Thoughts, Ideas, and Concepts by Sandra Parks

Posts tagged ‘job’

How to Handle ‘You’re Overqualified’ in Interviews

So  what should you do if you’re credentialed with good experience and advanced  education, are looking to become re-employed and are even willing to take a  lower-level position? Here are a few tips:

Don’t  Be Tempted to “Dumb Down!”

This  strategy moves your career backward. You typically end up frustrated, not hired  or worse — you find a new job you can’t wait to move out of. Most employers  today actually want you working at your highest ability level since productivity  is key to everyone’s success. They also want to retain you past the many months  it takes to train you for the job, so you can begin to make a contribution to  the company.

Do Some Soul Searching and Savvy Preparation.

Acknowledge  that employers are reluctant to hire a person who is overqualified because they  think the person is unlikely to be happy, won’t stay long, might want the  interviewer’s job or may expect fast promotion. Remember that you can be  threatening to the interviewer, especially if you are truly suited for the  interviewer’s job! He may think you aren’t seriously interested in doing the job  for which you’re being hired — nor do employers want someone who’s burned out or  sees the job as an easy paycheck.

Examine  why you want the position. “I need a job!” is not a response that will endear  you to him. You must use your communication skills to convince him why a  demotion is a good option. You must create a reasonable explanation. Try  this:

“My  current position as Regional Sales Manager requires me to cover 14 states, and  the job had grown into 15 nights of travel per month. This has become an  increasingly difficult sacrifice for my family. I have decided to seek a major  accounts-rep position that allows me to focus on my strengths — selling,  sustaining top-notch client relationships and up-selling — but also allows me to  go home most evenings. This is not an option at my current job. It requires a  lot of out-of-town travel to do the job, which I am no longer willing to do. I  believe my extensive marketing and sales skills would greatly benefit your  organization in a positive way. I see this as a win/win situation for both of  us.”

Don’t  Show Desperation.

You  may feel it, but it will work against your getting hired if you show how frantic  you are to get a job. Too often an executive says, “I’ll start at any job just  to get my foot in the door.” That won’t work — it’s an outdated strategy. Being  willing to take any  job often makes the interviewer disqualify you. She needs a competent  person to perform the specific job she’s hiring for.

So,  you must show not only that you can do it but also that you want
to do
it. You can offer some advantages, gained from your experience, such
as: “My ability to solve problems and train others would be a major plus in the  position.” Many employers are slow to hire, yet pay well when they select
someone for the position, so patience is essential.

Look  Harder for Positions for Which You Are Qualified.

Employers  want a good fit and an individual who delivers results. Customize every cover letter you write and tweak your resume to match the
opportunity. Be sure to address the major needs required and demonstrate results  you’ve achieved in line with the level requested. A former CEO at a smaller  company might only be a midlevel executive at a larger organization, so be clear  as to how you’re leveraging past experience and leadership to help a potential  employer excel.

Networking  Is Key to Hearing About and Landing a New Job.

Ask  colleagues, friends, former employees, college alumni, and other contacts for  referrals to new people who can help you uncover unadvertised positions. An  introduction to a senior executive can open new doors and even create a job when  no advertised one was available. Department of Labor statistics reveal that 63  percent of all jobs last year were found through contacts, so network, network,  NETWORK!

10 Tips for Getting the Most from Your Mentor

How can a mentor improve your business and career advancement? Many ways: A mentor can guide you, take you under his wing and teach you new skills. Research has shown that mentoring relationships succeed and are satisfying for both parties when both the mentor and the person being mentored take an active role in developing the relationship.

Here are 10 tips you can implement to ensure you get what you need out of the relationship.

