Thursday, October 30, 2014

Consider the risks of selling yourself too hard in interviews.

Frequently I see long-winded resumes. They often belong to people who are verbose talkers as well as writers. I suspect these same people don’t realize it how badly it reflects on them. It shows an inability to express oneself crisply and succinctly. How do you suppose a hiring manager is going to view that in an interview? Regardless of whether they realize how they are coming across, they are in serious need of professional interview coaching.

Here is the point: Verbosity is likely to cause the listener to stop listening and focus on how he or she is going to get rid of the candidate!

Why are some people so verbose? In some cases they may simply be narcisstic. But I think in most cases it is either the inability to express oneself well, or it is simply fear, and perhaps desperation caused by the inability to get interviews; more reason for them to get professional help.

Some people believe they can’t answer a question without building the background to their answer first. They fail to respect the listener’s ability to comprehend. They may fear that if they leave anything out they may not pique the listener’s interest. Of course quite the opposite is usually the case. Interviewers are interested in getting the answer quickly and asking a follow-on question or moving on to the next question, not listening to a lot of information that doesn’t answer their question. Verbosity is an interview killer!

So here are just some suggestions for people who are verbose.
-       Listen well – this is #1 in importance. When interviewing, listening is more important than speaking. Focus on being crisp and concise.
-       Pause, Breathe. Listen for reaction. Watch body language.
-       Role play responding crisply and concisely with someone who can offer positive feedback. It takes lots of practice.
-       If necessary pause a moment to organize your response when asked a question.
-       Tell it but don’t tell it all – generate interest and bait the interviewer for more questions.
-       Speak at a modest pace, not so slowly as to be boring and not so fast that the interviewer cannot grasp what you are saying.
-       Practice good enunciation. Don’t slur your words. Get rid of the gum before the interview.
-       Practice not using “um, uh, like” etc. Did you ever notice that good public speakers never utter any of these? They have trained themselves not to.
-       And get help. Take the time to learn how to verbally communicate. It takes considerable practice and self-control to overcome verbosity:

Add comments with your own suggestions about how to overcome verbosity.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Why do so many resumes contain lots of ‘Fluff’?

Fluff is information that is thrown into a resume to fill space! It doesn’t help sell a person, it usually hurts. That’s because resume volume doesn’t sell, only the results of your work do! If you tell everything about the responsibility and scope of your jobs but don’t provide any accomplishments or results statements, should I conclude you never accomplished anything in your career? I hope not!

Every day I see resumes with all kinds of overused words, self-assessing adjectives and verbose descriptions of job scope and responsibilities. Their competition does the same thing they do. What makes them different? Results statements tell the reader if they are worthy candidates. People often say they are ‘effective’, ‘self-motivated’, ‘innovative’, ‘creative’, ‘dynamic’, ‘results oriented’, etc., but not prove it. So many people use the same adjectives the words become meaningless.

Then there are those who are simply too verbose. They won’t stop writing about what they have done for fear they might leave out something someone might be interested in. Endless descriptions of job scope are things detract from the purpose of the resume which is to quickly generate interviews. Readers will not sift through a lot of words to search for the reasons to interview you. You need to present the reasons up front, crisply and concisely.

You will have ample time to prove yourself in the interview where you can discuss the details of your jobs face-to-face with the hiring manager. If you want someone to call you to set up an interview, make it easy for them to quickly discover why they need to call you. You may never get to the interview table if you introduce fluff.

Get more help on this and other tactics by emailing me at or by visiting And leave a comment if you like this post.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The four stages of learning and how it applies to resume writing:

If you are seeking a new job opportunity, try to reach stage 3 at a minimum:

1 - Unconsciously incompetent stage – we start out writing our resume ourselves and without realizing it, create a document that won’t get us interviews

2 - Consciously incompetent stage – we begin to realize we’re not very good at resume writing and start to consider getting professional help

3 - Consciously competent stage – we get professional help from a resume writer/job search coach, we learn and begin to get better

4 - Unconsciously competent stage – we now know how to do it right without thinking about the mechanics of it

Some people will never get past the first stage.

