I am going to take a different turn with my blog this week. I was reading the newspaper this weekend and was struck by an article. There was a young boy, Miles, who was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 18 months old. Now at the ripe old age of 5, and in remission, he was given an incredible gift by the “ Make-A-Wish Foundation ”. Do you know what his wish was? This 5-year old was asked; if you could be anyone, go anywhere, do anything or meet anyone; what would you want? He wanted to be superhero. He wanted to be someone who saved other people. WOW this child, presented with the option of getting almost anything he wanted, chose to be someone who helped others.
Being the parent of a child who lost her battle to leukemia and who also had a wish granted by this amazing organization. Realizes first-hand what these children go through, endure and sometimes overcome. My daughter, who lost her battle to leukemia at 13, fought a good fight for 2 years. Never once did she ask why me, or did she say it’s not fair. She looked at each day as a gift and touched more lives in her 13-years than I could ever hope to touch in my lifetime. She, along with little 5-year old Miles are my heroes.
We face challenges of all kinds every day. Those challenges can range from finding affordable housing, sustainable employment, finishing or starting our education, and how to pay for it. These children are faced with the ultimate challenge of life and death, and they embrace it. They get up and face every day as if it were their last. They feel weak but they want to play, they experience pain we can’t imagine but they still smile, laugh and continue to move forward.
I know what you’re thinking, what does this have to do with my job search? How is this going to help me? It’s actually quite simple, you can’t give up. No matter what you face, no matter how hard it seems, when you just don’t think you can face it for one more day. That is when you have to dig deep within yourself and find the last bit of strength and plow forward. If you think you can’t move forward, if you think you can’t achieve the outcome you want. You’re right! The minute you make the decision you can’t do it, you won’t. The minute you decide it’s too hard, you’re done.
The people who succeed in this world, truly succeed are those that never gave up. They never assumed that their dreams/ideas were too big or too hard. When the challenges surmounted they looked deep within themselves to find the strength and courage to continue on. Just like little Miles.
Here is the other part that so many people don’t realize. The world loves a hero. They love a success story. They want to stand behind someone who faces down seemingly insurmountable challenges with a courage that is almost superhuman. The point is, when you face down your challenges, whatever they are, people will be there to support you, cheer you on, and help you find a way to make your dreams come true.
I read a quote and forgive me I’m not sure where it came from. “Greatness is coded deep inside each of us if we dare to look for it.” Miles got to be Batkid for the city of San Francisco. He spent the day foiling crimes, rescuing damsels and saving the city. Riding alongside Batman in a black Lamborghini, receiving the keys to the city from the Mayor and being a hero. Over 7,000 people took part in granting his wish. Yes I said 7,000! “At one point organizers struggled to keep a path open for the motorcade, which drove past onlookers lining the streets six deep for several blocks”, according to the associated press.
There are resources available to help you, if you look for them. There are people who will help you, if you let them. There are people who will cheer you on to success. Sometimes the very best thing we can do is simply, not give up.
Miles, thank you for allowing us to participate in your wish. Thank you for reminding us of the importance of never giving up, not matter what the obstacle. Thank you for showing us that at the end of the struggle are rewards and opportunities better than we could ever have imagined.
To see more about this amazing story browse to: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/11/15/batkid-san-francisco/3588173/
If hard skills get you hired, what gets you fired?
I’m sure everyone has heard from some source recently that soft skills are lacking in their job candidates.
What exactly is this? Working with college students and graduates, I like to show them this video“Entitlement Creed”
I love how it sums up much of the soft skills gap so simply that it borders on remedial. However, I still hear from students and graduates alike:
- So I was late a few times, what’s the big deal?
- Yes I use my cell phone at work, that’s my personal business not theirs.
- They won’t let me check Facebook at work.
- They don’t like my language, but everyone uses bad words these days.
Yes these are real examples. Add these to the list of entitlement issues prevalent in our culture and we have a real problem.
A mentor told me that once you are labeled as; clown, lazy, foul mouthed, distracted, unreliable, unmotivated or entitled, it will take a very long time and a ton of effort to change that perception.
