This has been one of those weeks that leaves me thinking about a lot. Now thinking generally is not something I have trouble with, unfortunately I’m one of those people who has a very difficult time turning off my brain…even when I want to.
This week I hosted a luncheon of women leaders who’ve I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with. I wanted to give us an opportunity to hear an incredible speaker, enjoy a healthy lunch and forge a deeper understanding of one another. Yes it was quite the women’s power hour and I LOVED it! Hearing their stories of adversity, challenges, struggles, success and set-backs inspired me; however, there was one question that I’m still pondering? What is my purpose and am I happy where I am right now?
I spent a good part of the evening and the next day with those questions still in my head. What IS my purpose and AM I happy where I am right now? My answer at the time was, “Yes I’m happy with where I am right now however, I’m not done yet.” As for my purpose, well that’s a harder one. I have always been an incredibly mission driven person, I want to make the world better. How I have lived that out through the years has morphed; whether its working in education, non-profit organizations of all sizes, employment services or in the media; if I don’t feel like I’m making a difference I am not happy.
Today I attended a panel discussion composed of female leaders from across different industries. They shared their trials, tribulations and successes, what got them there, what lessons they’ve learned and the pitfalls they wished they had avoided. Again the topic came up…live your purpose. I was sitting with a friend of mine who is a source of inspiration, she lives her purpose every day. She knows exactly what impact she wants to make and how she’s going to make it, she has laser focus in her career choices.
Now I am the first to admit that my career path has not be planned. In each of my career moves, I was scared to death that I might not be able to do the job, which is ultimately what inspired me to make the jump, I LOVE a challenge.
The BIG question is, what do I want to do now? Is it time to have a more purposeful direction? Is it time for me to pick a career field and stick to it? Do I finally need to decide what I want to do when I grow up? Answer: NO! Not just no but heck NO!
I’ve had a wonderful roller coaster ride of a career path. In each of my fields I learned new skills, honed my talents and grew exponentially. I grew in ways needed to take my next leap. Not only that, but as I have been promoted, I look to hire people with similar paths. Individuals who have a varied background that bring new perspectives to what we do, challenge the norms and me. I love where I am and what I’ve become both personally and professionally, which wouldn’t have happened without my roller coaster career path. No I’m not done, I have LOTS left to do and I’m not the type of person to confine myself to one box, one purpose or one direction, where’s the fun in that?
My mother and father both worked for the same employer for 35+ years. I’ve seen their ups and downs and I’ll admit there were times that I actually thought, “that will not be me.” Don’t get me wrong they loved what they did, my parents taught me professional & familial responsibility, extremely high work ethic and integrity. All of which are incredibly important but, you don’t need to stay in the same job to exemplify those traits.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I don’t have to decide what I want to do when I grow up. Only time, opportunity, bravery and passion will tell. One thing I know for sure, it’s going to be fun and I will make the world better in whatever way i’m able.
I’d love to hear from you. Come back and visit at “Connectthedotblog”.
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”.
Recently a friend of mine (Kris) from the Recruitment industry decided it was time to make a career change. It didn’t come as a surprise as she had risen through the ranks of her current organization as high as she could and was looking for a new challenge. She came to me for some assistance with revising her resume, updating her social media profiles and as a sounding board to talk about potential new opportunities. Needless to say as a Recruitment professional her resume was perfect (I made a few little tweaks), and her social media was up to date and professional (we added a few recent achievements). Kris was set and no sooner had she started to network and apply for positions, then her phone ringing off the hook with potential opportunities.
Slowly we began the process of weeding through the sea of potential opportunities to winnow the list down to those which she found truly intriguing. Truth be told she was in the best possible position. She is currently employed and for the most part enjoys her work. She doesn’t need to jump at the first offer or even apply for every opportunity that comes along. I think this mind set of being “selective” was where the process began to go a little awry.
It is great when you are in the position to take your time and be selective; however don’t let that make you cocky! You still have to jump through the same hoops as everyone else.
We narrowed the field down to two contenders. Both are global organizations with unlimited potential and currently in a high growth mode. Both had more of a start-up feel than that of longstanding solid organizations; which appealed to Kris’ desire for challenge and growth opportunity.
