Archives for March 2018

What to Say When You Follow Up

Research by teresaphillips1965 on Flickr

Analysis paralysis is a phenomenon that happens when you hesitate taking action until you have enough data, which is an enigma.

It’s valuable to do research before reaching out to an employer. There are some things you should know: the leaders, the customers, the products and services, the current and short-term future initiatives, and the culture, etc.

Once you reach out, however, many job seekers fail to follow up, and miss the opportunity to get the application and/or résumé read.

Analysis paralysis is sometimes at fault. It can also be fear or not wanting to be perceived as too aggressive or annoying, which is also fear. Often I hear it’s not knowing what to say, and how to come off as enthusiastic versus desperate.

This post assumes you have sent your individual (versus group copied) thank you notes to all who were involved in getting you to that stage AND that you asked before the conclusion of your interview what the next steps and timeline is.

I don’t assume that you invited everyone to connect with you on LinkedIn with a customized message because very few people do this. That is because most people think of an interview as transactional instead of potentially transformational.

That is true of job search networking in general. Many people have a “What can you do for me now” perspective, which limits success in the short term, but more importantly in the long term. If you invest more time diversifying and deepening your network, making anything happen becomes a matter of making some calls and scheduling some meetings.

So, within 48 hours of your interview, you have sent individual thank yous and customized LinkedIn invitations. Then let’s say you were told that there would be some news about next steps sometime next week. Schedule your follow up for the following Wednesday (generally 2-3 days after you expect to hear, or 7-10 days after the interview.)

During these days, set google alerts for each person, and the company if you hadn’t done that during your target company research prior to the interview.

Look for signs of what they tend to like, share or engage on their LinkedIn profile. Start taking note of what is engaging each person, and watch the company pages and profiles. Compile a mini-library of articles that may be of interest to each person and the company. If you can find things that directly correlate to things you discussed in the interview, that’s even better.

When it comes time to follow up, unless you hear from them sooner, forward or send an article you suspect is of interest either by e-mail or social media. Determine which is most appropriate by what appears to be more heavily utilized throughout the day.

This does not have to be a lengthy communication.

It can be formal or informal. Take your cue from what you perceived the recipient to be. Of course, be professional.

It can be as simple as:

Dear Jill,

This article may be of interest to you, based on our conversation. I truly enjoyed meeting you and look forward to hearing about next steps.

I know this process can take some time. I continue to consider other opportunities, but I have been thinking a lot about all of the great things I know I would be able to do as your Vice President of Client Services and would love to know how the process is coming along. Please update me at your earliest convenience.

Best wishes in finding your ideal candidate.

Sincerely,

Karen Huller

If you legitimately have another opportunity progressing toward an offer, do take the opportunity to be forthright and let them know. You may even want to call and let them know. However, be prepared to field questions about where you are interviewing. You don’t have to answer them, and don’t if an opening is confidential. However, only give an update if it’s legitimate.

That’s it. It’s not more complicated than that.

 

Any chance you can take to add value, take it.

Steve Winwood – While You See A Chance

Best of SteveWinwood: https://goo.gl/8dc7ED Subscribe here: https://goo.gl/mJ3es8 Music video by Steve Winwood performing While You See A Chance. (C) 1986 Universal Island Records Ltd. A Universal Music Company.

Facing Age Discrimination? You Might Not Like This Advice

Old-0141 by Ronny Olsson on Flickr

If you’re finding it harder to land a job as you age, you may be wondering if age discrimination is rampant. You may worry about how are you ever going to compete with younger professionals.

The usual advice is to try to disguise your age by cutting off previous experience past X years and omitting graduation dates.

I disagree.

I personally think it’s a futile effort and one that won’t get you much further than you are.

I may advise you to cut off experience past X years for other reasons, like irrelevance or space considerations, but not out of fear your age will be discovered.

Here’s why –

#1 – Hiding your age actually draws attention to your age. With LinkedIn now being a primary platform for recruiting and job searching, it becomes harder to disguise your age. When a graduation date is missing or your summary touts 20+ years of experience that’s not on the résumé, that’s the moment I start wondering. But I’m not wondering if you’re old – I’m assuming you are. I’m wondering how sensitive YOU are about your age. What if you’re not the right fit? Will you think I’m discriminating against you? Sounds like a hassle. NEXT!

#2 – Let’s say hiring manager Jane (don’t blame the recruiters – they deliver what the hiring manager asks for) is convinced that age will become a performance issue and she’d rather not interview experienced candidates. This is why in the job description she asked for 8 years of experience vs. 15. Let’s say also she didn’t get a clue of your age from your résumé or social media so as to avoid wasting her time. She is unlikely to change her mind. In fact, she may even feel a bit like you were trying to swindle her. You are already off on the wrong foot. Maybe you like that challenge – we’ll address that in a bit.

