How to Ace Your Way to Your Next Job

I once again have to rely on Alesia Benedict’s advice.  Alesia is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) as well as the President of GetInterviews.com

Today I wanted to talk about interviews and how to leverage your skills and knowledge in order to ace the interview and land a job.  One of the keys is to PREPARE FOR YOUR INTERVIEW. I have mentioned before that you should walk in confidently and be prepared to answer any question that may be thrown at you.  After all of the interviews I went on I became somewhat of a pro, if I do say so myself. 🙂 Come on, I’m allowed to toot my own horn a bit.

However, this didn’t come from just reading about each company, it came from knowing how to answer questions and knowing what questions I struggled with.  You wouldn’t believe what I had to work through in interviews but I think Alesia’s advice sums it all up.  So here we go:

“…thinking about questions you will be asked can strengthen your resume and create a consistent impression as you formulate your ‘brand’ for potential employers.

Consider the first impression you want to deliver to potential employers and hiring managers. You control first impressions by being meticulous about details contained in your resume, and that process can help you develop consistent answers to commonly asked interview questions. The resume begins to build your brand, reflecting positive impressions of you from the very first glance to the final reading.

Convey Strengths instead of Weaknesses

Focusing on ‘duties or responsibilities’ emphasizes your reporting to others. A better presentation showcases your initiative, creativity, and ability to exceed expectations on your own efforts. A description of your role as an ‘underling’ can diminish the power of accomplishments.

Present a Progression of Professional Growth

Using a chronological resume provides a progression of accomplishments and professional development, culminating a forecast of the next step in your career. The progressive professional summary replaces the old career objective with a sense of how your talents can complement the potential employer’s mission and ‘bottom line.’ Past success predicts future contributions.

Don’t Detail Reasons for Leaving Past Positions

Although most interviewers will ask the reasons for leaving your more recent positions, you don’t want to use the limited space in your resume to explain this part of your professional history. These are definitely answers you want to prepare for the interview…

Ask Pointed Questions About the Company

Appropriate questions can highlight research you have done about the company’s strengths and new directions. Do not use the interview to explore salary or benefits. Avoid including salary history in your resume as well…

Highlight Unique Skills

Compare your job history and accomplishments to other likely candidates. What skills are unique and which are considered routine? Using common software, such as Microsoft Word or Excel, is unlikely to distinguish you from the 100 other candidates. Analyzing current trends in the field and creating forecasts to help the employer stay one step ahead of the competition, however, are clear strengths that set you apart.

Handling Conflict

How have you managed difficult situations successfully, such as counseling or terminating an under performing staff member? Have you facilitated consensus among a diverse team? Quantify these successes in typical results you are likely to produce for the new employer, such as increased productivity or team cohesiveness.

Managing Competing Demands

Multi-tasking is a common requirement in most positions, particularly as companies downsize. Have you effectively managed and delivered multiple projects simultaneously? What about directing teams remotely? Have you over-delivered despite challenges of tight time-frames and reduced budgets? These are valuable skills that deserve the spotlight in your resume.

Performance under Pressure

Typical examples of this quality include being calm under pressure, bringing structure to chaos, and rapidly responding to unexpected obstacles. Not all candidates bring these high-level skills to the interview…

Turning around Failure

None of us like to think about shortcomings, however interviewers often want to know how you perceive past failures to gain a sense of your own objectivity and ability to grow from challenges and constructive criticism….Package the ‘failure’ in the context of how you turned it into a success by emphasizing a short time-frame or major results achieved.

Establishing Credibility

Describe how you establish authority as you take on a leadership role. Do you use the position to create leadership or cultivate respect in leading by example? Do you unintentionally sabotage your authority by being too much of a worker bee? Is your status as a Subject Matter Expert your basis for credibility? Each approach creates a different type of respect, affecting interactions with your team. Review your work history in the context of what kind of leader you have been and what kind you want to be.

Where do you want to be in 5 years?

This classic interview question can provide the framework for your resume. Your answer should build on your individual career progression by highlighting accomplishments in each position that provide logical steps toward your 5-year plan. Be certain your plan is career-related. Ideally, your 5-year goals dovetail nicely with the mission of the company where you plan to interview.

