Archive for the Personal Brand Category

Be The Turducken When You Interview

Posted in Communication, Empowerment, Hiring Managers, Interview Secret, Interviewing, Motivation, Networking, Personal Brand with tags on November 25, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

With Thanksgiving here, I decided to get festive in my interview analogies by introducing the Turducken as a model for job seekers to consider the next time they sit down for an interview.  For those of you who have never heard of the Turducken, it is a partially deboned Turkey that is stuffed with a deboned duck that has also been stuffed with deboned chicken.  But that’s not it.  There’s more stuff inside.  The minds who invented this culinary delight go further by filling all of the gaps and cavities with other stuffings.  Just thinking about eating it is intimidating to me.  Talk about more than “meats” the eye.

When I heard about the Turducken just recently, my mind went straight to the thought that like this meal, there’s always more to people than what is on the surface.  So keeping with the whole Thanksgiving theme, I thought that it would be a good idea for people on the job market to think about what they are grateful for–the gifts, skills, and talents that they have honed over the years.  Think about what kind of services you can provide to an organization–all of the things that you possess on the inside that are not made visible by a resume or online profile.  The next time you present yourself, be the Turducken.

This may sound like a strange analogy at first, but just imagine that someone asks you to cut the Thanksgiving “bird” and to your surprise you find a duck, and then in that duck, you find a chicken.  If that’s the first time you’ve seen such a thing, you won’t soon forget it.  And, more than that you are going to tell others about it.  That’s what candidates need to go for when they interview.  You want to pleasantly surprise the first interviewer so that they will tell the next person in line and on and on until the whole company gets to know you.  We’ll be talking more about this approach to the interview process in our upcoming webinar, The Anatomy of the Interview Process on December 9, 2009 at 12PM.  In the meantime, I suggest candidates take time  this holiday season to focus on what cannot be seen and working with others on how to share that with others.  If you can get one person talking on your behalf, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Planting a Resume Garden

Posted in Emotional Investments, Hiring Trends, Job Search, Personal Brand, Recruiter, Resume, Uncategorized on October 6, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

Many candidates are not told this, but how they distribute their resume can contribute greatly to the response they receive from prospective employers.  To demonstrate this I will use the analogy of a garden to show your resume’s relationship to the job market.

In this example you should consider each copy of your resume as a seed with the potential to grow your ideal job.  The soil is represented by the places where your resumes end up, such as companies, organizations, job boards, and applicant tracking systems (ATS).  The sun’s equivalent will be the human eyes that will actually see your resume and determine how far it will go through the cycle.  And lastly, the job market itself will play the role of the weather conditions that can either facilitate or threaten your resume’s chances of fulfilling its potential.

Now, if you’ve ever tried to start a garden,  you know that it is not an easy task.  There are so many things to consider before you even start that the thought alone keeps most of us from ever taking on the task willingly.  It’s not as simple as deciding that you want some pumpkins or tomatoes and then throwing some seeds in a field (job board) and sitting back and waiting for the harvest (plenty of jobs to choose from).  You have to think about the type of soil available and whether or not it can sustain the plant.  You also have to consider the amount of sunlight and water that the plants will need to receive.  Lastly, you must understand the plant’s growth cycle so that you know when to plant them and when you can suspect a harvest.  And all that’s before you even consider dropping the first seed (resume).

Once you determine that you can manage the conditions necessary for growing a sustainable crop, you have to go about preparing the land itself.  This takes a lot of work as well.  You have to make sure that there is proper spacing between the vegetation so that each crop can get its fair share of nutrients.  It’s also necessary to separate certain plants from each other because they stifle each other’s growth.  In other words, you cannot rely on having your resume mixed in with a bunch of other resumes and you can’t overload a company with a truckload of resumes hoping one will slip through.  Think of how that will reflect upon your personal brand.

It is not until after you have taken these considerations and made the necessary preparations that you are ready to plant the seeds.  When planting the seeds you must make sure to plant them deep enough in the soil so that they can take root and not get flooded out by rains or picked up by birds or other creatures.  i.e. Try to get a referral or work with a recruiter (professional gardener) to increase your chances of resume survival.  Once all of this is done you have made it to the hardest part of planting a garden–waiting.

Perhaps your ultimate goal with this garden was to be able to make your own salad.  That’s the image you have in your mind and it is what motivated you to do all of the work in the first place.  Now that you’ve planted your seeds, you may find yourself getting a little anxious.  That’s because after all of the work that you’ve done you’ve finally come to the part that you have absolutely no control over.  Depending on the plant’s growth cycle and other conditions, you can spend several weeks maintaining the surrounding area to keep it free from, weeds, rodents, and bad weather and never see a single sign that anything is happening under all that dirt.  All you can rely on is the fact that you did everything that you were supposed to do.  Such is the case with your resume.

The main point that you should take away from this is to value your resume if that’s what you expect others to do.  Consider hiring a professional to review your resume to make sure that the seeds you are planting are good.  And once you’ve done that,  do what you can to give them the conditions they need to make it to harvest time.  That’s the way to plant a resume garden.

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.

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.

Get Noticed, Get Hired

Posted in Hiring Trends, Job Search, Personal Brand, Social Media, Uncategorized on August 26, 2009 by jcsicareerassist
Has anyone seen a Granny Smith aple around?

