Archives for interview

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?

Top 5 Reasons Why All of Your Efforts to Land a Job Are Failing

Business woman working on laptop in her office by perzon seo on Flickr

This is going to sound backwards, and I don’t blame you if you find it hard to believe at first, but give me a chance and I will prove that there is a way to do LESS, have MORE FUN, and get the BEST job possible, in spite of the fact that you have been doing everything possible, perhaps even everything you have been advised to do, and have not enjoyed or sustained momentum in your job search.

There is a huge misconception out there that if you are out of work, you need to HUSTLE. And yet, so many job seekers feel as though they are doing everything right, but not being offered the jobs that they feel are the best suited for them. Some receive offers they know are not the best suited, but accept them anyway. This is the cause for the 69% disengagement rate that causes US companies to lose over $400B annually.

If you have applied to over 100, even 50 jobs, and have yet to receive an offer, one of the following, or a combination of the following, are most likely the reason:

  1. Your efforts are not the right efforts

It never fails when I speak to a group of job seekers. I ask the question, “How many of you have heard that networking is the #1 way to find a job?” and everyone raises their hands.  Then I ask, “How many of you are spending at least 50% of your job search on job board or filling out online applications?” and 75-100% of the room raise their hands.

Even when they know that networking is the most effective way to find a job, they spend a small percentage of their time networking and a majority of the time on resources that only have a 5-10% chance of turning into an opportunity. And, even if they are networking, most are doing that ineffectively, either meekly asking for favors instead of boldly articulating their value, or collecting and distributing cards to essentially spam people, instead of asking rapport-building questions, nurturing their networks by providing value, and then inspiring contacts to generate leads based on the value to the employer.

I also think that many people have an inflated idea of how much time effective networking takes and that it has to look a certain way, for instance like schmoozing with people you wouldn’t normally associate with, or sucking up to people for whom you don’t have any respect or admiration. While it is outside of many people’s comfort zone, it can look a lot more like you engaging in fun and/or purposeful activities, even unrelated to your profession, and in small groups versus big events.

Spend over 60% of your time on people, who will always be much more powerful advocates than technology. Also, be proactive in your pursuit of a job over 60% of the time rather than passively filling out online applications and hitting buttons. You get what you give.

  1. Your goal is not the right goal

People are not as good actors as they imagine themselves to be. People can also genuinely believe that they are pursuing a noble goal, even if it is not the right goal for them. If you experience challenges pursuing a particular position, ask yourself if you are targeting the right position. You may have decided that something else you really wanted to do wasn’t viable, it would take too long to land or wouldn’t pay enough, but it’s actually the right thing, the thing you will attract like a magnet, and your best chance of increasing your income trajectory in the long-term. A job that utilizes your strengths and allows you to pursue a passion represents your best chances at success, but also happiness and fulfillment. Sometimes things don’t just happen TO us, they happen FOR us.  No good company wants to hire you for a consolation career.

This applies not only for pursuing the wrong position, but also the wrong employer. You don’t need to appeal to all companies in an industry if only a few of them would recognize you as a fit for their culture. Decide ahead of time what cultures you fit into and be proactive in pursuing them.

  1. Your brand is stale

So many people stop short of distinguishing themselves from their competition, feeling as though their qualifications are strong enough to make them an obvious choice. If you were on the hiring end, though, you would realize that there are a good crop of people with the qualifications to do the job. The one that gets the furthest the fastest, and ultimately the offer, is the one who can create excitement and a sense of urgency based on what they bring above and beyond meeting the requirements of the job. Your brand needs to be genuine and distinct.

It can be challenging to be objective about whether you are distinguishing yourself or not. So many people think if they call themselves “driven,” “a team player,” “passionate,” “a leader,” or “creative” that this is adequate branding. It isn’t. It’s probably true, but it isn’t distinct.

I have found that there are 4-6 major distinctions every person has that will help them rise above the rest. It’s frequently not WHAT they do, but HOW or even WHY. Everyone has his or her own unique set of experiences. This is where you have to dig to find the artifacts and evidence of your unique value.

  1. You are being perceived as a risky candidate

How critical, skeptical, even cynical recruiters and hiring managers are is vastly underestimated by job seekers. There are often more risk signals between a job seeker’s résumé and social media than there are value signals. As soon as the scale tips more toward risk, the job seeker gets passed over. What also gets underestimated is how clued in recruiters are to the tactics people use to hide risk factors. Instead of sweeping a risk factor under a rug, they often put bright red tape right on it.

