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Kick Ageism to the Curb…Your Career Isn’t Over!

A day before presenting on Ageism to a group of mostly baby boomers, I asked my LinkedIn community if they could provide some tips on the topic that I could add to my own resource kit to share with the group. The ‘ask’ was for ONE tip from each person.”  The community’s response was overwhelming!

In appreciation for their generosity, I decided to curate the content (mostly verbatim), and make it available to contributors and other interested parties. The information and contributors are not listed in any particular order.

It’s important to note that, while ageism is a two-way street where younger workers also face discrimination, this particular discussion relates to older workers and the challenges they face in the workplace.

Click on the link below to download your copy:

Kick Ageism to the Curb-Your Career Isn’t Over_Crowd-sourced Resource

Keep adding to the job search debate about ageism in the workplace.

 

If You Want Growth, Help Others GROW!

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

If you want growth, help others grow.” ~Tony Abbacchi

Do you remember January 1st, 2010? It seems like so long ago, but I remember it was my first foray into group coaching when I launched a six-week coaching program for  women.

What began with ten women ended with five. After the six weeks, I remember feeling very disappointed and asking myself what could I have done differently to keep the five who did not follow through. I hadn’t yet learned what coaching was about. I thought it meant shouldering the responsibility for the those five women, and if I didn’t and they failed, I was to be blamed. I remember talking it through with my own coach and she said, “You can take the horse to the water, but you can’t force it to drink!” Lesson learned!

That self-reflection and self-blame nearly caused me to miss the growth of the other five. What did they do differently? They stuck it out and did the work.

Of the five who dropped out, three are still struggling today, 10 years later. The point is not to call them out (because I would not), but to ask the “What if?” question.

“Dare to dream, but even more importantly, dare to put action behind your dreams.” ~Josh Hinds

Over the past ten years, I haven’t strayed from my mission of supporting women. While I began by engaging in many “under-the-radar” activities with through mentoring and pro bono coaching, in the latter years, the engagement became more public and group-oriented.

“Incremental progress keeps us engaged and helps us grow.”

The start of this particular decade – 2020 – is rare and special. Rare, because it’s the only time we will be able to say we have perfect, 20/20 vision, and claim that “we can see clearly now”. Special, because it’s ‘Double 20’, an opportunity to receive a double dose of whatever we are dreaming of, or aspiring towards – if we persist.

Are you ready to seize the opportunity? Are you ready to GROW?

My vision for 2020 is all about  – Transformation and GROWth. Through my Let’s GROW project, I have committed to helping 20 women grow in 2020. This is specifically for the individuals who are participants in my Sip, Paint & GROW project on January 11, 2020, International Vision Board Day.

We will also be tapping into the growth vs fixed mindset idea advocated by Dr. Carol Dweck in her book, MINDSET: The New Psychology of Success.

Here’s a quick overview of the program, which comes into effect after the January 11th Let’s GROW event. I will be:

  • Facilitating coaching conversations through a private Facebook group for one full year, literally for FREE!* There are restrictions. See below.
  • Putting together a generous and motivated group of women committed to building give and take relationships** to advance their own careers, and by default, advancing the careers of others. It will not only be taking, but giving back and helping others (e.g. giving of their time, sharing their resources and network, and making connections).
  • Writing a book to chronicle stories worth sharing:  personal stories, or our dreams and aspirations. While it’s not mandatory, this book opportunity is restricted to any attendee from this 2020 cohort, if they choose. If you are an original member of the Let’s GROW group, and you wish to be a contributor to the book, please contact me.

My overall goal for the Group is for all of us to “contribute wherever we can without keeping score.” (Dr. Adam Grant), and help someone else GROW!

CAVEAT:

  • These coaching conversations* are limited and separate and apart from my regular services. For e.g., if you have a question around interviews or need clarity on an issue, you can ask me, but it’s not a substitute for interview coaching or other services.
  • Other than me, no participant / member is expected to offer FREE coaching services. That would be asking too much of them. However, as part of building a giving and taking relationship, they are asked to offer and receive what I call “Five Minute Favours”. After all, we are building a community.

