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On The Job Hunt? Never Be Afraid to Tell Your Story

Tell Stories_Get Hired_DaisyWright

Today’s career musings is not only based on a quote by actress Angie Dickinson, but also contains elements from the Foreword of my new book, Tell Stories Get Hired. Credit for the Foreword goes to Sharon Graham, one of Canada’s foremost Career Strategists.

While Dickinson’s quote may relate to life in general, this post is written from a job search context and targets mid-career professionals, managers and executives. It is also relevant to job seekers, people in career transition, and even those who are happy at work!

When it comes to job search, we cannot underestimate the importance of storytelling. Your job search story literally starts with “Once upon a time…”. If you can articulate your value effectively, you can succeed in your job search. Career storytelling can help you build credibility, but its benefits don’t end there. It can also help you to identify your dreams, strengthen your values, find your true assets, and build your self-confidence.

Never be afraid to tell your story. Storytelling is an integral part of your job search. It’s a technique you must use to communicate why you are the best person for the job. It’s a strategy you should employ when networking to demonstrate your industry expertise. You cannot afford to be seen as ‘a shrinking violet’, “someone who is shy or modest and does not like to attract attention.”  Don’t be afraid!

Your story should be interesting. When writing your resume, when networking, or during an interview, create a vivid and interesting picture of what role you played in the story. Were you the lead actor, or did you play a supporting role? In fact, take them on a ride in your CAR, and explain the Challenges you encountered, the Actions you took, and the Results.

Your story is unique. Even if your story is similar to someone else’s, it’s not the same. Find ways to showcase your uniqueness. Brand your story in a package that stands out. According to Sharon, “Our current job search environment is very competitive and the only way to differentiate yourself is to tell “unique signature stories.”

Your story is worth sharing. If you don’t toot your horn, no one will know you are coming. Don’t expect the interviewer to read your mind to determine how great you are. One of my clients lost out on a promotion to project manager because he assumed his boss knew what he had done. He failed to share his success stories.

It’s your story. If you accomplished it, it’s yours, so claim it. If you don’t, others will autograph your work with their name on it. Too many people complain that their bosses or coworkers have taken credit for their work. Don’t let that be you…tell your story!

Every career has many interesting twists and turns, but few people are naturally confident storytellers. Most people find the thought of having to “sell” themselves to recruiters, hiring managers, and other potential company representatives daunting. You may know what you want to share, but are not certain of how best to do that. That’s where storytelling comes in.

Want to learn more about storytelling for the job search? Listen to this podcast, or visit Tell Stories Get Hired to grab your copy of the book.

Give Your Job Search a Boost: Do the Unthinkable!

Obstacles_photodune-6077247-rock-xsLauren Holliday, a contributor to my book Tell Stories, Get Hired: Innovative Strategies to Land Your Next Job and Advance Your Career, decided to create an email marketing campaign to contact potential employers after she had tried all traditional job search strategies. Her effort garnered 15 interview invitations.

Recently, the Toronto Star published the story of Xingyi Yan, a University of Toronto graduate, who used an unconventional technique to find a job. She donned a large placard announcing her availability for advertising and marketing opportunities. For seven days last December she stood in the frigid streets of Toronto with the sign around her neck. There were skeptics; there were those who brought her coffee to keep her warm, and then there was the managing director of Reprise Media, Joseph McConellogue, who took a chance on her.

McConellogue remarked about Yan, “We were very impressed with her initiative and her resourcefulness …She took things into her own hands, took a very different approach to finding a job. You don’t see that in a lot of people.”

Last June, Canadian Business had a story about the changing of the guards at Royal Bank – Dave McKay was replacing Gord Nixon as CEO. The headline grabbed my attention: With a new CEO and $4 billion to spend, RBC looks primed to make a major acquisition. I sent the link to two of my clients (one a General Manager, and the other a Director of Finance), with the following message:

“A new CEO of Royal Bank, Canada’s largest and most profitable bank, is taking office in August. According to the article, the bank has so much money he (the CEO) won’t know what to do with it. Wouldn’t it be a great idea for someone to build a business case and let him know what to do with that much money?