Kris soared through the first round of phone interviews, completely nailed the second round of leadership assessments and in both instances was asked to come in for a formal interview with the hiring managers. Things seemed to be going swimmingly…isn’t that always how things seem before they go south?
Kris, confident in her skills and experience opted to very superficially prepare for her interviews. She is a professional when it comes to behavioral interviewing so she thought, “I got this, what can they possibly ask I don’t have a response for?” These are large well known global organizations so she assumed, “I know what questions to ask.” In her head, all her years of experience, knowledge, and training would help her easily sail through this last round of interviews and on to the decision of which offer to accept.
Bad, bad, bad…never, ever assume!
I’m sure by now you are guessing what happened. Her lack of preparedness showed through the whole process. Oh, don’t get me wrong, she answered the questions asked…more like fumbled through because she didn’t identify the experiences she wanted to highlight before the interview. She hadn’t prepared her introduction of who she is, her professional background, and why the company should hire her. If that wasn’t bad enough, when asked why she wanted to work for their organization, she went blank.
She knows who she is, she knows her strengths, and the value she would bring. She knew why she chose those organizations and why she was looking for a change; but because she didn’t spend time thinking through how she wanted to highlight and express those thoughts, she sounded more like an amateur than an executive.
You know the old Spanish proverb “ The Cobbler’s children have no shoes”? It’s roughly the same as “doctor’s make the worst patients”. Often we are so wrapped up in helping others with our highly honed skills; prescribing remedies, and repairing damage done, that when it’s our turn to take advice, direction, and apply fixes we can’t see the forest for the trees.
When it comes to your job search, preparation and research is not a maybe…it’s a MUST! Take the time to think about how you want to be viewed, what skills and accomplishments you want to highlight, why you want to work for this organization and why they should hire you.
Prepare, prepare, prepare and then execute. Don’t start counting your offers before they hatch.
For more interviewing tips, resume writing help, job search and career advice come back again to; “Connectthedotblog”.
Should my resume have an objective statement? Should it be in chronological order or reverse chronological order? Does my education go at the top or the bottom? Should my skills section include bullet points or a paragraph? How long should my cover letter be, should it include my personal mission statement?
I could go on and on with a never ending list of questions regarding the content, format, flow and chronology of your resume. There was a time when resumes were expected to conform to a somewhat specific format; a formulaic (if not archaic) standard of content inclusion and order. That is no longer the case. Depending on the research, a hiring manager can take anywhere from 3-12 seconds to review your resume. I’m of the mind that the higher level the position the longer they’ll spend initially reviewing your resume. However that being said, you need to think of your resume as a piece of real estate; it’s all about location, location, location.
If the job description is heavy on the bulleted technical skills; then your bulleted list of technical skills should take up the best real estate on your resume. If there is heavy weight given to your educational degrees or requirements, then that information should reside in the prime location. If the position requires writing samples, your objective statement and cover letter must be clear, concise and superbly written. I give very similar advice to students/graduates preparing for an interview. If the hiring manager is excited, mirror their enthusiasm. Look to your audience for your queues.
You can glean a lot of relevant information from a job posting/description.
- Required skills – these are your key words.
- Results Oriented & Proven Track Record – what success have you achieved at previous positions?
- Relevant work experience – what positions have you held with transferrable skills?
- Bachelor’s /Master’s Degree Required – make sure it’s front and center not buried on page 2.
- Progressively responsible positions – not reverse chronological order.
I don’t claim to be the end all be all of the resume writing world. Doubtless there are many who would disagree with me on some points; however there is one area which I think we’ll all agree. The days of a one size fits all resume are gone. If you are not tailoring your resume for the job, industry, level and audience, the chances you will get the call are greatly diminished. Someone out there is taking the time upfront to perfect their image as the ideal candidate, are you?
For more interviewing tips, resume writing help or job search advice check back again to; “Connectthedotblog”
In your last interview were you asked any of the following questions?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Tell me about the worst supervisor you ever had?
- Why do you want to leave your current position?
- Tell me about the most challenging co-worker you’ve ever delt with?
- Have you ever delt with a difficult customer, what did you do and what was the result?
