Archive for March 2010

Mirror ‘their’ needs, not your ‘wants’ in #jobsearch

March 31, 2010

In honor of April Fool’s Day, the Career Collective is tackling a few important and timely questions: How are you fooling yourself about your career / job search? What can you do about it? How can you avoid being tricked by common job search blunders?

To see how other members of the Career Collective responded, please scroll to the end of this post, or, follow the #careercollective hashtag on Twitter. Thanks, once again, to Miriam Salpeter, @Keppie_Careers, for your partnership in organizing this initiative!

RESPECT WHAT YOU HEAR WHEN YOU SAY YOU ARE LISTENING

A recent computer shopping expedition with Rob (my hubby and co-author of this blog) reinforced for me the importance of

not just listening to another person, but respecting what you hear, mirroring what is being said, then shepherding the person you’re listening to toward a “them”-fitting solution.

Acknowledging their tone, their inflection, the areas where they emphasize phrases and where certain feelings erupt, depicting their passion and / or pain —is a very DIFFICULT skill to master, yet is integral in impactful communications. And it’s integral in how we respond to others’ needs.

And this is what job search is ALL about: respond to OTHERS’ needs first (as a result, thankfully, your needs of finding a job also will be fulfilled, ultimately).

Back to our shopping trip: Rob and I both agreed that he would invest in a notebook computer, one with certain software features and compatibilities with my computer. That’s easy to achieve in today’s technology! However, well into the process, I urged Rob to look at the brand names and technologies I favored, including features and benefits I just KNEW he would value, once he was on board and a super user, like me.

As the day progressed, and our shopping trip escalated, a lightbulb flickered, then brilliantly shone on our scenario: This purchase was about ROB’S current and future goals, and though my past experiences and preferences provided value to his purchasing decision, they wouldn’t heavily influence his decision.

His needs were, and will continue to be, different than mine, so I must selectively offer my opinions and learnings based on his unique needs. For example, though computer screen size and powerhouse technology are of large importance to me, they were not as critical to Rob as having a compact, lightweight machine that he could fold under his arm and transport to our sailboat.

As well, he didn’t need the latest and greatest graphic capabilities and other technology wizardry that only an iMac or certain, amped up Dells or other made-to-order technology would offer. These are just a couple of examples, but you get the drift. Rob’s computer was Rob’s computer, tailored to his lifestyle and business needs, not mine.

However, once his intrinsic needs were fulfilled, mine would also be fulfilled as we partner in business endeavors, creating a ripple effect. First, though, I needed Rob to have a computer that would equip him to fulfill his requirements, and then, as a value-add, my satisfaction would follow.

FOCUS ON THE HIRING MANAGER’S NEEDS AND WANTS

Likewise, in a job search, you may feel you bring to the table the most magnificent, savvy skills in marketing, sales, operations, finance, technology, design, etc. that you simply must convince the hiring manager that s/he needs. As a result, you become overwrought with enthusiasm, pushing YOUR message, and often, in the process, turning off the person you are most trying to attract. In this way, I think job seekers often fool themselves into believing if they exhibit the right passion about what they believe they can do for a company versus first focusing on specific company and/or industry NEEDS, they will win the interview.

I implore you: Stop for a moment and REALLY listen. What do THEY need? Research their position descriptions, and beyond. Move through their corporate website, Google them, find industry chat rooms, follow them on Twitter, meet their counterparts on LinkedIn, locate business journal articles, understand their positioning in the market and their next great goals. Other sites include Hoovers, Glassdoor, Forbes, Manta.com and many, many more. Twitter offers an absolute goldmine of opportunity to unearth information via conversation with and around your target company’s people who may be casually chatting or building business presence among this global community.

Find their pain (this isn’t easy – you must be listening to do so); understand if they are battling to gain market share, bring new products to market, propel profits, contain costs, or thwart specific economic challenges. Be the person they need you to be to drive new revenue, build new markets and stamp out painful business issues tied to economic woes.