This approach might not land you a job there, but at least you would get on his radar and he would know you exist! Sometimes we have to try unconventional ways to get attention even from the head honcho!”

As far as I know, they didn’t take my advice. They probably thought that such an approach was too brazen, while I was thinking  it was a risk worth taking. I asked David Perry, of executive search firm, Perry Martel, what he thought of my suggestion to the two individuals. He said, “I could be wrong, but I think they were scared. Most people won’t do something novel or different unless not doing it is more painful than doing it.”  Could it be they felt intimidated?

Last week, I spoke to some students at Centennial College encouraging them to take chances. I weaved pieces of my story into the presentation: how I sometimes took chances and did the unthinkable without knowing if it would work. Like the time years ago when I applied for a job at the UN during a short stopover in New York. I got the job, and that delayed my move to Canada. Another time was when I got an opportunity to teach at Sheridan College after I didn’t listen to the naysayers who asked me what I knew about teaching.

Sometimes we have to be like the bumblebee, and do the unthinkable. It is said that because of the shape of its body and size of its wings the bumble bee did not get the memo that it was not supposed to fly. It took a look on both sides of its body, discovered it had wings, and said, “These wings were made for flying. I’m not made to just crawl around on the ground. I am going to do the unthinkable”, and away it went flying.

Whether you are an entry-level or senior-level candidate, sometimes you must allow yourself to be vulnerable, and try unconventional methods to get the attention of and engage potential employers. This is not the time to be shy or be intimidated. With competition in the job market, and layoffs making the news, it might just be worth your while to take a chance, do the unthinkable and give your job search a boost.

New Book: Tell Stories, Get Hired

Tell Stories, Get Hired is finally here!

Tell Stories Get HiredPRESS RELEASE

Brampton, ON, November 25, 2014 – Job layoffs, a competitive job marketplace, and hiring freezes have put a lot of pressure on job seekers to stand out and be noticed. Those concerns should be alleviated by “Tell Stories, Get Hired”, a new book which demonstrates how job seekers can leverage their stories to convince hiring managers and recruiters to hire them over their competitors.

Daisy Wright, author of the Canadian best seller, No Canadian Experience, Eh?, collaborated with 17 professionals with varying backgrounds from Canada, the US, England, Belgium and France, to develop this new book – Tell Stories, Get Hired. “I value their contributions because, without their collective expertise, this project would have remained a dream,” Wright said. All contributors faced obstacles as they sought to gain employment, advance their career, or break new grounds, but their resilience and ability to tell their stories brought them success.

Wright continued “Storytelling is the new job search craze, and job seekers and career changers need to learn how to dig deep, uncover their stories and get hired. Many people never thought of storytelling as a job search tool, but stories are effective in getting to the heart of a hiring manager.” 

Read more of here >> Tell Stories Get Hired Press Release

IMPORTANT NOTE: Join the 24-hour Twitter-Thon Launch Party on December 2, 2014. Instructions will follow on how you can tweet and retweet from from participating contributors.

How to Craft a Salary Negotiation Story

salary negotiationNever bargain or job hunt from a position of weakness. Soar like an eagle, even when you are feeling like a wounded pigeon. –George C. Fraser, Chairman and CEO, FraserNet Inc.

Every job seeker should learn how to craft a salary negotiation story long before there is a job offer. It allows them to weigh their options before saying “Yes!”

This salary negotiation article, while not written along gender lines, was prompted by the recent comment by Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, who said that women should not ask for a raise, but have faith that the system will reward them well. (He has since issued a retraction).

“Very Good News!” stated the Subject line in an email from a client. It was an invitation to be formally presented with a job offer. He and I had had a salary negotiation discussion which ended on the assumption that he was not going to accept the offer immediately.

He called after the meeting to say, “I gladly accepted the offer on the spot.” When I asked why, he said it was the salary he was expecting, so he just “…took it”. Clearly, he was thrilled, and I didn’t blame him, but waiting another day or so to think of other non-monetary benefits, would not have hurt his chances.