Do you know why hiring managers ask these questions? Well let me tell you. They want to see if you are a positive or negative person. Yes it really is that simple, and yes we ask those questions on purpose. We know if you are going to talk bad about a previous, supervisor, co-worker or company; you’ll talk bad about us as well. If you speak about yourself in negative terms, it’ likely you’ll do the same about the people around you.
These questions, for the most part, are not about finding out if you had a bad boss or co-worker so we can find out how to manage you better. These are questions designed to see how you will communicate with and about the organization you desire to join. These are questions designed to see if you are going to be a positive or negative force with our organizational culture.
So to answer your question, yes they are trick questions; however they are not tricky to answer in a way that will make you shine.
- When asked about your weaknesses, your response should be about your greatest areas of opportunity. After all a weakness is just an area in our life we have not developed as fully as we would like. It’s not a weakness, is an opportunity for us to grow in areas we are not as strong.
- When asked about your worst supervisor/boss or co-worker or customer; again you need to reframe the answer. You haven’t had bad anything; you may have had challenges with communication, direction or understanding but in each case you were able to overcome these challenges to create a satisfactory work environment or experience.
It’s not rocket science! It does however, take practice. Reframing comments to maintain a positive style of communication is a skill that must be honed. Hiring managers will continually throw questions at you to coax you into a feigned level of comfort to get you to provide them with a negative response. Don’t fall for it! Organizations are drowning with applicants and they are looking for reasons to disqualify candidates and get down to the gems. This is one of the ways they will accomplish their goal.
If you want to stand out; be smart, thoughtful, professional, and always, positive. I can’t stress this enough! Hiring managers want to bring productive, professional and positive individuals to their organization. It’s up to you to show them you are the best choice.
For more interviewing tips, resume writing help or job search advice check back again to; “Connectthedotblog”
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”
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.
You’re in the perfect well thought out ensemble. You’re groomed, ironed, smiling and confident…but how do you smell? Seems like a silly question but let me pose this to you?
- Drink coffee or soda prior to your interview?
- Light up to ease your nerves?
- Sprayed perfume or cologne?
- Used a ton of hairspray?
- Have you brushed your teeth?
- Applied deodorant?
- What do your shoes smell like?
- Are you a gum chewer?
- Are you a mint chomper?
- Did you have you a drinking binge last night?
All of these can affect your interview.
Did you know that smell is one of the strongest senses and one of the easiest to cause discomfort?
Have you ever walked up to shake someone’s hand and their breath made you want to take a step back? Have you walked by someone you know was just smoking because the cloud followed them into the building? Did you go out to celebrate the night before your interview? You know that the smell of alcohol can exude from your pores for up to 12-hours after you finished drinking, right?
It may seem obvious; in reality it is obviously overlooked.
My husband was in the process of hiring a new student worker. He had met with several candidates and was on his final interview walking in the door when he experienced an extremely offensive smell. Now before you get carried away, he has one smell aversion and that is watermelon. I can’t even have the stuff in the house, unfortunate for me because I love it. The student walking in the door had just been chewing on a piece of watermelon gum and had disposed of it before she came in. However, the smell was so strong that he couldn’t even make it through the interview. He asked all the required questions, thanked her for her time and sent her on her way. Did she get the job, no, was that fair, maybe not. However, this speaks exactly to what we’ve been talking about. You need to present a clean, neat, professional slate that an employer can see in the job. My husband just saw watermelon pink and green coming in the door with that smell every day. It wasn’t going to happen.
Before you leave your house make a check list.
- Did I brush my teeth (after the coffee)?
- Did I apply deodorant?
- Don’t apply cologne or perfume.
- Don’t smoke before your interview!
- Don’t chew strong smelling gum or candy.
- Don’t party the night before; your cosmo will come seeping through your pores.
You never know who you are going to interview with, what preconceptions, hang ups and prejudices they are bringing to the table. Your best chance is to come in as a neutral palate they feel they can write on. Check yourself, and be yourself…the very best version of yourself.
Check back on Wednesday, August 14 to hear more about how sound can affect your interview.