This is so true! It took me all of 6-months (probably less) to be labeled as a ball-buster that’s difficult to work with, and around 18-months (or longer in some cases) to repair and rebuild that perception. Not to mention an uncounted amount of home baked goodies. But it was completely worth it.
Trouble is, once individuals realize they’ve created the perception (if they ever realize it), they’re not willing to roll up their sleeves and dig in to fix it. They chalk it up to “This is the way I am.”or “They have to accept me as I am.” Then my personal favorite. “It’s their perception, their problem, not mine.”
I love the last line from the video, “If you think we’re asking too much (say the employers), then you’re entitled to look for another employer who will not ask these things of you. But the odds of you finding one aren’t good.”
Take ownership of your own behavior. Take inventory of what others say about you professionally, how are you perceived? Then dig in, dig out and make a difference. That is how you keep a job.
For more interviewing tips, resume writing help or job search advice check back again to; “Connectthedotblog”
I think one of the reasons we love Star Trek isn’t because we get to see one of our favorite actors do what they do to save the world. We watch to see how this amazing group of misfits conquers the universe together.
We’ve all had co-workers, supervisors, department heads, or CEO’s that resembled Captain Kirk (whether you’re a Chris Pine or William Shatner fan). All they have to do is walk into a room, and you want to load up your gear and follow on whatever hair brained adventure they have in mind.
Why? Because it seems like whatever they do, whatever they touch, turns to pure gold. How do they do it, you ask? Well, I believe it’s because they don’t. They do. Of course by they I mean the ensemble. Captain Kirk, like all great leaders, knows they aren’t an island, although their ego may want to believe it’s all about them sometimes. It takes a team of skilled specialists and a few misfits to save the universe.
Don’t believe me? Please name one episode or movie where the mighty Captain alone on the bridge of his flagship saved the Universe. Planet? Person? Anyone? You can’t because he didn’t.
He needs the data/information (Spock) to understand all his options. He needs is moral compass (Bones) to keep him from doing more harm than good, and he needs his miracle worker (Scotty) to develop, implement, innovate, or when all else fails, use bubble gum and bailing wire to ingeniously limp the Enterprise out of harm’s way.
Every high performing team needs their key players. The group looks towards these people to mobilize the resources to get things done. Can you imagine an Enterprise full of James Kirks? What could possibly get done between the ego trips, skirt chasing, fist fights, and distractions? NOTHING!
Teams need diversity of talents, ideas, perspectives, and experiences if they are going to be able to fully understand a challenge, obtain the needed resources to overcome it, and have the wherewithal to get things done.
So, back to the original question; who would you choose?
My answer, none; any one without the other, although an exceptional individual, could not get done by 1/4 what the whole crew could. In the end, one by themself might cause more harm than good.
For more interviewing tips, resume writing help, job search advice, or developing high performing teams, check back again to; “Connectthedotblog”
I’ve been working with students and graduates on mock interviews. The one question I always get asked is, “What is the strangest quetion you’ve ever been asked in an interview?”
- Well, it’s not, “If you were an animial what would you be?” (A Lion by the way.)
- “Which cheesy 80′s song do you listen to the most?” (Anything Richard Marx.)
- “Which Muppet do you most closely identify with?” (This is a toss up between Kermit the Frog and Fozzy Bear, and is a constant souce of disagreement between my mother an myself.)
The strangest interview question I ever received came from a man I never thought would hire me, at a company I didn’t think I was qualified to work for, at the first interview I thought I’d blown. One question threw me into such a tail spin, I didn’t know if I was coming or going.
“So, I’m going to give you three minutes to ask me anything you want to ask, then you get 60-seconds to tell me what you’ve learned.”
I spent three minutes shooting off questions trying to discover family, home, hobbies, education, religious, and political information about my interviewer.
“Time’s up,” he said. “What did you learn?”
My response? “Well, did you want me to find out about you personally or professionally?
His response? “You probably should have asked that question first, shouldn’t you?”
OUCH! I began to shot off all my Holmesian conclusions and with a look of sheepish satisfaction, craving a fatherly approval, he looked at me and replied, “Thank you. We’ll be intouch.”
I forgot to mention this was my last interview of a day-long round robin of interviews for what I thought was a dream job and I just blew it, or so I thought.
