Who are you as a leader? Most people are polite. When we talk about ourselves in our job search, often the listener is politely nodding but really they are thinking “So what?” or “I have no idea what you are trying to say to me.” We walk away thinking we knocked it out of the park and we continue to delude ourselves. Related: 5 Tips For Good Leadership Skills Every month, I facilitate a “power networking” group for Executives in Transition. Not surprisingly, these executives are faced with an intense and highly competitive marketplace that includes larger pools of competing candidates, sparse opportunities, and a talent buyer’s market. I am not sure if its ego or laziness, but time after time, these leaders poorly communicate what they want or need. The most important thing any job seeker, especially a leader, can do to help themselves in the process is take the time to really understand what makes them unique. So often, job candidates don’t have a good grasp on the “Why should we hire you over someone else?” question. In every meeting, we attempt to get the attendees to hone in on exactly that subject. We are almost always met with a boring diatribe that leaves the listener saying “so what?” HR leaders love to say that what makes them unique is that they like to be out among the workers. So? How does that help a company? IT leaders love to say that they understand technology AND business. I have yet to meet a CIO who doesn’t say that. If everyone is saying that, you are not unique. So how do you figure out what makes you different? One of the quickest ways to identify who you are as a leader is to think about 3-5 stories in which you were successful in past positions. Lay them out (on paper) and identify clearly the Challenge you were faced with, the Action that you took, and the Result. We refer to this as the CAR exercise. Frankly, this is a vital step that will help you throughout the job search process. If you clearly understand the value that you can bring to a prospective employer, you will be able to network better, brand yourself better, interview better, and assess your own needs better. Once you do have a handle on what you bring to the table, whittle that down to two or three sentences. A great structure to what you should say is to identify your desired role and then to state what pains you can solve for that employer. It is vital that you be clear and succinct when you are communicating your value statement. I am a firm believer that your 30 second commercial is too long. Know yourself well and state it clearly. A great acronym that we use is the WAIT principle. Why Am I Talking? Another great exercise is to draw a timeline and list out the jobs that you have held. Above the timeline, note what you liked about that role. Below the timeline, note what you disliked about that role. This will help you get a handle on the type of roles you are willing to undertake as well as those you are not. Leaders must be clear on their unique leadership contributions and the types of organizations that respond to it. It’s human nature for any job seeker to take their best strengths for granted and overlook successes. Career transition requires that they take responsibility for re-messaging their core skills to connect to the bona fide and compelling value being offered to the buying audience. Do you have a clear grasp on your value proposition? If not, what is stopping you? I would love to hear your thoughts. This post was originally published at an earlier date.
These days, a job search is much like a sporting event: you practice and hone your skills for that all important match up in the big interview. But what skills do you focus on and how do you prepare for the interviewer’s style of questioning? Practice, bring your tools, and get your head in the game. Related: Tackling The ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ Interview Question The question I am most often asked is “What advice do you have for an interview?” My answer is consistent: Develop three to five stories from your most recent positions. Put them in the format of the challenge you faced, the action you took and the result of that action. Remember, a company is looking for how you can help them, not the other way around.
In my last article, I covered some basics of LinkedIn networking and I had a really good response. So many people REALLY struggle with networking and I get it. To be honest, when my business partner and I attend a networking event together, she always tells me not to follow her around because she won’t talk to me. I hate that! First and foremost, as an introvert who covers it up well, I would rather have my teeth pulled than network with strangers. However, I find that once I get rolling, it really is no big deal. So, why do so many of us dread networking and how can we work around it? For most of us, if we think about it, we can start by realizing that we find out about jobs, gain clients or make money by knowing the right people. So, how do we meet those right people are? Your “right people” might be completely different than my “right people”. Identify who you need to meet. If you are in transition, you already know that you must have a list of your target companies. Find professional associations and universities in your area that host networking events. Talk to current and former co-workers; try a Chamber of Commerce event. There are many ways to get out there and start meeting the people who can help you move towards your goals. Now, you know where the right people are, why are we so uncomfortable with taking the next step and actually meeting them? For me, i'ts one if not all of the following:
What are the best ways to get a job interview these days? In this economy, I am often asked to how long clients should expect to be in transition. They are often surprised by my answer. It seems to me that because we keep hearing that the economy is slowly getting better, we are lulled into a false sense of security that the job search process isn’t as difficult as it has been for the past few years. According to the Economic Policy Institute Article from November 2012, while the job seekers ratio has held steady at 3.4 job seekers to one job opening, any number over three means that that there are "no jobs available for two out of three workers." I also found it very interesting that the same report states that job seekers far outnumber job openings across every sector. Couple this with persistently low hiring and we are finding that unemployment lengths remain unusually high. Given this less than wonderful news, what can you do to ensure that you are taking all necessary steps to avoid becoming one of the long-term unemployed? Step one is the resume, however, that is merely a step. It's not the whole job search.