Archive for September, 2009

Discovering Your Transferable Skills

Posted in Hiring Trends, Interviewing, Job Search, Personal Brand, Recruiter, Resume, Social Media, Transferable Skills, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 on September 30, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

Miyagi taught Daniel the Secret of Transferable Skills One of the most difficult, yet most valuable discoveries one can make on a job search is figuring out how to apply their transferable skills to a new opportunity.  This particular ability is especially helpful for people wanting to make a career change or those looking to enter the job market for the first time.

A transferable skill is any ability–whether it is a natural talent or acquired skill nurtured through employment, schooling, etc.–that can be used in multiple situations.  A perfect example would be the wax on, wax off  technique taught to Daniel-San in the 1980’s movie The Karate Kid. 

Throughout his training, Mr. Miyagi had Daniel performing all sorts of tasks, that to the untrained eye appeared to be focused more on the janitorial arts as opposed to martial arts.  Yet when Daniel left the Karate Championship with trophy in hand, it was very clear that  waxing a car, sanding a floor, and painting a fence had other uses beyond what can be seen on the surface.  That’s the power of understanding transferable skills.

As an empowered job seeker, it is up to you to look at the talents and skills you have developed over the years and determine where they can be used most effectively.  Undoubtedly, you are going to come across positions where you can employ your transferable skills.  However, unless you figure out how to draw attention to those skills, you will likely be passed over by an employer for other candidates whose acronyms match the job description.

Therefore, if you are serious about leveraging your transferable skills in your job search, you are going to have make an investment in marketing them–whether it is with time or money.  Here are a few tips on how you can do that:

  1. Hire a professional resume writer.  When your career path matches the logical progression of a job description connecting the dots is easy.  But if you are trying to get from point A to point B via point D with a short layover in Z then you are going to have to paint a picture that a hiring manager can see. 
  2. Build relationships with recruiters. Every star has an agent.  That should tell you something.  But not every person with an agent is working.  That should tell you something else.  With the obvious exception of having talent for them to market, the relationship you have with good recruiters can make the difference between getting your foot in the door and having it slammed in your face. Plus, their wide array of knowledge about the job market will help them to better see how your skills can be transferred.
  3. Spend time on your online profiles.By building a complete online profile, you are giving employers the opportunity to see you multi-dimensionally.  Sites like Linkedin allow you to attach blog posting, slide presentations, and book lists so that visitors can get a clearer sense of who you are and what you have to offer an organization.
  4. Volunteer to work on projects. You know you can do the work.  You just need your chance to prove it. Well, you can always do it for free.  This way everybody wins.  You get the experience and the person or organization that you  volunteer for gets a product or service that they are in need of for a price that they can afford.  Everyone wins.

These are just a few ways that you can discover, apply, and market your transferable skills.  Just remember that any action that you have mastered can be repurposed or reapplied to meet other needs.  Your task is to figure out how.  Good luck.


Rules of Engagement In a Job Search

Posted in Interviewing, Job Search, Rejection, Rules of Engagement, Uncategorized on September 22, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

In military terms, the Rules of Engagement determine when and how much force should be applied to a given situation.  The amount of force applied varies with increasing intensity depending on the level of resistance that the troops are coming up against.  An example of how to respond to a level 3 resistance according to the US Marines’ ROE goes as follows:

Level 3: Resistant (Active). The subject initially demonstrates physical resistance. Use compliance techniques to control the situation. Level three incorporates close combat techniques to physically force a subject to comply. Techniques include: Come-along holds, Soft-handed stunning blows, Pain compliance through the use of joint manipulation and the use of pressure points.  

The Rules of Engagement are designed to create a degree of consistency and order in a situation with the potential to go out of control.  When used appropriately, these rules allow soldiers to leverage a situation with the most agreeable outcome–which is to avoid or minimize injuries and casualties on both sides.  When not mastered, however, these same rules can increase the risk of hesitation when action is required or misread cues may lead to the use of excessive force when it is uncalled for. 

At this point, you may be thinking that this is great information if you are ever in combat, but perhaps not so useful in your job search.  However, if you have ever done any sales–and we all have in some way–then you may recognize the relationship between ROE and techniques for overcoming objections.  Herein lies the connection to your job search.