Salary negotiation conversations are not easy, especially if a candidate is afraid he or she might lose out on an opportunity if they mention a figure – high or low. But, the candidate who begins to craft their negotiation story long before an offer is presented is the one who will appear at the negotiation table well-prepared and confident. At minimum they would’ve asked themselves:

  • What’s the minimum will I accept?
  • What is the going rate for people in my field and at my level?
  • What other non-monetary benefits are being offered?

In addition, they will have considered the following five points:

  • Conduct research to find out what the average salary and benefit packages are in other companies for people in their industry.
  • Review labour market information and salary websites to find salary information on many professions. Websites such as: www.salary.com, salary.monster.ca, www.payscale.com, http://monsterca.salary.com/CanadaSalaryWizard/ & www.salaryexpert.com are good places to start. Keep in mind that the figures quoted on these sites are not universally applicable. However, having this information puts the candidate in a better position to negotiate.
  • Take time to review the offer. Most times, employers expect the candidate would want some time to consider the offer before giving them an answer. No need to get nervous and think the offer is going to be withdrawn if it’s not accepted immediately.
  • Negotiate for more than money. The salary figure is not everything. Think of non-monetary benefits and perks that could come with the position: an extra week’s vacation, reimbursement for professional development courses, extra health and wellness coverage, etc.
  • Firm with their expectations, but are ready to compromise if the offer appears reasonable and if there is a sense they are doing their best.

If a candidate has the confidence to tell a compelling negotiation story, it’s an indication they could be great negotiators on behalf of the company, and if given the opportunity.

Job seeker, it is up to you to convince the employer of the value you will bring to the organization. That makes it easier for them to accept your salary negotiation story.

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Parts of this blog post have been excerpted from my new book Tell Stories, Get Hired to be available soon.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dear Dreams…

Dear Dreams

Dear Dreams…You Get Bigger Everyday!

This is your Monday Rx, and that’s all the reminder you need this week. Your dreams do get bigger everyday!

Keep watching this space for our next job search blog post.

 

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Ideas image courtesy of Chaloemphan of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Happy Canada Career Week

CPC Canada Career Week

Happy Canada Career Week!

Your dose of Monday Rx comes in the form of a Summit hosted by Career Professionals of Canada in recognition of Canada Career Week.

From November 3rd to November 7th, job seekers and career changers will be able to listen to a variety of topics on job search and career development. Today’s topic is Beyond 2014: Job Networking and Social Media. The best part of this is that the Summit is free, and you don’t have to leave the comforts of your home or office. The full list of topics are:

  • Job Networking and Social Media
  • Managing your Career for the Future
  • The Resume that You Need Today
  • Different People, Different Challenges
  • Generational Career Intelligence

According to Sharon Graham, Executive Director of Career Professionals of Canada, “This FREE event consists of five 40-minute moderated panel discussions on a range of topics for everyone who wants to succeed in the Canadian labour market. No registration is required to participate.”

Go ahead and enjoy these sessions for free!

Happy Canada Career Week!

Begin Each Day With A Grateful Heart [Monday Rx]

 

Monday_Rx_Gratitude

Begin each day with a grateful heart! This image was scooped from Kimberly Allison’s Google+ Page, so attributes go to her (and the proper owner).

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! While today is Columbus Day in the US, it’s Thanksgiving Monday here in Canada. It is an opportunity for us to look back and be grateful for what we have, knowing that so many people all around the world are facing arduous situations. What are you grateful for?

The five points in the image above are appropriate for today’s Monday Rx. They might not be the typical Thanksgiving message, but let them serve as encouragement to you, whether in your personal life or your job search:

  1. Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality. Well, if it’s a positive opinion and a true reflection of you, then you have nothing to worry about. If it’s a negative one that doesn’t ring true, don’t dwell on it. You have far better things to do.
  2. Never let a bad day let you feel like you have a bad life. How unfair this would be to the other 365 days? Put things into perspective. It can’t be all that bad.
  3. It’s never too late to be what you might have been. This is sound advice for those of us who gave up on a dream, or something, and are now lamenting the fact that we allowed ‘could’ve, should’ve, and BUTs’ to get in our way.
  4. If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. Sometimes you have to be proactive. Take a risk; reach out for help or advice. Your effort could open a window of opportunity.
  5. Begin each day with a grateful heart. If you are able to read this; if you have food on your table; if you are fairly healthy; if your family is well, then you have much to be grateful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Your Job Search Failure is Not Fatal [Monday Rx]

Failure is Not Failure

Many of us have experienced a failure of one kind or another at points in our lives. Sometimes it’s an interview that did not go well, a job offer that went to someone else, or a promotion that did not materialize.

