Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tips on a Successful Job Search!

Great Tips for a Successful Job Search.  As an experienced Career Strategist, I have noted a number of things that can make a real difference in your job and career search.  In no particular order, they are:

Contact People Who Sold to You in the past. 
Many of my clients have difficulty re-establishing a network of people who can help their search.  One suggestion regarding expanding your network is to think back to people “who sold to you” in your previous jobs, and who could very likely be interested in having you sell for them now.  You are an experienced expert and therefore, a very credible representative of various products and services targeted to people holding jobs you have held in the past.  These would include advertising and PR agencies, office products companies, financial institutions, law firms, and any other companies who used to want your business or your firm’s business.

Offer to help consolidate, not just grow a business.  
Every resume and bio I see speaks about “growing” or “expanding” businesses.  Sure, that is what we think companies want.  But, think about it.  In today’s business world, companies are more likely to be trying to consolidate and stabilize their business and make it more profitable.  Consider focusing on how you are able to help a company strengthen what they already have vs. focusing on ways to add products and services or enter new markets.  Those things cost money and take time and resources.  Instead, help companies save money and improve profits.

Acknowledgement-  The Secret to Success.  It’s about them, not you. 
In my Career Strategy Coaching practice, I have learned that most of my clients are quite consumed with their job or career search, almost to the exclusion of thinking of others.  This is intriguing as “others” and their regard and support for you, are key to success in your life and career.
I read a posting by another career coach recently which I liked.  He suggested that instead of saying your name first when meeting someone, ask for their name first.  “Hi, what’s your name?” or, “Hi, what brings you to this event?” is about them, not you.  Acknowledging others first and foremost, rather than being self-focused, will be more effective, productive and memorable.  Acknowledging others by thanking them for an idea or help via email or a note, being sure to say a sincere hello to a receptionist or a store clerk, and smiling with your mouth and your eyes upon meeting a new acquaintance establishes that you are about them, not just about yourself.

Reduce the Risk of Hiring You. 

This observation is similar to the “consolidation” comment above.  The point is that when you are 45-plus, hiring you represents a risk for the company interviewing you.  They can see by your resume that you can probably fulfill the job requirements.  What they are wondering is, how will you integrate into the company at this mature point in your life.  Can they manage you to do things the way they do them, will  you work well with younger managers and employees, will you be motivated to dig in and really contribute, etc.  In response to this, maintain a “helpful attitude” rather than a “take charge attitude” in interviews and meetings and be open and appreciative of other people and their ideas and programs. 
Also, when interviewing for a position, find a way to suggest that you and the company agree on a six-month trial period to ensure that both parties are happy.  This reduces the perceived risk of hiring you and relaxes the relationship at the outset, thus improving the chances for a successful hiring and long-term employment at the company for you.

Never lead with a resume; offer a bio instead.

A resume communicates one thing, “I need a job”.  The recipient may not have or know of a job, so, end of conversation.  A bio, on the other hand, communicates “I am an interesting and effective executive; let’s have coffee”.  The more senior you are, the more important it is to lead with a bio rather than a resume.  The bio is “your story” and should be interesting and memorable.  It is the “human expression” of your career.  Attach it to emails sent to your network, new contacts, prospective employers, board members at companies of interest to you (your Target Companies), and other communications.  Hold your resume back until someone asks for it.

The Care and feeding of your references- your “gold”
Many people do not fully value the importance of their references.  When I was a retained executive recruiter, I would be given a list of references by a candidate only to learn that many of the references had lost touch with the candidate and were not very strong advocates as a result.
You should have a current list of references that are aware and supportive of your search, up-to-date regarding what you are seeking, and able to comment on key aspects of your expertise and credentials. 
You should have three supervisors, three peers, and three subordinates “on deck” who with whom you have worked in the last ten years. Importantly, do not offer up your references too early in the interviewing process.  Hold them back until things look serious.  The company will respect you for your professional approach to your references (“They are busy people and I do not want to involve them until we are closer to an offer”). 
Remember to ask your references to call you after they have been contacted.  You will want to learn what questions were asked by the subject company as this will give you insights into what issues they are concerned about relative to your candidacy.  You can then be prepared to respond to those potential concerns in follow-up conversations with the employer

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What Others Think About You Is None Of Your Business

Sounds crazy, right?  Well, like my coaching advice to “Interview for the Company, Not the Job” and “Why Not Contact Board Members in Your Search?”, this non-traditional career search idea makes sense.
As MENG members, we are all trained marketers.  Just as we have learned how to sell products and services for our employers or consulting clients, we have also learned that we have to effectively market ourselves.  So, we have done all the right things.  We have written our own Creative Platforms (key message, target audience, support points and 4-5 stories that support our candidacy) and then revised our resumes and written interesting bios and 60 elevator speeches.  We have created catchy selling lines for our websites and our business cards and in some cases, handed out coffee cups to Brand ourselves.  We have done everything possible to shape others’ opinions of ourselves.
And then we find that people forget what we do for a living, fail to contact us when they have a problem to solve that we would handle in a minute, draw a blank when they are called as a reference for us and simply, don’t seem to know us after all that work.  Even our own mothers ask “What is it that you do?”
So we wonder and agonize over why this is often the case.  Why don’t people call?  Why doesn’t the HR person call me back for another interview?   Why didn’t a board member at XYZ Company (where I really deserve to work!) respond to my very clever email?  Why didn’t my friendly headhunter (who I have helped numerous times!) call me regarding a search that I know she has which is so perfect for me?
Wonder, wonder, wonder.  Worry, worry, worry.  All it does is cause you to lose sleep and irritate your loved ones.
Realize, please, that you can only do so much about marketing yourself and impressing your profile and goals on others.  Do your best and then leave it to the gods and move on to another opportunity or activity that offers promise.
Frankly, others probably think you’re terrific.  They are just spending most of their time on their own careers and jobs, and all the work it takes to keep them alive and growing