Not Go-Getter…GO-GIVER

March 23, 2011

In every encounter and every situation, think about ways you can help. And think of it in terms that do not directly benefit you. I read a book a while ago called The Go Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann.  This book was given to me as a gift from one of my mentors.  It is a short read, but it delivered such a profound message about how we should stop working for ourselves and begin working for the benefit of others.  In fact, this book delivers a method to begin doing just that.  I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone, not just job seekers.

As a result of reading this book, I was able to reflect on my approach with my students, clients, family, and friends.  I have now given this book as a gift to many professionals and friends to aid in the development of their own professionalism and business perspective. Remember: it is through service to others that we find fulfillment and happiness.

SC

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What is the first question that comes to your mind when preparing for an interview?  Let me guess:  What questions will the interviewer ask me?  You work yourself up studying interviewing questions just like you would a multiple choice exam.  When job seekers do this, they lose sight of the purpose of the interview.  They want to know what questions will be asked but fail to realize the purpose of the questions in the first place.

Who likes to answer the question “Tell me about yourself”?  What about “tell me about a time you failed”?  I can imagine the cringed look on your face as you read this. But have you ever sat down to really ask yourself why these questions are asked in the first place?  

Interviewers want to talk with you and ask questions to see if you are the best candidate, so why do we treat these interviews as if we have committed a crime and are being put through an interrogation to see if we will crack under pressure? 

Trust me; interviewers do not take the time out of their work day to torture you.   Some might come across that way, but that is not the purpose of an interview at all.  Companies have to hire talent to help the company grow; therefore, the interview is meant to get to know the person behind the resume.  It’s not meant to make you feel less about yourself or make you ill.  A company’s culture might be competitive, so the questions you are asked might lean towards those to test your ability to succeed in that environment.  However, the interviewer is not trying to beat you up at all. 

The next time you go into an interview, and I hope soon, sit down and talk with the interviewer relaxed and ready to “talk” about your qualifications, the position you are interviewing for at the time, and the company itself.   If you really studied the company culture and position in which you are interviewing for in the first place, you will know if the candidate needs to have certain traits which may sway the types of questions you are asked. 

In preparing for your interview “conversation”, focus on the position, the company, and YOU!  Know the position and be prepared to answer questions concerning your qualifications to succeed.  Know the company; its mission, competitors, partners and recent press releases.  And most importantly know you!  Know your strengths, your weaknesses, your failures, the reasons why you want this job, and your ability to succeed in both the position and a career with the company. 

Relax and smile.  You have committed no crime, so stop treating your interviews as if you have.

How often have you heard in networking workshops that successful job search networking is all about who you know?  While that statement is basically true, I argue that it is really who knows you that define successful networking.

I am so fortunate to be a part of Keith Ferrazzi’s Relationship Masters Academy (RMA) right now and am learning so much about not just building my network but cultivating and strengthening my relationships.  This program has really made me reflect on the art of networking.  For job seekers, it is not about asking people for a job or asking for contact names of hiring managers.  Networking is about learning and not about increasing the list of people you know by leaps and bounds.   

I remember when I first built my LinkedIn profile.  I went out searching every person in business I had ever met.  I wanted people in my LinkedIn network.  The same can be with business cards.  Attending an event only to gather as many business cards as possible is a great way to build contacts and names, but how many business relationships have you really cultivated with that group?  How many of those people would even remember you if you called or emailed today? 

If you have not built a reputation with your network, then no one is going to remember your name when the right opportunity comes along. 

I challenge you today to think about those you would say are in your job search network.  Would these people remember you?  Do these people know you are searching for full time employment or an internship? Do they know your strengths, goals, or current status in the job search process?  If the answer to any of these questions is no, then the first thing you need to do after reading this blog is take the necessary steps to changing the answer to yes.

At Texas A&M University, and we call our alumni Former Students.  Once an Aggie; always an Aggie.  The impact of our Former Student Association has with its fellow members in the job search is something I cannot begin to put into words.  Let’s face it, Aggies want to hire Aggies.  I’ll bet many of your alumni associations are similar. 

