Stuck in a Career Rut? Allow us to point you in the "Wright" Career Direction

Quiet Persistence

 

Don't Give Up

Here is today’s #MondayRx. It’s based on a woman I have had the pleasure of coaching over the past several months. My work with her was minor compared to the work she put into her search:

? She hadn’t worked for over 15 years

? She left her job with the City of New York to move South to take care of her wheel-chaired confined mother

? After her Mom passed two years ago, she re-started her job search

? She is 50+

? She was faced with all the other ‘isms’ you can think of, but, she quietly persisted.

? Two months ago, she found a job as a Customer Service / Covid Screener. Not her ideal job, but she continued her search

? For the third time, she submitted her resume for a Customer Service role with the City where she currently resides.

? The City did not advertise a position (?????? ??? ??????), but she proactively applied. She wanted to get a foot in the door.

? Instead of another rejection email, she was invited for an interview.

? Late in the interview she realized she was being assessed a job as a Deputy Clerk, not the Customer Service position

? Here’s part of our conversation last week:

“?? ??????? ?? ??? ??? ???? ? ??? ? ???. ??? ????????? ??? ???? ? ????????????. ?? ??? ????? ????? ?? ???? ??????? ???? ??? ?????????. ???? ????? ????????? ?????? ?? ?????????? ?? ? ????????? ?? ?? ??????? ???? ???. ???? ???? ????? ? ?????? ???? ?? ?? ?????? ??????? ? ???? ? ??. ? ???? ?????? ?????? ? ??? ???? ??? ??????. ?? ??? ???? ? ???? ????.”

This morning, August 23rd, on what would’ve been her late mother’s birthday, she started her new job as a Deputy Clerk!

If you are facing similar job search challenges, especially with all the ‘isms’ attached, don’t give up! Take a break, if you must, but quietly persist. There’s a job out there with your name on it.

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Reframing the Narrative Around ‘No Canadian Experience’

It’s ironic that the same qualifications that allow newcomers to gain permanent residency status and come to Canada seem to work against them once they arrive.

Last Saturday, I hosted a Webinar through New Canadians TV on this notion of “No Canadian Experience”, and am sharing a synopsis of what was discussed. While the content is geared to newcomers, other job seekers will find some of these tips beneficial.

Reframe the Narrative

First of all, the phrase – No Canadian Experience – is a conversation stopper. It’s one way to stop you in your tracks and prevent you from talking about your unique journey and the benefits an employer could gain from hiring someone like you. Instead of ending the conversation, use the opportunity to engage and reframe the narrative.

Address the Elephant in the Room

(Image: Reddit)

If you get the sense your lack of Canadian work experience could be a concern, you might want to address the ‘elephant in the room’ upfront. Admit it (see a sample script below under elevator pitch), then steer the conversation to how your international experience aligns with the organization’s goals and the benefit they will gain from hiring you. However, before you can have such a conversation, you will need to do some preliminary work. This work won’t be easy, so commit to playing the long game. You will discover it’s a better use of your time than sending resumes to every company and not getting a response.

Take an Inventory of Your Skills

Look at all the things you have done, the skills you used and the outcome / impact you made and write them down. This exercise will help you quantify your achievements, make you stand out from other candidates, and provide you with an inventory of your skills to help you showcase your value.

Research, Research, Research

Every job is NOT for you so don’t go sending resumes to every company that has an opening. Research the ones you would want to work with, and you can start with these lists:

Extend your research to social media platforms, starting with LinkedIn. Sometimes names of your connections who work at a particular company may show up. If not, check if someone in your network knows someone at the company, and ask if they could introduce you. Keep in mind that not everyone is going to respond so don’t become despondent and give up if they dont. Remember you are in it for the long haul.

Once you have gone through the lists, select about 15-20 companies, whether or not they have advertised. When you are focusing on just the ones with advertised openings, you could be missing out on hidden opportunities.

Target Recruiters

While I am not aware there’s a Top 100 Best Recruiters list, you can find many recruiters on LinkedIn. Follow the same process as you did with companies. Check your network, then Connections, then search for recruiters (or any other related title). Make sure to target those in your industry. Start with 5-10 such recruiters and reach out to them. See how to forge authentic relationships below.