If you didn’t know it already, the day you enter the job market, you’ve also entered the world of sales.  You are putting your skills and talents on the market and you are asking for a certain price.  That’s sales.  As soon as you start selling, you find that objections are a natural part of the process.  Objections are resistance.  And when you come to resistance, you will be best served by having your own Rules of Engagement.  Otherwise, what could be simple objections can turn into a pattern of rejection.

To help you along we’re going to offer some suggestions on how to develop your own ROE.

  1. Look for patterns. If it walks like a duck…  If you notice the same objections repeatedly, add a new dimension. Change your response. You may not get the results you were looking for, but it won’t be what you’ve had in the past either.
  2. Question your reality. Many people see filling a position as the final destination, when it’s actually the starting gate.  If you realize that you or your interviewer thinks this way, this is a good time to ask about where the company is headed.  Like the Marines’ “Come Along Hold”,  a well placed question can shift the direction of an interview.
  3. Go on the offensive. The job market is a game.  That means there’s an offense and defense.  Realize that you are interviewing because the company is trying to go somewhere and they are looking for people to help them get there. They are looking for people who will get on the field and play.

Creating your own Rules of Engagement will help give you a sense of where you are in an interview and what you may need to add to the setting in order to keep engaged.  All ROE are as unique as the person or group applying them, so you have to create rules that fit you best.  Just remember that these rules are guidelines that the other party is not aware of.  So stay conscious that the operative word in ROE is ENGAGEMENT.  Following ROE is meant to help you stay engaged and not to replace it.  That means engage the person, not the rules.

Managing Your Emotional Investments In A Job Search

Posted in Emotional Investments, Interviewing, Job Search, Rejection, Uncategorized on September 14, 2009 by jcsicareerassist
What are my chances?

What are my chances?

You just walked out of your third interview with XYZ Company.  It ended with lunch at a fancy restaurant with the CFO, a Director, and a manager.  Everyone was smiling as you shook hands and said farewell. And to top it off, the last thing that the CFO said to you was, “We’ll be in touch.”  You’re feeling pretty good.  In fact, you feel great. Based on the number of interviews and the reactions from the people you’ve met so far, you feel that you can safely say that the odds are in your favor. If anyone asked, you’d say that you have about a ninety percent chance or better of getting this job. 

Does this sound familiar?  Have you ever had that feeling of “almost certainty” only to find yourself “totally disappointed” at the outcome?  If so, you have something in common with most job seekers.  What you’ve just experienced is the result of gambler’s fallacy.  To put it simply, gambler’s fallacy is the belief that increased occurences = increased likelihood of a particular outcome.  For example, most job seekers believe that the more interviews you get, the closer you are to getting the job. 

This makes sense if you’re using pass-fail logic like we’re taught in school or what’s reinforced in video games.  In those scenarios, if you get a certain number of points you automatically move to the next level. This is not the case when you are going for a job.  On the job market, it doesn’t matter how many interviews you have or how many people you meet. Until you sign an offer letter, your chances of landing the position will always be 50/50.  You will either get a name plate for your new cubicle or you won’t.  Any thought otherwise is purely based on your degree of emotional investment.

The truth is that when six people are going after only one job, only one person is going to get the “A” so to speak–unlike in school or on a video game where anyone can make the grade.  Because most people never meet the others who are interviewing for the same position, they tend to only consider their own efforts using the above mentioned logic.  As a result they are more likely to look for signs of approval from those they interview with since they cannot gauge their position by looking at the other candidates.  This leaves the door open for the gambler’s fallacy to enter and consequently, a disproportionate emotional investment is usually made.

So, why do we consistently make these inaccurate emotional investments when it comes to job opportunities?  Well to paraphrase H.L. Mencken,  we do not often get pleasure out of certain ideas because we believe they are true.  We believe ideas are true because we get pleasure out of them.  In other words, we get caught up in these beliefs because it feels good to believe them.  Like imagining what we would do if we won the lottery, imagining landing that job feels exciting and liberating.

