, in the right sequence. Don’t try to do everything at once. Don’t let everything just happen when it does. Here are five steps to make your outreach productive:

1. Get started. A mental block may keep you from writing an email or picking up the phone. You may be uncomfortable asking for help. Or you may wait for perfect preparation before meeting people. If that’s you, you may be surprised to find that a month’s gone by, and little’s happened.

Everything will take longer than you might first assume. Busy people will have to fit this into their schedules. You must follow through on the intention of contacting people, and the way to begin is to go ahead and contact the first one or two or three. Get started.

2. Start with people you know best. It’s natural to begin with close friends and colleagues. They’re the foundation of your professional network. They’re the easiest to meet. Talking to close acquaintances also makes sense from a learning perspective. At the outset, you’ll be testing your personal value proposition (PVP) — getting reactions to your target jobs, how well you fit, and perhaps what else to consider. You’ll need open, exploratory conversations with people who know something about you. They’ll have a basis for making suggestions, possibly ideas you hadn’t considered. They may suggest others to call.

3. Cast a wider net. As your plan develops, you’ll have more conviction about your direction. That’s when to see people you don’t know well and people you’re meeting for the first time. You’ll still hope to get reactions to your strategy, but you’ll mostly be asking about opportunities.

This is the time to consider social networking. As COO Frederick who was looking for a new job said, “I can post something on Facebook or LinkedIn and tell 300 people something has changed in my life. I was very careful about that. I wasn’t ready at first. I wanted to get my ducks in a row. I didn’t want 20 people calling and saying they have a great offer for me. I had to do this, this, and this first.”

Before he broadcast his new job search, he wanted to resolve any issues related to his leaving his employer, to think through his new plan, and to develop his new PVP. If he’d gone out too soon, he’d have used up these weaker contacts before he was ready to ask for the specific kind of help he wanted. He might not get their attention again.

4. Determine whether to begin with higher priority or lower priority employers. Because a job search is difficult, people sometimes hope to do as little as possible but still find the perfect new job. They begin with the possibilities they think they’d like most. That’s not always the right answer, and it’s certainly foolish to do that to avoid the need for a big job search.

There is an advantage to approaching your top priorities first: You’ll have more time for possibilities to develop at those institutions. But if you plan early meetings with lower priority employers — those that might not be on your ideal job list — those meetings can help you hone your PVP and interviewing skills. As a result, you may do better in the interviews at the higher priorities. And you may be surprised if some lower priorities look appealing.

5. Sequence follow-up meetings. Ideally, you’ll have two or more job opportunities to consider. You’ll be able to compare them and determine which one is best. You won’t have to decide whether to say “yes” to an acceptable bird in the hand when a bird in the bush looks more attractive. As Frederick said, “It’s very hard if you have an offer. Are you going to give up an offer with X dollars in hope another one shows up in January? The offer I got the first week of October retracts on November 1.”

You may have no choice, but you’d like to avoid this dilemma. Truly massive outreach helps by giving you the best chance to surface multiple possibilities. In some recruiting situations, you may be able to influence timing. Some employers are so busy that they may not notice if you’re slowing things down (for example, suggesting a follow-up meeting two weeks away). Or you might try to speed up another situation or at least learn where they are. Rank the possibilities that emerge and, if you can, try to time them so that you don’t have to make a decision before you’re ready.

Sequencing and timing matters in reaching out to your network and as you follow up on concrete possibilities. Are there other actions you’ve taken to manage timing in your job search?

Source: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/01/maximize_your_job_search_efforts.html

Personal Branding from William Arruda

Effective personal branding requires that you know yourself. Brands are based in authenticity. In this video for Personal Branding TV, William Arruda shares with you some questions you can ask yourself so you unearth your personal brand.

Do You Know Your Leadership Style?

Every manager has a leadership style. Just ask the staff. Great bosses understand they need to adapt their style to fit the situation.

This video lesson will help you understand the variety of leadership styles a manager can use and how they can adapt those styles in response to specific situations.