#3 – Your age is an advantage. That is why the majority of leadership roles require more years of experience. The more you experience, the more you learn, the less trial and error you will use, AND the more time and money you will save. To put it simply, as long as you are still sharp, you will avoid making mistakes. This is valuable to any company, and if you’re trying to minimize your age, you’ll inhibit your ability to promote this tremendous value.

#4 – It’s in your best interest to avoid the employers whose culture allows age bias. An allowance such as this is most likely indicative of many other systemic issues. If you solve these problems, then the interview will look a lot more like you consulting to them, but you would have to be an NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) master to have built the kind of rapport necessary in the interview process to show them the error of their ways and gain their buy-in to change it. If you don’t solve these problems, don’t you think it’s best to just avoid them?

Some people feel very confident that if they could get past the first screen, which would otherwise exclude them because of their age, they could convince the interviewer to give them the offer. You do you, I say. If you’re really that awesome and convincing, go for it. And, if you find over time it’s not working, try it the other way – being transparent from the get-go.

If you don’t feel as confident, decide now if you want to spend your time trying to change people’s mind about age or if you want to target companies that already value what age brings the table. Pending you have a strong brand and campaign, you will land faster and experience less frustration if you are outright about your age because you will only be spending time with employers who don’t care about age.

However, if you feel it’s important to shift the paradigm, expect that it will take extra time to educate people and be prepared for frustration when some minds don’t change. Because you will be facing a less receptive, perhaps even hostile audience, you also need to put in 4x as much effort and time to generate double the interview activity, as your “closing rate” goes down.

I don’t have any actual numbers, because people don’t openly admit to discriminating based on age, but from my experience as a recruiter, hiring managers choose one candidate over another based on a myriad of other reasons. Rarely would I suspect that there was age discrimination. Sometimes I was given feedback that I was prohibited to relay to the candidate, and just had to tell them that the client chose someone else. Often the reasons were a mystery. I recall many times a candidate was chosen because of an internal relationship, or a common interest, or just really hit it off with someone. Age discrimination and bias happen, but not as frequently as you would think.

You are most likely finding it harder to leave a job because the more experienced you get, there are statistically fewer positions toward the top. Also, if you were using a way to look for a job that worked many years ago and wondering why it’s not working now, it’s not your age. What used to work years ago doesn’t work as well now and as you gain more experience, certain activities are just less effective. You have to be more strategic and less tactical.

And, even though if you look at an organization chart as a triangle, you can see that there are fewer positions at the top. That doesn’t mean you have fewer chances to land that job. Your chances of landing a job actually have little to do with the amount of opportunity available and much more to do with your ability to be competitive for those roles.

Brand yourself as someone wise but in touch, someone who can elevate standards of the workforce around them, and someone who will set the company up for success by helping them avoid costly mistakes.

Some companies have learned the hard way that hiring less expensive talent can lead to MASSIVE costs downstream. If they have learned, they are now seeking and willing to pay for experienced talent. If they haven’t learned, they’re dying, and you don’t want to go down with them.

With technology evolving at breakneck speed, you’ll have to demonstrate that you can keep up, that you are agile enough to pivot on a dime, literally, but also maybe physically.

This actually touches on a different kind of illegal discrimination – health. Sick workers cost companies money. Recruiters and hiring managers are not really supposed to be privy to any medical information throughout the interview process. However, if you show signs of illness or, let’s just say not wellness, then there could be bias against you.

As wrong as that is, fighting against this bias can become a full-time job, and one that has no guarantee of income. It can be a futile waste of energy that is probably better spent on your well-being and peace of mind.

By keeping yourself in as good a shape as possible, you’re not only projecting health, but you project that you value yourself. Why would anybody else value you, if you don’t?

There are some things that we are genetically predisposed to have and accidents happen that can leave us disabled, but there are things within our control that we can do.

We can get enough sleep. We can quit bad habits like smoking or eating junk food, and we can eat more vegetables and exercise regularly. (Hypnosis is highly effective for this! Book here!)

Now we also know that our brain has plasticity, meaning it can still develop and re-develop, so we can also keep our brains sharp with the right nutrients and activities. Dr. Daniel Amen has some great education on this. You may have also heard of the mobile game Lumosity, which is designed to help keep cognitively fit. Even just playing chess, dancing, and doing crosswords have been proven to do this.

