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Brilliant but Plagued By Insecurities (Is That You?)

“Success in your career transition or job search requires work, practice, commitment, and the ability to get back up, brush yourself off, and move forward having learned from your setbacks.” ~Career Coach Daisy Wright

As I reviewed her resume, I thought of how brilliant she sounded on paper, and when we spoke, it was confirmed. She is indeed a brilliant woman, ready to take her career to the next level, but something was holding her back; she was plagued by insecurities.

Mara reached out to me from British Columbia several weeks ago asking for help to “ace her next interview for a position with the government.” She wanted to transition from a manager to a project management role in Health IT. She said she didn’t have a problem getting interviews, but was not getting offers. “I am plagued with insecurities”, she said.

Mara’s story is not unique. Insecurity sometimes hits when we are facing a career change, speaking up in meetings, or even broaching the subject of a promotion. Many people, like Mara, struggle with interviews. They get pre-interview jitters, sweaty palms and ice cream headaches, better known as brain freezes. Some worry that they might not measure up to their competitors. Others are unable to tell authentic and convincing stories to sway the interviewer.

I explained to Mara that our interactions would involve more than reviewing interview questions. We would begin by first acknowledging that none of us knew exactly what questions were going to be asked, and we won’t attempt to read the interviewer’s mind. When I threw out a couple of test questions to her, I realized she was barely skimming the surface; giving hollow answers instead of diving deep to uncover the value she was creating (and had created) for her employers.

For homework she was asked to conduct a thorough review of the job posting – Job Overview, Accountabalities, Job Requirements and KSA’s (Knowledge, Skills & Abilities). She was to review the competencies associated with the role, as well as go over some sample questions. In reflecting on her experiences, she was to recall success and failure stories. After all, interviewers want to know about some of those projects that didn’t turn out as planned, and what lessons were learned.

After some gruelling conversations and exercises, Mara went for the interview. She was excited when she called. We did a debrief, and I advised her to follow up immediately with a Thank-you note. It was not going to be the standard “Thanks for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon”, but one that would include something significant she learned during the interview. She was to reiterate how she could solve the problem, or what contributions she could make. Her next contact from the interviewer was to ask “When can you start?”

When I work with clients – whether it’s through a career transition, developing job search marketing documents, or interviewing with confidence – I employ a ‘strategy tree’ approach (made popular by Anthony Tjan, CEO of Cue Ball), which addresses: Why (Purpose), What (Value Proposition), Who (Target Company) and How (How to win). A client once remarked that the process felt like a SWOT Analysis: identifying internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats, and it is, because we want to cover as many bases as possible.

A colleague and I were speaking this week and we talked about the coaching that’s involved in the work that we do. Some people believe they are hiring us on a transactional basis, to develop a resume, cover letter, LinkedIn Profile, but it goes way beyond that.

Below is a un-edited letter from Mara detailing what it was like working with me:

“I came to the Wright Career Solution as someone who would get an interview, but not get a job offer. I wondered what was it that I was doing to get so close yet still so far? Why weren’t employers committing to my vision of the role? So, I contacted Daisy through her website, and she got back to me very quickly.

We had a few weeks to get prepared for my interview and true to her word she asked me the questions I had thought I had asked myself enough times. Somehow, she got me to dive deep into the reasons why I was not getting the job offer. I realized through working with Daisy that I have never been well prepared for an interview and I was just finding this out now!!

She coached my language use, how to market myself, how to look at a job description and dissect it to its tiniest parts and build it back together to a riveting story that captivates the audience of my hiring committee.

Thank you Daisy! The Wright Career Solution got my career in the right direction! Everyone should invest in a career coach.

Mara!”

She and I will be working together during her onboarding process to ensure her new move goes smoothly.

While not every client is a ‘Mara’, the reality is that it is not easy to deal with rejections, especially after a number of interviews and not one job offer. It is not easy to focus when the promotion you had in mind did not materialize. And, sometimes it is even more difficult to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel when you are in the doldrums, and conversations become littered with self-limiting declarations such as, “What’s wrong with me…?… It’s probably because of my age… I will never… I should have…”.

In moments like these you need a coach, or someone you trust who can help you through a mindset change, where possibilities exist; where you can jump over barriers and bounce back even when things didn’t go as planned.

If you are ready, willing and able to persevere even when the going gets rough, connect with me for an initial conversation.

PS: In the midst of writing this article, another client – a Professional Engineer – sent this email:

 

Review of No Canadian Experience, Eh? by Brock University’s Career Services

See on Scoop.itFreelance Writing On Careers & Resumes

It’s tough enough for Canadians to get hired with relevant experience in their field, let for those who do not. These people end up stretching out their achievement statements in order to prove how their skills qualify them. It’s a difficult process. Now imagine the difficulty for a person who might have little to no experience, or even some excellent and relateable experience, but not in the country which they’re applying? This is a common occurrence for International Students and Immigrants, who come to Canada seeking better education or work, but without Canadian experience they end up feeling lost.

