Monthly Archives: September 2016

Job Search Tips

I’m sure you’ve heard some of these from well-meaning friends and family. What worked back in the era of the 3 martini lunch—or in the era when MTV still played music—doesn’t work today. If you hear any of these bits of advice, you have my permission, and encouragement, to ignore them!

Drop your resume off in person. Companies follow strict protocol for resume submission. I don’t know of any employer nowadays that accepts unsolicited resumes in person. Don’t do this. Follow the rules that the employer sets forth in the job descriptions.

Call to “schedule an interview.” This is presumptuous at best, intrusive at worst. If they want to interview you, they will contact you.

Print your resume on bond paper. No one wants a printed resume. No one. Don’t waste your time.

Limit your resume to one page. Unless you are a new graduate, you probably have more than a page’s worth of accomplishments.

Call to follow up on your application. First, unless you sent your application materials directly to an individual, how are you going to know who to follow up with? Again, contemporary etiquette dictates that the hiring company will reach out to you if they wish to have a discussion.

Send the hiring manager a gift so that you will stand out. Gimmicks will not get you a job.

If you’re not applying to 100 jobs a week, you’re not trying hard enough. The most effective job search is targeted. Applying to every posting you see is ineffective.

Offer to work for free in order to “prove yourself.” Not only will no reputable employer go for this, you should never offer your services without compensation. You perform valuable work for which you are compensated.

Get in as a temp, and then you’ll get hired full time! This worked in the 90s. It worked well in the 90s. But now, many companies use “permalancers.” That is, they keep contract employees as temporary ones and very rarely hire them for full-time roles.

You can only wear a navy, gray, or black suit to an interview. Absolutely false. Interview attire can be flexible, and can change with the culture of the company. It would actually be weird, for example, if you went to an interview with a tech startup and dressed in a navy blue suit. You want to look professional and appropriate for the position and the company with which you’re interviewing.  You don’t want to look like you’re wearing a uniform.

Lessons to find job from Mariah Carey

By now you’ve probably heard about Mariah Carey’s unfortunate performance on New Year’s Eve. Some of the things that occurred reminded me of similar things that can happen if you are unprepared for an interview. And while you most likely won’t be interviewing in front of a million or more people, here are five takeaways that can help you be prepared for your live performance.

1. Know your material cold before the big day. It’s unconfirmed whether Mariah forgot the lyrics to her songs or just didn’t want to sing live, but either way, she came off as unprepared. Many job seekers choose to “wing” their interviews rather than rehearsing beforehand and often their interview performance suffers because of it. Craft an elevator pitch to communicate your value proposition and be prepared to give accomplishment-focused, metrics-driven examples of how you have helped the companies you’ve supported do things smarter, faster, or more efficiently. Just regurgitating your resume or speaking about general job responsibilities won’t cut it.

2. Test for any technical problems. Was there a technical malfunction during Mariah’s performance or did the singer just get caught in a lip synching fail? In any event, it always makes sense to test your equipment before any type of performance or presentation. If you are conducting an interview via Skype, make sure your background is not distracting, your lighting isn’t too bright or too dark, your sound is at an appropriate level, and you have a working mike. If you are interviewing in-person, map out and time your route to the office beforehand to ensure you are on time and check your wardrobe for any potential malfunctions (missing buttons, etc.).

3. Expect a few curveballs. Whenever you do anything live, there is always the chance that something will go wrong. The key is to recover quickly. While unfortunately this wasn’t the case for Mariah, you can anticipate certain challenges that may occur the day of the interview. The one people fear most is not knowing how to answer a particular interview question. I like to remind people that they are the most qualified person in the room to talk about themselves. If you get a question you are not quite sure how to answer, you can ask for clarification or say, “That is a great question; let me think about it for a moment.” Then you can draw upon one of your success stories that is most similar to the competency they are trying to understand if you have.

4. Be honest. I’m not convinced that all Mariah’s comments were true. Perhaps she was embarrassed and said certain things to cover up that embarrassment. Lying is never a good strategy. Especially during interviews. If you are asked if you have experience in an area you do not, be honest. You can follow up by showcasing something that is similar to the competency you are asked about or give an example of a time when you didn’t have experience in something, but were able to learn that skill quickly.

5. Be gracious. Following Mariah’s performance, her team blamed everyone but Mariah and even suggested that Dick Clark Productions compromised the performance. Even if your interview doesn’t go well, assume good intent. It’s unlikely that someone is trying to sabotage your interview performance by asking certain questions.

Holding You Back

I have talked to about a dozen job seekers over the last two weeks that are stuck.

They are waiting until they perfect the language on their resume before they send it out, and they keep asking for feedback.

And they get different feedback every time, so they are in constant resume editing mode, but not contacting anyone for interviews.

They want precisely the right list of contacts to reach out to before they start reaching out.

They want to have interview preparation down pat, yet they haven’t sent out a resume.

This is one of the bigger ‘stuck’ scenarios: One person is worried about getting an offer at a company he is not entirely sure he likes, where the recruiter called with interest stemming from his LinkedIn profile.

Except he hasn’t called back or submitted a resume yet.

Although I feel honored to hear these stories, it pains me to hear them.

I could feel the pain and frustration experienced as each person told me their story.

Assuming things had to be perfect before moving forward.

Worrying about a problem they didn’t have yet.

We want progress – not perfection.

Perfection is paralyzing.

And it’s subjective.

You are chasing something that is different for everyone.

And here is the best news.

You are already perfect.

Stand with that knowledge.

Send what you have.

Reach out to one person to start.

And then the next person.

Do as much research as you can to prepare for an interview and know that you, as you are, are enough.

If you get an offer you don’t resonate with, you can always turn it down.

That’s a great problem to have.

I tell my kids: You are always going to have problems.

Always.

So get good problems and not bad problems.

An offer you don’t want is better than no offer.

Some interview prep with a confident stance is better than too much prep and stressed out or no prep at all.

Sending out an awesome resume and making connections is better than making your resume perfect (whatever that is) and not chatting with anyone.

You get unstuck by doing what’s in front of you imperfectly.

Decide if You Should Accept a Job Offer

As a career coach I am often asked by clients if I think they should take a job offer. Just because you get a job offer doesn’t mean that you have to accept it.

To help you make your decision, create a list of important criteria for taking or turning down a job. Your list might include salary, benefits, commute time, do you like the people you will be working with, is the new job challenging, is the company stable, does the mission of the company resonate with your values, is there opportunity for growth, etc. Your list will be unique to you as we all have different criteria that are important to us. For example, it might be important to someone who has the responsibility of a mortgage and children to work for a stable organization whereas someone without those responsibilities might be open to more risk. Or conversely, a person who has a home and family might love the challenge of working for a start-up whereas a person just starting out in his or her career might be drawn to a company that offers security. Make your list based on what is most important to you.

After you have your list of important criteria, put two columns beside each of your criteria. Above column one write “Yes, this criteria will be met in the job” and above column two write “No, this criteria will not be met in the job”.

If the job offer meets most or all of your criteria, dig a little deeper. If anything concerned you during the interview process – the interviewer complained about the company, the job responsibilities were not clear, no one could answer your questions about benefits – ask follow up questions. Find out as much as you can about the company, its future prospects and what it is like to work there. If the answers that you get are good, ask for the offer in writing.

Don’t say yes to a job offer you really don’t want unless you feel that you do not have any other options. Remember, just because you get an offer doesn’t mean you have to take it.  Make your decision based on what is best for you and follow your instincts.