Sensitivity to and anticipation of age discrimination is often a greater detriment than age itself. It keeps you in a victim mode versus an empowered mode. You will project less confidence in your interviews. You may even be a bit more defensive or over-compensate by being overly energized.

Yes, age discrimination does happen, but it’s most likely not the reason you are finding it more difficult to land AND you can overcome it in less time (weekly and overall) with effective branding and campaigning. There are 3 spots left in April if you want one-on-one help in this area. You can book a free consultation here. If you prefer the support of a group setting or you have a small budget for this type of assistance, a live 6-week group coaching session will start in late April. The first module is FREE and you can watch it here.

 

Don’t let anyone keep you from contributing to your brilliance. I will help you take control, shine your brightest, and continue realizing your potential.

Fleetwood Mac – Landslide

i do not own this song, no copyright infringement intended Lyrics: I took my love, I took it down Climbed a mountain and I turned around And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills ‘Til the landslide brought it down Oh, mirror in the sky What is love?

The Low Down on Willpower: Why It’s Often Not Enough and How to Compensate

BEAT THE DIETER S DILEMMA WHAT TO DO WHEN WILLPOWER FAILS TEXT WORD CLOUD CONCEPT by aihumnoi on Shutterstock

Here’s what we know about it: It’s limited, but with the right motivation and the right conditions, it can be THE thing that helps you create the change you want in your life.

But what if… you didn’t get enough sleep one day? What if something stressful happens in your life? (That’s inevitable.) What if your blood sugar is low one day?

The right conditions for willpower can be very tricky to control all the time.

Gretchen Rubin, aficionado of good habits and author of several great books on forming habits, has pointed out that forming one good habit tends to eventually create a ripple effect of other good habits. One of the reasons is because willpower is like a muscle, and if you exercise it regularly, it gets stronger over time. Another reason is because our brains release dopamine when things feel good. When change feels good, we crave more of it.

However, using willpower can consume so much mental energy that we become less effective at work, in our workouts, or at solving problems. Have you ever noticed when starting a new diet that you feel more exhausted or less competent? As I already stated, you can gradually build up a larger and larger reserve of willpower, but you have to overcome those conditions on a very regular basis.

Another great point by Gretchen Rubin is that forming a new habit is so consuming because you have to constantly consciously make the decision to NOT engage in the bad habit and TO engage in the good habit until the new habit becomes automatic and you no longer have to even think about it.

My biggest frustrations as a coach were when my clients simply would not do what I was advising them to do. In my early years, this took a toll on my relationship with them, as I would grow very frustrated. By digging deep into the everyday individual challenges of engaging in a new activity with integrity from my own perspective and getting some coaching in emotional intelligence, I developed a greater sense of empathy and compassion. As much as my clients appreciated my patience, compassion, and validation of their feelings, it kept them comfortable in their challenges instead of moving them past them.

In my quest to be the most effective force for personal transformation I can be, I was left with a couple of nagging questions:

  • If our conscious efforts can so easily be sabotaged and have such a cost, what can we do to get our subconscious to be on board quicker so that new habits become automatic?
  • If being tough and no-nonsense doesn’t inspire change in my clients, and being too compassionate doesn’t inspire my clients to change, and I know that they want change, what is the right balance to use and the right tools to use that will help them love themselves through the change and create a safe space for them to transform?

As a leader, have you ever asked yourself these questions? The drive of a leader is to oversee the development and transformation of others into leaders. I have to imagine that all leaders have discovered the same strengths and shortcomings of tough love and compassion. Finding the balance takes trial and error and experience. Even with the wisdom of experience, we have to be able to apply that wisdom when conditions, like lack of sleep, low blood sugar, stress, are present.

For the answers, I turned to science: neuroscience and psychology. What they have discovered in the past 10 years negates much of what we knew prior and a lot of what I learned in college, but some fundamentals remain. Planting roots for good habits is still very much based on the cognitive learning methods of positive and negative conditioning, but we are finding that negative conditioning has some detrimental side effects that contribute to mental health declines, even though it appears to be more effective in the short-term. This is why positive psychology branched out as a practice in 1998. Public perception of this practice has held it back, as people believe that positive psychology is merely about “thinking positive,” which many struggles to do with much regularity. Much the same way, the media/Hollywood and a few mal-intended practitioners of NLP (like hypnosis, but using regular conversation to induce trance) have given hypnosis a very bad reputation.

Take the highly-nominated Academy Award film Get Out. Ugh. It’s a shame that people will not seek out a solution with such potential to change their lives for the better because they believe this portrayal of hypnosis as some malevolent form of mind control. I have already had people claim that hypnosis is “too invasive.” If you watched this film, I couldn’t blame you for getting that impression, but you must realize that this was a movie created by the imagination of Jordan Peele. You might also get the impression from watching this film that white people are wackos, or that Peel thinks so. You might not know that Peele is half white himself.