… She provides specific suggestions for how to deal with resume writing, filling in gaps and structuring all experiences, as well as how to market yourself and prepare for the interview.

See full review on www.brockcareerservices.com

 

Monday Rx: Thank a Co-Worker Today!

This coming Thursday, November 24, is the US Thanksgiving, and the Black Friday TV ads are already reaching me from across the border. After all, I am just a mere 90 minutes away from Buffalo. But, because of the prevalence of these ads, a debate has begun between my brain and my pocket. Should I head across the border on Friday? Right now, I don’t know which one will win the debate by the end of the week.

OK, so what does this have to do with my topic? Well, it’s so easy to get wrapped up into the commercial aspect of the Holiday; so much that we forget the real reason for the season. It’s all about gratitude – being thankful for what we have; being appreciative for family, friends and coworkers, and being open to share.  And talking about coworkers, when last have you thanked one of them for ‘just being there’?

According to Jon Gordon, author of the Energy Bus, “the number one reason why people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated. A simple thank you and a show of appreciation could make all the difference.”  Can you imagine that a simple ‘thank you’ could determine whether a co-worker stays or leaves? Yes, two small, but very powerful words could make a difference.

Wherever you are today, whether or not you are celebrating the official US Thanksgiving, find a co-worker and tell him or her how much you appreciate them. It could make their day, and yours too!

To your success,

 

 

 

PS: Every Monday, I take off my career coaching and resume writing hat and write a ‘Monday Rx’ post to stave off the Monday blues from which some of us suffer. Why not add your email address in the box on the top right of this page to receive each post? And, while you are at it, ask a friend or coworker to add their email address as well. I appreciate that. Thank You!

 

Case Study: Interview Coaching Nets Client $20,000 Pay Increase

The above title reads like a headline from your local newspaper, but this is a classic story of what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

Rick is an IT Project Manager, and has been my client for the past three years. He reconnected with me recently for interview coaching as he was pursuing an opportunity through a recruiter. He met with the recruiter and got a clear idea of the challenges his target company was facing. Using that information he developed a strategic plan, prepared a PowerPoint presentation highlighting the challenges and offering solutions, and sent it to the recruiter for review. The recruiter was so impressed with his approach that he asked all shortlisted candidates to prepare a presentation.

By the time Rick came to me for coaching, he had updated the presentation to include matrices and charts, and was confident he knew what the company needed and the value he could offer them. I reviewed the presentation with him, then we focussed on interview questions he would most likely be asked. To cover all bases, we reviewed other questions that could come up based on the problems he identified and the environment in which he was going to work. He left feeling very confident.

At the interview, all eyes were focused on him and the presentation. When the interview ended he was told that he would hear from them by Friday. In less than two hours, and before he got back to his office, they called to offer him the position. Not only did he get the job, but it came with a $20,000 pay increase and an excellent benefit package.

Here are some things that Rick did right:

  • He took his job search very seriously instead of leaving it up to luck.
  • He did not wait until a day or two before his interview to seek coaching. Too many people go to the interview ill-prepared and with high expectation that something miraculous will happen.
  • He researched  the company, found out what problems they faced and offered strategies for solution.
  • He separated himself from his competitors by going the extra mile. He capitalized on his strength and, in so doing, raised the bar by which the other candidates were measured.
  • His expertise and enthusiasm shone during the coaching session and because of that we were confident he would do well at the interview.

Rick’s case is not unusual. More and more hiring managers are asking candidates, particularly those at the managerial and executive levels, to prepare to deliver a 10-15 minute presentation. Rick was not asked to do one, but it gave him an edge, and to a large extent, allowed him to set the agenda and control the interview.

I have coached many individuals to do what Rick did.  In one case, it was a corporate lawyer who wanted to apply for an internal position as Corporate Responsibility Officer. A presentation was not a requirement but I suggested she prepared one anyway, as she was competing with three other internal candidates. From her assessment, they appeared to have had the edge, including one who was with the company for 22 years and was acting in the position. The research that she did and the strategy we developed helped her to ace the interview and get the job!

As competition increases, job seekers are being pushed to find creative ways to stand out from the crowd. Not everyone will have the successes mentioned above; not everyone will be vying for positions at those levels, but if you are serious about moving your career forward, it requires an investment of your time.

Some people spend more time planning their vacation than they do their job search, and from my experience, it’s easy to spot these individuals. They call in a panic the day before the interview to ask “Do you guys do interview coaching, and can you see me this weekend?” or they leave a message wanting to know the fee for a ‘general’ or ‘generic’ resume so they can apply for a job that has a deadline the next day. This quick fix, microwave approach won’t work, and that’s the reason some people’s job search go wrong. Don’t let this happen to you.