As Tony Abbacchi says “When you give with expectations, not only will your reputation suffer but so will your mindset.”

** The Give and Take and “Five Minute Favours” concepts come from Dr. Adam Grant’s book Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Success.

As you begin 2020, here are six questions to ask yourself:

  1. Am I happier now than ten years ago?
  2. What have I done?
  3. What have I learned?
  4. Who have I become?
  5. Am I where I want to be?
  6. Where do I see myself a decade from now?

Are you ready to seize the opportunity? Are you ready to GROW? Contact me now, or engage the services of a coach who can guide you, but please, do something!

To your success!

Case Study: How Coaching Works

(It’s heartwarming when a client can write his own case study showcasing our work together. In negotiating his benefit package, he ended up with a $22,000 salary increase. This is the client referenced in parts of this blog post – Ask for What You Are Worth).

This client was referred to me by a former client. He was preparing to leave one level of government to another.

After we had finished our coaching work together, he volunteered to give me a testimonial. I asked if he could reflect on what it was like working with me, and then send it in his own words.

Here’s what I received. Instead of re-writing it, I have kept it in point form to maintain its originality:

Before Application:

  • I reached out to Daisy this past July for some interview and resume help
  • She responded promptly regarding how the process worked
  • I sent her my resume and job posting as reference
  • She prepared some introductory questions for me to review
  • We set up time for a quick conversation on the phone regarding her services and the potential role

During our initial call, we:

  • Reviewed my resume at a high level
  • Reviewed the job posting in detail
  • Daisy recommended some options to best tailor my resume to the job posting in order to increase the probability of being selected
  • We decided to reconnect if I was invited to an interview

Before Interview:

  • A little over a month after I applied for the role, I was invited for the first round of interviews
  • To prepare for the interview, I reached out to Daisy for some coaching sessions
  • She sent me sample behavioural questions to review. Many of these questions were based on the job posting

 Session 1 (telephone conversation)

  • We identified my challenges and obstacles, and reviewed potential options to overcome them
  • We discussed some approaches to answering key behavioural questions
  • I read a few of my responses to Daisy, and she would suggest ways to improve delivery and timing
  • We strategized on key language and tone to use/emphasize in my responses, significant story lines based on my experience that linked to the job posting
  • Before wrapping up the call, we put a plan in place to prepare for the mock interview in Session 2 which was to take place the night before the first interview

Session 2 (Mock Interview)

  • Began the coaching session with generic questions, practiced responses, tweaked delivery with emphasis on being both concise and informative
  • Reviewed situational/behavioral and scenario-based questions and how best to pivot and address follow up questions
  • Discussed the appropriate length of responses to key questions

Morning of the First Interview:

  • I received a quick pep talk from Daisy on key speaking points and reassurance that I was ready “tell my stories”.

Before Second Interview

  • I was invited to the second round of interviews
  • Daisy provided some additional guidance for the second interview including discussing:
    • General fit for the role
    • Experience dealing with key stakeholders
    • Consensus building

Received Job Offer

Before formally accepting the offer, we discussed negotiation strategies:

  • How to make a case for more money. (I was a bit worried that if I raised the money issue, the offer could be withdrawn. Daisy assured me, as long as I wasn’t being unreasonable, I didn’t have to worry about anything).
  • We discussed benefits and options to include in the offer.
  • I went into the negotiation conversation feeling more confident. The deal was sealed.

Verdict – What it was like working with Daisy:

Daisy is a consummate professional who knows her stuff. She is easy to talk to, patient and honest. I would recommend her in any, and every professional development scenario. For me, she was the difference.

My own words:

Coaching works. It’s a collaboration. The client is the expert, and the coach offers support and guidance to help the client affirm confidently what they already know.

Your Breakthrough Might Just Be Around the Corner

Photo credit: Pixabay

Right now, you may be feeling discouraged for a number of reasons. You may have done more than your fair share of interviews without getting a job offer. Yikes!

You may have put all your effort into a project; it failed, and your expected promotion didn’t happen, or

You tried every networking strategy you were advised to use, and nothing happened!

You are now thinking “I have reached the end of my tether, and it’s time to give up.” My question would be “Give up, then what?”

