Archives for November 2019

Prepare Your Phone Screen Playbook to Get to the Next Level

Phone screens are like open book tests. You have to have the right playbook for it to help you. Otherwise it’s like copying off the person who never scores higher than a D. You could have gotten a D all on your own without even trying. What’s the point of that?

Firstly, understand that there’s probably more research to do than you think. Don’t try cramming all in one night. You’ll want to have all of your notes together and organized prior to the night before.

Even if you can refer to your notes, you still want to know them well enough to know which parts to reference based on the questions. You won’t have a lot of control over what questions are asked and in what order. So if you’re fumbling while trying to find the right response to a question, your heart will start ticking like a clock with each second that passes. That’s not the state of mind that performs best. You’ll have to manage the interview a bit like a dance you’re not leading, so stay agile.

As soon as you know you’ll have an interview, start researching. Cross reference what you find out about a company with what you want in your next opportunity. Anywhere there is a gap between what you want and what you can find out online, make a note of that item. This will be your agenda for pre-interview calls with your interviewer. Start a company report, and then copy and paste information on key people, values, initiatives, industry challenges, etc. Go way deeper than just looking at the company’s website. I recommend creating a Google alert on the company and key people, especially the person who would be your direct supervisor and/or your interviewer.

Try to find these key people on social media, especially Twitter where it seems people reveal more about their opinions and values. Note if they are married/single, have kids, love to travel certain places, have an obvious political inclination, have hobbies, enjoy certain artists or shows, etc. Even though you won’t necessarily use this information to build a personal report, it will certainly help you to keep this personal information in the back of your mind. If they’ve shared any of this information on LinkedIn or in their Twitter handle, then it’s pretty public and could be free game. The data points you find when digging deeper should be kept to yourself otherwise it could come off as too private and creepy.

Even if you don’t discuss your findings directly, having an idea of a person’s interests and personality can still help you build trust. Are they private, conservative, do they have a sense of adventure, what are their values? What qualities do they admire? What companies and influencers do they follow (consider quoting one)? All of this considered, just remember – don’t try to be something that you’re not! That never works out well in the end. However, if you genuinely have something in common with the interviewer, you may see an opportunity to take advantage of that. It may sound dirty, but people prefer to work with people they like and trust, and having things in common can be a trust signal.

Next, have at least one achievement story for each top quality, experience, method, or talent that distinguishes you from the competition. Connect the dots between your distinctive value, the problems, challenges and initiatives of the target company/hiring manager, and what you have been able to achieve in your employment history. If you’re asked to walk through your experience, make sure you highlight the themes of what makes you the best candidate. For instance, if you’ve always been great at identifying market trends, walk your interviewer through a highlight reel describing the specific times you succeeded at doing just that. These themes should be related to what will make a candidate successful in the role. If you can validate your aptitude early on in the phone screen, do that.

Have answers and stories prepared, but don’t write them out like an article. Make an outline, cutting out as many extra words as possible. This should look more like bulleted talking points, like a politician uses before a debate or media appearance. Boldface key phrases and points that you definitely want to relay.

Another tip is to determine which questions make you most nervous and figure out why! Are you scared of revealing something? Chances are that fear will be picked up by your interviewer, even over the phone. If they sense there’s a potential risk in your fear, they’ll either dig deeper, or let it go but this uncertainty won’t really be gone. It will be lingering in their mind as an unknown variable that leaves a gaping hole for another candidate to surpass you in the process.

Practice the KISS principal when it comes to these questions (keep it simple, stupid.) Don’t go into an elaborate story – there is a time and a place for elaborating, but this isn’t the time to risk the interviewer getting caught up in details. Understand what the risk is from the employer’s perspective. If discussing a time you made a mistake, the most reassuring way to approach the situation is to own your mistake and the impact that it had. Then, move on to demonstrating how you’ve worked on never making that mistake again. It may seem risk to admit an error, but you’ll come across as genuine, which is much easier to trust than someone who never admits to making mistakes.