Dissect the Job Posting

To get the attention of an employer takes much more than sending a resume and cover letter. It requires an understanding of the employer’s needs. The first indicator of what the employer needs is in the job posting. Pay very close attention. Assess your skills and qualifications against the posting. What do you have to offer? How does your experience align with the requirements?

Prepare Your Career Documents

Depending on who you are talking to, employers take between 6 and 10 seconds to scan your resume; the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) probably takes less. This means if your resume isn’t addressing what’s asked for in the job posting, it will be rejected by the employer leaving them to think that you don’t understand their needs.

Forge Authentic Relationships

The key to a successful job search is to build relationships first, ask for assistance second, and offer to be of assistance always. This is where playing the long game will help you forge authentic relationships, build credibility and gain visibility. In the early stages of building these relationships, don’t go asking for a job (unless there’s one that you know they are hiring for.) After all, you wouldn’t ask someone to marry you on a first date! Develop a ‘give, give, get’ mentality. Always ask how you can help your new connections. If you happen to know that an employer is recruiting for another position and you have someone you can recommend, let them know.

Use Every Tool at Your Disposal

As a follow on to building relationships, you are now at the stage where you need to use every tool at your disposal to find the right contacts. You have experimented with LinkedIn, try Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Employers recruiters are on these platforms. What about emails? Most companies have standard e-mail formats. Try sending multiple emails in different format until you no longer receive a “mail delivery error.” You may even want to use the Advanced Search on Google.

Contact as many people as possible while being realistic — not everyone is going to respond.

Develop Your Elevator Sound-Bite

Once you have connected with people you need to tell them about yourself in approximately 30 seconds – the time it takes for an elevator to move from one floor to the next. This is when you craft your elevator pitch or sound-bite. As important as your degrees are to you, that’s not what you want to begin your introduction with. They want to know first how you can help them make or save money. Tell them what it is you do, and name a couple of your accomplishments.

Below is a sample script of an elevator pitch or sound-bite. While it is structured for the interview and will help you address your lack of Canadian experience, it can also be reworked to create a brand paragraph for your resume or help you perfect your elevator sound bite.

“First of all, thank you for inviting me to the interview. I am pleased that something in my background and experience caused you to select me as one of the candidates to be interviewed.

Second, it is true that I haven’t had an opportunity to work in Canada yet and I am hoping you will give me that first chance.

Third, and most significantly, my experience aligns very well with the position. For four years, I was the head of Digital Marketing at _______, with offices in Canada, the US and 17 other countries. My experience includes diverse managerial experience in performance marketing, digital media and marketing technology, and building partnerships with clients to achieve extraordinary results. Conducting regular meetings with staff across all locations and utilizing my bilingual skills, I gained a good grasp of workplace culture and norms allowing me to resolve problems and conflicts before they escalate. With such a background, I am confident I will be able to help you develop and implement your digital marketing strategy across all media channels and platforms.” 

Get Ready to Toot Your Own Horn

“Accomplishments don’t speak for themselves”, is a mantra from Google’s #IamRemarkable workshop that I have had the honour of hosting three times over the past several weeks. This means if you don’t speak up about your accomplishments, you will go unnoticed. In other words, if you don’t toot your own horn, no one will know you are coming.

I hope the above tips will help you reframe the narrative around your lack of Canadian experience and steer the conversation towards the value you will bring to the company. Your unique journey has value. Talk about it. “It’s not bragging if it’s based on facts!”

Have questions? Let’s connect!

I Was Zoom-bombed On a Career Chat…and It Wasn’t Pretty!

Pixabay

Since the onset of COVID19, and realizing that some job seekers and employees are facing anxiety and uncertainty, I decided to host a few weekly Casual Career Chats where I would answer questions about job losses, job search, career transition. resumes, etc. I invited three of my colleagues, Maureen McCann, Michelle Precourt and Christine Cristiano, to be a part of the panel answering the questions.

The first Zoom meeting was on March 27, and it went without a hitch. Last Friday, April 3, I logged into the meeting a few minutes early to give us (the Panel) a chance to chat before the 3:00 pm start. Suddenly, I saw a message that my screen was being shared, and in seconds the vilest of pornography started broadcasting, interspersed with the N-word. At the time, my daughter and her son were in the adjacent room, and she shouted, “Mom, what’s that I am hearing?” They were not online, and didn’t see the images, but I quickly rambled off what was happening.