Pixabay

June has been a breakthrough month for three women I have been working with. Their stories are different, but they had one thing in common: giving up was not an option.

Their names have been changed for confidentiality reasons:

[Sarah] contacted me several months ago. I have chosen to use a significant portion of her email to demonstrate the relentless way she was going about her search and the strategies she had been using:

  • In about a year, I’ve sent close to 150 resumes, very targeted in most cases. At some point I was applying to a lot of HR jobs but in the last 6 months I’ve been applying to only jobs that I want to do, and researching the companies before applying. 
  • Had approx. 90 phone interviews, 40-45 in-person interviews (1st round), 20 interviews in 2nd/3rd round, and in 5 cases I got to the final round.
  • I do reflect on what went well and not so well in all interviews, take notes, and prepare for other chances. Nevertheless I do welcome any new advice in this area.
  • I follow up when not selected, request feedback, try to reach out later to build a relationship… no luck with that. 
  • I’ve been trying to reach senior people at companies I want to work for, just to have informational interviews.  I send personalized requests, write to them, and follow up twice… not much luck. 
  • I’ve asked most people in my network to introduce me to potential hiring managers, and tell me about jobs in my chosen field. 
  • I also volunteer a lot, I’m super active on LinkedIn

So it’s not that I’m sitting passively and waiting for the phone to ring!  There must be something I could be doing differently….  some interview practice for manager-and-above roles would be beneficial too.”

You are probably thinking that you would’ve given up by this.

Sarah is highly qualified, with an MBA, PMP, and HR (CHRP), certifications. I concluded from her email that she was doing everything right, but I was puzzled by the lack of job offers.

In our conversation, I commended her for her tenacity, a trait that not many people have. She reiterated what was in the email, and I asked her if she had done any assessments. I wanted to get a holistic view at her situation. She said she had just completed a 360o Feedback at work, and it didn’t unearth anything she didn’t know about herself.

During the session, I quickly realized she had some great accomplishment stories. Her homework was to recall some of the questions she was asked and come back with several stories. We arranged to have another conversation a couple of weeks afterwards, to review her homework. After listening to some of her answers, I encouraged her to add more depth to the stories, and allow them to flow naturally.

She continued to get interviews. At one point, when I asked if she had followed up with one particular company, she responded in an email, “I suppose I should have followed up again with the hiring manager but with the discouragement of the rejection I didn’t have the energy to do so.”

I totally understood how she felt. However, weeks later an email arrived with the Subject Line: Good news! The message said, “I have great news to share with you – I got a new job!!!  I am starting June 17th. I’m super excited about it!!!!

She followed up with a Thank-you card:

I gushed with humility, but my role in this was small, compared to her relentless nature. I gained strength from her tenacity.

*********

[Marissa] had been planning to make a career move for months. This is another highly-qualified lady, with two Masters, and a law degree (LLB).

She was being very strategic in her approach; arranging informational interviews and attending formal interviews.

At the end of May, she received a job offer from one of the institutions she had on her target list, but the salary did not meet her expectation. It was even below what she was getting at the time. Opportunities abound with this new organization, but a salary cut would defeat her main purpose for wanting a new job. She struggled with the decision.

We strategized on the best approach, using a T-Chart to weigh the pros and cons. She had already done a lot of the work. After our conversation, I followed up with this message:

“See if you can negotiate even the same salary you are getting now. Employers expect you to negotiate. You can give them a range and make sure your current figure is at the bottom of the range, even though it’s a unionized environment. If that doesn’t work negotiate for other things. You are bringing value!” 

By the time we had our next conversation, she had decided to make a counter offer, and was willing to walk away if they didn’t accept it. Tadaa! She was offered a salary that fell within mid-range of the scale, and her request to take her vacation in August, as she had originally planned, was accepted. She started her new job on June 26, 2019.

*********

[Kaitlin] has been a long time client, and, like many of my clients, we have become friends. I have also worked with her husband. Kaitlin has had her ups and downs with her job search. One of her main concerns was ageism. She is in her sixties, and always wondered how she could compete with younger job seekers, notwithstanding she is university-educated.