The truth is that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, it’s a way to get you into rapport with your subconscious mind, and if I were to give you suggestion under trance that was out of alignment with your values and morals, you would come out of trance. The other truth is that I am not using hypnosis to impose my will on you. I was trained to make sure that the ecology and well-being of the client come first, and your words are the most effective words I can use, so before a session, I am capturing how you feel, words you use and what you want most for your life post-session.

I had to clear up my kids’ perception of hypnosis, as they have seen cartoons where characters bark like a dog. I did see a hypnosis show in which fellow college classmates did some crazy things, but those were the same people who would be seen doing crazy things without the influence of hypnosis, and perhaps under the influence of something else that would lower inhibitions. I noticed that the hypnotist sent some people back to their seats. These were the people who would not have wanted to do something crazy.

Psychology was my career of choice as a high school Junior. But someone had said to me that people become psychologists because they’re crazy themselves. This turned me off to that career path. I don’t regret my communications concentration – it had a lot of cross-over and I certainly use it heavily as a coach. However, I know enough now to feel certain about the contribution that I can make with hypnosis, and I’m not going to let the perceptions of a practice discourage me from promoting it and using it.

You may decide that it’s still too mysterious, or that you want to build up your own willpower muscle. I believe that it’s an admirable endeavor, especially if you can afford the time it takes to do that.

If, however, you can’t afford to take a lot of time, or the pace at which you need change has to keep up with the pace of business, technology, life, etc. consider hypnosis as a safe, natural alternative to a fallible, limited reserve of willpower.

 

Schedule your individual session here: https://calendly.com/epiccareering

For corporate change initiatives, including leadership transformations, e-mail Karen@epiccareering.com to schedule a consultation.

Ben Harper – The Will to Live

The Will to Live (1997)

10 Steps to Being the ONE Who Gets the Offer: Avoid “Bland Brand”

Day 102/365 by markgranitz on Flickr

Most people don’t get the job. Only one. How do you set yourself up to be that one from the get-go?

It’s your brand. This isn’t just a buzzword, and it’s not something created out of thin air. In fact, you have one whether you are intentional about it or not. Only, if you haven’t been intentional (which is the “I” in EPIC,) it may not be a brand that positions you for what you want, and it might not be noticed by people in a position to give it to you.

Getting it noticed is a step ahead, step 3, though. Let’s just focus now on what you need to ask in order to assess your current brand, which is really how people think of you. Then you can bridge the gaps to include what people really need to understand in order to see that you are special, deserving, and ready for the next step.

[To go back a bit, Step 1 is Focus – I covered that in a video I shared recently, but it’s no longer available.]

Step 2 to landing your dream job is Branding. For job seekers, this means taking that focus on what you want to do most and who you want to do it for, and understanding what your ideal employer needs to know about you to help them quickly determine that you are a person of extreme interest and unique value.

A powerful brand creates a sense of urgency, because if a hiring manager sees your value, so will someone else, and that means that you could be an asset to the competition any day now. That’s a double loss to a company!

The average résumé and LinkedIn profile describe functional duties – what you were responsible for or in charge of doing and what your day-to-day, weekly and monthly duties were.

Do you think presenting yourself as average will attract the attention of your dream employer?

For that matter, will you attract the attention of any employer? Only if that employer is okay with average employees. What kind of job security can a company with average employees offer you? Will you be satisfied working with average people who produce average results? You may, and to each his or her own. My clients would not be, but that’s why they choose to work with Epic Careering. If you aren’t striving for Epic, you aren’t a potential client. This post could still help you, because even if you want an average job, you still need to land it, and you still need to be slightly better than average – otherwise, how is an employer to choose? I can just see them doing eenie meenie minie moe with résumés now.

(By the way, and this may seem obvious, so forgive me, but in order to be seen as an attractive candidate, you first have to be seen. Don’t depend on online applications for this, but again, that’s step 3.)

A. In order to assess your current brand, it’s best to ask others who know you well: What kind of reputation do you think I have?

When people give you generic answers, such as, “You’re a team player,” or “you are results-focused,” get them to be more specific. For example, when it comes to results, ask them to define the kinds of results that you generate, or how they can tell you are focused on results. If they praise you on your ability to work with a team, ask them what they think makes you good at working with a team. These are a couple examples of where and how to dig deeper, but the kinds of responses you might get are limitless. The key is to keep honing in on your UNIQUE way of being valuable in ways that many, many people are valuable. Don’t settle for answers that most people give, or you will wind up sounding like everyone else. That’s a kind of brand, but not the kind that gets the offer – that’s a bland brand.