Translating the Big Picture Produces Results

Reviewing your answers to likely interview questions and incorporating them into your resume will help you present a consistent brand to potential employers. Your ability to condense the big picture into a practical presentation of skills and accomplishments provides an example of your planning and communication strengths to potential employers. These skills can translate into success for you in the interview process, as you translate your big picture into positive results from your resume.

These are some fantastic tips!  Use them wisely and good luck!

What did you do today?

Information about GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Alesia’se and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

Updating Your Networks

Something I’ve never understood is why people still associate themselves with a company they no longer work for.  I know people who have been out of a specific job position for more than two years but still have that position as the most current one.

I can understand that perhaps they haven’t had luck securing their next job.  However, if a potential employer checks out your profile they will have questions.  Either you are still “employed” by company X or you are lying about your credentials.

Here are my tips to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date, even if you may not be employed.

1. Put a professional status update up at least once a week, maybe twice.  Don’t over do it. My tip is to either ask a professional question about something or share some advice you may have come across and point people to the specific website.

2. Update your summary section to reflect what you have been doing with your time…volunteering, taking courses, or even reading a book written by an industry leader.

3. Update your title/heading to say that you are seeking your next opportunity.

There really isn’t anything to be ashamed about if you are out of work these days.  Millions of people are in the same boat as you, but your success depends on what you do with your time.

So, update your profile and make it a personal goal to have something to update on it every two or three months.

Good luck and what did you do today?

Changes

Those of us who have a LinkedIn account may have received an e-mail in the last two weeks about the career changes in your network.  Mine claimed that 49 people in my network changed jobs in 2010.  I decided to explore that a little more and see what kinds of changes REALLY occurred.

New job: 33

New job description: 7

Internships: 1

Volunteering/Mentoring: 3

Same position as previously: 4

Unemployed: 2

As you can see, there’s quite a variety here.  Not everyone changed jobs as it is advertised in the e-mail.  I certainly don’t expect anyone else to go through all of their connections and check out the changes but my key take away’s from doing this exercise are the following:

1. I didn’t realize that a lot of my connections did find new jobs at some fantastic companies.

2. People’s LinkedIn profiles are WAY too cluttered.  As a networker I would use LinkedIn as a professional source.  Having said that, I would highlight my skills and previous accomplishments and not the blogs I am following or the books I am reading.  You can still share all of that information but it shouldn’t be the first thing people see.  In other words, potential employers and others who are interested in your accomplishments should not have to scroll through your interests before getting to your achievements.

3. This exercise gave me an opportunity to check in with my network and shoot off some messages congratulating people on their success’ which shows that I don’t just value their input and connection in bad times.

What did you do today?

Corporate Travel

I am getting ready for a corporate trip and as I prepare I wanted to do some research on what’s expected and how people take to presentations.  We all know the basics, pack some work clothes, pack some fine dining clothes and something more casual for bonding time.  We all also know not to have too much fun and act professionally.

Beth McHugh, VP of Policy Development for Fidelity Investments offers the following 5 tips, “…these events [are] an opportunity to educate [your]self on what is happening in the industry and to reconnect with former colleagues.”

1. “Approach groups of people you do not know and avoid just hanging out with coworkers,” McHugh advises.

2. “Show up prepared to talk business. Prior to attending, read the industry headlines, review your department’s financials, and know what your goals are. During the meetings, speak up. It’s not okay to hang back at the coffee bar and just listen.  Participate, but don’t hog the meeting. There is a common saying at off-sites, ‘You have two ears and one mouth. Use them accordingly.’ Remember you are there to learn as well as shine; and you won’t learn if you don’t listen.”

3. “When there is free time scheduled, is it better to hit the golf course or the spa? The answer depends on your personal preferences. Diane Mullen, a former Mercer management consultant, says ‘It’s still all about the golf. That’s table stakes for professional services.’…McHugh prefers the spa. ‘I usually sign up for an activity that I enjoy…versus the one that provides the best networking opportunity.’”

4.”Perhaps the most daunting part of the executive retreat can be the dress code. Many businesses reward their employees by allowing business casual, or even full casual, dress at offsite events. For professional women, packing can be like navigating a landmine.

Most executive women caution against dressing too casual. For example, if the events call for shorts, opt for capris instead. After all, the main focus is work, regardless of the setting.