Many people will reach stage 2 and do nothing to go beyond it.

Those people who get good professional help will at least reach stage 3.

Professional resume writers should function at stage 4 all the time, but not all do.

What stage are you?

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Your resume needs to say who you are, how to contact you, what you do and what your brand is. Sounds simple, right?

You would be surprised to know how many people actually mess up those basic resume questions.

Hiring managers also want to know:  What are your core competencies? What have you achieved, what are the results of your work that benefited your employer? What is your educational background? Do you have any certifications? And other special needs depending upon the job.

In the first 5 seconds looking at your resume the reader will know if they want to spend more time reading your resume. They won’t spend more than 30 seconds to decide if they want to put you in the review further pile or discard you. It is really a yes/no decision because there are lots of other candidates, so you need to get it right. If the answer is no, there is no second chance, they are done with you.

The key to passing the first 5 seconds is the statement of your brand and your core competencies. Your brand statement needs to excite them to read further. It needs to be crisp, concise and have marketing “zing”, something eye catching, usually a one or two line summary of your accomplishments.

Hiring managers will decide to interview you based upon what they believe you might help them achieve, specifically the results they need to accomplish. So they focus on your results and accomplishments. Your responsibilities are important, but it is the results of your work that will get you the interview.

When you interview the hiring manager will be thinking “Do I like you? Do I think you can do the job? Do I think you will work well with other people?” You will need to satisfy these other key considerations to get an offer. Any sense that you do not fit any one of these three key considerations will likely cause rejection. The hiring manager is hiring you because of a need to solve a problem. He/she does not need to create any new problems by hiring you.

Feed the hiring manager’s needs!

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Monday, October 20, 2014

The best way to get hired is to be referred by an employee! But how do you get referrals?

Many companies have employee referral programs that pay a bonus to employees who refer a candidate that gets hired. Companies do this for several reasons. First it costs them far less than what it costs to use a recruiting firm or recruit on their own – far less! In addition companies often feel an employee would not risk their reputation by referring a candidate that becomes a problem, so it reduces the risk of making a bad hire.

Your objective is to get connected with the hiring manager, not HR, unless you are seeking an HR position.

So how do you go about getting referred? Use good networking skills (see more below) to connect with current employees.

First, search your existing network of family and friends. Stay in touch with your existing network. That is the easiest way.

Second, do a search on LinkedIn. Find out who is a current or past employee of the company you are interested in, focused first on current employees. Then try to connect with past employees. Past employees may have an axe to grind so be careful with information you receive. But it is a good way to get a sense about whether the company is a good match for you in terms of their financial health, their core philosophy, their management style, etc.

And if you have ever worked as an intern or part-time or in a contract position, take advantage of the access to people you've been given. Go out of your way to meet intelligent individuals and leaders. Build up a network of contacts so that when you leave (or if they do first), there is a foundation for a networking relationship to find out who they know.

How do you build your network and make connections with people you don’t know? A lot has been written about this. The consensus seems to be:

Build rapport: You do this by leading in with something you have in common with the person. You can often find the person’s interests by reviewing their profile for the positions they help, the schools they attended, their outside interests, the people they know, etc. Tell them you noticed the thing you have in common with them. You might also check them out on FaceBook, Twitter, etc., to find topics of commonality. Always start out by telling them who you are and what you do.

Get to the point quickly: This applies to all networking, email, messages, face-to-face and meeting by chance in public. Don’t ask for a job, period! Let them know you are interested in the company by asking what they know about the company. If you ask for help getting a job their guard will go up more times than not. You do not want to put them on the spot.

Show interest in them first, then the company: Once you have established rapport by showing interest in them, show them your interest in the company.

Wrap it up quickly: People are busy. Wrap up the first communication quickly by asking them if they would be willing to talk live someday soon. If they are willing right now, continue showing interest by asking them what they do, what they like about the company, dislike, and other things about them. Then tell them about a few of your greatest skills are (emphasis on “few”). It may take more than one conversation or email communication to reach the point where it is appropriate to let them know you are seeking a change (looking for a job), but not always. To get a referral you must give them enough insight to convince them you are worthy of being referred.