How much time do you spend getting ready for an interview? When I ask my students this question, the normal answer is a tirade upon how long it took for them to pick out an outfit (the winner thus far is two weeks), picking the right hair style and make up, and coordinating shoes and lip gloss. For my male students, it’s the Shakespearian, “To iron or not to iron” conundrum.
What many people fail to realize is that an interview, believe it or not, is a smorgasbord of sensory experiences. The interview encompasses all of your senses and after taking a minute to review them, you may be surprised how missing just one can cost you the job.
This is the first part of a series regarding the five senses of an interview.
Let’s take these one at a time…
Sight – This, of course, is the most obvious; it takes into consideration… your clothes, shoes, jewelry, make up, hair, etc. It also takes into consideration your walk, your smile, your cell phone, your watch, eye contact, etc. One of the things that novice and professional job candidates alike fail to recognize is that sight encompasses ALOT!
- Are you talking on your cell phone when you walk in the door? BAD
- Do you keep checking your cell phone or watch? BAD
- Are you standing up straight and presenting a professional confident demeanor? GOOD
- Do you look people in the eye when you introduce yourself and shake their hand? GOOD
- When you are sitting waiting for the interview to begin, are you sitting up straight? GOOD
When I’m working with students to hone in on their soft skills, especially their interview skills, I tell them the purpose of the interview is to make sure that the hiring manager can actually visualize them doing the job. You never know what kind of prejudices the employer may have, so you want to present a clean, professional slate that they can see fitting into their culture. If you have tattoos, facial piercings, stiletto heels, low cut tops, high cut skirts, wrinkled clothes, and messy hair…what does that say about you and the image their organization is trying to present? Yes you may look great, for Friday night, but not for Monday morning.
Remember to think of the job you want and dress for it: not too much, not too little, but just right. Give yourself the best foot forward to get the job, and then let YOU shine through. An interview is not the time to make a social political statement; it’s the time to show the employer you are the best fit in skills, culture, and professionalism.
- When in doubt, look in the mirror. If you think your skirt may be too short or your top too low…it probably is. Change it.
- If you’re wondering, “Iron or not to iron,” throw it in the dryer till it’s flat.
- Is your make up Friday night fresh or Monday morning professional? Fix it.
- Can you hear your shoes or jewelry coming down the hall? Change them.
- If you are expecting a call that’s so important you have to take your cell in with you…Reschedule the interview.
- Take a look in the mirror, and ask one simple question: “Would I hire me?”
Take a deep breath, walk into the office, smile, introduce yourself with confidence, look them in the eye, and let them know you are the best person for the job.
Check back on Tuesday, August 13th where I’ll discuss how it’s not your nose but theirs that matters.
Believe it or not my friends, the days of your degree or the mere mention of your Ivy League education landing you a job are over or at the very least in extreme jeopardy. Stanford, Columbia, Harvard, and many more of the Elite Tier 1 schools have been announcing the expansion (and at some creation) of their Career Services centers. “Why?” you ask. Because employers are becoming less and less concerned about where you went to school, your GPA, or how you landed the most sought after internship. They are concerned with how you will perform in the career they have to offer; are you dedicated, determined, and innovative? Do you have integrity and reliability? How have you performed in your past positions, and how likely are you to be successful in your future endeavors, lending your personal skills to add value to their organization? Those questions can rarely be accurately described on your resume.
I know it may sound corny, but “times they are a changing;” the days of no muss, no fuss job searching are quickly coming to a close, and those individuals who don’t have the skill set to master an interview, regardless of education, background, and work history, are going to be left in the cold.
Recently, while meeting with a group of employers regarding our graduate performance, one of the employers made the comment, “Technical skills may get graduates hired, but a lack of soft skills will get them fired.”
The purpose of an interview isn’t to reiterate the information on your resume (although some of that may happen for the purposes of clarification); it is to uncover the real YOU and to discover if that YOU is going to be a good match for the position, department, and organization.
Why do you need to interview? Because your education does not entitle you to a job! Employers are looking for candidates who want to work, bring all their cards to the table, and add value to their organization. They are not looking for a faceless name with a long list of accomplishments. You need to bring the whole package to the table, and an interview is the only way (for now) to showcase what and who you really are.
For more information on interviewing and resume skills check out A Better Interview