The reality is that whatever the failure, its initial impact is never pleasant. But, because most of us tend to wrap our self-worth around our jobs or careers, when we experience a failure or we are rejected, we tell ourselves that we don’t have what it takes to succeed.

Last week, soon after I sent out the Monday Rx, I received the following note from a client:

“Daisy, I have a job now…I am working with xxx as a Client Supervisor and Foot Care Nurse. My boss is great, and I really like my job. Very little stress and lots of fun. Thanks for all of your help. I will keep in touch.”

One would not believe that, at one point, this woman was near to giving up on herself, and she had several reasons to prove it: Her original resume wasn’t marketing me well; her age was going to preclude her from consideration; she was crippled by nervousness when it came to interviews. “I just cannot conduct a job search anymore”, she said to me then. One of my first questions to her was, “Are you a great nurse?”

Having said all of that, did she find overnight success? Of course not, but she changed her perspective about herself, and something about her changed!

As a job seeker or career changer, realize that a few failures do not mean the end of your career journey. When you embark on such a journey, you have to believe in yourself and your abilities. You have to dig deep to uncover your success stories and own them, then learn to articulate them clearly and convincingly in your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn Profile, and your other marketing documents. Your goal with this exercise should always be to make sure you are seen as the only candidate for that job.

Your job search failure is not fatal. Learn from your failures and setbacks, but don’t allow them to take over and cloud your ability to tell a convincing story to get hired.

Just in case you believe you will never rise from the ashes of a failure, consider the following individuals who faced rejection and failures in their lives, but went on to achieve great things:

Oprah Winfrey was told she wasn’t fit for television.
Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen received 144 rejections from publishers for their book Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Jay-Z had big dreams to become a rapper, but couldn’t get signed to any record labels. He created his own music empire: Roc-A-Fella Records.
J.K. Rowlings got fired because she spent her time writing stories on her work computer.
Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. He went home, locked himself in his room and cried.

While your story might not be as well-documented as these celebrities; while you might not aspire to such heights, you could change the direction of your life if you view failure as an opportunity to start over. Bob Marley, in one of his songs, says, “As one door closes, another one opens.” Don’t continue staring at the closed door of failure that you miss other doors of opportunity.

Your job search failure is not fatal. Make a decision today to learn from your failures, and spring forward to success.

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Note: Sections of this post have been excerpted from my new book “Tell Stories, Get Hired”, which will be coming soon to a bookstore near you.

 

 

 

Dare To Take Chances – [Your Monday Rx]

Monday Rx_CareerTips_Sept_27Have you ever wanted to do something – probably pursue a dream, or ask for a promotion – but got stopped by a big knot in your stomach? Or, did you allow a negative comment by someone to derail your dream? This happens all the time – in the workplace, at home, with friends, BUT…

Have those dreams remained dormant? Are you being haunted by regrets of “I should’ve…, could’ve…, If only I had…”? It’s not too late. You still have time to pick up from where you left off. It’s time try again. Social Media consultant Chris Voss said, The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.”

Whether it’s an entrepreneurial dream, a dream of a better job, a promotion, or a career transition, here is what you need to know:

  • You don’t have to go it alone. Ask for help!
  • You don’t have to risk your life, limb or livelihood. Start small.
  • You don’t have to become overwhelmed with negative thoughts and by negative people. Banish negative thoughts from your mind, and surround yourself with ‘possibility thinkers’.

Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, said “Most people live and die with their music still un-played. They never dare to try. Mary Kay Ash knew it all too well.

After seeing all the men she was training being promoted over her, she decided to write a book to help women survive in the male-dominated business world.  One of the things she did was to make two lists.  One list highlighted the things her employers had done right; the other had things she felt they could have done better.  After reviewing the lists, she realized she had inadvertently created a marketing plan for a business. The rest is history!

