Tag Archives: Question

Humility Required…not Desired!

humility

For a highly motivated and driven individual, not hitting a goal hard and leaving it dying in the dust is never an option. However, sometimes it is a very painful reality. Finding a way through the complex range of emotions can be difficult…the key is not to be defeated. Yes, this sounds like the opening few sentences of the next “How To” business book or motivational “You Can Do Anything” article. Well it’s not. I missed a goal for the very first time in my professional career and it totally SUCKS.

I have felt defeated, bruised, my confidence is shaken and I have a hard time looking people in the face when they ask me how work is going. Especially those who have been friends for years and often talk of our various professional successes as if they are badges of honor. No, we don’t ever compare our successes like others do their cars, kids or paychecks. Believe it or not we do revel in each other’s triumphs.

Over the past weeks, it became painfully clear that although we had a bang-up year (in the best sense), my team was not going to achieve what we set out to achieve. I have been uncertain how to accept my defeat. In my mountaintop moments I often looked to my mentors, heroes and idols; could that be me some day? I want to make that kind of impact. How can I follow in their footsteps? Well the truth of the matter…I am.

Before Nelson Mandela united a nation, he was in prison for over two decades. How many setbacks did Abraham Lincoln suffer before he achieved the level of success that captures our imagination over one hundred and fifty years later. Did Steve Jobs achieve total world domination after building his first Mac…NO! Our leaders, heroes and idols are so often defined by their successes, it is after all,  what they are remembered for. We strive to be like them, read books and articles about them listen to endless TED Talks and quote them whenever we can. We don’t sit around thinking, “gosh I sure hope that I have to suffer the failures, humiliation, and persecution that they did“. GET REAL!!! Who wants to go through that, isn’t there a fast track, a short cut, a pill or “Get Out of Jail Free Card“, that can alleviate all that nastiness? No, my friend, there is not.

Yes, thinking through this, I do have a slightly better perspective. No, I am not back on my mountaintop, I’m still frustrated and a bit disillusioned. What I can say is this, knowing that the incredible people that I have looked up to all these years are indeed human and have also suffered failures and defeat does give me hope. I choose to move forward, learn where I need to adjust, how can I approach differently, rethink my box (not that I ever really worked in one) and go at it again.

We are not defined by our circumstances or what happens to us, anything that happens to us. We are defined by how we respond to, and through those circumstances. I may never change the world in the way some of my heroes have, but I will change it, and I will change it for the better. I will change it because I know I can and I will get up each day, no matter how difficult it may be, and go at it again.

Humility is a key characteristic of successful people. They have been knocked down, walked in others shoes and chosen to lead through that experience. Without humility, we can never truly understand or appreciate what we have and how hard we had to work to get there.

I’d love to hear from you. Come back and visit at “Connectthedotblog”.

 

Charming Can Only Get You So Far

strike three

I was interviewing a candidate the other day for a Director level position in my organization. Now to be fair, the candidate wasn’t really qualified for the job but I could play connect the dots from his job experience to the skills needed for someone in this position to be successful. Plus he seemed like a colorful character from his background so I thought, why not! I scheduled him for a Skype interview and set to work.

First there were multiple technical difficulties. He tried to take the interview on his tablet, while at work, surrounded by people. Strike one!

Then his tablet and his phone cut out, not once, not twice, but three times. Ball one!

Next he did NOT research my organization or even read the job description so he could not speak intelligently about either. Strike two!

He borrowed a phone from a co-worker, called back and apologized, while at the same time asking his co-workers to keep it down while he was on this call. Ball two!

I asked him, “When you reviewed the job description, which areas did you feel would be the most challenging for you?” He replied, “None of them, I don’t think I’ll have any challenges at all.” Ball three!

It’s a full count…needless to say; I’ve known pretty much from the beginning that this is not someone that I’m going to move forward with. However I wanted to get to the final question, because I was really curious as to how he would answer it. He’s labeled himself a ‘talker’ and that he can motivate and coach anyone, and that there are no challenges he can’t overcome. I’m trying to decide if he is charming in an overconfident kind of way or completely arrogant in a really annoying way.

“So why should I consider you for this position?”

His reply, “because I’m me, and no one is going to be better than me.” Strike three, you’re outta there!

One of the best things about a full count, there’s only one pitch left. You have one more chance to hit it out of the park, walk to first base or fail miserably. (And yes, for my baseball fans, I know they can hit a foul ball and it remains a full count; however for the purpose of the argument let’s assume one more pitch.)

Having a powerful personality, the ability to converse easily with people combined with a charismatic energy will get you much farther in life than those who don’t possess such characteristics; however it will only get you so far. I would choose someone with a strong skill set, who understands the work that needs to be done and the qualities of leadership necessary to succeed over someone who is relying solely on their personality to move them forward.

This candidate was one question away from a bottom of the 9th walk off home run; but he came to the plate swinging a twig at a fastball, he didn’t even make contact.

