Category Archives: Business

Tips for Successful Holiday Job Searchin

Your head tells you, “No one is hiring.” I am here to tell you that it is not true. This is actually the time we get to have fun with this process!

The holidays can present many leads to pursue and an abundance of opportunities to expand your network.

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, here are practices you can do to make job searching and holiday networking easier for you during this season:

(1) Networking is not only about attending events—use the phone.

Each day, call one friend and one former co-worker to whom you have not spoken with in a while and see how they are doing. Then let the conversation gravitate to what you are up to…naturally.

(2) Gravitate towards the positive people. Stay clear of the ‘bah-humbug’ crowd.

It is imperative to stay positive during the holidays. I am all for helping people with a pick-me-up. But if you feel someone is just a Debbie Downer who is going to bring you down with him/her, then find someone else to chat with, learn about and help. This is networking not therapy. Help someone who wants your help.

(3) When attending events, enter the event thinking, “Who can I help?” versus having the “Ugh, I don’t know anyone!” or “What are they going to think of me?” mindset.

You will appear more genuine and less stressed if you want to offer assistance than if you are feeling you have to fit in with the crowd.

(4) Do your homework before choosing to attend events.

Does it make sense for you to attend the event? If two events present itself, pick one and do it well. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Research who will be attending to evaluate how it can fulfill your personal or professional goals. Make sure attending serves a purpose for you—even if it is just to have fun.

(5) Not sure what to say or ask? Read “The Fine Art of Small Talk” by Debra Fine.

Choose 4-5 questions out of this book to help you get a conversation started. Or use it to create some of your own stand-bys. This will help reduce the awkward silences that can arise. Some of my favs that get things rolling:

a. How are you connected to this group? What brings you to the event?

b. What kind of day did you have today?

c. What do you enjoy most about what you do? What do you find most challenging?

d. Plans for the weekend? (then ask them how long they –or their children—have been engaged in that activity)

(6) Find a buddy to attend the event with you.

But do not spend the event chatting with each other. You can do that anytime. Plan to facilitate introductions for each other as you meet people throughout the event.

(7) Get there early whenever possible—easier to start conversations with the early crowd.

It can be a challenge to enter conversations already started if you are late.

Executive Resume is More Important Than You Realize

When applying for a job, the burden falls on you to prove you’re the best executive candidate—no surprise to you, I’m sure.  A great way to show your worth and prove you’re the right executive is by focusing on what the employer needs, then writing an executive resume that addresses those needs specifically.

Targeting Your Executive Resume Proves You Are the Best Fit for the Position

Employers absolutely need to know that the candidate they choose for a job is the best fit, which they do by confirming that a candidate’s past accomplishments and current skill set fall in line with the important day-to-day tasks and overarching goals of the position.

If you write a generic executive resume that doesn’t take into account the specific needs of the company or showcase your professional capabilities, you are failing to prove that you are right for the position.  Unfortunately, another candidate would be more than happy to pick up your slack—and take your job while they’re at it.

How Can You Ensure Your Executive Resume Is Targeted?

So how can you create that targeted executive resume that will show the employer that you deserve the interview?

1. Research the company and position: A great way to target your executive resume is to dig in and learn about the company and what the employer wants from its candidates.  Once you acquire this information, you will be armed with specifics that can help you determine the types of contributions you can make to the company.

2. Customize a job target/title, branding statement, and career summary: Instead of writing a bland objective statement, place a job target/title at the top of your resume that defines who you are as an executive candidate.  Also, create a branding statement (a one- or two-line statement that sums up the value you can offer each employer based upon their needs and how you can meet them) that is customized to the specific position.  Then write an executive summary (most commonly a bullet point list that shares your career highlights) listing accomplishments most pertinent to the position at the top.

3. Utilize keywords throughout: It’s also important to utilize specific keywords in your executive resume.  For example, if you are applying as an executive chef in the hospitality industry, you might incorporate keyword phrases such as “menu planning”, “kitchen equipment”, “banquet meal production”, and “procurement of food supplies” as indicators of your knowledge of the field. Keywords should be used in your job target/title, branding statement, career summary, and most other sections in your resume.

Targeting your executive resume requires a bit more effort but offers a lot in return.  By taking time to tailor resumes for each company to which you apply, you give them no doubt that you are the best person for the job.