MAP YOUR TALENT TO THEIR PAIN * COURT THEM * ENTICE THEM

Wrapping your unique value offering and promise of being their solution around their pain points is not easy, and is not a linear process. It often evolves a series of exploratory conversations, brain dumps and self-editing to create the tailored and meaty, meaningful approach that resonates with their needs. Court them, entice them, make them feel that you really ‘get’ them to engage their interest, draw them to you for an interview and ultimately, extend the offer.

Later, when you are on the job, immersed, interacting with your colleagues, customers and others up and down the chain, you can deepen you message, elevate your mantra of change and beat the drumbeat of your other special offerings. For now, step back a moment, quiet the noise within and without, and focus your attentions on them.

Earlier this week, a Twitter pal and Business Coach, @AliciaSanera wrote an excellent blog post on the art of listening as it applies to business. Click here to read her valuable words.

The April, 2010, Career Collective Links


10 Ways to Tell if Your Job Search is a Joke, @careerealism

April Fool’s Day – Who’s Fooling Who?, @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes

If It’s Not You and It’s Not True, You’re Fooling Yourself, @GayleHoward

Don’t Kid Yourself! (The Person You See in the Mirror is a Good Hire), @chandlee 

Avoiding the Most Common Blunder, @jobhuntorg

Are you fooling yourself? Bored at work? Is it your own fault?, @keppie_careers

Hey, Job Seeker — Don’t Be a Fool!, @resumeservice

Job Search Is No Joking Matter,  @careersherpa

Is Your #Career in Recovery or Retreat? (All Joking Aside), @KCCareerCoach

9 Ways You Might Be Fooling Yourself About Your Job Search, @heatherhuhman

Don’t get tricked by these 3 job search blunders, @LaurieBerenson

Trying to hard to be nobody’s fool?,  @WorkWithIllness

It’s not all about you, @DawnBugni

Mirror ‘their’ needs, not ‘your’ wants in #jobsearch, @ValueIntoWords

Stop Fooling Yourself about your Job Hunt: Things you may be doing to sabotage yourself – @erinkennedycprw

Same as it ever was – @walterakana

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Equipped to Climb the Ladder

March 25, 2010

By Rob Poindexter, Writer and Sailor

“Wow,”  he thought to himself. The large indoor pool area looked immense as he stood there alone at the foot of the high dive. It soared some 25 feet in the air above the glassy pool’s surface, over 5 times higher then his own 8-year-old frame. Many times he had stood here, only to be told by his mother or some other well meaning adult that it was far too dangerous for him.

Well, none of those would impede him now. He had slipped into the pool area while everyone else had moved on to other activities at the club. He looked up the tall ladder leading to the lofty perch, and then allowed his eyes to trace the board out to the edge, and from there followed his imaginary line of descent down to where he supposed his body would make contact with the water’s surface. He had planned this scene many times in the past year or so, and now he was face to face with the reality of it.

He knew it would not be easy, but the thought that it wasn’t possible never entered into the picture. He let out a soft sigh as he reached for the ladder rail, rung by rung he hoisted himself toward the ceiling, stopping briefly about halfway up to check his progress, looking down first , then up at the board, then across the pool. Concerned, but undeterred, he continued his ascent.

He knew from this height, if he slipped and fell to the hard surface below him, he would be seriously injured, if not killed. For now, those thoughts had to be abandoned if he expected to succeed in this endeavor.  For even at this young age he knew what we all eventually come to realize, that, of course being that fear is usually the number one reason we fail so often in life.

Finally, reaching for the top of the rails, he stepped onto the board. He had two choices at this point, but only one option as far as he was concerned. “After all,  jumping from the board would certainly require less effort then climbing back down the tall ladder,” he thought to himself.

He stood , wide eyed, looking around the huge empty room. The ceiling was still no less then 25 feet above where he stood now, the pool although immense when standing next to it at ground level, didn’t seem to be as large a target from this new perspective. The hollow silence that can usually only be sensed in these large indoor pool areas, felt somewhat intimidating to him.

