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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.

The Green Economy & its Impact on Your Career

We have been hearing about the green economy and green careers, but many of us do not really understand what this means, and staying on top of this rapidly developing new economy is time consuming and can be overwhelming.

On Wednesday, April 28, I will be interviewing Carol McClelland, PhD, one of the leading green career experts and founder and executive director of Green Career Central.  We will be discussing the greening of the economy and its impact on one’s career. This is a timely topic, as it was quoted in the Globe and Mail a few days ago that the Government of Ontario will be investing $8 billion in green energy, which is expected to create approximately 20,000 jobs. In addition to the energy jobs, there are a lot of other green career options for technical and non-technical people.

During the show, Carol will talk about the industries and sectors that make up the green economy and this will help you discover where your skills, interests, and education fit in. Carol will also talk about actions you can take to figure out your green career focus and offer practical strategies you can use to transition into your green career.

Want more details? Visit the CareerTips2Go show page, send an email to careercoach@thewrightcareer.com with Green Careers in the subject line, or post your questions in the comments section below.

Be sure to join me on the call with Carol on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 2 pm Eastern.

Career Coach Roundtable Session at Schulich School of Business

I was one of seven coaches invited to participate in roundtable discussions on career related matters at Connect 2009 – The Annual Schulich Alumni Forum.   This Personal Coaching session was quite popular, and sold out prior to the event.

Here I am with a captive MBA audience facilitating a discussion on Building Your Presence in the Social Media Era. Gist of the session included:

Why Social Media?

  • The traditional approach to job search has changed
  • More competition for available jobs
  • More touch points for recruiters and job seekers

For those who are not aware of two of the more popular social networks, here’s a summary:

LinkedIn is one of the fastest-growing recruiting tools used by recruiters. It is a great source for finding candidates because it’s free and top professionals can be found there.

Twitter, a free online micro-blogging application is also popular with recruiters, HR professionals, career coaches, resume writers and hiring managers. Therefore, in order to connect with these people, it is important to incorporate social media into your job search mix to enhance your chances of being found by employers.

As a micromessaging service with its 140-character limit, Twitter allows you to build your personal or business brand, develop relationships with people you wouldn’t normally meet, and gives you a chance to expand your network and sphere of influence.

So jump on the social media bandwagon, use it wisely and prioritize your efforts so that you don’t waste time.

My next post will take a look at Manpower’s latest research on Social Networks and the effectiveness of social media.

When it Comes to Your Résumé, Focus is Key

One of my clients is currently in staffing, has a payroll background and wants me to tweak her résumé for a job in HR. I asked her to send me a sample HR job, so I can begin the work. She told me that I must use the résumé I have on file. That résumé is all about payroll.

It occurred to me that many people are not aware that a one-size-fits-all résumé, especially if one is applying to a variety of positions even within the same industry, just does not work. As accomplished and qualified as you may be, if your résumé lacks focus and does not address the employer’s needs, it will be tossed in ‘File 13’, which is the garbage bin. You can have one résumé as your master, but be prepared to tweak it for each position.

To begin writing or reformatting your résumé, dissect the job posting to see exactly what the employer is asking for. Think of your experience and see how closely it aligns with the requirements of the job. Do not include any information that does not relate to the position. Then, take your time to reflect on the challenges you faced in each situation, the actions you took, and the outcomes or results of your actions. This process allows you to show your accomplishments, gives an idea of your potential, and let the employer know that you understand their needs, and if given the opportunity, you can replicate youre successes, and even exceed their expectations.

If you would like to give your résumé a better chance of being plucked from the pile, make sure it’s focused and answers the employer’s WIIFM question: What’s in it for me? I tell my clients from time to time that if the employer asks for apples in thejob posting, give them apples, not bananas, oranges and grapes, unless these will enhance their chances of being called for an interview. When it comes to your résumé, focus is key.

If you require help with this very important job search document, don’t be afraid to seek professional assistance. Consider it an investment, not a cost.

A Career Coaching Moment: Make 2010 Your Best Year Yet!

Usually at the start of a new year, many people make resolutions, and with all good intentions, but sadly, 97% of those who do so, never follow through. The reason for this is a lack of commitment and determination. It’s sounds great when they say it aloud “I am going to lose weight this year”, or “This is the year I will get the promotion I’ve always wanted”,  or  “This is the year I will write my book”, but that’s as far as it goes. Not a lot of thought goes into how’s it’s going to happen; what steps come first; who will hold them accountable, or what do they have to give up?

What side of the equation are you on? The 97% who don’t or the 3% who do? If you are one of the 97%, now is a good time to reflect on what may have prevented you from following through in the past, and commit to doing things differently this year.

As you move forward to making 2010 your best year yet, remind yourself each step of the way that “successful people always do what unsuccessful people do not. Be the change you want to see!

Keep coming back to this blog for information on our Road Map to Career Success – 2010 Challenge.