10 Tips to Consider in Moving Your Career Forward

Fall is here, and it’s time for a new beginning. You could be starting a job search after a layoff; starting a course to enhance your chances for a promotion, or even starting a business. You are at a crossroad, and it’s decision time. You are asking yourself, “Where do I go  from here and what route should I take?” Before you make a decision, reflect on the following tips. They could  help you move your career forward…one step at a time:

  1. Revisit your core values. What is important to you in a job or career other than the pay cheque? What do you enjoy doing? What work or vocation you could easily do for free?
  2. Establish your preferences. Do you like working within a group or alone? Does the idea of sitting behind a desk appeal to you, or would you prefer a job working outdoors?
  3. Research companies that share your values. Is the company eco-friendly or family-friendly, and are those values important to you?
  4. Be Prepared for lateral moves in your company. Climbing the corporate ladder does not necessarily mean moving up immediately. It could mean going sideways sometimes.
  5. Expand your knowledge base. Become more literate by formal or informal means. It’s easier than ever these days for you to enroll in courses, attend seminars, read inspiring books and contribute to discussions that will educate and inform. Take advantage of your employer’s tuition reimbursement program if they still have one.
  6. Commit to your job 110%. Mediocre performance breeds mediocre results. If you cannot commit to your job, it might be time to start looking for another job or change your career. If you are underperforming, it will be noticed and when it’s time to reduce headcount, the employer will look first in your direction.
  7. Retool your skills. Find opportunities to update your skills or learn new ones. In an ever-evolging workplace, you will need to demonstrate that you are comfortable with the latest technology and that you are willing to take risks and experiment with new things.
  8. Brush up on your job search skills. Even if you are not thinking of leaving your employer, you should brush up on your skills. When last have you done an interview? Are you familiar with current interview practices? If called on to interview for your current position, how confident are you that you would get your job back? What about your résumé? Is it current and does it have a list of your achievements?
  9. Avoid your comfort zone when networking. According to Martin Zwilling of Start Up Booster, if you want to be successful at networking, you must first identify your “comfort zone” (the circle of people you are most comfortable interacting with), then avoid spending too much time with that group.
  10. Make it a habit of tapping into and nurturing your network. Once you have your network going, make the relationship memorable. What information can you share with people in your network? Have you read an article or found a website that could benefit someone in your group? Networking is not a one-shot event and must be constantly nurtured. That’s how you’ll be memorable and kept on someone’s radar for the next opportunity.

With these 10 tips, you are ready to take charge and move your career forward! If you would like professional assistance in any aspect of your career, find an experienced career strategist who has walked in your shoe!_

____________________

Daisy Wright is Chief Career Strategist at The Wright Career Solution, a Certified Career Management Coach and author of No Canadian Experience, Eh? A Career Survival Guide for New Immigrants. She can be reached via Email: daisy@thewrightcareer.com, Blog: www.daisywright.com, Websites: www.thewrightcareer.com  and www.nocanadianexperience-eh.com.

How To Secure Your Dream Job

“The most important thing is that you must understand the company you are approaching. Then show them you can marry the organisation with your personal qualities.

“Most companies don’t care about anything except how the interviewee is going to improve the company itself. So tell them: Sell yourself as a package; present yourself as a business proposition. You are delivering a set of expectations related to your education, upbringing, attitude – your brand.

When you are looking for a job, you’re searching for an avenue to show The Ultimate You. Your main selling point should be to show how you will help the organisation reach its goals, while you are reaching your own.

“Also important is how you present yourself. Your appearance must mirror the image of the organisation. Reflect how the head of the organisation presents himself or herself. The CEO is the embodiment of its brand, and you cannot go wrong projecting a similarity. It doesn’t mean you must spend the kind of money that they do on clothing – it is more about attitude and capturing their brand.”

thebe ikalafeng
Brand expert and author

A Personal Branding Summit – November 8, 2007

The concept of personal branding has become popular enough that there will be a “Personal Branding Summit,” to be held on Thursday, November 8, 2007.

If you are in the hunt for a new job, or looking to advance your current career, personal branding is one of the best ways to secure a favorable impression from hiring managers or current bosses. Visit http://www.personalbrandingsummit.com/program-schedule.html and register to ‘attend’ the summit. Even if you can’t participate, register and the audio link will be sent to you.

Daisy Wright Recognized as ‘Outstanding Canadian Career Leader’

At the recently held conference of Career Professionals of Canada, I was awarded the prestigious award “Outstanding Canadian Career Leader”. Executive Director of the association, Sharon Graham said,

“Daisy Wright was nominated and awarded the prestigious Outstanding Canadian Career Leader Award for two very important reasons: She has proactively contributed to establishing Canadian résumé writing as a viable leader in a largely dominated US market. She has also significantly influenced the Canadian marketplace through numerous high-profile volunteer activities. Her supporting material outlined multiple significant achievements in 2006.”

The Wright Career Solution
http://www.thewrightcareer.com/