Finally, if the interview question has to do with conflicts between yourself and coworkers, vendors, clients or your boss, stick to facts that all objective parties would agree upon. Don’t chronicle all events, but rather share only the relevant ones that help you make a case for your character, skills, and/or problem solving abilities. If you have to recount a specific conversation, be sure to recall the exact words that were said. Again, if you misread the situation, point out your revelation and how you would handle it now that you have more wisdom. If the situation repeated itself but with your new awareness you handled it better, take the opportunity to briefly share that story.

Keeping these tips in mind will help you ace your phone screening as well as your subsequent interviews. Remember there are steps you can take to prepare yourself for questions that will likely be asked of you. Additionally, take the time to research and get a feel for the work culture of the company you’re applying to and get familiar with the personality style of your interviewer. If you employ these tips on your next phone screening, please feel free to share how they helped you in the comments section.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (2012) – Music Video: Alabama Shakes “Always Alright”

Pre-listen: Soundtrack Snippets of Danny Elfman’s “Silver Linings Playbook” @ http://www.chongweikk.com/2012/11/soundtrack-snippets-of-danny-elfmans.html ******* Lyrics: Well you come up stairs in the night to talk Stay a little while then you do a little walk on home I hear you downstairs smoking cigerettes, I hear your talking shit Cuz you aint got

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

How Does a Professionally Branded Résumé Give You More Bang for Your Buck?

When hiring a professional résumé writer, it can be tempting to price shop. However, it’s important, even critical for the unemployed, to know what kind of return you can expect on that investment because you don’t know how long you’ll need that money to last.

That’s why I’ve created a specific process to build professionally branded résumés that ensure top-quality results.

What does the process look like?

Stages of my Epic Branding Life Cycle:

  1. Consultation/Interview
  2. Delivery of Branding Points
  3. Mini360°
  4. Finalization/Prioritization of Branding Points
  5. Mega Document Audit
  6. Request for Additional Information – Gap Fill Using Story Formula
  7. First Draft Delivery (5-10 business days from receipt of additional information from client)
  8. 60-minute draft review
  9. Semi-final draft delivery
  10. Client 10/10 rating and 100% satisfaction
  11. Continue with next document or campaign strategy and coaching

Let’s not get too far ahead, though. If you want to try this on for size, start with a free consultation.

Free Branding Breakthrough Consultation

Admittedly, I won’t be successful working with all candidates in all situations. It is a top priority that when you invest in my services, you get return on investment. While there aren’t many instances where I can’t provide ROI, I will be forthright and give you whatever guidance or referrals I can to point you to a solution for your situation.

That being said, if you have experienced long-term unemployment, are changing industries or roles, have reputation issues, or have been underemployed or underpaid, I’m highly adept at helping you get over the hump of these challenges to reach your goals and have many testimonials to prove it.

If you are not yet at least 80% certain of your target role, you are not ready to move forward with the branding process and I will help you determine if my career discovery services can help you achieve that clarity.

Sometimes personalities clash and visions don’t align. Sometimes your target role can be outside of what I consider myself an expert in, and I may recommend another provider. Sometimes my approach doesn’t work with your timeline and expectations.

The consultation is a great way to try before you buy. If we partner in this process, we’ll be working very closely together. I may need to be able to confront you if you are not working in your best interests. It’s not tough love, but it is compassionate coaching without judgment. It’s best to know ahead of time if you can handle this and if my way of working with you works for you.

Regardless of whether we fit or not, I will deliver value and immediate practical advice that you can apply right away to see a difference in your momentum. If you have not been satisfied with the results you have been getting with your tools and efforts so far, I will help you understand probable reasons why and viable solutions that will help you make the necessary shift to see better results.

The Proposal

Often you will receive a proposal prior to the free branding breakthrough consultation if it’s clear from information you provide what journey(s) will enable you to reach your goals. Otherwise, I’ll at least explain that branding services that include résumé and LinkedIn profile writing range from $1,000 – $2,500, and campaign support services are between $2,000 and $15,000. I’ll do my best to estimate on the call where in that range you’re expected to fall, and then follow up with an exact proposal that outlines your specific investment for the journey(s) being recommended.

You will see that while I require payment upfront for most journeys, I also offer guarantees (very few résumé writing services and career coaches offer these) and use PayPal, which allows you to pay over a 6-month time period at 0% financing (pending you are approved). I have taken as much risk out of this decision as possible!