According to Marshall–December 2011 Edition

Welcome to the December issue of According to Marshall…

The purpose of this message is to share just a quick summary of some of the topics that I think are relevant to your personal and professional success.

I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for your readership and your feedback over the course of this year. I wish you good health, happiness and  success in 2012. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can support your success in any way in the New Year.

If you have trouble reading this or seeing graphics click here for the online version.

Lessons in Leadership from Andy Bernard of ‘The Office’

By Julie Rains

“Underdogs inspire us. That’s the lesson Robert California, the fictional owner of the fictional paper vendor Dunder Mifflin, teaches us when he promotes Andy Bernard to branch manager of the Scranton sales office (aka The Office). Despite his Ivy League credentials, Andy is an unlikely choice to replace the departing Michael Scott. Watching Andy navigate his new accountabilities in the episode entitled “The Incentive” prompted me to consider how a less-than-perfect leader can inspire people.”

Click here to read the full story. . .

Best Gifts for Employees

By Helen Zhang

“During the holidays, giving the perfect gift is always a challenge. With tons of friends and family members on your shopping list, it’s easy for employees to get left behind. And let’s face it, it’s easy to dole out generic and thoughtless knick-knacks to your staff.

This year, take advantage of the holiday season to show genuine employee appreciation. We’ve talked about how important this is to your office morale, productivity and, ultimately, your bottom line. So why not use this time to show your employees how much you care? Here are 10 easy gifts, from affordable to high-end, for every type of employee.”

Click here to read the full story. . .

10 Innovative Ways to Reward Your Employees

By Kentin Waits

We often think that rewarding employees means big bonuses, which can affect the bottom line. But recognition for a job well-done can come in all shapes and sizes.

Small tokens of appreciation given at the right moment not only provide well-deserved acknowledgement—they can keep your employees motivated. Let’s explore the art of saying “thank you” in new and innovative ways.

Click here to read the full story. . .

Companies Hiring in Large Volume

By John Smith

“December often becomes a transition month for job seekers. As the busy holiday season approaches, calendars get filled with parties. Relatives come into town for a visit. Children have a few weeks off from school and need to be entertained. Plus, there’s probably shopping to be done.

In addition to this jam-packed schedule, many job seekers believe the myth that employers aren’t hiring new workers until next year. As a result, some job seekers decide to take a step back from sending out résumés and attending networking events and instead focus on how they will revise and improve their job search in 2012. You should always be thinking about how to tweak your job search, but don’t put everything on hold until next year. Employers aren’t.”

Click here to read the full story. . .

Focus on Others to Keep Social-Network Posts Professional

By Michael Crom

Question: I work at a large financial company.

I have always maintained very professional behavior at work, and I believe this has led to respect from my co-workers. But like many of young professionals I enjoy social networking and I have built my profile on these sites. I recently started receiving requests from some of my younger co-workers, clients, and even higher-level professionals to add them as Facebook friends. Since I really want to maintain my professional image moving forward, I need some tips on how I can keep my profile on these sites as professional as possible.”

Click here to read the full story. . .

I also invite you to forward this to a friend.

Guest Post: Leadership–Are You In Your Comfort Zone?

By, Dwight Frindt

The term “comfort zone” has become a popular way to describe how we are feeling about various activities we are taking part in – “that pushed me way out of my comfort zone,” or “that was not in my comfort zone,” are pretty common phrases these days.

When we talk about our “comfort zone” what we are talking about is our personal orbit, our range of personal activities. Each of us has a daily routine, a weekly routine and perhaps even a monthly or yearly routine. Generally speaking we are creatures of habit and we develop comfort zones we like, and of course, feel comfortable in.

Often, even when we do try to venture out of it, we are quickly pulled back in to it. There is a dynamic called “homeostasis” which is critical to this. Homeostasis has both psychological and physical implications and what it’s pointing to is the fundamental and biological drive for equilibrium and stability in a system, (and yes, we are including human beings as systems). In effect, homeostasis helps create and regulate our “comfort zones.” This is a very important phenomenon to understand. It works for us in critical ways. For example, it helps keep our body temperatures stable. As we know, we all have a set-point for body temperature that is on average 98.6 degrees. The homeostasis in our bodies helps insure that when our temperature fluctuates, it comes back to this comfortable set point. The downside is that when we challenge ourselves psychologically and emotionally in various ways, there can be a “homeostatic back lash,” and a strong pull to go back to our existing comfort zone until we have solidly established a new set point.