Has anyone seen a Granny Smith apple around?

Saying that the job market has changed is an understatement.  Everyday we talk to people who have come up short using the tried and true methods of ten years ago.  Meanwhile success stories continue to emerge about people tweeting their way to their dream job or being discovered on their blog.  Now of course this won’t be everyone’s experience, but there is a reason why this is becoming a growing phenomenon.  These people have figured out that the people who get noticed are the ones who get hired.

Of course, there are lots of ways to get noticed and not all of them will land you a job.  Some of them may land you somewhere else.  But that is not what we are working toward.  So we are going to talk about how to get noticed in the ways that provide positive results and why it’s your job to make yourself known.

Let’s look at the picture of the apples above for example.  You see very clearly that in that whole pile there is only one Granny Smith apple.  Why?  Because it is at the top.  Now imagine if that same Granny Smith was at the bottom of the pile where it could not be seen.  If you were that apple, is that where you would want to be?  Our point exactly.  There are so many people on the job market that have exactly what employers are looking for, but they are hidden.  They are buried beneath so many other applicants, that the recruiters and hiring managers are looking right past them.

Did you know that a poll was taken on the biggest frustration of job seekers and it wasn’t that their weren’t enough jobs?  It was the lack of response they get from employers.  They aren’t getting noticed and it is disappointing.  However, you have to imagine that if there are hundreds of people applying for the same job, it can be very easy to get lost in the crowd if your application looks just like everyone else’s.

So if you want to stand out in this job market you are going to have to learn to:

  • See yourself through the eyes of a hiring manager
  • Overcome limiting beliefs that keep you invisible
  • Integrate your online and real world presence for maximum exposure
  • Add value to those following, friending, or visiting your profile
  • Build a whole person image of what you have to offer

Of course we can’t go over all of these points in one blog posting, so we are offering a free webinar entitled, Get Noticed Get Hired: Presenting Yourself In a Transparent Job Market. In it, we are going to offer information on all of the topics above and explain the philosophy of why making yourself visible helps you begin working with your potential employers before a job is even posted.

As recruiters, we see both sides of the fence very clearly.  Our job is to make it easier for good people and good companies to find each other.  So keep visiting our blog to learn more about how that is done and join us on this and other webinars.  We look forward to your participation.

What Not to Expect From a Job Search

Posted in Hiring Managers, Job Search, Networking, Personal Brand, Uncategorized on August 3, 2009 by jcsicareerassist

At its core, the job search is a communication process.  It begins with a simple question like, “Where can I find a job that will allow me to make the best use of my present skills while accomodating my desire to grow professionally?” From there you begin having numerous conversations with people in and out of your network until one day you find your answer.  At the end, the opportunity you take may or may not match what you originally hoped for.  What determines that is the accuracy of the expectations you began with.

Deals are made when expectations align.  Until that point, the parties involved must be willing to paticipate in a dialogue and at least one party must be accomodating enough to alter their expectations to a certain degree.  It’s the nature of sales and it is the nature of the job search.  Many people forget this in their job search efforts and as a result they can find the whole process very discouraging.  Expectations can work for you and against you.  The key is to be flexible and–need we say–realistic.

Here are a few common expectations that people contend with when on a job search.  Give these some consideration as you work on finding work. 

  1. “No one is hiring, but I might as well try.”  This is a terrible way to start a job search and definitely will not work in your favor or any potential employers for that matter.  A lot people inaccurately believe that they can avoid disappointment by setting low expectations.  That doesn’t make sense.  This doesn’t avoid it, it just spreads it around.  If you do manage to land an interview, just think how disappointed a hiring manager will feel after spending their time with a person that doesn’t even seem to want the job.  They will be glad to see you go and won’t even consider you for the future. Make it your business to at least leave them with a smile.  You never know where it can take you.
  2. “Any company would be crazy not to hire me because I am worth every penny.” Confidence is attractive, cockiness is not.  There is a lot to be said for the power of positive thinking but, as many people have found, the job search can be particularly humbling for some people.  A lot has changed in the past few years.  Companies, like everyone, are trying to do more with less when they can and in many cases a position that would have paid $100k last year may be only willing to invest $85k for the same role today. This is just one factor among many to consider.  We’re not saying to not try to go for what you think you are worth.  Just remember that flexibility is your friend.
  3. “All I need to do is get on these social networking sites and I’ll snag a job.” How awesome would that be?  The fact is that while there may be some stories of lottery winners on the social sites, most of us are going to have to work for a living.  That means putting time into your online profiles is the only way it is going to bear fruit.  Give to the culture and it will give to you.  That’s the basic tenet.  Just posting, “I need a job” as your status update without ever contributing to the value of the communities is going to yield the same results in kind.  That’s just the way it is.
  4. “I have so many ‘friends’ on line that finding a job will be easy for me.”  When it comes to networking, the first thing you want to ask yourself is whether your house is made of brick or straw.  There are very few people that are able to maintain thousands or even hundreds of meaningful relationships.  And those who are able to do so have chosen to make it a lifestyle and not just when they need help.  So know which one you are, before you make this assumption.  Because as Einstein said, not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.

For more insight on this topic check out this blog on job search timing expectations from someone at Monster.com.

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!