You Choose

Once you confirm your desire to partner and specify which journey(s) you will take with me, you will be invoiced using PayPal, be sent a link to schedule your branding consultation, and receive a request for supporting documentation that may include, but is not limited to:

  • Job descriptions/postings for target roles (copied and pasted vs. URLs, which expire)
  • Internal job descriptions
  • Personality and/or strength assessments (I may recommend some prior, depending)
  • Performance evaluations
  • Informal kudos or testimonials you’ve received (I’ll import your LinkedIn recommendations)
  • Letters of recommendation

The more documentation you send, the more time prior to the consultation I’ll need to review it. I ask for at least 24 hours.

If you don’t have any of the above supporting documents, my process will ensure that we will still get where we need to go.

NOTE: Should you need to reschedule, please text 610-888-6939.

Your Branding Consultation

At the scheduled time, I will call you promptly at the number you include on the scheduling form.

I will have already developed questions cued from your materials so that I have a rough “bread crumb” trail to follow. All of the content you send to me prior to our consultation is copied and pasted into one master document, which I call a mega document.

We will talk more about your target role, criteria, and the conditions you will need to thrive in your new role. I will share with you my insight based on 20 years of experience working closely with employers and my expertise on employment trends what your audience will need to know about you in order to qualify you.

From there, the process is somewhat organic. One answer may lead to additional questions. I will stop you if I feel that we are straying from relevant stories and information. It is critical to me that we use our time efficiently and effectively.

Otherwise you can assume, even if you are going on a tangent, that you are providing excellent, relevant information.

At some point, you may be compelled to say, “Good question!” That is because my keen intuition enables me to understand where we need to delve deeper.

We will both come to an agreement about what qualities, experience, talents and skills distinguish you for your target role and employer.

At the end of your branding consultation, you will feel understood, proud, confident, and hopeful. You may have a new appreciation for yourself and all you have done, especially if it went unnoticed or unrecognized by your previous employer(s). You will feel more certain that all that you have to offer is needed, not by everyone, but by a particular segment of the market that your new content will now be able to recognize easily, allowing you to attract the RIGHT opportunities that represent your maximum opportunity to succeed, grow, and earn.

The First Deliverable – Branding Points

In the hours following your branding consultation, I will analyze and synthesize the totality of the notes compiled to date in the mega document, which will be well over 10 pages at this point, sometimes as many as 25 pages. I will identify 4-6 primary themes and compose branding points that encapsulate these themes, which are a combination of your qualities, experiences, talents, and outcomes that you produce as a result of having these.

I have found that fewer than 4 branding points does not provide a strong enough foundation to substantiate that you are a uniquely qualified candidate. More than 6 branding points adds unnecessary complexity to substantiating your unique value. Also, emphasizing too much value can inspire skepticism.

Because my goal is to be comprehensive and connect soft and hard skills and outcomes, some of them can be complex, even wordy. This is not representative of your final, outward-facing content.

I’ll deliver your branding points to you within one business day along with a template. It is at this early stage that I have learned it is best to procure feedback from people who know you best.

  • People find it much easier to spare 15 minutes to read and weigh in on 4-6 bullets vs. a several-page résumé or LinkedIn profile content.
  • We want to ensure (before content is created) that all of the unique dynamics that make you a valuable employee are captured from the start, so that the content created can substantiate them.
  • We also want to have a comprehensive, accurate foundation from which all of your branded content can be built so that we can tell a consistent story across various media, even while accommodating language that is germane to each media.*
    • The résumé is written to be concise. Pronouns and excess small words are eliminated for brevity, but it doesn’t sound like you would speak.
    • The LinkedIn profile, though it has character limits and still has a business audience that appreciates brevity, is best written to humanize you. That means it will be written in a more natural voice, in the 1st person.
    • A biography is written as though someone else is introducing you, in the 3rd person. It hits the highlights of your journey. At it’s best, it still expresses a theme to your journey so that it tells a compelling story, rather than chronicling your work history.
    • Other platforms and social media have “voices” as well, e.g. Twitter appreciates sarcasm, and infographics are stories in images, icons, and symbols.

* You may not opt to engage Epic Careering for multiple media, but it is still recommended that all of your content tells a consistent, compelling story by basing it on the branding points provided. 