So our comfort zone is somewhat like a thermostat. Unconsciously it has been set at a particular point and when we change it, it takes some time to “heat up or cool down” to the new set point.

An amazing example of this is the research that has been done on lottery winners. It has been found that generally, if someone was poor before winning the lottery, they will end up poor again. If they were middle class, they would ultimately end up middle class again and so on. This is a powerful example of what happens when our set points or comfort zones are radically and unexpectedly challenged and how powerful homeostasis can be.

As we discuss comfort zones, set points, etc. we want to be clear that this is not a piece about people who plod along and move slowly or people who seem risk averse. If you are a fast-paced, “go, go, go” type of person that is your comfort zone. What if you had to slow down, be more reflective, bring your energy “down and in” instead of being an “up and out” kind of person? What if you had to take on a meditation practice? Would you still be in your comfort zone? What if you are a thrill seeker and look for ways to “push the envelope” all the time? What would happen if you lived a more mundane existence and had to experience the ordinary? Would you still be in your comfort zone?

The thing is, if you want new outcomes, bigger results and to achieve your vision are you ready to expand your comfort zone? Are you ready to alter your personal orbit? Are you fortified and prepared for the inevitable backlash that may come from inside you, but also from those around you who may feel threatened or unnerved by change? If you are part of their system, their orbit, their comfort zone, and you change, what happens to their comfort zone? If you aren’t ready to expand your orbit, how can you expect your colleagues, team, or employees to do it?

Source: http://www.2130partners.com/leadership-are-you-in-your-comfort-zone/

Job Seekers: Use Branch Out to Leverage the Power of Your Personal Relationships

The tagline of the largest career app on Facebook is, “Unleash the Power of Your Network.” With Branch Out you can leverage the power of your personal relationships to form professional connections. Branch Out is designed to reveal the connections that you have within your personal network of friend and family to the companies that you are interested in working with.

When you are looking through the over 3 million job listings on Branch Out you will see all of the connections that the people in your network have to the companies posting job opportunities.

If you are an active Facebook user you will want to go in and adjust your privacy settings to protect your personal information. Then you should make sure that your profile picture looks professional enough to display to prospective employers.

There is a series of ‘how-to’ videos on Branch Out that will walk you through creating a profile, finding jobs and growing your network. Go in and create your profile and start giving endorsements to your friends, who will more than likely return the favor. If you want an endorsement from someone, you might consider writing one up yourself and sending it to them and invite them to revise is as they see fit.

Recruiters who are searching for certain demographics utilize Branch Out, so making sure that your profile is complete and that you have a few key endorsements can make you more visible.

If you are in the midst of a job search and you are looking to make the most of all of your connections you should go ahead and set up your Branch Out profile. If you are spending time on Facebook you might as well make it count towards helping you to land a great job.

Want to make a Radical Career Change? Coaching can keep your career healthy, improve the quality of your life and make you more effective at work through a heightened sense of self-awareness and greater clarity about your purpose and goals. Contact me today for a complimentary consultation.

According to Marshall–October Issue


Welcome to the October issue of According to Marshall…

The purpose of this message is to share just a quick summary of some of the topics that I think are relevant to your personal and professional success.

If there are particular subjects that you would like to receive more information on from me, reach out and let me know. I also welcome any relevant information that you have produced or found that I can share with my readers.

7 Tips From CEOs On How To Eat Uncertainty For Lunch

By Marc Figueroa, Vistage International

“Today’s business owners and CEOs are constantly being tested. Faced with volatile markets, shifting customer demands and economic uncertainty, the only thing most business leaders are certain of is that there’s more change ahead. So how do you continue driving your business forward? We asked seven members of Vistage International, a CEO peer group organization, for their insight on how to lead with confidence in times of uncertainty.”