A Short Attention Span

Realistically, that’s about as likely as presidential candidates shaking hands courteously, patting each other on the back, and exchanging friendly smiles–and meaning it!

EMPLOYER HIRING PRACTICE SHORTCOMINGS AND YOUR JOB SEARCH

Despite the times I’ve commented on employers’ extensive hiring practice shortcomings with regard to treatment of job seekers, I should probably try to be fair to them. Yes, they often treat candidates shabbily, but….

More often than not, employers are inundated with submissions whenever they publish a job opening. Those candidates who fail to take seriously the planning and preparation necessary to conduct an effective job search will either get skipped over entirely or, at best, receive a cursory glance before being put aside.

If you fall into that category, you probably won’t get the employer attention you need and want in order to land the position you’re after.

Think about it. When you get a flood of offers for a product or service you’re not even sure you’re interested in, how much time do you spend looking through those offers? They need to be attention-getting and compelling if they’re going to persuade you to devote your precious time to reading them, much less considering the investment the senders want you to make.

YOUR WIIFU MESSAGE TO POTENTIAL EMPLOYERS

Consider this critical point: Does your resume (and cover letter, if you’re using one) answer an essential question for employers–What’s In It For Us (WIIFU)? In other words, “Why should we care? What can you do for us that 5,000 other candidates can’t, don’t, or won’t?”

If your WIIFU (value) message doesn’t make you stand out, you’ve wasted your time–and the employer’s.This illustration concept shows the level of ROI. Return of investment is the gains compared to the cost.

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about unsupported superlatives or general claims (see examples below). The WIIFU element needs to communicate specific value to employers that sets you apart–your ROI potential. Ideally, the value message includes quantified/measurable information, which can give you a big advantage over candidates who don’t bother to provide this critical information.

WEAK SUBMISSIONS CAN “KILL” YOUR JOB SEARCH

And, no, using hype to get employer attention is NOT the way to go. A partial definition of the word reads “when the actual thing doesn’t turn out to be as good as expected.” Even if that gets you a phone call, it’s unlikely to result in an interview and even less likely to produce a job offer.

Ineffective (weak) submissions include wording such as the following:

  • Highly successful project completion
  • Increased revenue and profit
  • Cost-reduction expert
  • Award-winning sales professional
  • Record-setting, visionary leader

Tips For Successfully Negotiating Business

Undoubtedly you’ve heard the adage that everything is negotiable. Whether or not this is true is up for debate, but what is true is that in any situation, it’s worthwhile to explore options. When you’ve been engaged in a job search, it can be tempting to jump at the first offer that comes your way. Most people do. In fact, only a mere 37% of candidates negotiate their job offers, and an abysmal 7% of women do. Negotiating is the core of business, and you are in the business of managing your career. It is incumbent upon you to investigate how the offer might better suit your needs to make for a mutually beneficial relationship between you and your employer. It doesn’t have to be scary! Here are my top ten tips for negotiating:

Consider the whole package. It is very easy to fixate on base salary. After all, that is critical in determining if the offer is worth pursuing. But look beyond that to things such as 401(k) match and vesting structure, bonus structure, and eligibility, paid time off, education reimbursement, and flexible working arrangements. Any and all of these are up for negotiation, so decide which one or two is most important to you.

Be likable and positive. People want to work with people they like, and people will fight for people they like. An adversarial approach will not be effective and is a good way to sour a relationship before it’s begun.

Have empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand other people and their potential limitations. Understand that
they may have constraints that will prevent them from meeting your requests.

Know your value. Be sure that you have objective evidence to demonstrate your worth. You need to understand the market rate for the position, so that you can understand if you are being offered market rate, or something less than that.

Write it down. Don’t enter into the negotiation without having written down the topics you want to cover. This will help to keep you on message.

Prioritize. Don’t negotiate every aspect of the offer simply for the sake of doing so. Determine which one or two components are most important to you, and focus on those.

Focus on the future. The key message of the negotiation should not be based upon what you’ve done in the past. It should be on how you can help be a part of future success.

Be positive, but firm. You don’t want to be a doormat, but you do want to remain active and upbeat during the negotiations, reinforcing that you are really excited about the offer and the opportunity to work with them. They just need to bend and stretch a little.