On June 12, 2019, she sent an email with the Subject Line “I got a job!” Her message said:

“Hi Daisy, my dear friend who has been such a humble supporter and ‘way show-er’ all these long years while I struggled to get back out into the world!

I received an offer of employment from X company today.  I am thrilled!!

I knew someone who worked there. They put in a good word for me so even in my sixties, I got a JOB!! So grateful!”

Age is a number. Focus on what you will bring to the table, and not how old you are.

Photo credit: Unsplash

What kept these women going? They knew that, although their paths had many a winding turn, they could not give up. Instead, when they needed clarity and encouragement, they reached out to me, and others. It also helped that two of these ladies were attendees at some, or all of my annual career workshops, including this year’s Why Not Me event.

It is said that “Success is a ladder you cannot climb with your hands in your pocket”. This is true. To get to where you want to go you need to continue to work at it, even though it takes guts and perseverance. It also helps to have someone with whom you can talk; a sounding board, who will not only nudge and guide you, but will listen, help you see things from a different perspective, and more importantly, who will tell you the truth. You don’t need anyone who will sugar-coat the truth to make you feel comfortable.

Yes, there are times when discouragement and rejection will surface, and you feel like giving up. But look, whether you’ve been searching for months or years, or whether you’ve failed umpteenth times, my advice to you is to hold on. You have what it takes to get what you want. If you can’t do it alone, seek help, but don’t give up. Your breakthrough may just be around the corner.

Do you have a breakthrough story of your own, or do you need help in clarifying your path? Reach out to me. I am only a phone call or email away.

Why Microwave Interview Preparation Does not Work

On May 4th I received the following email:

“My wife is looking for some coaching on job interviews.  She has had a few recently, but no offers came about.  She is actively looking, and has another phone interview set up very soon.  I would like to know if you have some availability this weekend (May 5-6).” 

On May 10th I received this one:

“I have an upcoming interview next Monday the 14th for a Presales role, and the Interviewing preparation that you provide seems interesting.

I would like for it to take place in the next 3 days, ideally on the 11th or 12th of May. Are you available?”

I have highlighted these messages not because I want to point fingers, but to call attention to a common occurrence, and the casual manner in which some people treat their job search. And, it’s not only about interviews. Last Thursday, a man called to say he was laid off two weeks ago after 14 years at the same job, and he wanted his resume updated. He then asked if he could drop by to get it done as he would be passing my way soon.

In all the above cases, the individuals either believe I am available anytime, including weekends, or that I can easily update a resume for someone who hasn’t searched for a job in 14 years.

We live in a microwave society where we expect quick results in everything we do. Sometimes, this microwave mentality shows up in the job search, particularly when it comes to interviews. Some job seekers believe that pressing the ‘Quick Minute’ interview button is enough to adequately prepare for the interview. My advice is, if you really want to ace the interview, you should not wait until the last minute to seek help. In fact, once you are in job search mode, at minimum, you should be:

  • Researching your target companies
  • Creating a professional resume
  • Contacting your references, and,
  • Preparing for the interview

The fourth part of the above plan is what this post is about. Some people treat interview preparation as an afterthought; they don’t seek help until they are called for the interview. But, the approach that works best is to think that the interview begins once you have submitted your resume. What if you are the sought after candidate, and the hiring manager just happens to see your resume? You could be contacted immediately. While some companies give a week or two advanced notice, others want to interview you as soon as possible, so don’t be caught off guard.

To be fair, a good number of clients contact me at least five business days before their interview because they don’t want to ‘wing’ it.

Last week, for example, I coached a film producer who reached out to me weeks ago before he had the interview arranged. Another client, a recreation manager, sought interview help even before the job was advertised. She knew it was coming, got her resume ready and wanted to get a head start on the interview. These two individuals know what’s at stake, and don’t want to leave it up to chance.

My aim with clients is to have them well-prepared and confident before they go for the interview, not unprepared and jittery. It is better that they are prepared for an interview opportunity and not have one, than to have an interview opportunity and not be prepared.

When it comes to the job search, and interviews in particular, there is no microwave solution. The slow-cooker method is the preferred way.