  1. Be clear on why you want a mentor and why you are meeting.
    Define what type of help you’re looking for in a mentor. Are you looking for someone with similar skills or someone with a very different skill set who can coach you? Are you looking for someone who has gone up the corporate ladder and can advise you on the ins and outs of corporate politics?
  2. Establish goals for the relationship.
    Discuss and agree upon the goals of the relationship and what you, personally, are doing to make it a successful venture. Review these goals from time to time to be sure the relationship is working; if not, adjust and refocus.
  3. Network, network and network to find a suitable mentor.
    Once you decide on the type of mentor you need, participate in functions and professional associations where you might find this type of person. For example, scour your chamber of commerce events, alumni and professional associations or even your owncompany. If you do choose someone from your own firm, it’s best to select someone other than your direct supervisor.
  4. Don’t limit yourself to one mentor.
    You can establish multiple mentoring relationships with individuals who can help you grow in different aspects of your life. Think of it as building your own personal board of directors. Also, don’t underestimate the value of a ‘peer mentor’ or someone at your level who has complimentary skills and experiences — even if you think you’re on the same level, you can learn a lot from their previous experiences.
  5. Establish communication methods and frequency of contact from the beginning.
    Talk with your mentor to determine the lines of communication that will work for both of you. Will you meet face to face or communicate mainly through e-mail and the telephone? Make sure you meet/talk enough to suit both of you.
  6. Manage expectations and build trust.
    Mentoring takes time and implies sacrifices for both the person being mentored and the mentor. Be respectful of your mentor’s time and the other priorities in her life, such as family, travel and community activities. Avoid any trust-breaking behaviors such as canceling appointments or not following through on leads and contacts given to you by your mentor.
  7. Acquire mentoring skills and competencies.
    Pay attention to great skills that you notice in your mentors; these skills include listening, guidance, recommendations and wisdom. When you receive corrective feedback from your mentor, don’t be defensive. Listen, digest and take immediate steps to apply what you have learned.
  8. Be respectful of your mentor’s time.
    Do not overburden him by demanding too much time or too many contacts. Understand that the moment you decide you need information might not be the best time for him, so be patient.
  9. Express your gratitude.
    Your mentor is likely to give a lot more than you do in the relationship in terms of time and contacts. Be sure to express regularly that you value and appreciate your mentor’s guidance.
  10. Vary the activities you do together.
    There are numerous activities you can do with your mentor, such as talking about your past experiences, goals, plans, and skill development and attending meetings, conferences, and other events. You can also shadow your mentor at work or exchange and discuss written materials like your resume or an article one of you has written.

ROADMAP TO YOUR JOBSEARCH

Today’s job searches are taking longer to produce results than even a year ago. But that reality doesn’t have to put a damper on your campaign to land that plum position! Stack the odds in your favor by creating an effective road map that covers all the best job search strategies.

First Impressions

Begin the journey with a professional cover letter and resume. You want to engage hiring managers and build interest in you as a viable candidate. That first impression can become a wave you ride into the interview room. Carry that professional image through in every interaction you have within your network or with any representatives of the companies you contact. Meet every deadline. Arrive early for any type of appointment. Be prompt and courteous. Above all, behave professionally.

Actions Speak Loudly

Follow up with hiring managers to produce results long after the first contact you have with a company. You might call to be sure your resume has been received or to inquire as to the need for additional information. Sending a thank-you note following an interview is par for the course, but also send one to acknowledge any assistance you received, such as to the contact who helped get your resume to the right individual. Even if you don’t land an interview initially, state your intent to touch base periodically. See this as part of your network building. By sharing the latest industry information or just chatting informally, you can turn these contacts into enjoyable social encounters. Your persistence and interest in the company are communicated by consistent actions, which carry much more weight than empty words.

Network Effectively

Take advantage of job fairs, community gatherings, andprofessional organization events to keep your finger on the pulse of local and national job markets. Not only are these excellent opportunities to network, but also to understand movement in key positions at companies of interest. Consistent networking, even if you aren’t actively looking for work, can lay the foundation for subsequent job searches. Read local business publications to stay on top of regional business news and opportunities. You may discover new businesses before they open where you can submit an early resume ahead of the competition.

Do What You Love

Professional passion and interest in your field of work cannot be overrated. Only you can determine whether this is the time to follow your heart and create a new direction in your career or if it’s better to stick with a sure thing. Though family and financial obligations may be pressing you in one direction, if you are unhappy in your current situation, it may be negatively affecting your overall quality of life as well as your job search. Although it may seem like a bit of a detour, review what makes you happy and do what you can to increase a sense of meaning and satisfaction in your life. Believe it or not, that kind of energy can also fuel your job search forward.