Proactive Workers Know How to Stand Out from the Pack

“It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one, than to have an opportunity and not be prepared”. ~Whitney Young

According to a recent survey commissioned by Robert Half International,standingout 82% of workers polled said they would be ready to conduct a job search if they lost their jobs tomorrow, but only 20% had updated their resumes in the last 3 months.  What differentiates the 20% from the rest? They are proactive. You won’t find them passively waiting for their pinkslips. They are constantly preparing for new employment opportunities (in or outside their companies) just in case the layoff axe falls on them. Here’s how you, too, can become part of that 20% of proactive workers and set yourself apart:

P Be prepared. Have a carefully laid-out plan ready for the next opportunity. That means your resume is up-to-date, voicemail is professional, and interview skills are sharp.
R Research companies and target only those employers for whom you would want to work. Do not send unsolicited generic resumes to every company in the telephone directory.
O Remind yourself that your objective is to convey to the employer how you can solve their problems, not to ask for “a challenging position that offers opportunity for growth”.
A Be active and visible. Attend networking meetings, volunteer on committees, participate in discussions on social media forums like Twitter, LinkedIn and others, and get noticed.
C Commit to ongoing professional development if you want to set yourself apart. It’s one of the best investments you could give yourself.
T Take time to develop and nurture relationships and build your network of contacts. It is a fact that people do business with, and recommend, people they know and trust.
I Become good at generating ideas, and learn how to influence key decision makers so they will accept and implement your ideas.
V Have a vision of what you want to achieve and how you are going to do it. Don’t get sucked in to people who don’t share your vision and want to divert your attention from your goal.
E Exude confidence, not arrogance. Confidently communicate to the employer why you are uniquely qualified for the position and why you should be the one they hire.

These steps actually spell the word P-R-O-A-C-T-I-V-E, and if you follow them, you will always be ready to pounce on an opportunity, and lessen the impact of a sudden job loss.

We welcome your comments on this or any other topic covered.

2009 Awards of Excellence

While I was nominated for two awards this year – ONESTEP 2009 Awards of Excellence (The Ontario Network of Employment Skills Training Projects), and Career Professionals of Canada’s “2009 Award of Excellence”, .

cpc-aoe-final-2009

It’s not possible to post all the documentation related to the nominations, so I have listed few highlights:

1.

My book: No Canadian Experience, eh? A Career Survival Guide for New Immigrants Letters of acknowledgement were received from: The Right Hon. Governor General Michaëlle Jean, MPP Linda Jeffrey, and former Minister of Citizenship & Immigration, Hon. Mike Colle, who cited in a letter that the book “is an excellent resource tool”.

A publisher of career books in Toronto remarked in an email that he “was pleasantly surprised to see so much valuable information for a segment of the population that was largely ignored in regards to the job search.”

2.

I was also nominated for the 2009 One Step Award of Excellence for my work on the Pathway to Success for Women – Life Skills and Career Options Program.

“Certain areas were not originally included in the curriculum, but based on her assessment of the needs of each group, she was able to incorporate small business information and interviewing techniques into the program. In an effort to enhance the Personal & Professional Communication section of the program, she took several of the women on field trips to attend meetings of Toastmasters.” ~ Wanda Marsman, Assistant Manager, COSTI Immigrant Services.

******

“No Canadian Experience, Eh?” … is unique and exceptional because it is the first and only resource for foreign trained professionals that focuses solely on the issue of lacking Canadian experience as a main hurdle impeding their employment integration in their fields of training and experience.” ~Dr. Yamil Alonso, Program Director BNRC, Brampton

******

“Daisy Wright was inspirational, motivating and passionate about this program.  It is her genuine need to help people that made this program more enjoyable”. Program Participant.


3.

Opportunities 2008 Conference – Co-presenter on Session – “Wanted:  A Mentoring Model for Employers to Ensure Successful Workforce Integration of New Immigrants”. This was an attempt to get service providers to engage employers in understanding the value that Internationally-Educated Professionals could bring to their organizations.

4.

My work as Career Advisor to The Link, a radio program on CBC Radio Canada International (Since February 2008).

6+ Phrases to Avoid in your Cover Letter

In the daily discourse on career matters, a lot of time is spent discussing how to create resumes that are  tight and focused on  the employer’s needs. This attempt to be brief becomes even more relevant in this 140-character Twitter era, when ‘less means more’. If we are going to aim for brevity in our writings, let’s forget the resume for a bit and take a look at the cover letter.

It is widely said that half of hiring managers don’t read cover letters, so it’s safe to assume that  the other half does. For those who do, we wouldn’t want them to throw the cover letter in ‘File 13’ (the garbage bin), because it contains too many clichés or over-used phrases.  Here are some popular phrases to avoid in your cover letter if you want to capture and keep the attention of the hiring manager:

1.     “Please be advised…”. Unless you are in the role of an advisor, eliminate this phrase. Simply state what you have done. “I have sent a copy to Human Resources”.

2.     “Enclosed please find” or “Attached herewith.” If it is enclosed or attached, the reader will find it. Use “Enclosed (or Attached) is…”.

3.     “Yours very truly”, “Very truly yours”, and “Respectfully”. These archaic phrases disappeared many moons ago. Using the word ‘yours’ gives the impression you belong to the reader. Use “Sincerely,” instead.

4.     “Feel free to contact me”, or “Please do not hesitate to contact me”. These clichés have outlived their times. It’s better to say “Please contact me.”

5.      “Above-referenced”. Don’t ask the reader to take his or her eyes back to the reference line. Instead, re-state whatever you are referring to – the subject, title or position.

6.     “I have forwarded…”. Say “I sent” instead. Short and to the point.

Is there a phrase or two you would like to add? Go ahead and comment below.

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

Want to Secure Your Dream Job? Learn to Brand Yourself First

“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