Do you find interviews challenging? Don’t wait for the last minute. Contact me for assistance.

 

How to Quickly Give Your Job Search a Boost

What did you spend the last week doing with your job search? Were you:

  • Hiding behind a computer uploading resume after resume to any company that advertised a vacancy?
  • Applying to every job, whether or not you were qualified for it?
  • Sending the same resume to all the positions?

If you were engaged in any of the above, you were taking the path of least resistance. Roll up your job search sleeves and get back to the basics with the following tips:

  1. Network to get work. Many job candidates believe that networking doesn’t work. It does, but it is a long term strategy that involves work and time. One of my LinkedIn contacts, Brigette Hyacinth wrote that “Networking is the only way to bypass the bias filters (Overqualified, Employment Gap) in automated systems. Talk to 100 people in your network rather than apply for 100 jobs via job boards. The door won’t open automatically, you will have to PUSH your way in!” Start your networking today!
  2. Toot your horn. Speak up about your accomplishments and the stellar results you have achieved. There is no better time to toot your horn and claim your successes than during the job search.
  3. Prove you know what you want to be hired for before submitting your resume. Don’t leave the hiring manager guessing which position you are applying for. Dissect the job posting and make sure you understand and fit the requirements.
  4. Give your resume a ‘once-over’ before hitting SEND. Review your resume to ensure the top third, referred to as Prime Real Estate, gives a synopsis of your measurable achievements. If the most important and relevant information are not featured in that space, it may miss the hiring manager’s attention.
  5. Tell stories to get hired. When it comes to the job search, the importance of storytelling cannot be underestimated. Learn to weave stories into your resume (and at the interview), to demonstrate why you are qualified for the role. Recruiters love to hear (and read) authentic stories.
  6. Match the Keywords. Keyword matching is essential, so make sure your resume contains keywords from the job posting if you want to advance beyond the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and get the attention of a human.
  7. Stop mass mailings. Customize your resume for each position instead of sending the same version to every company. Hiring managers can easily spot when you are mass mailing your resume, and they will lose interest.
  8. Focus on value over length. Don’t stress yourself about the length of your resume. Most recruiters look for value over length, so don’t short-change yourself. Use your title or level, and years of experience as a guide.
  9. Send a cover letter. While some recruiters do not want to see cover letters, there are others who do. Include a concise and customized cover letter with your resume. A cover letter helps you stand out in the selection process, so use it to further share what you bring that others may not.
  10. Create a strong social presence and review it regularly. Social is critical to hiring managers and sometimes they share social media profiles with their teams. Therefore, make sure you have a very compelling and consistent social media presence, particularly LinkedIn.
  11. Send a Thank-you letter after an interview. Common courtesy goes a long way in today’s busy workplace, so follow-up after the interview with a Thank-you note. The people at Manpower Group believes that a “thoughtful post-interview thank you note matters more than ever in an era of e-communication.”

Those are some quick tips you can start implementing today to help you boost your job search.

When competing in a tight job market, if you can’t find a way to stand out, it’s harder for you to get a call back.

 

 

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:

 

9 Reasons You Are Failing Your Interviews

September is one of the most popular months for hiring, according to Monster. That means some job seekers are sharpening their resumes to meet the hiring onslaught, but how prepared are they for interviews? Over the past several weeks I have fielded calls or received emails that suggest some are treating this very important aspect of the job search as a casual event. They are leaving it for the last minute, then panicking when they are invited for the interview. Consider one such email:

As I read it, my mind was screaming, “Are you serious?” I wouldn’t fault him or her for reaching out, but when? This is one of the main reasons some job seekers fail their interviews. Here are some others:

#1: Inadequate Preparation

Don’t take your interview lightly. Preparation should begin the moment you submit your resume because you don’t know when an invitation will be extended. You put a lot of effort into preparing your resume and cover letter; do the same (or more) for the interview.

#2: Limited Company Research

Employers often state that most job candidates arrive at the interview without having researched the company. Some end up talking about Company Y when it should be Company X. Don’t limit your research to the company’s website. Search for any mentions in social media, industry publications, or on regular news channels.