Look, no candidate is going to be perfect, but the riskier candidate is the one that can’t admit where the imperfections are/were. If you can’t admit it, you can’t demonstrate your ability to learn from mistakes and even help companies prevent them.

You want MOST of the focus on value, but if there is a risk factor, such as being fired, having a visible project fail, experiencing long-term unemployment, or even having personal events interfere with work, then you need to craft a simple, relatable story based on facts that is appropriate to tell in various media, such as in your résumé (perhaps), your LinkedIn profile, or when networking or interviewing.

While some risks are common, how you might address them is very particular to your circumstances and target employer. If you want specific advice, I recommend a complimentary 40-minute consultation and some one-on-one branding and campaign assistance.

  1. Your mindset is out of alignment

We give off vibes. We pick up vibes. Even the most scientific, empirical people among us will admit that we get vibes from people. In fact, as I demonstrated in a previous post, science can actually explain why this is.  Maya Angelou said, “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Positive psychologist Shawn Achor proved that negativity and stress are contagious with an experiment at an airport. I don’t spend a lot of time talking to my clients about non-verbal communication tactics or things that they can do to manipulate the interviewer into alignment. None of these things has to be manufactured when there is real alignment, so that is what I coach my clients on. This is not “positive thinking,” which doesn’t fool anyone, including yourself. This is learning how to accept what is, truly appreciate yourself and know your own value, genuinely connect and empathize with the other person, trust in God (or the Universe, or whatever you believe is operating in your world,) and inspiring the support of others. You can’t put a band-aid on stress and anxiety and expect that no one will know it’s there. Others can feel it. And even if you walk in to an interview fully confident, there could be that one question you dread, and it can all go downhill from there. Your stress responses will take over and even if you learned how to tactically shift your non-verbal communication, you will forget or execute poorly.

If you network or interview without a fortified mindset, it can not only sabotage the results you want, but it can be a big waste of time and can make you feel worse, making it that much harder to get into a state of mind that lubricates your efforts and creates ease in getting results.

 

There are things that can be done just prior to an event or interview to help with mindset, but even the things you do behind a computer can be much more effective if you do them with a fortified mindset. Another Shawn Achor study proved that investing 10 minutes in meditation actually creates 62 minutes of productivity.  Exercising prior to doing work is another hack to improve your mindset, make you less vulnerable to getting thrown off your game, and boost your IQ.

Bananarama-It Ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It)

The band’s 1982 release with Fun Boy Three

Plans A Through D for Getting Noticed by Employers

writing business plans by informedmag.com

Flat out– I cannot guarantee even a cover letter I write is going to be read by human eyes. Even though I identify and research my client’s most logical next boss, find out what is most important to them, target their hot buttons, and write a subject line that cannot be ignored for an email sent directly to them AND instruct my clients to send a printed copy snail mail in a letter-sized envelope labeled “CONFIDENTIAL” (a technique that goes back before e-mail, but what is old has become new again as fewer people use the technique), there is still no telling if the intended recipient will receive the communication. There certainly is no insuring that, as compellingly as it is written, that it will be read.

That is pretty frustrating, right? I mean the investment to have me write one deeply researched, highly targeted cover letter is $125. Even though our clients recognize that the letter could not be written any better, and if the recipient is not going to read it, there is nothing we could send that would be any more compelling to open. It is still a crapshoot.

So many people perceive the importance and relevance of cover letters so differently that there is no one right answer to whether they are read or not. This depends on multiple factors, including how many cover letters the individual receives, whether they feel anyone could say anything distinctly enough to make reading a cover letter a good investment of time, and whether they really care who is above and beyond the résumé. There are a lot of things that I and you can do, however, to increase the chances that you will be able to use a cover letter to stand out among other prospective employees and land an interview.

All of these things are already covered in my very popular YouTube video.

Far too many people still think of a job search as a numbers game. Think about this, though– why do marketing experts tailor messaging to niche audiences?

The answer is because they increase their chances of converting prospects into customers or clients by appealing to what motivates different individuals to make an investment or purchase. This is a big part of branding.

Let’s assume that makes sense to you and you now see how campaigning to a select group of companies that represent your best chance to thrive and succeed will get you closer to your next great career move faster than what is called the “stray bullet” approach. This approach is also known as throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. I don’t know about you, but when I see stuff stuck to a wall, I don’t want to keep it.

Instead, you create a target list of companies and decide each week which ones you are going to focus your efforts on.