Don’t Get Overwhelmed

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you are continually looking for opportunities and feel stymied by the lack of results. The sheer number of job listings and sites makes the job search feel even more challenging. Realize it is not necessary to mobilize every strategy in your job search road map at the same time. Keep diligent records of your job search and organize contacts so you don’t inadvertently duplicate your efforts. You may also use a spreadsheet for usernames and passwords to various job sites.

Pick Up the Phone

Use the resources available to you. Call the new company in town and introduce yourself. Share your interest in the company, but more importantly, use your elevator speech to broadcast your skills and value. Follow up with a resume. Ask for a meeting. Give hiring managers good directions in identifying your strengths and linking those to the needs of the company.

Work to gain clarity in your job search for greater effectiveness and consistent progress on the journey. Target positions and employers you are interested in and systematically follow your road map for success!

Networking Is Your Status Update Still ‘Looking for Work?’

Networking

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of status updates on business and social networking sites that say things like, “Project Manager professional looking for work” or “Looking for work in a tough economy” or “Just received my degree in accounting — looking for work.” While I understand that these job seekers are trying to advertise their candidacy online, I don’t recommend broadcasting this specific message in your status updates. Here’s why:

  1. Blasting this message to your entire network makes you look desperate. You might as well rent a billboard to promote your job search … Yes, I know there are stories about people landing a job this way, but these tactics get old fast. (And by the way, the guy who landed a job by wearing a sandwich board saying he was looking for work is “so 2008.”)
  2. Posting this message makes people in your network uncomfortable. Imagine agreeing to meet someone for coffee and before the coffee is even cool enough to drink you say, “I’m looking for work.” It’s awkward. It places an unrealistic expectation on your contacts to come up with a solution for you. The same thing happens online when you announce that you are looking for work.
  3. Sending this message leaves you little wiggle room for a follow-up message. Think about it. If you are still in a job search next week, what will your status update be? “Still looking for work” isn’t going to cut it.

Status updates on business and social-networking platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn are a way for you to build rapport with a community and deepen the relationship with your contacts. Choose messages that showcase your expertise, share valuable information, give kudos to others or broadcast an exciting endeavor you are working on (even if it is volunteer work). Here are some examples of alternative status updates you might want to adapt for your situation:

For a fundraising executive:

  • “Volunteering at the American Cancer Society walkathon on Sunday; hope to raise more than $2M.”

 

For an HR professional: 

  • “Attending a seminar on compensation plans for 2009 and beyond at (share the link)”

For an advertising professional: 

  • “My colleague, John Smith, just landed a major account with a leading luxury goods company. Way to go, John!”

For a CIO: 

  • ”Reading an interesting article on new technologies in health care at (share the link)”

For a financial analyst: 

  • “Boning up on study materials for the CFA Level II exam … looks like it’s going to be a long night!” 

Create status updates that invite questions and further conversation, not ones that make your network run for cover. Remember, online networking, like face-to-face networking, is a process. Whenever possible, give before you get and you will be surprised how quickly you get something back in return.

Good Information, email the author for questions.

Personal BrandingBusiness sucks.
Layoffs abound.
Job stability is wavering.

Will you panic or prosper?

If you want to accomplish the latter, remember this three-word philosophy: Anonymity is bankruptcy.

That’s why we’re going to explore three tactics for elevating your visibility:

  1. Exert your distinctiveness.
  2. Prepare to be vulnerable.
  3. Be smart, not a smarty-pants.

When executed consistently, these practices will capture the attention of potential employers, thus contributing to a greater awareness of the value you bring to the company.

1. Exert your distinctiveness.

As an executive, the net worth of your human capital is a function of your expertise. So, the three questions you need to ask yourself are:

  • What are you known for knowing?
  • Who is already attracted to you and sees you as a resource?
  • What have you done, specifically – in the last 24 hours – to amplify that expertise within your company?