#3: Believing You Can “Wing It”

Interviews are too important for you to think you can “wing it”. Far too many times I have encountered job candidates who, after trying on their own to “wing it” end up being very disappointed. Seek help from a family member, a friend or a career coach, and don’t leave it for last minute. You want to be well-prepared. Panicky emails or urgent messages within 2-4 days of your interview will unnerve rather than help you.

#4: Unable to Articulate Accomplishment Stories

Most job seekers fail at interviews because they have not learned the to tell their success stories. When the interviewer says, “Tell me a time when….”, it’s time for you to tell a story. This is your best chance to convince the interviewer(s) that you are the best person for the job. This method of interviewing, known as Behavioural Interviewing, offers the opportunity to relate your past successes, and the best way to do so is to tell stories. Therefore, in articulating your stories, be focused and engaged. You want to give clear, concise and confident answers, ensuring that you incorporate the results or outcomes of your actions.

#5: Engaging in Negative Mind-scripting

Don’t get caught up in a cycle of second-guessing yourself and your abilities. Start with a positive mind script that says you are going to get the job. This frees you up to think clearly. Some people become bogged down, before or during the interview, with the notion that the company has already designated someone for the position and are just going through the ropes. This belief is not always true, and even if it is, the fact you were invited to the interview suggests you have something the employer wants. It’s your opportunity to shine.

#6: Not Having Questions for the Interviewer

The interview is a two-way street. You are just as invested in the process as the employer. Go prepared with a few questions of your own:

  • Is there anything else I should know?
  • If I am the successful candidate, what would you like to see me accomplished within first 30 days?
  • From a performance standpoint, what aspects of this position would you most like to see improved?

#7: Omitting a Thank You Note

Contrary to what some people think, sending a “thank you” note is not a waste of your time. People in the career sphere believe you should send one. Wharton Professor, Adam Grant said, A Thank You note is so rare, it instantly separates you from the rest.” CareerBuilder tweeted, “Please” and “Thank you” never go out of style, and Right Management Manpower Group states, “Sending a proper thoughtful thank you note can make all the difference.”

However, a mere “Thank you for meeting with me, I really want the job”, is not good enough. Your thank you letter must have substance. You want to thank the people you interviewed with, but equally important, you want to use the letter to expand on a couple of points that were emphasized during the interview, and reiterate why you would be the ideal candidate to take on the role.

#8: Neglecting to Follow Up

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you won’t get the job. You might hear that you were a close second, or the job was offered to someone with a better fit. It is disappointing, and you feel like giving up, but this is not the time to recoil. Take some time to clear your head, and then do what most job candidates would not do (especially if you are still keen to work for that particular company). Follow up! If you want to be remembered; if you want to leave a lasting impression on the interviewer(s), then follow up.

Following up will take courage and perseverance, but a few months after your interview, touch base to ask how things are going with the new hire. Most times, things would be fine, but in some rare instances, the person didn’t or isn’t working out. You could be following up at just the time they are considering looking for a replacement. This suggestion might be a stretch, but why not reach out to the successful candidate, at some point, and ask them how they were able to nail the interview?

#9: Discontinuing the Courtship

If #8 above didn’t work, it doesn’t mean you cannot continue the courtship. There could be other future openings. You can keep yourself on the company’s radar by sharing with them articles relevant to the industry or profession. You can also monitor their online forums, ask questions, and share your expertise.

What about alerting them to something their competitor is doing that they are not, then offering to help them compete? Your efforts could sway them to create a position for you, or they could refer you to some other person or company who would need your expertise.

It’s never over until it’s over, so don’t despair. Have courage and persevere. There is a job out there with your name on it.

If all else fails, why not connect with me so we can have a one-on-one discussion about how to ace your next interview?

Being the Most Qualified Does Not Guarantee You the Job!

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Have you ever left an interview feeling you nailed it quite well that you would be offered the job? You wait for days (or weeks) only to hear you didn’t. I am sure you have, and it’s not a nice feeling.