When you ask to connect by sending a written message, keep it brief, crisp and concise with no spelling or grammar errors (be professional).

Get more help on this and other tactics by emailing me at or by visiting And leave a comment if you like this post.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Differentiation is a critical goal of marketing. Does your job search differentiate you from the 'herd'?

Do you read job descriptions and immediately apply online or do you take the initiative to find out who the hiring manager is and make live voice contact first? If you speak to the hiring manager before applying you will differentiate yourself from the herd. If you learn directly from the hiring manager what the critical needs are you can tell him/her how you can solve the need and then modify your resume to reflect that before you apply, that will further differentiate you from the herd.

Do you use ready-made templates for your resume? If you do you will look just like the herd. Templates can be spotted from a mile away and are quickly rejected by many companies. They do not demonstrate your originality. They do not give you guidance for what kind of information to write or how to write it either.

Do you make sure your resume is peppered with the results of your work? In the final analysis, this is what will make you attractive and it will differentiate you form the herd. Your responsibilities are important but if that is all your resume talks about there is really no reason to call you because you will look like one of the herd. Your results are what will motivate people to call you.

Do you get a knowledgeable person to review your resume and make sure it is ATS-ready? There is much more to do to your resume than to simply include key words to make it ATS-ready. And yet that is usually the extent of the advice you will receive from many people. Resumes that are not ATS-ready usually belong to members of the herd.

Do you actively network in informal as well as formal ways? If you don’t think about networking in all of your daily activities, you are indeed one of the herd. All kinds of networking is important to differentiate you from the herd.

Do you seek out professional help early in your search or do you believe you can do it all on your own? If you don’t seek good professional help early you will probably extend the time it takes to find a job and you will become one of the herd. If you believe professional help is too expensive, try amateur help.

Get more help on this and other tactics by emailing me at or by visiting And leave a comment if you like this post.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Remember the phrase “When the going gets tough, the tough get going?” How apropos for job seekers.

Frank Leahy used this phrase to inspire his football players when he was coach at Notre Dame from 1941 to 1943 and 1946 to 1953 (taking time away to serve in WWII). He had a big sign on the locker room wall when he was coach at Notre Dame. Sometimes he used it in very inspirational speeches at half-time, particularly when the team was losing.

Of course Frank Leahy was an excellent coach who made sure every player was very well trained. He only needed to encourage the players to reach deep down inside themselves and step up to the challenge, using their well-trained skills.

Like football and other competitive sports, job seekers, mostly those who are unemployed, often go through tremendous emotional challenges. Their challenge extends to their families as well making it doubly difficult to maintain a competitive spirit. But unlike Leahy’s players, quite often job seekers are totally untrained to overcome the challenges of contemporary  job searching,  which has changed a great deal from what it was only 10 years ago. This exacerbates the emotional side of being out of work making it more and more difficult to deal with over time.

The logical way to overcome job searching hurdles is to utilize a good professional coach at the very outset of becoming unemployed. The operative word here is “good”. In fact it is better to become prepared while working and more able to afford the cost of good help.

When one loses a job the natural urge is to quickly dust off an old resume and start blasting it out into the universe. And that is a fire-aim-ready approach that is destined for failure today. It normally wastes time that could be better spent getting professional coaching to create a robust job search and it compounds emotional issues by extending the period of unemployment. Regardless of one’s situation it is never too late to establish a recovery plan and get on track.

A word to those of you who are currently employed: You may not be in a job search mode currently but you would be well-advised to do the preparation work now! Astute people who are presently employed owe it to their future to become trained as well, as insurance against possible changes around the corner because change is inevitable.

Contact me if you would like more information on this or related job search topics by emailing me at or by visiting And leave a comment if you like this post.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Do you sense that your job is in jeopardy? Have you planned your escape?