No ultimatums. Ultimatums are bullying tactics, and are rarely effective. An ultimatum is also likely to backfire.

Approach to Closing That Interview

Steve left the interview smiling and totally convinced that he had “connected with the hiring manager.”

As he stated, “The job is mine to lose.”

Now that the interview was over, he just had to sit back and wait for the magical phone call.

Right?

While Steve went about his usual activities, the interviewers compared notes, and the search to fill the position continued.

“He seems to have the skills we need,” said the hiring manager. “But, I don’t think this applicant is really interested. He never gave any indication he even wants the job.”

Lack of interest or enthusiasm during the interview process is on the top 10 list of reasons for candidate rejection.

Apparently, Steve did not realize that. Nor did he understand just how important it is to follow up after an interview, beginning with a thank you letter to each interviewer.

In addition to competence, employers want someone they would like to work with and who wants to work with them.

During the interview, always show your excitement and enthusiasm about the position (assuming you are being genuine).

Besides stating your interest in the particular position, remember the following points during the final moments of your interview:

1. Express your gratitude to the interviewer for the opportunity you have been given – no matter how the interview went.

2. Find out if there is anything else you can do (for example, sending samples of your work) that might give the interviewer a better sense of what you can contribute to the organization. Be sure you answer, “why should we hire you?”

3. Tell the interviewer that you are confident in your ability to perform the responsibilities and make a contribution.

4. Ask what the next steps are in the selection process and when a decision is expected to be made.

5. Follow up can help you turn an interview into an offer by knocking out your competition, reassuring the hiring manager of your capabilities, or turning a losing situation into a winning one.

Effective follow-up depends on knowing what happened in the interview, so be sure to take a few notes after each job interview.

For example, answer these questions and log your answers for future reference:

  • How did it go?
  • What did they say?
  • What unconventional interview questions were asked?
  • How many people were seen and how much time was spent with each one?
  • What role did each one play and who was important?
  • Who was the decision-maker?
  • What non-traditional interview questions were asked?
  • Which one was likely to influence the hiring decision?

Blow A Great Opportunity

If you have cultivated the belief that only the “lucky” people get the best jobs, please consider how much power you have given up and the amount of time you have wasted by believing that getting a good job is out of your control. I’m not disputing the fact that it may be more of a case of who you know than what you know, but believing that all you need is that “big break” is missing the mark. Even the best opportunities can result in a big goose egg if the people pursuing them take their relationships for granted or assume that an introduction is all that is needed.

Your connections may facilitate your leapfrogging over other candidates, but all of their praise will not substitute for your being able to articulate your value…

There is considerable work to be done, even when you do know the right people. It is still critical to make sure you show up as the most qualified, likely to fit with the team, excited and invested candidate an organization considers, regardless of how you get there. Your connections may facilitate your leapfrogging over other candidates, but all of their praise will not compensate for your being unable to articulate your value or live up to the hype that came before your meeting with the hiring team.

It is striking to me how many people still believe that all they need is “to get an interview,” with little thought of their need for preparation. The mindset that all a person needs is a fancy resume to get in front of someone and the rest of the interview process will be a wrap, sadly, still exists. To my frustration, I regularly receive after-hours emails with this request: “I have an interview tomorrow morning. Can you send me some tips?” This out-of-touch belief that getting in front of a hiring manager and ad-libbing your way through the interview process will work is as outdated as dial phones and decidedly less effective.

Maybe this analogy would help: You have always dreamed of travelling by car across country to visit historical sites. It’s the first of July and you’ve suddenly been granted three weeks of paid time off beginning the following week. Would you wait until after you start your 6,000-mile road trip to check your tires and oil, water and antifreeze levels? Would you leave without a map or a plan of what you want to see?

This may sound foolish, but not more so than accepting a referral to the hiring manager for your targeted position at your organization of choice without having prepared for the impending conversation. Regardless of how many praises were sung on your behalf, you will still be required to relate your knowledge of the organization and its mission, illustrate your value using examples of your relatable experience and explain why you left your last job or why you are changing industries/roles/directions, if that is the case. Conversations about all of these points require thoughtful preparation and are unlikely to be handled successfully if you’ve waited until the night before to think about them.