As one can imagine, the invasion of my computer screen startled me. I was in shock as I grappled to find a way to end the nightmare. Eventually, I gained some semblance of composure and clicked on “End Meeting for All”. Assuming it was an error, I re-started the meeting a few minutes afterwards, and in a flash, the pornography began. I immediately terminated the meeting.

In speaking with my colleagues afterwards, I learned for the first time about Zoom-bombing. One shared a link to an FBI article on the subject (which is posted below). Prior to the article, I had only heard about the lack of proper security on Zoom, but I didn’t pay it much attention. One reason was that I have had a Zoom account for years, and never had a problem.

After the conversation with my colleagues, I proceeded to do a bit of research, and what I discovered was horrifying. There has been a litany of incidences where hackers have been bombarding online classrooms (from kindergarten to university), and primarily targetting people of colour. A young African American man was defending his PhD dissertation via Zoom when his screen infiltrated. An article in last Friday’s USA Today summarizes what happened to K’Andre Miller, a hockey prospect for the New York Rangers. An online community gathering by a Jewish high school in Vancouver was also invaded. Most of these incidences have escalated since COVID19, when the use of the Zoom app ballooned from 10 million users in December 2019, to 200 million now.

A half hour after my incident, and without contacting Zoom, I received a “Dear Valued Customer” email from them. It was advising me of what they were doing to tighten security and what safeguards I should put in place.

I spoke with Peel Regional Police Communication Bureau to find out what they knew about Zoom-bombing. The woman I spoke with hadn’t heard of it but her colleague did. I then called the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), and they had heard about it, and urged me to take greater security.

Putting the onus on me to adhere to Zoom’s security protocol is not a problem. But, let’s face it, this infiltration of my screen speaks to a larger issue: RACISM! And before anyone hastens to dismiss my pronouncement, let me say this, whenever someone tells you they have experienced racism, believe them. Don’t be too quick to write it off as “playing the race card.” It’s too easy to resort to that, and then miss the opportunity to have a civil discourse on the topic.

Many of us shy away from such discussions because it’s uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable because race is a social construct that places people in boxes, or on a hierarchy that presupposes one group is more, or less, than the other. Herein lies the problem. It’s awkward to argue such a concept, but if we are not prepared to have a candid discussion about racism, we will continue to perpetuate this fallacy.

Many years ago I was invited to speak to a group of university students in a women’s studies class. Of the 50 students, 3 were non-white. During the Q&A, one student asked me if I had ever faced racism. I smiled, then said, “If I tell you I haven’t, I would be lying. I have had my share, but I never allow racism to stop me from doing whatever I want to do or going wherever I want to go. If it means going up, down, sideways or plowing through, I am going to get there. Obstacles may slow me down, but nothing is going to stop me.”

That has always been my approach. Probably it’s because of my Jamaican background, where we don’t cringe when faced with obstacles like these. We deal with the elephant in the room if it raises its head, and then move on. And, by the way, sometimes, the racism is not as blatant as the Zoom-bombing experience. Sometimes it’s the microaggressions that we face in our workplaces, schools, and communities, both on- and offline. They are real!

There I was, with my colleagues, offering free career advice to job seekers and people who feel uncertain and lost during this COVID19 scare, and someone (or group) decided that invading my online space with pornography and racist taunts was more important. I don’t get angry very often, but this time I did. However, I won’t focus on the anger lest we miss the point of the real issue.

I know what I am saying is not at all comfy, but it is not meant to be. Sometimes we just have to call a spade a spade! That said, I am not going to allow trolls to stop me from doing my work. The Casual Career Chat will continue for a couple more weeks as was intended, but with a different set of security protocols.

As I conclude this piece, I want to say I am privileged to have built relationships, and serve a client base from diverse races and cultures. I am the better from the experiences, and I am confident my clients and connections would say the same. But this should, and will not prevent me from calling out racism when I see it, and this one hit close to home.