The problem is that emotional investments are beliefs and we all know what happens when beliefs are shattered.  To get a sense of it, just think about how we respond to the news that one of our heroes has turned out to be very human.  We feel devastated.  The same thing happens when we find out we didn’t get that job we thought we were so close to snagging.  That’s why it is especially important to remember to not fall for the gambler’s fallacy.  Some other ways to manage your emotional investments when on a job search are to:

  1. Focus on the elements that you can directly influence.  You can only  influence areas such as preparation, your online and in person networking, the amount of research you do on the company, your training and other education, etc.
  2. Leave the interview at the interview. Unless you videotaped your interview, it will only deteriorate in your memory as time goes on.  The best use of your energy at this point will be to continue developing yourself.  If you are called for further interviews you’ll be ready.
  3. Determine your own gauges for success/progress. You cannot rely on getting the job as  your gauge of interview success.  There are simply too many factors beyond your control. Instead, choose something that is solely determined by you such as listening more, asking more questions, or getting less nervous.  By doing this you will always be on the lookout for where you are improving rather than where you went wrong.

The job search can be a challenge in any economy and the above considerations will always apply. When you make the appropriate emotional investments, you remain empowered throughout your job search and that offers the best ROI you can find on the market.

Listen Attentively Respond Accordingly (LARA)

Posted in Communication, Interviewing, Job Search, Networking, Personal Brand, Social Media, Uncategorized on September 8, 2009 by jcsicareerassist
Do you hear what I am saying?

Are you hearing what I am saying?

We are trying to start a new job search acronym that we hope goes viral and transforms interview rooms across America and maybe the world.  That acronym is LARA.  It stands for Listen Attentively Respond Accordingly and you can say you heard it hear first–unless you’ve heard it elsewhere.  If you did, please let me know because I googled it and was shocked not to find it somewhere in the first five pages.

I’m shocked because with all of the job tips out there, I believe that this one should be at the forefront of every candidate’s mind when they sit down for an interview.  After all, we are supposed to be in the age of communication.  We have all of the tools necessary to deliver a message, but they’re  all pointless if they are not received and no feedback is given.  Keeping LARA in mind can help prevent that.  Try it and see.

The next time you’re in a conversation make sure you’re doing your best to really listen to what the other person is saying.  If you’re not clear, ask for clarification and then respond to them in a way that conveys that you understood them and have given your answer some thought.  If this isn’t a common practice, you will notice immediate differences in people’s responses toward you.  You may also notice that there are a lot more barriers to communication than you may have been aware of previously.

The number one barrier you should be mindful of is assumptions.  As noted in the Breaking Down Barriers… article by  Aysha Schurman, “Effective communication can never take place if someone is busy making assumptions.”  However, there is a catch 22 when it comes to job interviews.  After all, a job interview is generally nothing less than a conversation based entirely on assumptions with the job description serving as an assumption checklist.  As a result, by not employing LARA, there can be an increased likelihood of miscommunications.  As a job seeker trying to get noticed and get hired, it usually falls on you to reposition the conversation so that your interviewer sees beyond the job description. Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Address the major assumptions up front.  This creates a space for LARA to be effective.  Until they are addressed, assumptions will prevent meaningful value-added conversation from taking place.
  2. Introduce new information into the dialogue.  This gives everyone involved something to move on to after the “assumption checklist” is completed.
  3. Create your own assumptions with a well managed social media presence. If your profiles are reviewed, you can almost guarantee that your interview will be personalized rather than a standard plug and play format. (To learn more attend our free upcoming webinar.)
  4. Develop well thought out, open-ended questions that address the organization’s future in their industry. This is your chance to be the interviewer and demonstrate your ability to think strategically. This is LARA’s place in the sun. If you ask questions they never considered, they just may have to hire you to come up with an answer.

When it’s all said and done, full communication does not occur until what has been transmitted is received and confirmed through feedback.  Consider LARA to be the operator in this scenario.  As all of us have undoubtedly experienced–in job interviews and in life–there are times when what you believe you are saying is not what the recipient hears.   By employing LARA you can take command of the conversations you participate in and keep them on track.