I believe all stories should have a happy ending. Needless to say, I did get the job, and within 2-years, he was my direct supervisor. He promoted me to my first department head position and became my best, most infuential and beloved mentor. One day I got the gumption up to ask him about the question.
“Jim, what was the point of that question? What were you looking for in an answer?”
“Bets, there is no right or wrong answer. It is a question to see how you can communicate in a stressful or uncomfortable situation with executive level leaders. You did great. You didn’t stop. You fully used your time. Your answer was full of humor and insight, and you spoke articulately.”
It’s not alway about the right answer. but the right attitude. Be positive, be confident, and take risks. You never know where they can lead you. Mine lead me to a career path that, if I had hesitated trying to find the right answer, I might have missed out on.
For more interviewing tips, resume writing help or job search advice check back again to; “Connectthedotblog”
I’ve never really been a fan of war movies or Clint Eastwood (I know that’s almost un-American), however his 1986 Heartbreak Ridge became one of my all-time favorites and not just because both my father and older brother are Marines. I’m something of a student of human nature and the dynamics of Gunny Highway (Clint Eastwood) and his ragtag band of Marine misfits (Oxymoron isn’t it) is remarkable. Why you ask, because of three words; improvise, adapt, overcome.
This group of United States Marines weren’t the smartest, strongest, most skilled or highly motivated group of young men, but these three words made them the most successful group of soldiers in their unit; improvise, adapt, overcome.
You may be out there looking for your new career. You’ve been through an uncountable number of interviews with little to no success and your beginning to wonder, “Is it me?”. No it’s not and yes it is. So many of us go out thinking, “I’ve got this.” When in actuality we are not nearly as prepared as we think we are.
The best thing you can do is to take an inventory; in other words Check Yourself before you Wreck Yourself
The days of walking into an interview, introducing yourself and handing in a resume are LONG since gone.
You have to:
- Know your audience.
- Understand their business.
- Demonstrate your ability to communicate.
- Show them you understand their company culture.
- Impress them with thoughtful and relevant questions.
- Put their minds at ease regarding the chance they are taking on you.
- Exhibit your exceptional customer service skills through appropriate follow up and follow through.
Yes it sounds like a lot; however getting a job is a full-time job and anything less than your best effort will yield less than the best results. Interviewing is hard. Pardon me for a moment while I channel my mom, “If it wasn’t hard to get, is it really worth having?” I don’t normally quote her but, in this instance mom was right on.
If you have doubts regarding your interviewing skills, how to research the company you’re interviewing with, and any other interview tips and tricks; ask an expert. There are tons of great resources like A Better Interview . Ask a friend working in the field you are trying to get into. Ask your preferred employers for an informational interview to find out more about their business. Exceptional rewards take exceptional efforts. You can do this and you can be successful, it’s all up to you and what you are willing to put into it.
For more information on interviewing, resume writing and career changes, check back often. I look forward to reading your comments and hearing your feedback and suggestions for future series.
Do you remember that “Friends” Friends episode where Rachel finally got the dream job interview and at the end mistook her interviewers intentions of opening the door for her as him coming in for a kiss? This is a great example of how touching should NEVER be part of your interview.
I know we all have funny stories about absolutely embarrassing things we’ve done in an interview, ALL of us. However for the sake of today lets keep them narrowed down to just two areas.
I started on touch, so let me finish with that before moving on. There is only one, and I mean,ONE instance where touching should be involved in an interview; yup you guessed it, the hand shake.
This is an underestimated gesture in the interview process; yet so important. It demonstrates confidence, articulation, enthusiasm and so much more. A firm hand shake (no don’t make them wince) accompanied by a smile, a confident look in the eye and a clear introduction made with genuine enthusiasm can positively influence the most stoic of interviewers.
Seems easy enough, but like the friend I spoke about last week in my article on “Sound ” sometimes just shaking hands, smiling and speaking with confidence can be very difficult. The answer, PRACTICE.
Now on to Taste, how did that interview taste to you? I know what you’re thinking, you can’t taste an interview. Well actually you can.
- Bring in your coffee?
- Walk in chewing a piece of gum?
- Chewing on a mint?