Related Posts:

New York Rangers Prospect Zoombombed

CNN’s Interview with Zoom’s CEO Eric Yuan

Zoombombing attack Left Doctoral Candidate Shaken

FBI Warns of Teleconferencing and Online Classroom Hijacking

 

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.

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.

 

What Employers Are Looking for in Employees

What are employers looking for in their employees?

 

STEMpathy!

 

Coined by author and journalist Tom Friedman, STEMpathy is “a combination of science, technology, engineering, and math with human empathy, the ability to connect with another human being.” This is what employers are looking for in their employees; people who not only have technical expertise, but soft skills and character.

At the 2017 Gateway Conference hosted by The Municipality of York in October, I was privileged to sit on a panel of HR professionals discussing What Employers are Looking For in Employees. The other panellists were Moderator, Mary Duncan, Chief Human Resources Officer at CAA, Shelley Khosla, Director, Human Resources at Weber Shandwick, and Sonya Whyte, Associate Vice President, Talent Acquisition at TD Bank.

As the discussion progressed, Shelley told the audience that she looks for people “who demonstrate passion, curiosity, resiliency, and creativity, and who are able to work collaboratively in teams.” She also said that employers look for employees who align values with principles, embrace and celebrate differences, work in the same direction, and contribute to an irresistible culture.

Sonya remarked that she looks for employees with passion, diversity of thought and people, and inclusion. During interviews, she looks for people who show depth, who are able to demonstrate what separates them from others, and who are able to talk confidently about their background. That’s one of the reasons she listens carefully to people when they answer the “tell me about yourself” question as it gives her an idea of the person’s thought process. She also looks for employees who “think like a customer and act like an owner.”

Mary said she looks for people who demonstrate competency, creativity and cultural fit, and who display enthusiasm about the company.

For my part, I focused on the interpersonal or people skills. These soft skills are harder to observe, quantify and measure. They are akin to character skills and are very important in and outside the workplace. They complement the technical skills and are required for everyday interactions.

It is very important to hone your soft skills. While your technical know-how may get your foot in the door, it’s your people skills that will open more doors for you; it’s these skills that will determine success or failure in one’s career. Faizolhardi Zubairy, Head of Digital Media at PETRONAS Dagangan Berhad, said, “Your work ethic, attitude, communication skills, negotiation skills, emotional intelligence and leadership are the soft skills that are crucial for career success. (Stretch Beyond Your Comfort Zone for Career Growth).

The bottom line is that employers are looking for employees who have a good blend of technical capability and soft skills. They look for people who can communicate well; who are positive, respectful, reliable and honest, and have integrity. They look for people who are able to function in cross-cultural environments, appreciate differences, fit in with the corporate family (culture), and contribute to a team. They also look for people who demonstrate the five elements of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.

In making a decision between two candidates, Kevin Sheridan, Employee Engagement and Management Expert, and contributor to HR Daily Advisor blog, said I would take the person with the right character any day of the week.  Character is ingrained in a person’s core being and dictates how he or she will behave.  It encompasses one’s ethics, values, dedication, motivation, and outlook.  It is nearly impossible to alter a person’s character, for better or for worse. Skills are things that are learned.” (Culture is Merriam-Webster Word of the Year – For Good Reason).

It makes sense, therefore, that anyone who is in a job search or a career transition, should assess their STEMpathy skills. You may have the  technical expertise (STEM), but lack character and soft skills, so pay attention to both. You will also need to assess your emotional intelligence skills, becoming aware of your strengths and weaknesses, how to control your emotions, demonstrate empathy, exhibit professionalism and strong interpersonal skills, manage disputes and build and maintain relationships.

Apart from discussing the skills that employers look for in employees, members of the Panel also offered additional job search advice:

  1. Weave stories into your resume and during interviews.
  2. Create your resume with the most important and relevant information up front.
  3. Make sure the content of your resume aligns with the job posting if you want to get the attention of the HR manager.
  4. Keyword matching is essential; make sure your resume contains keywords from the job posting. It should also have lots of white spaces to make it easy to read.
  5. Customize your resume for each position instead of sending the same version to every company. It’s easy to tell if you are mass mailing.
  6. Your resume should be short – a maximum of two pages
  7. Create a good LinkedIn Profile. “Social is critical to employers”, said Sonya Whyte. “I sometimes share LinkedIn Profiles with my team.”
  8. During interviews, speak about your unique successes and stellar results
  9. Follow-up after the interview and send a Thank-you note. Common courtesy goes a long way in today’s busy workplace.
  10. Demonstrate that you understand, and have the skills required for the job
  11. Articulate why you are qualified in your resume and at the interview. Draw the alignment between your skills, experience and job requirements.
  12. Describe how your transferrable skills match the position
  13. Send a concise cover letter. While some recruiters do not want to see cover letters, some on the panel believe they serve a purpose. They help you stand out in the selection process, so use it to share what it is you bring that others may not.