The US elections are over. One candidate got hired; the other got fired, and for those of us who follow politics, we are wondering what happened. That conversation was what dominated the group coaching class with the women in my Let’s GROW Project today. One woman commented that the most qualified person did not get the job. I chimed in that 46.9% of eligible voters did not vote. Another spoke of places where people do not have the opportunity to vote. The discussion provided a segue into why being the most qualified candidate does not necessarily guarantee you the job.

Here is how the group drew an analogy with the results of the US elections and a job interview. Two candidates were shortlisted for the position and were going to be interviewed by a panel of the American public. One had a very impressive resume. She had 30+ years of experience in politics as First Lady of a state; First Lady of the United States, Senator and Secretary of State. She also had testimonials and references from high profile colleagues and celebrities. All that would easily make her a shoe-in for the job.

The other candidate didn’t have any of that. He touted himself as a businessman, and an outsider to the Washington establishment. Despite publicly passing incendiary remarks, and refusing to follow protocol, it did not stop him from getting the job. How did that happen? Answers to that question will vary, depending on which side of the political fence one is on. However, from a job search perspective we could examine the role that personal branding, messaging and the halo effect might have played:

Personal Branding and Messaging

One candidate branded herself as the one with the experience, a steady hand and an even keel temperament. She cited her many success stories and had proof that backed them up. Many on the interview panel (the electorate) believed her. In fact, she won the popular vote, but because of how the Electoral College works, she did not get the job. What went wrong? Was it her brand? Did people buy into the narrative that she was untrustworthy? What about her messaging? Was it clear to her audience that she understood their pain?

The other candidate branded himself as the outsider; the businessman who could turn around Washington. He pointed to his business successes and his ability to ‘swing deals’. Although that is debatable, it was enough to convince a good part of the electorate that he was the best person for the job. He showed himself as an astute marketer, ripping right into the heart of their core beliefs – that the status quo needed a shake up; that the other candidate was a part of the establishment and was going to offer more of the same. His messaging was effective enough where his negatives didn’t matter to his constituents.

The Halo Effect

The halo effect, as described in Wikipedia, “is a cognitive bias in which an observer’s overall impression of a person, company, brand, or product influences the observer’s feelings and thoughts about that entity’s character or properties.” This means, many on the interview panel could have been influenced positively or negatively by their perception of each candidate. If that were the case, their minds were already made up. Regardless of what the candidates said from thereon, they latched on to their first impression of each candidate.

  1. Not too many of us aspire to be a head of state, but we are very often invited to interviews. In preparing for an interview, what could we learn from the results of the US elections?
  2. A resume might not be enough. An impressive resume, LinkedIn Profile (with its many testimonials), and high profile celebrity references might not be enough to get hired. Go beyond those, and think of what additional value you have to offer. Determine if your 30+ years of experience is an asset or a liability, and will it help or hurt your chances?
  3. Branding is not just for companies. It is common these days to speak about one’s ‘personal brand’. This is a blend of people’s perception of you and how you see yourself. Are they congruent, or, do people characterize you as someone different from who you really are? One way to find out is to complete a 360 assessment. These are easily available from a variety of sources, including the 360 Reach Branding Assessment.
  4. Authenticity is a key part of your branding. Be yourself. Highlight the skills, knowledge and strengths that make you unique. Showcase yourself in a way that feels natural to you, yet capture the attention of the hiring manager. You need to ensure that your brand is received positively by the people thinking of hiring you.
  5. First impression matters. You should strive to make a good first impression. Extend your research beyond that of the company and to the people who will be a part of the interview panel. Don’t know who they are? Find out, then conduct a Google search. What you discover could serve as a conversation opener and rapport builder instead of having to discuss the weather.
  6. Messaging is important. Your message should be tailored to the needs of the employer. You need to articulate your success stories in a way that convinces the employer you understand their needs, know where their pain points are, and that you “can fix it”(according to one of the election candidates).
  7. Monitor your social media footprints. Most employers conduct a search on candidates before inviting them to an interview. Make sure you do the same. Do a Google search on yourself to see if there are any negative or unsavoury mentions about you, and clear them up as quickly as you can.