Click here to read the full story

6 Personal Branding Mistakes That Can Threaten Your Job Search

By Meridith Levinson

“In 2009, personal branding became the buzzword of choice for job seekers and career coaches alike, and for good reason. When done right, personal branding—the act of identifying and communicating your unique value to people who can help advance your career—promised to be the job seeker’s silver bullet, his surefire way to stand out in a crowded job market.”

Click here to read the full story

Building Authentic Relationships in the Workplace

By Chrissy Scivicque

“Back when I worked in banking, as the Assistant Manager of a branch, I wore a mask. No, not literally, you silly goose. After all, banks and masks don’t go well together if you know what I mean…But I hid all the same.

I was hiding behind an image of who I thought I should be, who I thought others wanted me to be. I didn’t show the “real me” because I was scared.”

Read more at: Click here to read the full story

Top 5 Secrets to Make Your Web 2.0 Job Search More Effective

By Rosa Elizabeth Vargas

“Social networking sites have dramatically changed the job search “game.” LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, and Online Career Sites can help you, from the comfort of your home, discover new opportunities and tap into the hidden job market.

Why? Because networking, whether it is performed offline or online, is still the most effective way to find a job. However, building a brand, connecting with professionals in your field, and maintaining those relationships is not as easy as just setting up an account (don’t we wish!?). ”

Click here to read the full story

Top 10 Steps To Reclaim Your Life From Distraction

By Guy Kawasaki, Co-Founder, Alltop

“Peter Bregman is strategic advisor to CEOs and management teams and author of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done. According to Peter, people are interrupted, on average, four times an hour, and the more challenging the work, the less likely you are to go back to it after the interruption. In other words, we are most likely to leave our most important work unfinished.”

Click here to read the full story

SEO for Your Resume

By Mona Abdel-Halim

“With the advent of “intelligent” technology, technology that more and more mimics human behavior, a slew of new tools have emerged to help recruiters quickly identify candidates with relevant skills. The behavior such technologies emulate are the mental scoring and comparing of candidate applications, primarily resumes, that recruiters used to take days to sort through manually. Now, by simply inputting key phrases or an entire job description, recruiters can automatically generate reports of upwards of thousands of job seekers in rank order.”

Click here to read the full story

I also invite you to forward this to a friend.


Are You Managing Your Personal Brand Effectively?

Quiz: How Well Are You Maintaining Your Personal Brand?

Developing and managing your personal brand—that which creates a clear and memorable impression about who you are and what you do—is practically a requirement in today’s economy. Doing so not only gives you greater control of your career and personal destiny. Take the Self-Quiz below to see if yours needs just a dusting off, or some full-fledged spring-cleaning.

1. I know what’s important to me, and I can list the values that inform my work and my approach right away when asked.

2. When colleagues (and those I work with at all levels) think of me, the idea that comes to mind is clear and consistent, from person to person.

3. I know how I create value for my company and/or my clients. They do, too.

4. My personal “brand message” is targeted and focused.

5. I put my brand, my unique contribution and/or approach, on everything I do: presentations, reports, meetings, deals, etc.

6. I look to connect my personal brand to every situation possible (and appropriate).

7. I consider myself my own CEO and have a vision by which I lead myself.

8. My emails are consistently opened, read and acted upon.

9. I focus on growing and nurturing my professional network, both through offline approaches (e.g., associations, speaking, etc.) and online strategies (e.g., LinkedIn, blog/forum participation, etc.).

10. I look to find what’s distinct about me and what I bring to the table, rather than try to conform to the norm. In essence, I create my own “unique selling proposition” (USP).

11. I have a personal brand plan, and I execute the strategy and tactics in it.

12. I establish appropriate partnerships that will extend my brand and help me get complementary brand value.

13. I make sure that everything that surrounds my brand (my office, my website, my customer service, etc.) communicates the same brand message.

If you answered true to at least eight statements, you’re well on your way to building a powerful personal brand. But don’t forget: it’s not only about creating a distinct personality, but also telling the world about it. Don’t hesitate to contact me if  you’d like support shining up your personal brand.

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