Armed with the above skills, you will fit the mold of what employers are looking for in employees.

How to Spring Clean Your Career in One Day!

If a job opportunity falls in your lap today, would you be prepared for it? A woman left me a message this past Monday: “I would like a professional resume, and need it done by Friday, so I can’t really waste too much time here.” Wow! I said to myself. Some people seem to conduct their job search by the seat of their pants. They spend more time planning for their vacation than they do on their job search or career. Think of it: they research the places they want to go; determine a budget, and book the date, but when it comes to the job search, or a career transition, they don’t give it the same priority. They have a casual approach to the very job that would help them pay for the vacation.

“It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.” said Whitney Young Jr. It is not too late to spring clean your career and be ready for your next opportunity. Here are some tips:

Conduct an Inventory of Your Skill-sets

The moment some people think of job search, they equate it to a resume. “I just saw an job posting, and I need a resume right away.” Although the resume is very important, it is not the first thing one should think of when it comes to the job search. Think of what you would and would not want in your next role. Take an inventory of your values, interests, skills, knowledge and personal qualities:

  • Values – what is important to you? Integrity, status, accomplishments?
  • Interests – what do you enjoy doing?
  • Abilities/skills – what you are good at?
  • Knowledge – what you know: your “intellectual capital”.
  • Personality – your attitude, what you are passionate about, what motivates you.

This assessment helps you plan what type of job or career you wish to pursue.

Dust Off the Old Resume

Creating a professional resume is not something to be done in a hurry as alluded to above, so never leave this very important task for the last minute. Review your journal (hopefully you have been keeping one) where you recorded your achievements, the projects you worked on, and the role(s) you played. Check your email for recognition messages from people you have interacted with. Pull out your performance appraisals and review the positive feedback. These all tell your story, and should be appropriately incorporated in your resume.

Prepare to be the Closer (Not the Loser), at the Interview

Some people are afraid of interviews the way others are afraid of public speaking, but that’s not you! You are ready with memorable stories of your successes (and failures). Yes, what have you learned from those failures? Research, not only the company, but its competitors; not only their website, but annual reports and industry reports. Prepare a mini presentation or proposal identifying the company’s pain points. You can bet your competitors won’t be thinking that far ahead. Even if you don’t get a chance to present it, you can have it as a ‘leave-behind’. (A year ago, I took my own advice, created a mini presentation when I interviewed for a Committee position, and was selected).

Craft Your Salary Negotiation Story

Afraid to have the money talk? Unable to answer the “What’s your salary expectation” question? Salary discussions can be scary. Some candidates are scared they might mention a dollar amount, or say “yes” too quickly and lose out on an opportunity. Do not wait until an offer is apparent before you craft your negotiation story. Conduct your research and enter the negotiation conversation well-prepared and confident.

Build Your Online Brand (and that includes a Personal Website)

Many people wince when they hear they need to build their online brand. Some believe only executives should do so; others start thinking they are going to overexpose themselves. There is some truth to that, but in the digital world we live in, coupled with a very competitive job market, it makes sense to explore the online world when seeking to stand out. A LinkedIn Profile is great, but what happens if LinkedIn disappears? Someone referred to that situation as “having your house built on a rented property”. As a backup plan, think of building your own personal website that you own and control.

Put a Job Search Strategy in Place

You need a proactive and carefully orchestrated job search plan that will bring results. Not one that have you looking for a job once you become unemployed, or when you are at your wits end. This ‘on-the-fly’ job search approach does not work and will, more often than not, end in frustration. It’s better to take the time to conduct a targetted search with a limited number of companies you would want to work for, than uploading your resume to any and every company for any job, and hope to be contacted.