He walked cautiously to the end of the board, careful not to begin his jump before he was ready by slipping off the side of the narrow runway. Knowing that this may be the last time, for a long time, that he would get this opportunity again , he stood enjoying and taking in, his new vantage point. Finally, the time had come, so he took in a long breath, filling his tiny lungs to, what he hoped was full capacity, and without a second thought, leapt from the board, with no particular target other then the pool itself.

He broke the surface of the pool’s motionless water feet first and continued to slip below the new waves he had caused. Once downward momentum finally gave way to buoyancy,  he kicked his way back up until his mouth and nose were once again able to take in fresh air, and swam to the nearest pool ladder. Once there, he turned himself around and hoisted himself so that he was now seated on the top rung.

He had done it. He was thrilled and relieved to have finally accomplished that which had seemed so overwhelming until just a few short moments ago. What’s more,  he had survived.

Not unlike our little friend here, we have faced our fears at some time or another, and like him we had choices about how to best handle those challenges in order to achieve our goals.

Was he equipped properly to achieve his goals? I think so. He could walk, he could climb, he could jump, he could hold his breath, he could swim. Leave out any of those abilities and I dare say, he could not have jumped from that board with the same amount of success as he demonstrated.

We find the job we’d like to have, we make the proper connections to secure an interview, and then we make our way to the office to be measured by those who will have the last say on the success of this venture.

We are set to enter the ‘pool,’ if you will.

Very little, at this stage of the game, is as important as a well written, professional resume.  You may want to look at it as your life ring in the pool of the job search. For without it you are very likely to be drowned out.

Your Resume Is Not a Tweet

March 11, 2010

I read it, and I get it, and I buy-in to the 20-second ‘resume scan’ rule. Yet, I don’t  FULLY buy in. What I mean is, I don’t accept the implication by some that  your resume only gets a 10-, 20-, 30-second sweeping glance by the hiring manager, recruiter, HR. .. AND THAT’S IT (the end of the road for your resume).

I love how GL Hoffman discusses the lean resume concept by playfully experimenting with the idea of a  6-word resume over at his blog. I enjoy these thought-provoking experiments, and I believe Twitter and other social media vehicles are teaching us to write tighter and more thoughtfully. These exercises help us all do a better job of drilling down to our unique value statements for those quick quips and exchanges we ‘initially’ may have with someone in our networking group or during any aspect of job courting.

As well, your resume must be glimpseable and pithy to grab the attention of the reader so he will pluck yours from the stacks of lukewarm, unfocused resumes and call you in for the interview.

However, I fear we may get so caught up into thinking our resumes must be tweet-like and ultra-lean, that we miss out on an expanded opportunity to provide content- and story-rich value, with muscle and meat!

Job seekers, and those who are presently employed but actively engaged in their career management, let’s take a breath, please, and realize the value of your message, and the extended value of your words, moving from conversation to conversation and interview to interview, reinforcing and propelling your unique proposition of value.

Once it has reached the short stack, realize if written strategically and compellingly, the resume can and often WILL support your interview movement, represent your professional/executive presence and boost your momentum leading to the negotiation phases. Recently, one of my actively interviewing resume clients, expressed that value so well, saying this about his resume:  “It is absolutely a great presentation and value statement, and I love how it moves from all the lower level discussions to the higher level ones so quickly.”

If you honor the resume process, you will reap the return-on-time and intellectual investment deep into your interview engagements. The resume is your partner in the process of clarifying not only who you are but what you bring to the job-opportunity table. No longer a brief listing of where you were, when you were there and what you ‘did,’ the eloquent and compelling resume knits you intimately into the company’s story fabric.

Suddenly, they gasp, “Aha, I can no longer live without this person. He is the salve for our pain, the revenue driver for our lagging sales, the inspirer for our lackadaisical team …” (You get the drift).