Whether you are a male or female, you too, can make your two lists. One list could be what you have done; the other could be what you can offer an employer or a customer. Those two lists could be the beginning of your own marketing plan for your job search marketing plan or your business. Whichever one it is, are you ready to step out in your boldness, and try again? Phil Knight, Co-founder of Blue Ribbon Sports, now known as Nike, told graduates of Standford’s Graduate School of Business (his alma mater): “Dare to take chances, lest you leave your dreams buried in the ground.” 

You don’t want to leave your dreams buried in the ground! “Let your dreams be bigger than your fears and your actions bigger than your words.” ~Unknown

This is another dose of the Monday Rx. Have a great day!

Related link: Find Your Calling and Ask for Help

It is a Dumb Idea to Dumb Down Your Resume

Yellow Duh! Road Sign Against a Dramatic Blue Sky with Clipping Path.It is a dumb idea if you have been advised by the experts to dumb down your resume. Unless, of course, you have been inflating your responsibilities and accomplishments, and if that’s the case, you need to get your head examined.

September is Update Your Resume Month, an annual event launched 14 years ago by Career Directors International. Its intention is to remind everyone – job seekers, and those not actively looking – to set aside time to take a fresh look at their resumes and make sure it is current. This is important, but while preparing to update your resume, take some time to focus on the value you have to offer an organization. Don’t think of ways to dumb down your resume.

The following statements were taken from the resumes of three clients. One client is a regional sales manager, the second a senior sales and marketing leader, and the other a business development executive:

  • Created and executed a common business plan for sales division, just in time for new product launch ensuring early revenue stream for brands.
  • Performed innovative market research and captured smaller companies with great potential. Assisted the growth of three clients into industry leaders during world economic crisis.
  • Transformed organization from system integrator to total solution provider including internet and mobile banking solutions. Retained 90% of existing clients, and increased revenue and market share.

Can you imagine these three clients trying to dumb down their resumes after making significant contributions to their companies’ bottomline? The funny thing is that one of them was told to do just that. Of course, I objected. What’s the point? After you have spent years turning around under-performing companies, or engaging in successful mergers and acquisitions, why should you now downplay those accomplishments? Such advice is from the old resume school. Accomplished and confident managers or executives walk away from such advice and devise ways to reach the eyes and ears of decision makers.

It is widely reported that in 1482, Leonardo Da Vinci, wrote the first professional resume highlighting his skills and abilities. He took a pen and a piece of paper, reflected on what he had done, and came up with a masterpiece of a resume. Unfortunately, some job seekers, including mid-career professionals, managers, and executives, fall prey to job search myths, including the idea to dumb down their resumes. They also buy into other myths such as:

  • A resume should be one page
  • It must have an objective
  • It should have a summary with 6 bullets, and
  • Your resume is too big and with too many with accomplishments

These are real comments that job seekers repeatedly hear. There is nothing to suggest that Da Vinci cowered under the weight of other people’s opinions and dumb down his resume. He didn’t downplay his accomplishments because someone told him it would be a good idea. He looked deep within himself, decided he had much to offer, created his resume and sent it off to the Duke of Milan. Don’t play small with your successes! Somewhere out there is an employer looking for someone just like you, with your unique skills and abilities.

There is no doubt that many people are faced with different challenges, and nowhere is it more apparent than in the job search. People become desperate and vulnerable, and when told they are overqualified, the first thing they think of doing, or is advised to do, is to dumb down the resume. The sad part is that these highly accomplished individuals believe this myth.

All is not lost. Before September ends, take some time to update, not dumb down, your resume. While doing so:

  • Avoid redundancies such as ‘references available on request’
  • Use quotes from your performance appraisals or testimonials that validate your accomplishments
  • Adapt your resume to fit the needs of each employer
  • Focus your resume on your skills, talents, experience, and your potential value
  • Rework the resume so that it attracts attention and have employers reaching out to you
  • Be distinct, be unique, be confident! Break out of the sameness mentality and let your resume demonstrate your unique value

Remember: “Your UNIQUENESS is your greatest strength, not how well you emulate others. ~Simon Tam

Have you ever been told to dumb down your resume? Share your story below.