Once you’ve identified and evaluated your true expertise and inventoried your negotiable personal assets, the next challenge is to assert that distinctiveness in every possible personal-branding touchpoint: questions you ask, answers you give, e-mails you write, meetings you attend and conversations you hold.

The cool part is, asserting your distinctiveness elevates your visibility. Elevating your visibility attracts more responsibility. More responsibly increases the net worth of your human capital. And an increased net worth of human capital compels potential employers and solidifies your job security.

Remember: If your presence makes a difference, your absence will make a different. You want people to start asking where you are when you’re not around. You want to become so invaluable that you become noticeable in your absence. Executives like that get hired and rarely get laid off. What are you known for? What are you known as? And what hard-to-copy capabilities do you possess that position you distinctively, effectively and continuously?

2. Prepare to be vulnerable.

Vulnerability is attractive. Vulnerability is approachable. Vulnerability is strength. Even President Obama – during his first month in office – recently owned up to the media for his poor appointee choice.

“I’ve got to own up to my mistake,” Obama told NBC News. “I’m frustrated with myself, with our team. … I’m here on television saying I screwed up.”

Look, we’re all a bit nervous. And we’re all a bit vulnerable. The danger is when we’re not willing to disclose that vulnerability by practicing radical honesty. So here is my suggestion: Dare to be dumb.

In my workshops and seminars, I challenge people to increase their usage of the phrase “I don’t know.” It cuts down on the pressure to know everything. Plus, pretending like you do know when you don’t cracks your foundation, your integrity.

It’s a falsehood in your personality, and during interviews employers can smell it. Being vulnerable, however, means being secure enough to be who you are, even if who you are is wrong. What’s more, in a sea of gargantuan professional egos, your vulnerability will stand out as a refreshing change. Are you willing to admit your ignorance? Are you someone others can feel dumb in front of?

Remember: When you maintain this attitude of approachability, your employees and your potential employers will respond to (and have more respect for) you. How are you branding your honesty? Are you willing to take the lead with your integrity and become someone others can be vulnerable in front of?

3. Be smart, not a smarty-pants.

Yes, human capital is a function of knowledge. At the same time, there’s a fine line between being smart, and being a smarty-pants.

Here’s the difference: Smart people attract others; smarty-pants people alienate others. Smart people are trusted with greater responsibility; smarty-pants people are avoided.

Next time you attend a department meeting, consider this three-step, unforgettable strategy:

  • Bite your tongue. Don’t say anything until the last five minutes of the meeting. That way you can collect you thoughts, clarify your position and speak confidently. By looking around, listening and learning first, your comment will contain its maximum amount of brilliance.
  • Come out of nowhere. When the meeting leader says, “Does anybody have any questions?” or “Any final thoughts before we finish?” you raise your hand and say: “I had an observation …” All the people in the room will turn their heads, rotate their chairs and look in the direction of the one person who hasn’t said anything all morning – you.
  • Articulate your idea. This is the best part. See, if you only say one thing, it becomes more profound because scarcity creates a perception of value. What’s more, the longer you wait to say something, the more everybody else will want to know what you’re thinking. Ultimately, your calmness, patience and quietude will draw them in. In the words of our mistake-friendly president, “Power grows through prudent use.”

Remember: Let go of the need to prove how smart you are by always adding some super-intelligent comment or asking some super-tricky question. You can still be smart – and be perceived as being smart – without looking like a know-it-all jerk. Are you sharing your knowledge or showcasing it? Are trying to elevate your visibility or be the center of attention?

Look, times are tough – tougher than they’ve been in a long time. But you’re tougher. And I’m confident you’re going to make it out alive!

Challenge: Pick a few of the strategies from this list that work best for you. Customize your visibility plan according to your unique skills and passions. And remember those three crucial words … Anonymity is bankruptcy.

Let me ask ya this: How are you elevating your visibility?

Let me suggest this: For the list called, “30 Ways to become the Most Interesting Person You Know,” send an e-mail to me, and I’ll send you the complimentary list!

Scott Ginsberg, a k a, “The Nametag Guy” is the author of eight books and an international professional speaker. He’s been recognized by The Wall Street Journal and 20/20 as “The Authority on Approachability.” And, as the producer of NametagTV, he teaches professionals how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business. To rent his brain, email scott@hellomynameis scott.com.
 