Learn Effective Networking Strategies

The moment some people hear the word ‘networking’, they conjure up images of people with name tags and business cards running around in a meeting room. They then tell themselves “That’s not for me…I am too shy…people might think I am forcing myself on them.” Some of that may be true, but if orchestrated well, networking is not as difficult as it’s made out to be. According to Executive Search guru, David Perry, “For those of us who are terminally shy the Internet has made it possible to network from our computer keyboard and avoid those awkward mixers. So start your networking online, but be respectful, and don’t go begging for a job at the first opportunity. Build the relationship first.

The above advice is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are ever looking for an accountability partner to assist you, I would be pleased to be that person. In fact, if you are in the Greater Toronto Area, you could benefit from a Career Empowerment workshop I am hosting on June 3, 2017, at the Corporate Event Centre in Mississauga. Click here for details: Spring Your Career in One Day!

 

How to Interview For a Law Firm

Despite what you may have heard and read, many job seekers, including new lawyers, still get the jitters when they are invited to an interview. However, unlike painting, you don’t need to be Monet in order pull in a few useful skills that can help you land the job. New lawyers looking to get their foot in the door will need a bit more help than just your regular job interviewing tips.

Law firm jobs are sometimes difficult to obtain, and while most law firms prefer to hire someone with a good amount of experience, they’re willing to consider new hires who can nail the interview. What you need is the right mindset and a few helpful tips to put you on the right track.

First of all, it’s best to get out of your mind the idea that your interview is going to be like a courtroom. While you are on trial in a certain sense, you won’t be asked complex legal questions. The law firm wants to get to know you. Your resume will play a major role in that conversation, but how you handle yourself in the back-and-forth dialogue will be the most telling part for them.

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New attorneys will need a resume that is clear of ambiguity. To the point and totally free of spelling and grammar errors; remember that your resume is going to be the first thing the law firm sees. Avoid including extraneous information that is unrelated to your graduate and undergraduate education, and that includes unrelated work or volunteer experience.

Before handing in that application, be sure to conduct research on the law firm you are applying to. Know their history, the kind of law they practice, their size and especially any of their notable accomplishments. A lot of this information can be gleaned from their website and local news media.

Keep in mind that having questions to ask your interviewer is a good strategy. This shows your interest in the company, and your desire to want to learn more about them. Failing to ask questions can make you appear uninterested. You will also want to know more about the law firm’s culture, and to determine whether it will be a good fit for you. Remember it’s a two-way street. The interviewer is assessing whether you will be a good fit for the firm, and you should do so as well. Consider asking questions about how the firm handles assignments for associates, development strategies and continuing education.

The term “Dress for Success” applies for your law firm interview. Professional attire is commonplace for law firms, so make sure you are properly prepared and that your own personal presentation fits the bill. Also review the types of questions your interviewer is likely to ask. This can include question such as:

  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
  • What type of practice are you interested in?
  • Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty at work.

You will also be questioned about your resume. Make sure you know your resume thoroughly, and be prepared to elaborate when asked.

Make sure to exude confidence at all times, but avoid sounding arrogant. Be sure that you keep your conversation to the topic. Avoid making any disparaging remarks about others or other law firms.

Prior to your interview, make sure to research your interviewer(s). Know their career history and accomplishments and be prepared to weave some of this research into the conversation. This will not only show that you went the extra mile to find out something about them, but will give you something pertinent to discuss instead of the standard ‘How is the weather?’ small talk. Having said that, avoid getting too personal.

Finally, never forget to follow up! This includes a handwritten thank-you note that individually addresses a specific topic of discussion in the interview. Make sure to send the note the day after your interview. In fact, send it the same day, if you can. If a few weeks pass without any contact from the law firm, do not be afraid to send an email inquiring about the position.

For an easy to remember, easy to digest version of this article, Tenge Law Firm LLC, kindly contributed the article and accompanying Infographic below for you to use as your visual guide on How To Interview For A Law Firm.

 

 

How to Win the Interview Game

www.thewrightcareer.com

Interviews are terrifying. Job candidates are known to sweat profusely, become tongue-tied, give wrong answer and blow the entire interview. Some have even tried reading the interviewer’s mind to come up with what they think the interviewer wants to hear instead of than focusing on the value they could offer. These peculiarities are not limited to entry-level candidates but run across the continuum to management and executive level candidates.