  • He didn’t research the company or the specific job.
  • He didn’t research the industry.
  • He wasn’t prepared to answer real questions about any specifics; e.g. his experience and how that related to the job requirements.
  • He actually said his personality gets him what he wants, and I think he believed it.
  • He certainly didn’t seek any assistance with how to appropriately answer interview questions

When given the opportunity to redeem an incredibly lack luster ‘at bat’ performance he had no idea what to say other than “I’m me”. Well you’re obviously not Babe Ruth, but perhaps this approach to interviewing has worked for him in the past. As far as this interview went, it was like watching my 10 year old son try to hit off Randy Johnson; painful to watch, but I love rooting for the underdog.

For more interviewing tips, resume writing help or job search advice check back again to; “Connectthedotblog

DIY is Cool, Except in Your Job Search.

to do list

You inevitably can’t do a complete channel surf these days without hitting on some kind of DIY program. From rennovating your kitchen or bath to upgrading your dating life or turning your simple idea to a money making landslide. DIY is the trend that keeps on giving, except in your job search. This is one area of your life where having a little professional help can go a long, long way.

We’ve all been there filling out endless applications online and in person. Dressing up and prepping up for interview after interview only to not hear back. Face it, finding a job is a full time job; but at work, you have direction and structure. At work you have someone at the very minimum telling you where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. However when you are looking for work, there isn’t that person there helping, coaching, mentoring and motivating you to keep going.

DIY is not the way to go in a job search!

Now is the time to do a good hard review of the resources available to you. That means you need to step away from your computer and make a list of people you know that can help.

Who do you know in the industry?

  • Do the people that can help you, know you are looking for a new position?
  • Do they have an updated copy of your resume?
  • Have you reached out to industry professionals for an informational interview?
  • What networking opportunities are available in your area/industry?
  • Have you asked your network to critique your resume?
  • Friends, family, teachers, past co-workers, etc. you never know who may know someone you need to know.

I think the picture is getting clearer. You don’t have to go out and hire professional resume writer, although it may help. You don’t have to hire a career coach, however there are resources available that can assist you. Contact your local government job help organization, if you’re in school frequent your Career Services department. The point is, there is no reason to Do It Yourself! We aren’t talking a 2-day make over in your home; we’re talking about your future. This is not the time to try and go it alone, and the great thing is you don’t have to.

If anything good has come out of our recent recession it’s the recognition that job search skills and resources are a necessary part of every day life. Everyone needs a little assistance and direction sometimes.

That help can come in many forms:

  • Your local Department of Economic Security or Workforce Development
  • Educational assistance
  • Local staffing agencies
  • Reputable resume writing and career assistance organizations

Between your network of friends, family and associates and the availablity of public and private resources; you can turn this project from a to do into a done.

For more interviewing tips, resume writing help or job search advice check back again to; “Connectthedotblog

Graduates- don’t wait till after graduation to start the job hunt! Start now!

8-29-13 graduates...

I’m always surprised to get a call from a graduate that I haven’t heard from in months only to find out they are not working, have not been working, and haven’t even begun the career search.

“How have you been?”

“Fine thanks.”

“What have you been up to?”

“I took a break from the job hunt after graduation, but now I’m ready to start looking.”

“Did you keep in touch with your intern/extern supervisor?”

“No. I kinda just wanted to give my brain a rest after school.”

“Have you started applying with any of the employers you met with while in school?”

“No.”

“Do you have an idea where you’d like to work?”

“No. I just want a job. Can you help?”

Unfortunately, this conversation is far from infrequent. It doesn’t seem to matter how often I inform my students they need to strike while the iron is hot; inevitably, there are those who feel a 6-month vacation is not going to affect their chances of gainful employment. Even worse, they don’t feel the education they worked so hard for adds enough value to their skill set to obtain a career over a job.

WAKE UP! The country is full of people just looking for a job. We live in a country running short on skilled, educated workers, and you just want a job? Why did you go to college? Why did you spend all that time begging, stealing, and borrowing all that money to obtain your degree? Surely it wasn’t to get just a job?

If you are looking ahead at your graduation within the next 6-12 months, you should already;

  • Have a list of employers you want to work for.
  • Have a list of contact at those employers.
  • Know how your training/education will add value to their organization.
  • Have a kick butt resume.
  • Have a stellar cover letter.
  • 3-5 professional references all lined up.
  • Letters of recommendation from your instructors, supervisors, volunteer coordinators, etc.

Last but, by no means, least you must have enthusiasm, ambition, and determination to not quit until you obtain the career you dreamt about when you started your educational journey.

  • Don’t take 6-months off. Don’t take 6-minutes off.
  • Don’t ignore your resources who are there to help you.
  • And by no means, don’t ever underestimate the power of your education.

    “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
    ~Nelson Mandella

For more interviewing tips, resume writing help or job search advice check back again to; “Connectthedotblog

If you were a Muppet which would you be? The Strangest Interview Question I’ve Been Asked

kermit-the-frog-the-muppets

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

Sound Funny to You? Sensory Part 3

sound

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.
  • Etc.

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!