Mullen’s wardrobe rules are even stricter. ‘Do not go anywhere near the pool in a swimsuit in front of your colleagues,’ she says. For evening events, Mullen opts for dressy clothes similar to what she would wear to an office holiday party. ‘The safe bet, is to stick with dark colors. You are not trying to seduce anyone at these events.’”

5. “Finally, McHugh advises that women also pack water, caffeine and layers.”

This advice offers up some interesting things I hadn’t taken into account and hope it will help you as well.

What did you do today?

Read more about surviving an off-site meeting.

Here are a couple more interesting articles, Ten Off-Site Meeting Mistakes to Avoid, Ten Tips for Successful Off-Site Meetings.

The Future of Event Marketing

I now receive Exhibitor magazine and usually I never have time to read it.  However, this particular day it was almost time to go home so I began leafing through it.  For some reason I thought the magazine simply consisted of ads for upcoming trade shows and articles about what people thought of previous shows.  Well, I was happy to find out I was wrong.  The latest issue featured  11 marketing executives who shared their thoughts on the future of trade show marketing and the marketing landscape in general.

The main thread that ran through all of the conversations was doing more with less and how the economy has affected marketing budgets.  So here goes, I’m going to share with you my main takeaways from these industry gurus:

Tim Naeglin, trade show senior associate at Abbott Laboratories states that even though in the health care industry it is hard to use social media due to all kinds of regulations, the trend he is seeing is in, “…virtual trade shows…they seem to be quite successful in a variety of…industries.  However, we’ll definitely keep our interactive and educational approach to exhibit marketing…”

Kathleen N. Theiss, CTSM, manager, trade shows and events at McKesson Corp. talks about exploring avenues other than exhibiting in large booths, “We’re creating a specific call to action with our internal sales and marketing teams on post-show follow-up…we will also continue to identify customers prior to the show and customize our lead-retrieval program…”

J. Archie Lyons, senior event producer at Caterpillar Inc. looks on the bright side of the economic downturn, “The downturn…encouraged a lot of marketers to look at everything we do, and to figure out a better way to do it…it also allowed us to look at and leverage new technologies and social media.”

Victor M. Torregroza, a program manger, corporate event marketing at Intel Corp. reflected on how Intel’s face-to-face marketing program had to get adjusted due to budget cuts, “…we focused our resources on simplifying our face-to-face marketing efforts, which allowed us to create more meaningful experiences for our customers and prospects.”

John Zeltin, manager, industry communications, emerging payments, American Express Global Network Operations on the other hand looks to the future, “…as a company, we’re going to focus on driving efficiencies and developing solid metrics to evaluate our program.”

And finally, Douglas Caldwell’s remarks really sum up everyone’s points:

Douglas Caldwell, vice president, senior global event marketing at JPMorgan Chase & Co. sums up his view on the industry with the following words, “…we adjusted our programs and rather than hosting a huge event…we parsed it down to our local markets.  We went to our clients instead of trying to bring everyone to us…If the recession has taught us anything, it’s that quality far exceeds quantity…I think we’ll eventually strike the balance between face-to-face marketing and social-media.”

So what matters and is going to matter in the coming years? I say new technologies, communications, social media and marketing efforts that exude quality over quantity.

I hope these snipets into the future of event marketing has expanded your thoughts in the overall future of the industry.

What did you do today?

The Trader Joe’s Philosophy

I was shopping at Trader Joe’s recently and as I was leaving the store I thought about the strategy behind the company.  It truly is quality over quantity.  They buy the best and most unique items versus a lot of everything.  I’m thinking that with the new year still fresh in my mind, I should implement this strategy in my life.  I should stop buy a little bit of everything and only get things that will last me years.

How you can implement this in your job search is instead of applying to every job under the sun, which I am the first to know is what happens after some time, and instead apply to jobs that are within your skill set.  Also, always make sure to put your best, and not mediocre, foot forward.  So every time you find a new opportunity and are about to apply, think about the Trader Joe’s philosophy and whether you are living it.

What did you do today?

Securing Your New Job

I wrote about job search resolutions last week so it’s only fitting to share an article about securing your new job.  Alesia Benedict from GetInterviews.com shares 4 steps to securing your new job.

