Archives for February 2016

“What Is Your Greatest Weakness?” – A Trick Question?

Job Interviews by World Relief Spokane of Flickr

Job Interviews by World Relief Spokane of Flickr

 

“What is your greatest weakness?” You could answer everything else right, but if you do not understand the purpose of this question and answer it powerfully, it can sink an otherwise fantastic interview. The real point of this question is to see how you have previously reacted in the face of difficulty as a consistent pattern. Recruiters believe past behavior is the best indication of future behavior. That is why there is an interview methodology coined “behavioral interviewing.” Think of this question as a probe to see how coachable you are—how willing you are to develop and grow. Are you honest with your interview? Are you honest with yourself? This question serves a lot of purposes for the employer, but their main agenda is to find the best candidate to fill the position, which costs the company money every day it remains unfilled.

Answering “what is your greatest weakness?” with a lie is unethical and could cost you the job, but answering too honestly could give a potential employer the impression that you don’t believe in yourself; and if you do not believe in yourself, the employer won’t either. An arrogant answer such as “I have no weaknesses,” or “I’m too perfect,” could also cost you the job. If you don’t volunteer a weakness, a potential employer won’t believe you. They will assume your weakness IS arrogance or that you are not coachable. In order to be coachable, you have to be able to acknowledge areas of development. Employers want to know if you will be an asset or a liability, in addition to making sure you will be a good fit and they MUST be able to believe you.

 

Determine your weaknesses

First, take stock of your weaknesses. We all have them and they are most likely areas of your professional life that you would like to improve. What currently challenges you? Is it a soft or a hard skill that you are lacking? Are you unfamiliar with technology? Do you shy away from public speaking? We are bound to have blind spots if we rely on our own perceptions of ourselves to identify our weaknesses. Part of our full-service branding includes a survey that is sent your trusted confidants, the people who know you best. It takes BRAVERY and HUMILITY to endure this process. It also demonstrates a dedication to growth. Imagine how impressed an employer will be, though, if you voluntarily participated in a 360 degree feedback. A 360 degree feedback is a process where employees receive confidential feedback from their managers and peers. This process allows employees to come to a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.

 

Be honest with a potential employer

Be honest with your interviewer, but not too honest. Self-depreciation elicits sympathy, but not job offers. Once you find your weaknesses, neutralize any emotion (shame, guilt, etc.) from mentions of your weaknesses. The Sedona Method of releasing is one way to separate yourself from your weaknesses. There are also other methods, such as Christian Mickelsen’s Instant Miracle, and EFT, also known as tapping. The purpose of release is to free yourself from the emotional weight of your weaknesses. After you find and release your weaknesses, ask yourself a few questions. How has this challenge affected your work and what steps have you been taking to overcome the weakness? Are you taking classes? Are you reading books? Are you doing actively doing the task you dreaded? Have you engaged a coach? According to a 2009 ICF Global Coaching Client study, of the 2200 participants, over 99% of the professionals who used a career coach emerged either “somewhat satisfied” or “very satisfied” from the experience.

Tell the interviewer how you have overcome or are overcoming the weakness and how you came to realize its impact on your performance. Demonstrate to your employer how you added value by confronting your weakness. The Sedona methods and the other methods mentioned are ways to help resolve these kinds of emotional challenges. Perhaps you were terrified of interacting with customers, but recognized your weakness and strove to work with them. Soon you had fewer issues interacting with customers and improved sales at your company. Think about your own experiences and stick to the facts.

 

Is your weakness a strength?

Perhaps your weakness is actually a strength. (Conversely, some strengths can be weaknesses, so be careful with this line of reasoning. As I mentioned earlier, statements such as “I’m too organized” or “I’m a perfectionist” could come off as arrogant to an interviewer.) For example, you may not have the experience for the position for which you are interviewing, but you sell your experience in other industries as something that will offer new insights as to how to accomplish tasks. In other words, you offer a potential employer a fresh perspective. If you try to spin your weakness as a strength without a real solution, you may strike your interviewer as disingenuous. Like everything else, state the problem, your solution, how you have practically applied that solution to your work, and what the outcomes and impacts have been.