It’s natural to be nervous and experience some or all of the above symptoms, but there are better ways to prepare for interviews, lessen your stress and win the interview game. It IS really possible to unravel the mystery in each question, develop answers that showcase your accomplishments, and convince the interviewer you are the perfect person for the job. It starts with knowing that the interviewer really wants you to convince her that you will be able to do the job; you will be productive and help them make money, and you will fit in with the team. All of this takes a bit of work!

Below are seven questions that are regularly asked at interviews. They are followed by a short explanation of what the interviewer is looking for. They are designed to help you understand what the interviewer is looking for and develop your stories. While they are geared to managers, mid-career professionals and executives, anyone who wants to win the interview game should take note:

QUESTION: “Tell me about a time when you accomplished something significant that wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t been there to make it happen.”

Another question related question could be: “Tell me a time when you were not a formal leader but became a leader.

WHAT THE INTERVIEWER IS LOOKING FOR: In both instances, they are looking for leadership competency. Are you an effective leader? Are you willing to assume a leadership role even if your job description doesn’t identify you as a leader?

QUESTION: Tell me about a time when, despite your best effort, you failed to meet a deadline. What factors caused you to miss the deadline? What was the outcome? What did you learn from it?

WHAT THE INTERVIEWER IS LOOKING FOR: Are you competent at  goal-setting, project management or organizing and planning. Do you understand how to keep track of a project in relation to its deadline? Do you demonstrate above average organizational skills? Are you a procrastinator? Are you quick to blame others, or do you take personal responsibility for failures?

QUESTION: Tell me two characteristics of your personality you have to improve, and how you will do it?

WHAT THE INTERVIEWER IS LOOKING FOR: This question is to find out if you are aware of your shortcomings (weaknesses). If so, what steps have you taken to work on them. They also want to determine if you are self-motivated, and can initiate your own developmental plans.

QUESTION: Imagine I am your manager and I offer you the position. At the end of one year, what will I be writing in your performance review?

WHAT THE INTERVIEWER IS LOOKING FOR: They want to know if you understand the importance of defining and setting specific goals and objectives; if you set realistic goals, and if you attain them. Give the interviewer two or three short-term goals you would have set for your first year on the job, then describe the results after the year.

QUESTION: Why should I consider you a strong candidate for this position? What have been your most significant achievements in your previous role?

WHAT THE INTERVIEWER IS LOOKING FOR: Have you reviewed the job posting thoroughly? Do understand the duties and responsibilities of the job? Do you have the specific skills and the right experience they are looking?

QUESTION: What if I should contact your supervisor to enquire about your technical competence in your previous position? What would he or she list as your strengths? What weaknesses would they mention?

WHAT THE INTERVIEWER IS LOOKING FOR: They are looking for evidence that you are highly competent; that you are a contributor who work hard; that you demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills when working with others. They want to make sure you have the right skills and temperament for the job.

QUESTION: What do you know about the position we are trying to fill? What are your strengths for this job? Is there any reason why you cannot perform the essential functions of this job?

WHAT THE INTERVIEWER IS LOOKING FOR: If you put a lot of effort into researching the company, if you understand the job requirements, and if your skills match their needs. You need to understand what they do, then demonstrate how you would fit in. Avoid mentioning any weaknesses related to doing the job.

You can win the interview game when you understand what the interviewer really wants. To do this, you need to analyze the job posting line by line to make sure your skills, abilities and background are aligned with the requirements. Your next step is to develop accomplishment stories that relate directly to these requirements. Know yourself and your success stories well enough so they are easy to articulate. Refrain from giving rehearsed, robotic answers as they are easy to spot. Recall instances where you helped the company make or save money.

When it comes to discussing your weaknesses, tread carefully, but don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. After all, you are human. Discuss a weakness that shows the imperfect human being we all are, but nothing that could exclude you from being offered the job. Are you impatient? That’s a fair human condition, but explain what you are doing about it.

Finally, this is not the time to be shy. If you really have accomplishments, talk about them with confidence. They are your stories.