Mini360°

Along with the branding points, I’ll send you a template that you can use to invite 4 people who know you really well, preferably in various contexts, to provide feedback within 2 business days.

As feedback comes in via e-mail, you’ll forward the feedback right to me. It’s best if I read it raw, exactly as it was written, rather than interpreted or summarized.

I will take none of the feedback personally! My primary focus is making sure that the branding points fully encompass and unveil your brilliance in all its glory.

People will tend to want to wordsmith, and you will probably have someone comment on how long or wordy they may be.

This is OK.

Some of this feedback may not be applied at this stage, which is more about my internal processes, but it can be valuable later in the content creation stage.

Upon receipt of all feedback from you and your contacts, I will hone the branding points. I’ll highlight the changes and make notes to address all of the feedback so that you understand exactly what was applied, what was not, and why. Additional questions that I will need you to answer in order to make sure that the branding points align with your vision of how you want to be promoted will also be included.

Along with the semi-final branding points, I will request that you prioritize them in order of what you want most to be recognized and appreciated for.

The process continues until you communicate that the branding points are 10/10, at which point they are considered final and the next stage begins.

Mega Document Audit/Request for Additional Information

During the branding consultation, you probably will have found it helpful to refer to specific points in time when you overcame a particular challenge, or used your unique qualities to finesse a solution. However, all of the impressive context of that story may not have been captured at the time due to a need to be efficient and effective at uncovering all of your unique value.

It’s also probable that there are additional stories about previous experience that would further support and validate your branding points, perhaps even in a way that your more recent experience would not.

I cross reference your branding points with the mega document, color coding where stories support your branding points. This enables me to see clearly which branding points are substantiated the most by recent and/or previous experiences.

The strategy is to make sure that the higher priority branding points are proven with a majority of the space, or “real estate” on your résumé, and where human eyes can see it more evidently. It also helps me understand where there are gaps in substantiating your branding points and what details of stories are missing, but needed, in order to paint a compelling picture of the value you offer and how you delivered such value in the past in relation to your branding points. This enables us to use a sound strategy for what to include or omit when needing to accommodate constraints on space.

You will be sent one or several requests for additional information that include a formula that enables you to provide only the information that is missing. In all fairness, this can seem like a daunting task for busy executive clients. Because chunks of time are easier to find/make than long periods of time, I recommend that you use your phone’s dictation features to open a reply e-mail, go to the formula, and dictate your answers as you are able. Then save the reply e-mail as a draft. Return to it, continuing to dictate your answers as you are able until it is complete, and then deliver it to me.

If you should get stuck during this process, I encourage you to schedule a call using a link that is shared with all clients so that I can help you work through whatever challenges you face in providing me with this information.

The Draft Design and Content Creation

Upon receipt of the completed information request, the drafting process begins. I have a proven, professional template (available for purchase, along with summary and bullet-building tools) and go to work strategizing and composing content that demonstrates your branding points using hard business terms as concisely as possible without losing the impact of details that build the business case for interviewing you immediately.

Most drafts take 5-7 business days, but sometimes based on the initial consultation and scope assessment it may take 7-10 business days, in which case you will have been informed with the proposal.

Along with your draft, you’ll receive a link to schedule a 60-minute phone review and some guidelines to help me arrive at a final draft that 100% satisfies you sooner than if you were to make comments and send them via e-mail.

60-minute Phone Review

We don’t always need 60 minutes to go over the changes, but some clients want to understand why some things were worded or placed in a particular way, need to provide additional clarity on certain aspects of their achievements, company or role, and just have preferences that I want to understand fully. Not only do I want to accommodate client concerns and answer your questions, but I also have best practices to maintain reader-friendliness and flow.

We won’t take time on this call to wordsmith; that’s best done on MY time after the call. I aim instead to understand the source of any concerns or the nature of your preferences. At times, I may advise you if something stands in contradiction to best practices and trends. As my customer, I will go with your decision, but will also make sure it is a well-educated decision and that the potential impact or consequences of your decision are clear.