Before I jump into those tips I want to reiterate my own tips. There are obviously more than four but if I had to narrow it down I would urge everyone to:

1. Expand your skill set. Whether it be through volunteering, a part time job or night classes at your local high school, it always helps to add new skills to your resume, especially if you’ve been unemployed for a length of time.
2. Network. You never know who may have a lead for you.  The more leads the better!
3. Manage your cover letters and resumes. There is no sense in having one version of each.  Every job is different and so is every interview.  SO, if the previous is true, why would you always put the same foot forward?  Have fun and change up what skills you will highlight for each job.
4. Always ask for feedback. This can either come in the form of constructive criticisms from an interview that didn’t go well, pointers from a recruiter, or a resume make-over from an agency.

So, let’s see what Alesia has to say:

1. Focus on Accomplishments: A strong resume highlights accomplishments. It can be easy to forget achievements if you have not included them in past resumes or kept a separate file. Build your confidence by brainstorming positive results you achieved in past positions.

2. Target your Industry: The target for your job search may be different from what you have done in the past. As a result, you may have a broad range of skills or a diverse professional background. This can be a strength or a detriment, depending on how you present yourself. Research basic skills expected for a candidate in the position in which you are interested. Then expand to the next level by identifying qualities that define an outstanding professional in your target field. Next begin matching your work history with the basic and expanded skills in the new industry.

Look for common skills in your background that will be an asset in the industry where you are currently targeting your efforts. Re-frame your wide-ranging experience as strengths rather than a lack of focus or inconsistency in job history. Finding that common thread will provide insight into your values, and believe it or not, employers are definitely interested in candidates who share their values in support of the corporate mission.

3. Keywords: Keywords are critical in any job search today; not only for capturing the attention of hiring managers, but also in rising to the top of electronic searches. Translate your skills into just a few buzz words that are likely to get attention. Use powerful language in your resume by selecting descriptors that capture your strengths!

Research companies of interest to you. Most corporate websites will include a mission statement, and perhaps a description of their community involvement. Not only can you mirror the language of the vision statement in your own resume and cover letter, but you may also discover opportunities to network informally with staffers and executives involved in community campaigns.

4. Practice your Attitude: Job searches are challenging and can wear down the most positive of attitudes. Change is difficult, but don’t let it get you down. Pessimism never landed anyone a job!  You never know who you may bump into in the corporate lobby or on the way to HR. Everyone in the corporate environment is a potential advocate for you in the hiring game!  Project enthusiasm into your networking and resume.

What did you do today?

Job Search Resolutions

How was everyone’s snow day?  I hope no one had to deal with down power lines and trees crashing over their roofs.  Although the shoveling was much harder this time around than the day after Christmas I still thoroughly enjoyed myself.  You can see some of my pictures along the right hand side of my blog.

Now that we are almost at the end of our second week of the new year let’s talk about sticking to our resolutions.  As always, everyone’s typical resolution is to get healthy or lose weight.  Unfortunately, it looks like people are already beginning to fall behind on their exercise.  Case in point, the Tuesday after New Year’s the gym was PACKED at 6am, as the week went on, there were less and less people showing up.  I’m here to tell you, don’t give up on your resolutions!

Those of you looking for work, rejoice!  The economy looks like it is picking up and more people are hiring.  Learn from every phone screen you have and from every interview you go on.  I truly have to say that I interviewed at some great companies but I could not be happier with what I am doing right now.  I not only get to play with social media and put in my two cents but I also get to plan and manage trade shows!  Maybe some of you, who read my blog regularly, might say, “throw fashion in there and it looks like this is THE job for you.”  Luckily, just being back in the workforce I get to play with all of my old AND new work clothes so it’s like exploring a part of my closet that I hadn’t seen in 16 months!