Does it seem like someday soon you may not have to work late anymore?

That’s just one way of asking if you sense your job may be in jeopardy. If you are having feelings that things are not going well for you anymore, it is time to plan your escape. Be proactive: Do it now before you are forced to!

Most people who are about to lose their job have a strong sense about long before it actually happens. There usually are warning signs, the relationship between you and your boss seems to have changed, you are no longer included in certain meetings or discussions, you have received some kind of warning, and many other signals.

Change is inevitable: If you don’t like the way things are going, it will change; if you do like the way things are going, it will change.

You owe it to yourself to prepare for some point when you will either have to or want to make a job change. Preparing is like having catastrophe insurance. You don’t really want to pay for it but you can’t ignore the possibility you may need it.

A well thought out job search plan will help you to be “first off the line” when the race starts. Your plan should include having a search strategy and supporting tactics that makes sense for you. It should include a detailed understanding of the pros and cons of the various tactics you could use in your search. And obviously it includes having a master, ATS-ready resume and cover letter updated to contemporary style, particularly if you have not conducted a job search recently. Like everything else, the world of job searching changes too. Without professional help you are hard pressed to know enough about contemporary job searching to do it effectively on your own. Without a robust plan you may unnecessarily extend your search.

Procrastination about becoming prepared also extends job searches. Early planning mitigates the pressure one feels when one must start a search. It is easier on the budget to get professional help while you are employed than when you are not!

Get more help on this and other tactics by emailing me at or by visiting And leave a comment if you like this post.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Salespeople sell products or services. Job seekers sell the benefits of hiring themselves. Get ready for your search.

Job seekers and salespeople have a lot in common. Both need to sell the benefits of buying something. For the professional salesperson it is a product or service. For the job seeker it is the benefit of buying his or her services.

Most salespeople are trained for their job. Many job seekers are not trained for sales. And many job seekers do not want to have anything to do with sales. That puts them at a distinct disadvantage with respect to any competition who has taken the initiative to learn some sales techniques. Fortunately one does not have to become a sales expert to improve the results of a search, but basic training certainly helps.

Fundamental to all sales is the ‘close’. A sales close is defined as "to put an end to; to conclude; to finish." For job seekers it is important to conclude conversations in a manner that sets expectations for both parties. Of course the most important close is getting a job offer, but there are many preliminary closes that lead up to the offer. Salespeople would call these “trial closes”.

Trial closes are used to identify objections that need to be overcome to guide the decision maker  toward a ‘final close’, the decision to hire. They are also used to reiterate points that the buyer likes about your qualifications and to set expectations for next steps in the process. Closing can also be applied to networking.

In interviewing the final close makes it clear to the decision-maker that the job seeker wants the job and seeks agreement from the hiring manager. Of course, if during the interview you decide you do not want the job, it is advisable not to close at all.

Closing does not have to result in the outcome you would like. A decision not to hire you or not to pursue you further is as valuable to you as a decision not to buy is to the professional salesperson. It enables you to change your focus to the next job opportunity and not waste valuable time on one that is not going to get you hired.

Get more help on this and other tactics by emailing me at or by visiting And leave a comment if you like this post.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Help your references provide positive referrals for you.

It is best to prepare your references for the possibility they may be called for a referral. Once a company has asked you for references it is advisable to let each reference know that the company may be call them. This enables the reference to be prepared rather than blind-sided.

Have a frank conversation with your references regarding their true feelings about your work, your positive attributes, and reasons you left a job.

Provide accomplishments they will recall. Remind them about important events that you performed particularly well at if they knew you in that job.

Find out if they have any negative thoughts about you that they would expose to someone asking for their referral. Leave them off your list if you suspect they would not give you a good referral.

If you know your former boss or company will not give you a positive referral, you need to deal with that directly with the hiring company at some point in the hiring process, preferably not in the first communication. Above all do not speak negatively about your former company or boss. Diplomacy and tact in the choice of words is the best approach.

Get more help on this and other tactics by emailing me at or by visiting And leave a comment if you like this post.