 

The “What is your greatest weakness?” question is designed to discover your response to challenges. The point is not to show a potential employer that you are flawless—no one believes you are without flaws. Rather, employers want to hire people who know they are not perfect (because no one is), but are willing to acknowledge areas that can be developed as needed in a position and proactively seek out ways to grow.

Think about some of your greatest achievements. Were you successful because you already knew the solution, or did that great achievement come from finding a solution in the midst of the problem?

 

5 Common Job Search Myths Debunked

Emma reading the newspaper by Diego Sevilla Ruiz of Flickr

Emma reading the newspaper by Diego Sevilla Ruiz of Flickr

 

Is it really possible to switch industries? Can anyone land at their dream job? As a career coach, I have seen many job seekers limit what is truly possible in their careers simply because they believed common misconceptions. Not only do common misperceptions or myths hold job seekers back, but they can be detrimental in the long run. Think of the prolonged job searches, feeling trapped at a job you are disengaged from, and how your health can suffer because of stress. By uncovering and debunking some of the most common job search myths, your job search can soar to heights you never imagined.

 

Myth #1: You do not need a cover letter

Are cover letters a requirement? Many employers require a cover letter, but think of them as the key to getting directly in front of a hiring manager. A cover letter demonstrates an interest in the company, explains your skills, and covers what is not included in your résumé. It is an introduction to a hiring manager that highlights your accomplishments, accompanies your résumé, and it is your chance to make your case for an interview. In fact, a cover letter is read before your résumé and often determines if a hiring manager will take the time to read your résumé. A well-written cover letter is tailored to a specific company, grabs the attention of a hiring manager, and beckons him or her to take immediate action.

 

Myth #2: Changing careers is impossible

Jennifer Ghazzouli was a bench chemist for the Philadelphia Police Department. She wanted more from her job and switched careers. She is now in recruiting and leads global hiring strategy for QVC. Jennifer was approached early in her career about becoming a recruiter and was told by others that recruiting is sales. She initially balked at the idea. However, Jennifer knew that she was not happy as a bench chemist. When she talked to her friends, they shared insights and ultimately the job lead.

Changing careers was one of the top frustrations of the many job seekers we asked. They find it is challenging to enter a new industry without the industry experience the job appears to require. A career change requires more work than changing employers, but it is not an impossible task. Like Jennifer, many of the people who successfully broke into a new industry do so through their network. In fact, I saw this happening as a recruiter. A position that called for a specific industry experience would go to someone who was able to promote transferable skills and experience as value-adds. Branding in these cases was just as responsible as networking. In terms of transitioning, research the new industry by looking at employers, asking questions of those already in the industry, and volunteering. Hard skills can be transferred from one career to another. Additionally, soft skills  also play a huge role in your career. Unlike hard skills, a good grasp of soft skills is required in any industry. Like changing an employer, consider what makes you happy in your career and why you want to transition to a new industry.

 

Myth #3: The job of your dreams is not viable

Jack Morrison of SAP America never doubted his chances of success. Unfortunately, most people somewhere along the way are told and believe that success is not possible for them; that they are not worthy to receive what they really want, and/or that it is better to be accepted, and to not rock the boat. So many people settle for a job that pays the bills. Settling for a job you are not passionate about is a recipe for disengagement. Employee disengagement is an epidemic at 70%, costing US companies $450 billion each year, and costing individuals the chance to thrive, be fulfilled and well-paid. Just like with changing careers, research is king when it comes to landing your dream job. Make a list of companies that fit 80% of your criteria and begin finding and reaching out to contacts within those companies. Brian Quinn dreamed of being a rock star from a very young age and never gave up on his dream career. The path was not easy, but he worked hard to fulfill his calling and found success.