Related article in the Toronto Sun on How to Read the Interviewer’s Mind:  How Shall I Answer That?

Want to win the interview game? Ask me how.

7 Better Things to Do on the Drive to Your Interview Than Stress

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[Article contributed by Millenial Career Expert Sarah Landrum]

Your big interview is close; anxiety is setting in, and you know that by the time you are ready to make the commute to the interview, you’ll be one giant ball of stress. To make matters worse, you will be driving to the interview, and when under pressure, driving isn’t the most fun. Here are seven things you can do during the drive to your interview to lessen your stress.

  1. Crank Up the AC: Stress has a way of fogging up our brains, making articulating what we’re thinking difficult. If you’re feeling groggy or sluggish, roll down the windows or crank up the air conditioning in your car, even if it’s a chilly day. With some fresh air hitting your face, you’ll liven up in no time and be able to think more clearly. An additional advantage is if you’re prone to sweating is that the cold air will work to calm your nerves.
  1. Listen to Some Music: Whether you’re feeling excited, overwhelmed, stressed or all of the above before the big job interview, music can lower stress levels immensely. The week of your interview, take the time to create a playlist with songs to calm you down and an upbeat one to get you pumped up. If you’re not into music, you can still take your mind off the interview. There are various podcasts you can listen to, including ones covering pop culture, food and other lighthearted topics. Depending on your mood while driving to the interview, you’ll have plenty of options for your listening pleasure.
  1. Snack Smartly: Before your interview, your stomach may feel like it’s in knots and it might be hard to eat. However, nothing is worse than being in the middle of a sentence with your future boss, only to be interrupted by your stomach gurgling its displeasure at finding itself on empty. Prior to your interview, find a healthy snack that won’t be messy and isn’t going to make your breath putrid. Fresh veggies, a protein-packed smoothie or a scone or muffin will work perfectly. Snacking smartly can help to wake you up and give your brain the fuel it needs to ace the interview. Just make sure it ends up in your stomach and not down the front of your suit or blouse. It may be best to pack another shirt just in case.
  1. Go Zen: You might be lucky enough to have a yoga session right before your interview to release some stress, but why not bring the good vibes of the studio with you? With some essential oil room spray, relaxing music and a positive mantra to repeat to yourself, you can focus on the drive while melting away stress. By the time you arrive at your interview, you’ll feel refreshed and have a positive outlook for your potential new employer.
  1. Get a Massage: Tell stress to take a hike by getting your own personal massage as you drive. Old massaging cushions required a wall outlet to power them, but now, your car’s 12v charger will do just fine with various massager models. There are various types of car cushion massagers available, so do your research to find the best one for you and your budget.
  1. Practice Your Smile and Posture: Driving can be tough on your back depending on how far you’re traveling, and even with a car cushion massager, you may start to feel anxious just because you’re stuck and can’t burn the nervous energy off. The good news is you can practice good posture and a warm smile anywhere. According to a recent study, candidates who smiled less were deemed more favorable for jobs considered to be serious and professional. However, candidates who smiled at the beginning and end of the interview faired better than candidates who smiled throughout the entire interview. So practice those award-winning smiles for when you first arrive and when you leave.

Great posture – shoulders down, head up, and back – work for any type of job interview and shows you are confident, poised and ready to address anything that comes your way. Let your body language reflect your attitude about the job.

  1. Check Your Face and Breath: Stuck at what seems to be an extra long red light with only a mile or two to go? Take the time to flip down your mirror and give those pearly whites a once over. If you were snacking in the car, this part is especially important before you make your way into the interview. Having chia seeds from your smoothie stuck in your teeth won’t really win you any points. Make sure if you’re wearing makeup that nothing is smeared, and check your hair, especially if the windows were down or the AC was cranked up. Your looks will make the first impression, so ensure your looks are wow-worthy in a professional way.

A certain degree of stress is normal. It pumps up the adrenaline and allows you to be more focused, so don’t allow it to derail your chances of doing well in the interview. Recognize the stress for what it’s worth, then start focusing on success strategies to ace your interview.

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Contributed by Sarah Landrum, a freelance writer and millennial career expert. Her blog, Punched Clocks, is all about finding happiness and success in your life and career.