Beyond that, once you’re contacted for the interview, your resume can guide the interview process (yes, it will not only land the interview, it will provide fuel for the interview conversation). As well, for group interviews, your resume is passed around among interviewers; and for deeper interview processes involving senior managers, executives and board members, their first impression of you is a read-through and sometimes, thorough examination of your resume BEFORE you walk through their doors for a face-to-face interview.

Yes, you heard right, a read-through: they are  actually reading through and scrutinizing your resume, judging you by your resume presence. Is it assumptive? Assuming they know your value? Tactical? Only providing the nuts and bolts of your career, but not really positioning you for their needs strategically? Is it boring? Yawn. Is it elementary in design? Again, like a pressed suit, polished shoes, coiffed hair and the tailored words that spew from your lips, your resume represents YOU at every critical stage of the interview conversation.

Sleeping Beauty

March 3, 2010

By Robert Poindexter, Sailor and Writer

For six long months she lay at rest in her slip.

Six long months of cold days, and even colder nights, her lines filled with pink fluid, running through her like the medication from an IV filling the veins of a coma patient. But soon she will be awakened from the deep slumber that winter forces on her every time summer’s warm breath gives way to fall’s chilly warning of cold north winds filling her berth.

But now, an early spring sun gleams off her bow pulpit and dances around its edges as her prow rises and softly falls like the chest of a sleeping beauty while muted waves lap at her water line.

I can scarcely contain myself as I walk to greet her. Like a long lost friend who looks so good after a long absence, I reach for her, grabbing a handful of shroud, I caress the wooden rollers and hoist a leg over her lifeline.

One by one, I ease around her decks, releasing bungee cords one at a time from the tarps that have been her blankets for the winter she has endured. Soon enough, they are folded and stowed. The usual inspections are done, the cleaning, leak inspections, hoses reconnected that need be, valves checked, opened, and cleared of anti-freeze, fresh water added to tanks, and the mundane, but necessary tasks that go along with bringing her back to life.

Now it’s time to turn my attention to the iron genny. With new filters and fresh oil in place, I climb into the cockpit and prepare to do battle.

Key on, choke pulled, throttle set, engine room fans on. I listen to them hum for a few minutes, then I bump the key – batteries are strong, and the little four gives it her all, but she needs time, she just needs to wipe the sleep from her eyes and clear her throat. A few more tries, and now she sits idling, water spilling from her stern, singing the sweetest song I’ve heard in ages.

While the melody continues, I move forward and hank the 150 in place, running the sheets to the cockpit, kick off the dock lines and pull away from the slip that has held her captive too long. We glide past the others in our little marina, waving at neighbors as we head towards the lake.

Once past the buoy that marks our harbor, I give the Atomic 4 enough throttle to take a bigger bite out of blue-green water. Looking up the mast, I turn the wheel to port and follow the windvane as it slowly reaches for the bow.

Ahh, there it is, now I cut back the throttle to a sweet idle, kick her tranny in neutral and let the forward momentum keep us moving as I head up and hoist the main. Once secured, I swing around to the port side and hoist the genoa.

Now, back at the helm, I spin the wheel to starboard and watch the sweet westerly fill her sails. As they billow, the smile in my soul makes its way to my eyes, my chest is filled with laughter as I reach for the key and silence the beast in her belly.

She heels slightly as we become one with the wind and waves as our only companions.

It’s only a small lake, in a small town in Kansas, but I couldn’t have felt more content than if it were the wide blue sea.

How like opening up a sailboat after a long winter is the person who is suddenly in a job search situation. Whether you are a new grad looking for the first time or a seasoned pro that has not been in the market for a while, there are basic tools and checklists that must be performed in order to properly launch your new career search.

The most important tool by far being the professionally written resume, which, like the sails on my “sleeping beauty,” when set properly, will catch the eye of the hiring manager to create that “whoosh” that propels your career across the lake of life.