 

Myth #4: Do not leave your job without having another one waiting

It is always better to have a new job waiting before you quit. Having a job makes it easier to negotiate for a higher salary and you avoid unemployment bias. However, you may not always have the luxury of searching for a job while employed. Also, consider your happiness if you are employed at a job you dislike. If the job is stressful enough that you want to leave immediately, take your financial situation into account. If you have savings to get by for a little while, plan your job search out, and even consider the help of a career coach. Evaluate the costs to your life and potentially to your wallet by staying stuck versus the investment you make in being able to take control of your life. Think about being able to land at a company where you can thrive and be paid well. That is what we help job seekers obtain!

 

Myth #5: Employment is a one-way street

The job seekers who feel that they are at an employer’s mercy may be stuck in a cycle of disappointment in their job search. Their confidence is gone and they start to believe something is wrong with them, and they must take whatever they can get. In these instances, it is their tools and tactics that need adjustment, not who they are or what they want. The end result of putting yourself at the mercy of an employer is landing an awful job. It does not have to be this way. Just as an employer is making sure you are a good fit at an interview, you are doing the same. You owe it to yourself and your happiness to accept a job at an employer who will keep you engaged and fulfilled. Ask questions at your interview, discover their mission, and research them beforehand. Additionally, your number one weapon against being at an employer’s mercy is momentum, which we help job seekers generate. Momentum is having several offers in play, while employers bid over you- much like an auction. Instead hoping that you are hired by an employer, the employer hopes that they can persuade you to work for them. That is the power of job momentum!

 

Job seeker misconceptions or myths can prolong a job search and frustrate employees who want to make major career changes. Worse, these mistaken beliefs can cause job seekers to doubt themselves, to give up on their job searches, and to reach a place of disappointment and desperation. Often job search methods and tools are the problem, not the job seeker. By clearing away these misconceptions we hope that job seekers will reject these self-limiting beliefs and realize what is possible in their job search.

What common job search myths would you add to this list?

 

 

According to Science, Your Next Job Just Got 2 Degrees Closer

Thanks, Facebook!

Social Network in a course by Hans Poldoja of Flickr

Social Network in a course by Hans Poldoja of Flickr

In 1961, Stanley Milgram, a psychologist determined that we are connected to anyone on earth by just six degrees by conducting several experiments to examine the average path length for the (non-virtual) social networks of people in the United States. The project was coined the “small-world experiment.” In the experiment, Milgram sent letters to 300 randomly selected people in Nebraska and Kansas to one target person, a stockbroker in Boston. The letters could not be directly sent to the target, but had to be sent through someone they knew on a first-name basis who might know the stockbroker. Only 30% of the letters reached their target, but the research discovered that there were about six people connecting each participant to the target. Think of the concept as meeting a stranger and discovering you have a friend in common. As of today, the world has gotten smaller by nearly 2.5 degrees. A smaller world means your dream boss is that much more accessible, and your next job is that much closer, IF you use your network to find your next job.

Later social experiments revealed that you are much more likely to land a job through random acquaintances than through your close friends. You and your close friends all know the same people and share the same information. However, it is through random acquaintances that you can connect with people very far from your social circles. This is the principle in which LinkedIn was founded. It is why the introduction request feature was invented and what makes LinkedIn such an effective job search tool.

 

The degrees of separation have become smaller

Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist who has dedicated his career to improving America’s scientific literacy, stated that because of social networks like Facebook, separation is down to less than five degrees. In 2011 Facebook found that 92% of their users were just connected through five steps and the number has been decreasing.  According to the newest research released by Facebook in 2016, the degrees of separation are just 3.57. (This number only applies to active Facebook users which total about 1.59 billion people.)