So what do the writers at Doostang suggest you resolve to do in the new year if you are looking for work?  Let’s take a look:

1.Resolve to build out your professional network.  Hold yourself accountable and vow to meet a certain number of people – say, two – per week.
2. Promise to yourself that you’re going to really make your job search a full time job, and set a goal for yourself as to how many jobs you will apply to each week.
3. Decide to have a happier, healthier year by taking up a hobby or volunteering.  It’s hard to sit in front of a computer all day and search for a job, so commit yourself to an activity or join a group that meets once a week…
4. Commit yourself to learning a new skill or subject matter.  Use your free time to broaden your mind, and consider taking up something that will allow you to bring more to the table at a new job…
5. If 2010 was a rough year for you as far as job search goes, consider seeking the aid of professional services that will look over your resume or coach you on how to perform in an interview.
6. Make a resolution to build your online presence and leverage social media channels to get a job.  Sign up for various social and professional networking sites, and craft an image that you want employers to see.
7. Perhaps the most important resolution is to find a way to stay positive, even though you may be feeling anxious about not having a job.  A positive person will be more productive, will exude enthusiasm and confidence to hiring managers…

Thank you Doostang team for your great advice!!!

What did you do today?

P.S. Read the whole article: New Year’s Resolutions for Your Job Search.

Career, Networking and Fashion

That is what this Thursday is going to be all about! Yes, this is a post for the “Personal Life” category.  But boy am I excited…my friend Tenley and I are going to see Bethenny Frankel at the Lowell Auditorium!!!  Ok, there may be a few of you who would say, “Bethenny who?” and there are also those who do know about her and might say, “What the hell are you so excited about?”

Well my friends, I think she embodies Career, Networking and Fashion.  Yes, she may be best known for being on the Real Housewives of New York City but unlike many of the women on these shows, especially Beverly Hills, Bethenny wasn’t there to just socialize.  She used the show as a major platform to help launch her career with a launch of the Skinny Girl Margarita, her cook books and her own spin off, Bethenny Getting Married.

She networked her way into the world she is in now and I can’t give more kudos to people who really try and succeed. Did you know that she was on Martha Stewart’s Apprentice and came in second?

Now, on to the fashion part.  I have always thought that Bethenny looks stunning in all of her outfits so here are my options for Thursday night, obviously the first is just for fun and my wish that it was summer time.  However, the two others…which one do I go with?  I mean it’s Bethenny Frankel after all.

What did you do today?

The 5-15 Minute LinkedIn Check-Up

I always preached that once you are employed you should not forget your networks and connections that you made while job searching.  I also encouraged everyone to keep networking while they are employed, not so much in the hopes of finding another job but more to learn about your industry or craft.

However, I can see how this sort of thing can fall by the wayside.  You get busy working, running errands, preparing meals, doing laundry and catching up with your loved ones.  There seems to be no time left for other people.

Now, I am the first to admit that I certainly find time for Facebook, Twitter, ideeli, J’severydayfashion and other celeb and fashion blogs.  However, I leave checking LinkedIn and other networking sites to a last resort.  Why?  I think because the previous sites allow me to browse mindlessly but when I’m on LinkedIn I feel like I really need to think and communicate on a professional level.

So here is my solution, the 5-15 minute LinkedIn check-up which you can accomplish over the weekend:

If you only have 5 minutes a week:

1. Log in and simply take a look at your home site and see if something on your profile needs to be updated

2. Check your inbox and make a note to reply to these messages later

3. Check to see who else has viewed your profile and see if you can network with them

If you only have 10 minutes a week:

Take the previous 3 tasks a step further…
1. Take the message reading a step further and respond to your new mail

2. Check out the “People You May Know” section and see who you can add to your network

3. Take a look at the “Just Joined LinkedIn” section to see who might be new and worthwhile connecting with.

If you only have 15 minutes a week:

Take the previous 6 tasks a step further…
1. Write a personal note to your possible new connections instead of just sending the boilerplate “hello.”

2. Check in on your groups and see what topics are being discussed and see how you can contribute

3. Check on the events that may be happening around you, perhaps there is an event you’d like to attend!

Well, there you have it.  Whether you have five, ten or fifteen minutes a week or just on a Saturday morning, there is always time to check in on your connections and your network.

What did you do today?

P.S. Here are a couple of interesting articles about managing your social media accounts in 10-15 minutes a day:

Social Media Monitoring in 10 Minutes a Day

Social Media in 15 Minutes a Day

Manage a Twitter Account in 5 Minutes a Day

Social Media Monitoring in 30 Minutes or Less

And here is one that is a little off topic:

Social Media Monitoring for PR