It hurts when you were not hired for the job you were sure you would get. You know in your heart that you have the right qualifications, skills and experience. You did all that you could do, but the decision making was not under your control. Don’t beat upon yourself too much and never stop believing in you and your capabilities. “Take a deep breath, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again”, said Frank Sinatra. This might not be easy. It could take days for you to come to terms with what happened, but life goes on and so should you.

What other tips would you offer to someone who is feeling dejected because of a lost job opportunity?

 

 

Why Are You Afraid to Tell Your Unique, Authentic Story?

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We tell stories every day – to family, friends and colleagues – yet we hardly think of telling stories when we meet recruiters, hiring managers, potential employers, and even potential business partners. Why? We are afraid; we don’t want anyone to label us as ‘braggarts’. A LinkedIn article titled “Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable – Why Now is the Time to Tell Your Work Story”, indicates that approximately only 29% of Canadians and 40% of Americans feel comfortable talking about themselves. In fact, 53% of workers admitted they feel like they are bragging if they talk about themselves. “We’re so uncomfortable touting our work successes that we’d rather share our political views on social media than let our followers know we received a promotion or got a new job.”

In his book, Tell to Win, Peter Gruber states: “Today everyone – whether they know it or not – is in the emotional transportation business. More and more, success is won by creating [and telling] compelling stories that have the power to move partners, shareholders, customers and employees to action. Simply put, if you can’t tell it, you can’t sell it.” This means, if you can’t engage, persuade, motivate and convince others of your accomplishments, your story will remain inside you, and someone else will snag that coveted job or business opportunity.

Storytelling has not only become a central theme to the job search process, but is also a powerful way to get your message across in any setting. It doesn’t matter if you are in an interview, at a networking event, delivering an elevator speech in 30 seconds, participating in meetings, or communicating one-on-one. What matters is your ability to confidently tell stories that will communicate your value and build credibility.

Bear in mind that you are also telling your story in verbal and nonverbal ways. For example, did you know that your resume and your other career marketing efforts are all telling your story? When your resume is set aside by a hiring manager for follow up, it is because something compelling grabbed the his or her attention. When it comes to interviews, you are often asked to “tell me about yourself” or “describe a time when…”. Those questions present an opportunity for you to recount stories that will convince the hiring manager you are the ideal person for the role.

Whether you are a job seeker or an entrepreneur, it’s important that you become a masterful storyteller. Someone who is able to strategically craft and deliver stories that will engage and capture an audience, whether it’s an audience of one or many. You need signature stories that you are proud to share, without feeling bashful. Stories that reveal your authenticity and set you apart from your competitors. How do you do that? Think of it as a movie where you were the main actor. Recall and write out compelling scenes that demonstrated the challenges you were up against, the actions you took and the results or outcomes. Look for patterns. What skills were you using most; where did you feel more energized. This exercise should give your confidence a boost and have you well-prepared to articulate your unique and authentic stories.

Before telling your story, consider the following:

  • Know yourself: Candidly assess your strengths, weaknesses, failures and successes, and be ready to address them if asked.
  • Learn to promote yourself. This might take you out of your comfort zone, but you need to learn to talk about yourself. This is not bragging. This is articulating what’s true about you; who you are, what you have accomplished, and what value you will bring to the new role. If you don’t tell your story, then people won’t know the broad range of talents you have. There is merit in the cliché of tooting your own horn, because if you don’t, no one will know you are coming.
  • Be authentic: Don’t borrow someone else’s story and try to be somebody you are not. Tell your own unique story honestly and with confidence and ensuring that you stay authentic. Author and poet May Sarton said, “We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”
  • Review interview questions ahead of time. While you may not know all the questions you will be asked, research, review and practice certain interview questions that are commonly asked. Then prepare to condense your accomplishments into a few short points that will be memorable.
  • Strengthen your online presence. Nothing speaks louder than a well-written, consistent, authentic online profile that tells your story even when you are asleep. This could be a personal website or blog, or your LinkedIn profile, complete with accomplishments and work samples (if appropriate).

Now, it’s your turn. Are you ready to tell your story? Need to learn storytelling strategies? Grab a copy of Tell Stories, Get Hired.