B. Now you have to take a look at the kind of people that your ideal company wants to hire. Find a company that meets 80% of your criteria (which were developed in Step 1 – Focus.) How? Pick the most critical of those criteria and determine where companies who meet that criteria can be found.

For instance, if you want your company to offer excellent health benefits, Google “companies that pay 100% health benefits.” This worked for me. You may want to put in your state or city, but even if a company is headquartered in a different location, they still may have subsidiaries or locations near you, or they could have remote positions.

C. Visit their employer page to see what they say about the kinds of talent they attract. The better ones will have employee testimonial videos. You’ll still want to rely on other sources. Go to LinkedIn, search for the company, opt to see the employees on LinkedIn. You can sort by titles that resemble the ones you would want. Check out various profiles to see where else people worked, where they went to school, and what they have achieved at work and in their community. You may even see if those same people are on other social media, like Facebook or Twitter where they may share more candidly and you can find out more about the kinds of personalities the company attracts.

D. Look for trends. Write down what you find. What are the common backgrounds, personalities, and achievements that have enticed this company to hire in the past? Do you feel like you fit in?

That’s a loaded question, since most of us suffer from “imposter syndrome.” Let’s assume that these are people that you think you would like to work with, and therefore you would fit in. It’s generally true that traits we admire in other people are those we possess or strive to possess, and therefore are authentically us. We just need some evidence.

E. Take the list of common backgrounds, personality traits, and achievements and put them in a T-table so you can compare with what you possess. Keep in mind that you may have to look outside your previous work experience to find evidence, since we don’t always get the chance to express or apply our innate strengths on the job, or we do and it’s not appreciated. If we’re going for EPIC, we’re assuming that your strengths, talents, and personality will be embraced and leveraged. That’s what makes you feel ALIVE at work. [Let’s also assume that you’re well compensated for them.]

F. Here is where we get more specific and start to build your brand case. The achievements, education, and skills are the more tactile to compare. However, when it comes to personality traits, it may be more challenging. Asking for assistance from those who know you well can really help speed this process along, as vulnerable as it might make you feel. You need to discern what your unique way of demonstrating these qualities has been.

G. Once you have all of the data, synthesize it, and distill it into 4-6 branding points – no more/no less. You need a solid foundation on which to build your content, and you want to make sure you can be clear and consistent across your résumé, LinkedIn profile, biography or any other media you might use to share your brand.

H. Put them into priority based on for what you want to be appreciated most.

I. Each branding point needs a story to prove it. The higher priority branding points need to be proven more frequently, and more recently.

J. Use the following formula to flesh out all the details of your story

> Situation (the conditions that existed that necessitated a change)

> Challenge(s)

> People impacted and the impact (pre-solution)

> Decision made

> Action taken

> Skills, talents applied

> tools used

> people involved

> results (in measurable terms whenever possible)

> impact (how that trickled down to other people)

K. Take the most impressive components of each story and build a bullet, starting with an action verb, that highlights them for your résumé. You may not accommodate each part of the story for résumé bullets, but you can save that back-story for your LinkedIn profile, helping you create a completely complimentary brand story between the media.

If these steps have already overwhelmed you, and you feel that in the time that you would take to complete all of these steps you could have made good money, do what highly successful people do and leverage other people’s expertise and time.

Engage us and we will:

  • Ask all the pertinent questions
  • Understand your target employer’s hiring criteria
  • Ensure that your new brand resonates with them and creates a sense of urgency
  • Get granular and specific about which makes you unique
  • Synthesize and distill all of your qualities and experience into 4-6 branding points
  • Write your summary to distinguish you among any other equally or more qualified candidates
  • Compose branded bullets that PROVE you are a MUST-CALL candidate
  • Craft complimentary content that presents a clear, consistent and compelling story that inspires action

 

If you like these steps, consider yourself a talented writer, and love the do-it-yourself model, I recommend investing in our very fun bullet builder, summary builder, LinkedIn profile builder and our proven template: http://epiccareering.com/diy-content-builder/. These put all the creation in your hands without the guesswork that can lead to costly (time and $$) trial and error.

The Smiths How Soon Is Now?

Album: Hatful of Hollow / Year: 1984 / Written by Morrisey and Johnny Marr / Produced by John Porter Lyrics: I am the son and the heir Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar I am the son and heir Of nothing in particular You shut your mouth How can you say I go about things the wrong way?