We are all closely linked and four (or less) handshakes could connect us to anyone on the planet. Hence why networking is the number one activity to dedicate yourself to when you want to accomplish something, especially job searching. We have constantly repeated T. Harv Eker’s famous quote: “Your net worth is your network.” We believe Eker’s words are worth repeating, because while he is talking about opportunity in general, networking has proven time and time again not just to be the best way to land a job, but to land the job you want.

 

Your next job is closer than you think

A connection at the employers you want to work for may be only a few degrees of separation away through a social network such as Facebook. In fact, it is possible to use Facebook and Twitter to quickly land your next job. Think about it: If you can potentially meet anyone on the planet through fewer than 3.6 degrees of separation, it is possible to make the connections that will help you land faster. These facts are kind of mind-blowing– the world’s population has increased by hundreds of millions, but the world has gotten almost 50% smaller thanks to technology!

 

Nurture your networks

Your connections consist of family, friends, acquaintances, friends of friends, and even strangers where you may have a common interest. They are your network and by tapping into those existing relationships and nurturing them, your network will grow– much like a garden. If you are building your network online, create a relationship with the people you wish to network with by engaging them. The ultimate goal is to move your conversation offline in order to establish a meaningful relationship. Through these relationships, the introductions that will lead you to a desirable job are made.

Take opportunities to build your network by networking in person at job events, industry groups, and even industry events. Go further faster by focusing on the QUALITY of your networks, as opposed to the quantity. Quality networks are built with the people with whom you share an interest. Interests consist of a hobby, a political view, a mission, or a value. We do not want to imply that if you simply shake enough hands (without a common interest), you will land a job. You could shake that many hands and eliminate that many opportunities with the wrong impression. Networking is really about adding value to others and enriching your own life. The benefits or detriments you derive from networking are a byproduct of your approach. Like a garden you nurture, you reap or harvest what you sow.

 

In the early 20th century various scientists proved that the world is small and that we are all connected by just a few degrees. In the 21st century, the world has gotten even smaller thanks to the massive explosion of communication technology. Instead of being connected by six degrees, we are connected by 3.6. Many people tend shy away from networking, but the employers you want to work for are just a few handshakes away. A mere 3.6 degrees are all that separate you from the job you have always wanted. By taking advantage of a rapidly shrinking world, you can expand your network, connect with anyone, and land your dream job.

 

Does Your Company Play Offense or Defense with their LinkedIn Policies?

The-best-defense-is-a

Last night during Super Bowl 50, there was a two-point conversion which put the Broncos two touchdowns ahead of the Panthers. My father at first did not understand why they would risk not getting the extra point, but it paid off. The Broncos got the two-point conversion and kept their two touchdown lead. They did not need that lead in the end to win, but knowing what a fierce team the Panthers have been all season, going for the extra point was their best shot at insuring the win.

Is your company playing offense or defense when it comes to their LinkedIn policy?

Do you think your company is spending too much time and resources trolling the LinkedIn profiles of employees? Does your boss check his or her alerts whenever an employee is active on the service?

Do you know anyone who was fired from their job for using LinkedIn? If an employer were to be suspicious, either justifiably or not, what do you think of someone being fired as a result?

There are risks and rewards for the employees who use LinkedIn to job hunt while they are still employed. For example, someone actively looking while still employed may pose a data risk to their employer. However, we cannot assume just because someone is looking for a new job that they would be immoral or unethical. (Of course, job searching while on the job is a big no-no.) What if more employers adopted a comprehensive and offensive approach to LinkedIn to engage and ultimately retain employees?

 

Defensive LinkedIn policies inhibit employee growth

Many employees may imagine their employers are regularly checking their LinkedIn profiles to make sure they are not getting ready to leave. There are two reasons why a company might routinely check the LinkedIn profiles of employees. This is to either fire them first (if job search activity is found), or to convince them to stay. Restrictive LinkedIn policies are defensive. If LinkedIn policies are too restrictive and intrusive, the company demonstrates a lack of trust and respect for the employee, which may cause an employee to seek a new job. Restrictive policies may inhibit an employee’s ability to generate leads, partners, vendors, and to recruit.