MISTAKES!!!

1. Email Errors

One of the most common goofs we see is an incorrect email address. Since most job search efforts are centered around email communications, having an email address that is wrong or difficult to interpret can be a pothole in the road to success. Double-check your email address to make sure it is correct. Don’t use your work email address on your resume and try to avoid having an email that has the number 1 in it as it can be difficult to tell if it’s a letter or a numeral. Avoid goofy or cutesy email monikers such as vanhalenlvr83 or similar. Email systems that use automated spam authenticators are loathed by recruiters and line managers alike, so stay away from them during you job search. Remember, you can set up an email address that you use JUST for job search.

2. Mechanical Mistakes

Misspellings are the most common mechanical mistake. People rely on spell-check too much. Spell-check can’t tell the difference, though, in meaning. If you write “manger” instead of “manager”, spell-check won’t flag it. Other mechanical problems include verb tense shift and capitalization. It seems like when in doubt, job seekers will capitalize something just “to be on the safe side” but that just creates an error.

3. Fluff Phrases

The profile or summary is often the most difficult section of the resume to create. As a result, job seekers fall back on soft-skill phrases or fluff phrases such as “good communicator” or “hard-working”. These sound good but they tell the reader nothing. These are subjective traits that are opinion-based. You may think you are a good communicator but your peers might say otherwise. These traits will be judged in the interview so don’t load the resume down with these. Remember, 99.9% of all the other candidates will also be claiming these skills. Have you ever heard of anyone putting “bad communicator” or “lazy with sloppy attention to detail” on the resume?

4. Too Much Information (TMI)

Job seekers often forget for whom they are writing. The recruiter or hiring manager is going to be skim-reading the resume and will be looking for the main points. The job seeker, on the other hand, feels it’s necessary to put every bit of information possible in the resume, right down to including that Eagle Scout designation from 1984. Having too much information, or irrelevant information, is a common resume error.

5. Too Little Information (TLI)

The opposite of TMI is TLI – too little information. Being too general in the resume is just as bad as being too wordy. Usually too little information takes the form of no details on achievements. Most people can get their job duties or role descriptions down but falter when it’s time to detail their successes in some sort of quantitative or qualitative way. As a result, the content is thin or bland and doesn’t inspire the reader to make contact with the job seeker.

6. Passive Voice

We are all taught that formal writing is passive voice writing. Most people have a tendency to write in the passive voice, especially when composing their resumes. Passive voice – “responsible for”, “duties included”, etc. – is weak writing. Resumes need to be powerful sales documents and passive voice doesn’t persuade the reader. Make sure the resume is written in active voice with lots of solid keywords throughout the content.

7. Functional Format

Using the functional format (also called a skills resume) is probably the most deadly error you can commit in terms of the resume’s effectiveness. Recruiters and employers literally detest the functional format. It does not give them the information they need in the format they want. Additionally, it generally indicates that the job seeker is trying to hide something since the functional format is used to cover up problems such as date gaps, job hopping, or lack of experience. Just the mere appearance of the functional format is a huge turnoff to decision-makers.

8. Personal Information

The fact that you are an avid skeeball player, or that you collect old world coins has no relevance to whether or not you are qualified for the position. So why include information on hobbies, sports, or interests?

9. Poor Design

The old large-left-margin layout is long out of fashion and fancy designs, images or tables will really give the databases a hard time when you upload your resume. The best thing to do when it comes to design of your resume is KISS – keep it simple, sweetie. Yes, make it appealing, but over designed resumes will get scrambled in uploads, and thus not win interviews.

10. One Page Length

One page resumes are long gone unless you are a new graduate without much experience. Having said that, we still see plenty of one page resumes for more senior job seekers come in for critiques. It does surprise me! When a job seeker tries to limit the content of the resume to fit into one page, he/she is cutting vital information to adhere to a “rule” that is not valid for most resumes. Many resumes (including mid-level) are two pages in length and three pages are acceptable for some senior level candidates.

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