Semi-final Draft Delivery

Within 1 business day from the phone review (with few exceptions), a semi-final draft will be delivered. If this draft falls short of the 10/10 rating needed to finalize it, I’ll trust you to use your best judgment in determining if another call is required. You’ll decide if clarity is needed from either party, or if you can communicate desired changes (and reasons) in an e-mail.

Though I aim to finalize the project as quickly as possible so that you can be in action in your job search efforts, I also do not rush you or limit the number of drafts that are created, as long as the target of the résumé remains consistent with what you identified from the beginning of the branding process.

The Final Product

Not only will every story told in your résumé prove your branding points in some way, but they will compound to create a sense of resonance and urgency that you are a HOT candidate that better be scheduled for an interview IMMEDIATELY before the competition swoops you up.

This also positions you as a premier candidate throughout the interview process. A résumé written in this way transforms how an interview is conducted. Rather than answering standard qualification and risk mitigation questions, your interviewer will be compelled to sell you the opportunity, telling you more about the daily, weekly, quarterly and annual goals and promoting the company’s benefits, perks, and growth opportunities. You will have more opportunity to paint a picture of how you will be successful in this role and to ask questions that help you determine if this opportunity is truly a fit for your criteria.

Often clients share that if a position winds up not being a fit, the company is so interested in hiring them that they custom design an opportunity that fits them! There is zero competition for these jobs, and it happens a lot more often than you think!

How This Differs From Other Résumé Writing Services

The investment is on the high end of what you’ll find across the market. This is a reflection of the experience that goes into the process and the quality of the output.

  • Many of the good services you will see out there can turn bland, functional bullets into achievement statements. That doesn’t make them branded. When the bullets align to build a business case for what makes you in-demand talent that your target needs, it’s branded.
    • If you see services offered under $100, the contents of your current résumé will be rearranged and formatted into a reader-friendly, error-free (hopefully), ATS-friendly (hopefully) document. Résumé building services fall into this range. Some of them have content databases where you select your target role/industry and you are offered choices to drag and drop into your résumé that you are then expected to customize to fit your situation.
    • If you are on a budget, have more time than money, and you still want branded content, just use my builder; it’s the only builder available that helps you create branded content and it’s fun to use.
  • My process is front end-heavy to ensure consistent quality backend output. I equate this to sharpening your ax when you want to quickly and precisely chop down a tree.
  • I do require your commitment to a partnership in the process (you have mine)!
  • I apply psychology, hypnotic copywriting, personal hiring experience, data, such as eye-tracing tests, and cutting edge industry best practices to strategically craft and locate content in a reader-friendly way where your audience will expect it. This produces more compelling, distinguishing content that resonates instantly and deeply.
  • Not only have I been a certified professional résumé writer for nearly 10 years, but I also served on the certification committee. I have seen what’s out there, and I have seen the best. I know I am providing a premium quality service! My advice was recognized by Feedspot as some of the best in the world. You are not hiring an admin to word process your résumé when you engage me. You are hiring a top-notch professional with executive-level experience in the employment industry and unprecedented credibility as an adjunct professor.

Not everything that’s fast is better, though I understand if you have an urgent need to supply a potential employer with a résumé so that you can strike while an opportunity is hot. I do not bypass my best practices, however. I have learned that the result is content that fails to produce a return on your investment and falls short of my own high standards. If you are not able to invest time being partners in this project, we just are not a fit to work together, and I wish you success and happiness in your career journey. I hope there will be a better time in the future to work together so that I can support you in optimized career growth, impact, recognition, and income.

As you can see, a lot of experience has gone into designing the branding process so that I’m able to deliver consistent quality that creates results.

Even a professionally branded résumé, however, won’t generate opportunity unless it is seen by someone in a position of power to hire you. The whole reason I do this is to help you get to the finish line. If you aren’t sure how to invest less time in your job search while getting more results, you want to acquire a life skill that will ensure true job security, and you want to form habits that make career growth a pull rather than a push. I invite you to partner with me on your campaign strategy, tools, and execution along with magnetic performance coaching.

Carly Simon – Nobody Does It Better (Live On The Queen Mary 2)

Music video by Carly Simon performing Nobody Does It Better (Live On The Queen Mary 2). (C) 2005 Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment http://vevo.ly/f5G1o0

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award.