Defensive LinkedIn policies also damage employment brands and recruitment efforts

Restrictive LinkedIn policies also have an effect on potential employees. Let us examine a scenario. A job seeker sees a job opening and wants to know more about the company because they care about where they work. They know they have options and are a highly valuable employee. They research the company’s LinkedIn page and evaluate the employee profiles. The savvy job seeker and wants to know how they are connected, but the employee profiles leave everything to be desired. Many employee profiles have minimal content. The employees strike the job seeker as dull and uninterested. They did not even take a moment to write a few words about themselves, or perhaps they are hiding something. It is as if the profiles are under lock down. The job seeker is unimpressed and says “No thanks! Next!” If companies are not strategically using LinkedIn to promote their employment brand, they are failing to attract savvy employees, and perhaps even potential customers.

 

Playing offense on LinkedIn engages employees

By playing offense and being proactive, a company keeps their employees engaged professionally through LinkedIn instead of having to fear if the next update could land them in trouble.  Kevin Wheeler, a consultant and public speaker, has listed the ways a company can play offense to engage and retain their employees. Some key aspects are to excite employees, and to give them a sense of freedom and opportunity.

One of the biggest reasons employees seek opportunities elsewhere is because they cannot easily grow or find promotion within their own companies. Career development or opportunities to move up within a company are appealing.  Advancement is not always tied to a higher salary, and employees (especially younger employees), seek to grow and develop their skills. If they feel stagnant they may seek growth elsewhere.

Companies that reward their employees with recognition create good will and loyalty. This is especially true for millennial workers who crave frequent feedback on their contributions.

Employers who care about employees by offering growth opportunity and ample recognition can extend that good will to their LinkedIn policies. These policies encourage employees to use LinkedIn to the fullest to promote themselves, share their knowledge and to promote the company.

These LinkedIn policies include encouraging employees to optimize and brand their profiles. We have been hired by companies to write powerfully-branded profiles for their customer facing front line and executive teams with great results. Powerful employee profiles mention work accomplishments in status updates, publish industry-related articles and company content, connect to a company page and group, endorse and network with co-workers, and expand their network to include customers, prospects, and partners. A proactive approach also engages employees by forming policies around using work hours to connect with others, and even having a marketing team or third-party like us create promotional content that can be disseminated on employees’ status updates. A company can better utilize the complete workforce to share news and job openings. Companies like Seer Interactive and Accolade consider every employee as a part of their recruiting effort.

 

A comprehensive and offensive LinkedIn policy can play a huge role in employee engagement. Remember the scenario I talked about earlier? Now imagine a job seeker comes across a company’s LinkedIn page. Instead of lackluster profiles with minimal content, that job seeker sees powerfully-branded profiles, frequent status updates about their job and industry, and well-connected employees. These employees are happy to talk about their employer and the company seems like a great place to work. They are interested and reach out to make a connection. Now this employee can have a conversation with a candidate that can easily serve as a first interview. This is what LinkedIn can offer the companies who are willing to play offense to engage and retain their employees, rather than play defense to troll them, fearful that they may jump ship. Which LinkedIn policy appeals to you?

 

Tips to Confidentially Update LinkedIn When You are in Transition and are Still Employed

LinkedIn Logo by Shekhar Sahu of Flickr

Many employees fear that their boss is watching their every move on social media and are afraid to update their LinkedIn profiles. Other employees update their profiles and openly express an interest in new career opportunities while they are employed. The first group of employees are limiting their ability to promote themselves. The second group risks being fired by their employer. Depending on your employer’s social media policies, a LinkedIn update can land you in trouble. John Flexman was an executive at a gas exploration firm based in England. He uploaded his CV to LinkedIn and checked the box indicating an interest in “career opportunities.” His company accused him of inappropriate social media use and ordered him to remove his CV. Flexman thought this was unreasonable and resigned. Flexman’s situation is not common in the United States because employers do not own your LinkedIn profile as they do in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, there are cases where employers have monitored their employees’ use of LinkedIn. It is possible to confidentially use LinkedIn during your job search while you are still employed.

