Archive for July, 2009

Authenticity Is An Asset

Posted in Interviewing, Personal Brand on July 27, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

Imagine that you have been going through job postings all day looking for what you feel is the perfect opportunity. After being on the market for months, you’ve learned a lot about what it is you want and don’t want out of your next position. Plus you’ve been on enough interviews to know that you don’t like the feeling of pretending to be someone you’re not just to get the interviewers to accept you. You know what you have to offer and you’re ready to get to work doing what you do best. All this is going through your mind when all of a sudden, like a lightning bolt you see a job description that says, “Authentic Company Seeking Authentic Employees”! What would be your reaction?

If your reaction is unquestioned joy, then proceed to send in your resume. This may finally be the place that you were waiting for and they are likely looking for you as well. However, if your first thought is, “This sounds great. Now how can I convince them that I am authentic.”, then you may still need a little more time to reflect before hitting that submit button on your on-line application.

In reality authenticity is actually desired for almost any company that you will ever apply to whether they come out and say it or not. It really should be a given that goes without saying. However, many people go to interviews trying to project an image of who they think they are “supposed to be” instead of being who they are. In fact there are whole industries built around helping people to do just that. But at the end of the day, authenticity is a very valuable asset to any organization that hopes to experience lasting success. After all, their challenges are real, shouldn’t their employees be as well?

So why then do so many interviews tend to rank low on the authenticity factor? Well, we won’t attempt to dissect that beast in a single blog entry. What we will do is confirm that authenticity adds value to any situation–to include job interviews? Secondly, everyone carries an open invitation to authentic engagement with them everywhere they go.  All it takes is a simple decision.  Lastly, we will leave you with two questions to ask yourself before you interview to help prepare for an authentic exchange.

  1. Have I made a sincere effort to understand what this organization is doing in the market place and where they intend to take the company?
  2. Based on my research, am I willing to interview with this organization because it seems like a place where I am willing to invest my time, knowledge, and creativity for our mutual growth and prosperity?

If your answer to 1 is NO, then you have no way of anwering question 2.  And if your answer to number 1 is YES but your answer to number 2 is NO, then you may find it hard to be authentic when interviewing.  Of course, if your answer to both questions is YES, then your authenticity will precede you.  Happy Interviewing!

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What Is Your Message?

Posted in Job Search, Personal Brand on July 20, 2009 by jcsicareerassist
Image out of Walden Alumni Magazine Online

Image out of Walden Alumni Magazine Online

For many people on the job market all this talk of branding and You, Inc. can be a little daunting. They just want to get to work doing what they’ve been trained to do and get on with their lives. But with so many people out here embracing social media technologies, it could easily feel like the only way to get ahead is to go get a marketing degree before they even start applying for jobs. However, the truth is that marketing really isn’t the hard part. The real challenge comes with identifying the core message that you want to deliver to potential employers. That is the essence of branding.

The fact is that whether you proclaim it or not, you have a brand. There is some thought or notion that comes to mind when people think of you. The question you have to ask yourself is whether or not that thought or notion reflects the message you intend to project to your audience. If so, consider yourself lucky. Your next step is to do some research and pick the tools that will be most conducive to expressing your message. There are plenty out there to choose from.

However, if you have no idea what people think of when you come up in conversation, then you have a little bit of work ahead of you. Fundamentally, the job search is all about getting reacquainted with yourself and starting new relationships.  There’s a person that you have become over the years of education, experience, and reflection that you have taken part in.  Now your job is to inventory who that person is and help facilitate an introduction with the people looking for someone just like you.  It’s understandable that over the years you’ve been too busy working to really think about it in these terms and believe me you’re not alone.

If you were offered outplacement by your previous company or if your  community has some sort of career center, you can connect with others working toward the same goal. Your local library might also be an excellent resource as well.  You might also consider taking an assessment such as www.PrimaryColorAssessment.com which is designed to help you see how your strengths align with your current career path.  If you can see some of yourself in the results, these types of tests are a good way to get jumpstart your work on putting yourself into words.  Not to mention, that you might learn a thing or two that can be helpful when meeting new people.

Just remember that only you know what you have to offer to a company or organization.  Devloping your message is just the work of making it easier for them to see.

Putting Yourself Out There

Posted in Job Search, Personal Brand on July 13, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

In our recent webinar, Top of the Stack Resumes, our presenter discussed the personal branding concept of You, Inc.  Essentially this concept drives home the point that we live in a world where people and businesses communicate through marketing.  For centuries people sought freedom of choice–the more choice they had the freer they felt.  But now, we have crossed over into a world where too many choices has caused a type of paralysis.  Today what we want is a way to narrow down all of the choices.  This is where You, Inc. comes in.