Whether you are about to graduate and looking to begin your career or have already graduated and back in the job market, have you must list your alumni association as a source for networking prospects?  

People who have graduated from your school are familiar with your education.  They have a good feel for the values you have learned while in college.  You might also find alumni from your school very interested in mentoring you through your job search.

Your school’s alumni association or, in my case, the Association of Former Students is an organization of great networking contacts, hiring managers and people who need to hire talent.  If your school does not have a directory of your former students, two online resources I would highly recommend you use include LinkedIn and CareerShift.  Both offer advanced search capabilities to find exactly the right people who fit specific profiles. 

The first step in networking is to start with people you know.  Your university’s alumni association is one of the strongest resources you have at your disposal.  Wayne Gretsky said it best, “You lose 100% of the shots you never take.”

Your Deserved Salary

September 28, 2010

The title of this blog alone probably has many career coaches and recruiters cringing.  Talk about one of the worst ways to approach a subject to a potential employer.  Tell an employer what you deserve, and I will bet the farm I know what you will really receive. 

To the average job seeker, hurdle number one is getting an interview; hurdle number two is getting the offer.  Somewhere between getting the interview, interviewing and the offer; job seekers start wondering about salary.  Salary is good.  I always say we work to live; we should not live to work.  Good concern, but be careful.  There is proper etiquette to salary inquiries. 

Talking to an employer about what you think you are worth or what you deserve can seriously backfire if you are not careful.  Mentioning the findings of your research is a great idea, but make sure you are not backing the employer into a corner.  Remember the best solution is one that benefits both parties involved.   When you find yourself focusing on what you deserve, take an extra dose of humility.  It works every time.

I get this question quite often from job seekers.  Should I handwrite a thank you note and send through snail mail or should I email so the person can get my thank you that day?  My answer is yes and yes. 

Receiving a thank you note through email from a job candidate is a great way to refresh my mind at the end of the day.  It shows that you left our conversation enthused and wanting to make an impression.            

A thank you note through the mail is something we do not receive very often.  I remember back in the early 90s when the morning and noon mail at work was two to four inches thick if not more.  Letters could easily get lost in the fray.  Today, the volume of mail we receive is much less so thank you notes stand out amongst the bills and junk mail.  A thank you note through the mail is also received three to four days after an interview.  Within your letter, note a discussion topic from our interview which will remind me of our conversation and reinforce your interest.

With the age of email, texting and social media, sending letters through the mail is not as natural as it used to be.  We have to write the letter, address the envelope, put a stamp on the envelope and take it to the mailbox.  That takes time, I agree, but this effort reinforces your interest and shows your added effort in securing the company’s offer. 

My advice to job seekers is to email a thank you note later in the day of your interview and write a thank you note to send through the mail.  Talk about making a great impression.  You can’t go wrong.

Writing a resume is not easy, and frankly it is not meant to be.  Usually, the writer opens a blank document in Microsoft Word and start typing facts of our experiences such as where, when and what.   Everything seems to click along until we get to the bullet points “content” under each work and/or leadership experience.  Our instinct is to ask ourselves”   “What did I do here?”  When the product is complete, we look at it as a good summary of our past experiences and accomplishments, call it good and use it to apply for positions. 

I receive resumes like this every day, and do you want to know my response?  BORING!!  Facts alone do not tell a story.   An impactful resume tells a compelling story that prompts the reader to want to learn more.  A list of facts will not do that.

If an employer needs someone with problem solving, analytical and decision making skills, then it is your job as an applicant to write a resume proving to the employer you have had great success in each of these areas.  Think of your best stories and input those stories where appropriate on your resume.  Remember that every action has a result.  That’s a fact. Everything we do has a result. 

The purpose of a resume is to prove to an employer that you can do the job at hand and do it very well.  Just stating the tasks you performed on a job will not do that.  Your resume will be weak and overlooked.  To be noticed make sure every action you list on your resume ends with a result. 

Action = Results and Results=Value.  In the job search, the action/task doesn’t mean anything to an employer without proving how you added value to their organization.  Oh, and by the way make that result a good one.  Happy Resume Writing.