Plan A is actually to identify and engage an internal sponsor who will make sure that your interest in working for the company gets to the right person with a strong recommendation. These efforts can be ongoing, but in the meantime if Plan A does not work out immediately, Plan B is to engage me to write a deeply researched, highly targeted cover letter, or you write a letter of your own. Let’s say there is no response. Then what?

A critical part of each letter should be the expectation that you will be following up via phone the very next week to confirm receipt. Since you always want to be perceived as someone who does what they say they are going to do, follow up promptly. If I am able to identify the recipient’s direct phone number, obviously that is preferred, however nowadays dial-by-name directories are available on nearly every switchboard. Call the main number. Then what do you say should you reach the person or get their voicemail?

Obviously, you tell them your name and you tell them that you wanted to confirm receipt of a letter you sent last week (do not say it was a cover letter), then identify one thing – a pain, initiative, or challenge that you strongly suspect they are experiencing. This should be something that you also know based on what you have been able to achieve in the past, in which you can alleviate or accelerate. You really just want to tease them, so you do not tell the whole story – just the outcome. This will compel them to want to know more. You may also share with them a resource, such as an article, that you thought could be helpful.

If this is a live phone call, stop there and invite them to schedule a 20 minute phone call, in which you can share more. This assumes that you have consideration for whatever they were right in the middle of, and that you will not take up too much of their time. Should they be so interested, this phone call instantly turns into a phone screening. However, you will aim to ask questions, like a consultant. Do you understand better what is most important to them, what problems are causing the most pain, what initiatives are the most exciting, and what challenges are the most daunting?

If you happen to reach their voicemail, let them know you were also going to follow up via email in case that is the most convenient way for them to get back to you, and share the resource in the email. As with the live call, invite them to speak further for about 20 minutes.

Plan C is to try to find out what other media, social media, professional events, or social events enable you to capture their attention where few others will be vying for it.

Plan D, which is most job seekers’ Plan A, is to apply online.

If you identify yourself as one of those job seekers, I challenge you to do a little experiment– time how long it takes you to fill out an online application. Hopefully you are already keeping track of online submission activity. Add up how much time you spend each week applying online, and next week use that same amount of time to pick two-to-five companies you think would be ideal employers for you, and use the recipe in my YouTube video to write and send a deeply researched, highly targeted cover letter right to the person to whom you would report directly.

If you get a response, you know that you have used a much more effective method of making sure that you are visible and noticed. If you do not get a response, use my follow-up protocol and go to Plan C.

 

This might be way out of your comfort zone. I get it. But I want you to consider how uncomfortable looking for new job is when you are at the mercy of so many unknown and unseen forces. You will become more comfortable using this approach when you realize that you can make things happen.

 

How to Find Out if a Company Has Work-Life Balance without Seeming like a Slacker

Business by Richard Stebbing of Flickr

Business by Richard Stebbing of Flickr

Sometimes the next level of fulfillment that my clients are looking for is comprised of more free time to spend with their family. If Glassdoor doesn’t provide clear answers on how flexible a company is willing to be, the only other way to find out is to ask. If you ask another insider, someone not necessarily involved in hiring you, you might be able to ask more direct questions and people may feel free to be more candid. However, if both of those options are dead ends, the only option left is to find out during the interview process.

Having the interviewer acquire knowledge about your marital or familial status can put them in a precarious position. These types of questions are illegal for them to ask because they are not allowed to discriminate based on the interviewee’s status. Even for an interviewer to find out by you telling them directly opens them up to potential discrimination liability.

Another risk of acquiring about a company’s work-life balance policies is that you might be perceived as though you are someone who wants to play or rest more than work. Some generations are very susceptible to this perception. So, this week I offer you questions that you can ask a company to determine how flexible they are without seeming like a slacker.

What do you do to keep your employees happy and engaged?

What does the average workday look like for three different people on your team?

How has working here made your life better?

I pride myself on being a dynamic person; the experiences I’ve had outside of work enable me to bring even more value to my work. Do you feel like you have a dynamic workforce? And what do you do to nurture that?

What is the best way for an employee to ensure that they are making the most of their 9-5, if those are in fact the expected hours?

 

Your interviewer may perceive you to be very smart at asking questions, or, if they are really perceptive, they may see what you are getting at. Ultimately, a company would want to promote that they value work-life balance, if, in fact, they do. All employers may not understand the importance, so if it is important to you, take accountability to find out. If you feel that a potential employer resents this line of questioning, consider that resentment good to know and move on to the next company. You do not need to settle. Work-life balance, career fulfillment, and a good income are all attainable.