There is a new expectation being set where in many cases, companies and hiring managers are asking the candidates to make it hard for them to say “no”.  That’s right!  They want to hire you because once they do, a load is lifted from their shoulders–at least for a little while.  All they ask of you is to give them enough information so that they can feel like they made the right decision.  They want to know who you are on the inside and out with no surprises.  You just have to put yourself out there in a manner that speaks to their needs.

The great thing about the digital age is that there are numerous avenues in order to express what it is that you have to offer.  If you have a lot to say on a subject you can blog.  If you just want to share a thought or an interesting article, you can Tweet on Twitter.  If you create an awesome presentation that you think can benefit your audience and others, there’s Slideshare or Scribd.  With Facebook and Linkedin you can create a repository of all of your different access point that paints a picture of who you are and what you have to offer.  This is a good time to get known if that is what you want.

Naturally, the thought of broadcasting yourself on any or all of the above can seem daunting–especially when these are just the tip of the iceberg of existing and emerging social platforms.  But to put it in perspective, just consider what it is like to go shopping these days.  Must of us won’t even go to the store until after we go on-line to check out what others are saying about the product we are interested it.  We look at reviews before seeing a movie, and we check out what people are saying about a destination before we book a plane ticket.  Googling is so normal that it is now considered a verb and whole cultures are emerging around social media platforms.

Of course there can be the argument that people are not products and should not have to put themselves on display. But, when it has become a social norm in decision making, it is difficult to dispute when hiring managers apply it to candidate selection.  Therefore, in most cases, it ends up falling on the one looking to be found to be the facilitator by creating a profile that invites vistors in.

Fortunately there are plenty of people, presentations, and articles articles out there to coach you through this if you need it. You can even tap us on the shoulder at @CareerAssist if you find yourself on Twitter and we’ll give you a hand. Once you jump in the pool, we’re sure you’ll see that you won’t go over the deep end.

Diversity at 50,000 Feet – A Twitterview

Posted in Diversity, Job Search on July 10, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

Thanks to Twitter I had the opportunity to chat with Eric Peterson, Manager of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). For those of you who may be hesitant to join social networks like Twitter, this is a perfect example of how you are denying yourself the opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue with people that you may not have otherwise engaged. 

I happened to catch Mr. Peterson while he was on his way to give a talk at The Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA).  Below is our entire tweet stream on the topic of Diversity and Inclusion.  This is a topic of present and future importance for anyone in the business world and therefore an important topic for all recruiters and job seekers.

CareerAssist: RT @EPetersonSHRM: Diversity & Inclusion is a top priority all over the globe: http://is.gd/1rqCF (via @diversitywriter) #SHRM,members only

CareerAssist: @EPetersonSHRM Any ideas to share on why many companies can’t go beyond awareness when it comes to Diversity–falling short of application?

EPetersonSHRM: @CareerAssist In 140 characters or less? At 50,000 ft., awareness is all they know. The bridge between theory and application is wide …

EPetersonSHRM: @CareerAssist … and while thought leadership is there, it’s not being disseminated well (one thing SHRM hopes to contribute meaningfully).

CareerAssist: @EPetersonSHRM Unofficial Twitterview. Read SHRM #Diversity article yesterday. Suggests top down dissemination. Where do you see the blocks?

EPetersonSHRM: @CareerAssist Those at the “top” and at the “bottom” of orgs have compelling (but different) incentives to embrace D&I …

EPetersonSHRM: @CareerAssist … but often, those in the middle are not incentivized (or rewarded) for managing diversity well. Rewards are key.

CareerAssist: @EPetersonSHRM Are these rewards for embracing D&I all tangible? Your thoughts on identifying middle tier influentials and coaching them?

EPetersonSHRM: @CareerAssist They can’t be all intangible – at a high lvl, D&I mgmt has 2 b an integral part of the job description, and managed as such.

CareerAssist: @EPetersonSHRM How do you get around resistance to change and prescribed cultural shift when most ppl equate their culture with “rightness”?

EPetersonSHRM: @CareerAssist Simultaneously push the values case and business case for diversity – and at some pt., zero-tolerance for those who won’t play

EPetersonSHRM: @CareerAssist You can make a strong values case for multiculturalism without attacking the dominant culture …

EPetersonSHRM: @CareerAssist … and strong communication about the biz drivers will help those who find it all too “squishy” for them.

EPetersonSHRM: @CareerAssist And if someone refuses to get on the train after some period of time, the org is – frankly – better off w/out them.

EPetersonSHRM: @CareerAssist And, if they are assessed each year on their D&I performance & found lacking, mechanisms can be put in place to correct that.

CareerAssist: @EPetersonSHRM I’d say that success depends on having an “affiliation culture” versus an “assimilation culture”. Would you agree? #Diversity

EPetersonSHRM: @CareerAssist Yes, absolutely – but getting ppl to understand those terms can be a challenge sometimes. Assimilation is often ingrained.

DM to EPetersonSHRM Thanks for sharing your insight. Is it alright if I put our tweets on one of our blogs?

DM from EPetersonSHRM Sure! That’d be great!