 

Promoting yourself on LinkedIn IS part of the job search

A complete and branded LinkedIn profile is the best way to connect with others, stay relevant, and expand your network. However, many people are afraid to update their LinkedIn profile because they fear their employer will become suspicious of their activities. This robs a person of the opportunity to truly optimize their profile in a way that will generate more qualified leads, better opportunities, and will put their career on autopilot. Many of my clients have received offers for promotions within their companies because they have effectively articulated their value. They promote their value as an employee while promoting their company.

Content is your greatest asset on LinkedIn! Do not be afraid to post industry-relevant content and to share your knowledge in groups. Balance the content you share in order to promote yourself and your company. Share the stories where you saved the day, but also use your status updates to express gratitude for being surrounded by and supported by a great team or leadership. Your next boss would love to picture him or herself on the receiving end of such praise. Keep your praise authentic and make sure other people would be able to validate what you say as truth. Use status updates to simultaneously promote yourself, your colleagues, and your employer. Update your status by writing about problems you solved, your nuggets of practical wisdom, and giving colleagues the credit for a great performance.

 

Keep your direct job search activities hidden

When you use LinkedIn to job search and you are employed, do not openly announce your job search-related activities. This means not mentioning you are looking for a new employer in your status updates and in groups. While it is better to find a job while you are still employed, we know from our results that with a powerful and effective brand campaign and system you can viably land a new job within 10 to 12 weeks.

Although it is possible to turn off all broadcasts of your LinkedIn activity, these decisions are often made from fear and limit your success. The questionable activity to your employer comes from adding connections from the competition. If your profile is locked down to the point where almost nothing is visible, your employer may become suspicious. You also miss the opportunity to network or to be found by potential employers who are actively looking for someone with your skills, and perhaps even your network.

Adding connections from your company’s competition may raise red flags with your employer. In this type of scenario you do want to practice discretion, especially if you plan to transition to a competitor. If you are connecting with the competition, view the profiles of others anonymously by changing what others see when you have viewed their profile. Temporarily turn off broadcast activities when you follow companies for whom you want to work. This action is temporary because you do not want to alert your current employer to a direct job search activity. Otherwise, keep notifications on when you engage in your regular LinkedIn activity to raise your visibility on the network.

Joining job search groups will alert others to your intent to find a new employer while you are still employed. Avert this by not allowing anyone to see you belong to job search groups and make sure these groups are not visible on your profile by changing the order they are displayed. Also, temporarily turn off notifications for groups whenever you join a job search group. This allows you to freely join groups without notifying your network.

If you are using a company e-mail address on LinkedIn, switch to a private e-mail address immediately. Leaving your employer means that you will lose access to your e-mail, and as a result your LinkedIn account. In fact, I recommend this action even if you do not have plans to leave your company. Anything could happen!

 

Imagine a few scenarios:

  1. A job seeker keeps his or her job search activity completely under wraps on LinkedIn.
  • They check out and follow competing companies.
  • Their profile and all LinkedIn activities are completely hidden.
  • Their confidential job search will not alert their current employer, but they are invisible to potential employers.

 

  1. A job seeker updates his or her profile to promote themselves and their company.
  • They are actively looking for work and are employed, but they do not mention direct job search activities.
  • They are not afraid to highlight their accomplishments.
  • Their profile is a beacon to potential employers and it is not long before they begin to receive interview requests and even job offers.

 

Which scenario would you choose? You do not want to scream to the world that you are actively searching for work while you are currently employed. Carefully updating your LinkedIn profile will make your transition quicker and pain-free.