- Bring in your big gulp?
- Bring in your water bottle?
As you can see bringing your taste with you to an interview can leave a bad taste with the interviewer. Quick story; a young man (let’s call him Sam) walks into his interview. He is greeted by the receptionist, she politely asks, “Would you like some coffee or tea?” Sam answers, “Yes I would love some tea, thank you.” The horror in the receptionist’s eye was obvious, she had asked out of politeness, and now she has to go and find some tea, which she does not have. Answer politeness with politeness and just say, ”No thank you.”
Too much can go wrong in an interview where there is liquid involved.
- Spill it.
- Slur it.
- Dribble it on your pristine outfit (this has happened to me more than once but I’m clumsier than most).
- Cough and spit it at the interviewer.
- Sneeze and spit it at the interviewer.
I think you’re getting the idea. Remember the point of the interview is to be a clean slate they can envision actually in the job. If you do any of the above what are they going to visualize? I’ll tell you, they’ll visualize you doing the same to a customer, client or partner. Not a good visual, right? Not to start the relationship certainly.
You have to take into account all aspects if the interview and how you touch and taste are just as important as how you’re seen, sound and smell.
Tune in on “Friday” for the grand finale of your interview as a sensory experience.
Have you ever listened to your recorded voice and catch yourself, “Oh my gosh, I sound just like my mom!” Then you find yourself talking with a lower voice or slower to correct what you think is just plain wrong? It’s not that different with an interview. Right along with “Sight” and Smell; Sound is a powerful influencer.
The first thing that normally comes to mind when we think of sound and how it relates to our interviewing performance is how we answer questions. That is a very true statement, but have you thought of how the following might influence your interview as well?
- Noisy jewelry.
- Noisy shoes.
- Drinking from your thermos or 64oz Big Gulp.
- Grinding your teeth.
- Your cell phone vibrating in your purse or pocket.
- The tone of your voice when you introduce yourself.
- Clicking your nails or pen.
- Tapping your feet on the floor.
Yes we all have nervous habits that make up our quirky uniqueness. However there is a time and place to display those and an interview is not one of them. I shared previously that the goal of an interview is to be able for the employer to visualize you in the job; the composed, confident, articulate, professional you.
Being aware of your quirky and noisy nervous twitches is the first step to keeping them under control. You however are not the most objective identifier. This is where a great interviewing coach or mentor can come into play. Sitting down with someone for a mock interview is the best preparation you could ask for. Let them help you identify those twitches so you can work on not doing them. Practice walking into a room, shaking hands and introducing yourself, smile, stand up straight and speak clearly and confidently.
A mock interview can help you recognize if you:
- Mumble or slur your words.
- Over use words such as; um, like, you know, uh, so, and other dead time fillers.
- Grind your teeth.
- Tap your feet.
I know that not everyone feels comfortable having another person practice with them to identify areas for improvement. However, isn’t it better to find out what those areas are from an objective 3rd party than from the employer you are dying to work for? That’s like letting someone you don’t know cut your hair before you told them what style you wanted; not a smart idea.
An interview is a highly subjective moment in time. It’s you telling another person(s) that you’re all that and a bag of chips and hoping they believe you. Your best chance is to bring the most polished, practiced, prepared version of you to the table. The best way to accomplish that is to work with someone to help identify those areas where you don’t sound that way.
A friend of mine came to me for assistance with a job interview. She is a painfully shy young woman who has difficulty putting herself forward. We practiced question after question; she had her answers down and she was ready for whatever they asked. All she had to do was be able to walk in the door, shake a hand, smile, make eye contact and introduce herself. She didn’t think she could do it.
So what did we do? We went shopping! I took her to the mall to buy a new outfit for the interview and for each person that came up to us in the stores, she had to say, “Hi, my name is Billie, it’s so nice to meet you.” and shake their hand. I thought she was going to kill me but; 3 sales clerks, 2 cashiers and one waitress later, she had it down.
Yes she got the job, yes she still chides me for putting her through it and yes she credits the preparation, identification and practice to her success.
As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Identify the areas for development, practice how to improve and then nail the interview!
Come back on Thursday, August 15th to find out how Touch can influence your interview!