Thanks to Mr. Peterson for taking the time to Tweet with us and  we hope to see more of you in the Twittosphere.

Hiring Managers Need You

Posted in Hiring Managers, Job Search, Networking, Resume, Service, Uncategorized on July 6, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

For most candidates on the job market, getting to the hiring manager is like getting to the the Great Oz.  Everyone wants to see him, but in order to get to him or her you have to go through a great journey.  Also like in the Wizard of Oz, the hiring manager will likely remain a mystery until the end.  And once you meet them, you wind up seeing that they are person just like the candidate that has been searching for them.  Understanding this is where your opportunities lie.

In the job search, there is an overwhelming tendency toward having a one sided view.  Many seekers put out enormous amounts of energy to find a job that is right for them without truly thinking about whether or not they are right for the job.  They study tips and network for opportunities with organizations that might  not really be what  they are truly looking for and as a result they come across unconvincingly to the interviewers that will eventually introduce them to the hiring manager.  Not to mention they are drained from efforts that seemt o go nowhere.  What this blog offers is a way to make every effort useful.

We’ve already established in previous blogs that every hire reflects upon those that agreed to bringing the person on board.  That is the first thing to consider when engaging with interviewers.  The second thing is to remember that in most cases you are being interviewed because the organization has a legitimate NEED to hire someone with skill sets similar to yours.  There is emphasis on “need” because this word denotes that the candidate has an opportunity to be of service. 

Earlier we mentioned that like the Great Oz, hiring managers are people too.  Somewhere along the way they have a boss, shareholders, or customers that are looking for them to bring them a solution to their problem.  And as a candidate for a particular position you have an opportunity to be that solution or contribute to them finding that solution. That amounts to being of service.

For quite some time there has been talk about how the culture is shifting from being self serving to serving others–from competition to cooperation.  This is the essence of networking and relationship building.  It starts by asking the question, “How can I be of service?”

At first this idea may seem counterintuitive for people looking for a job, but if you really think about it, your odds of finding an opportunity that suits you can be dramatically increased by taking this position.  To put into perspective, consider the following:

  • If you begin to refer others for a position that you were not selected for it is a good way to stay in contact with the recruiters and hiring managers until they come across something that does match.
  • If you are keeping out an eye for others they will eventually keep an eye out for you as well.  It always helps to have others looking on your behalf.
  • As you learn about the needs of companies, you turn your job search into an intelligence gathering mission making you sharper as you move through your search
  • By helping other job seekers as well, they can share their experiences with you and give you insight on companies that you may be interested in or possibly never heard of.
  • By helping recruiters find people, they may be able to connect you with other recruiters that could lead you to other opportunities.

These are just some of the benefits of adopting a more servant oriented approach to your job search.  Another added benefit is that you will be able to measure success by more factors than whether or not you land one of the first few positions you interview for.  Seeing your search from this perspective can also have an effect on how you approach your resume. (For help with your resume register for our free webinar at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/804459466.)

As you start to make your goal to help hiring managers achieve their goals you will soon see that reciprocation is a very powerful ally in your job search–possibly the most powerful–and that it will contribute greatly to your lasting success.

Where Is Your Job Search Leading You?

Posted in Interviewing, Job Search, Resume on July 1, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

In a  University of Pittsburgh College of General Studies posting (http://digg.com/u179cy), Carol Stanton, a CGS Career Counselor, compared the person on a job search to the role of a hero in a movie.  Her description was complete with the 10 major components to a hero’s tale.  In brief they are:

  • The Dream-What do you want to accomplish? What is the ideal you’re working towards?
  • The Hero-You, as the jobseeker, are the hero in your tale.
  • Challenges-Every hero has to overcome challenges even if they are mostly internal.
  • Allies and Helpers-Batman has Robin, Frodo had Samwise Gamgee in LOTR. (Who’s Got Your Back?)
  • Setting-Where does the action take place? Which company or organization?
  • Resources-What do you have available in your job search utility belt?
  • Script-This is your resume.  It tells the story you are trying convey to employers.
  • Auditions-The job interview is like an audition–often with many players competing for the lead role.
  • Setbacks-Heroes like Rocky get knocked down, but they get back up.  What will you do if you don’t land the job?
  • Celebration-Eventually the heroes succeeds by not giving up in the face of challenges.

Stanton does a good job of putting the job search into perspective.  Indeed everyone that is on the job market is on a journey.  During your quest, you will learn a lot about yourself–your strengths, your weaknesses, who your friends are and more.  Following this line of thought, a recruiter could be considered to be somewhat of a wizard because of their ability to see the job market from multiple vantage points and go back and forth between the castle and the outer kingdom.  They also have the keen ability to know a true knight when they see one.

If you find yourself on the job market at this time or anticipate it in the near future, try to keep in mind that there is something to gain from this experience as well.  Share what you learn with others and see yourself in the hero role.