6 reasons to pay someone to write your résumé; and my thoughts on installing a screen door

Last spring I made an attempt, albeit a weak one, to install a screen door on my house. As my wife stood watching hopeful that our house wouldn’t look like something from a ghetto, I kept thinking, “No way is this going to happen.” So it didn’t.

It should have gone this way: first, I would install the top, hinge, and latch trim; second, attach the 40 lb. door to the hinge trim; third, install the hardware that would make all this work, such as the handle, and the thingy that makes the door close slowly….

This is how it went: I called a contractor who said he would do the job for $35 an hour. I happily agreed.

Putting the screen door on my house got me to thinking about how writing a résumé for some people seems out of the realm of possibility; much like getting that damn screen door on my house to satisfy my wife. I started to empathize for people who feel paralyzed when they have to write their résumé.

Look, I come across people who haven’t written a résumé in years, maybe never. They haven’t used a word-processing application, don’t have a relative who has the time or inclination to write their résumé, and the thought of it scares the hell out of them. Plus, when they were applying for shipping and receiving jobs 25 years ago, they didn’t need a résumé.

Here’s what I suggest: get the help you need if you’re one of these folks who is paralyzed by writing the most important document in your life. Find a reputable agency that will take the time to write your résumé right the first time, and thereafter will update it for a very reasonable fee. Make sure of the following:

  1. Said agency has a stock of samples to show you and one that fits your needs in terms of a résumé and cost. A work history time-line and a list of keywords does not constitute a résumé. Believe me, I’ve seen these so called résumés.
  2. The person writing your résumé should guarantee you at least an hour or more to interview you to understand exactly what you do. Not someone who will note your occupation, go to his/her computer, create a cookie-cutter résumé, and take your $700.00.
  3. Those who require an executive résumé and can afford more than what is charged by an agency, should seek the help of a high-level writer who will focus more on accomplishments than simple duties. These expert résumé writers will charge significantly more, but their services will return your payment tenfold.
  4. My colleague, Bill Florin, makes a valid point. “An objective third party (pro writer) will see things in your history that are marketable, often things that you would discount or downplay entirely, Many people don’t like talking about and selling themselves.” Professional résumé writers make you talk about yourself.
  5. If you only require a basic résumé—truth be told, some people have minimal experience or have only done an adequate job—don’t be satisfied with a statement like, “Drove a truck from here to there.” You and your writer must get creative with your basic résumé. “Hauled an average of 20 tons of retail product, traversing the U.S.A. Driving record is spotless and time of delivery consistently met employers’ expectations.” Remember, you still have to separate you from the rest of the pack.
  6. Lastly, make sure a “soft copy” of your résumé is provided . Some writers will choke you for updating your résumé every time you need it sent out–this is after you’ve already coughed up $700.00.

Oh, if you’re a contractor who can install screen doors and perform other household tasks for less than $35.00 an hour, contact me. My house requires stucco repair and a bunch of other upgrades, as well.

Just answer the questions: 6 ways to do it properly

My kids have a knack for answering my questions with concise, factual answers like “I don’t know” or “I guess so” or “nothing happened.” They’re young people, so I don’t expect enlightening answers that open doors to stimulating conversations.

On the other hand, I need more. I would like to know what happened at school, if they had a good time at the mall, how they feel about their teachers, etc.

The thing about recruiters and employers is that they want direct, factual  answers to their questions, not a long-winded response that has very little to do with the question at hand. In order to make the interview go smoothly, adhere to the following 6 requirements:

1. Listen to the questions: Some people have the tendency to formulate what they’re going to say before the interviewer finishes with his question.  This causes you to take off in a direction that is heading the wrong way and is hard to correct. If you need clarification, ask what the interviewer meant by his question…just don’t do this too often, lest you come across as daft.

2. Think before speaking: All too often we want to answer a question as soon as it’s left the employer’s lips. This is a mistake, as you want to deliver of the best possible answer before you blurt out an inadequate one. The interview is not a game where the fastest job candidate to respond wins. Occasionally taking time to reflect shows thoughtfulness on your part. It also speaks to requirement number one: listen.

3. Don’t talk too much: When you’re talking with a recruiter, over elaborating on an answer may be more harmful than helpful. Recruiter Mark Bregman says in his article Don’t be De-Selected this about being loquacious:

“You risk boring the screener, or worse, they don’t ask all their questions, because you wasted too much time on early questions.  Then, the screener might not have an opportunity to really get the key info they need to screen you in.”

When you go into too much detail, you come off as someone who talks too much. For me, and I imagine others, this is a great irritant and makes me want to end an interview.

 4. Make your answers relevant: Everything you say must be relevant to the interviewer’s direct question.  “If the question is ‘How did you improve processes?’, don’t start describing in detail the products you were making; just answer the question,” advises Mark. This is also a sign that you have no idea how to answer the question. In this case, ask for more time saying, “This is a very important question, one that I’d like to answer. Could we return to it?” Or admit that you can’t answer it.

5. Don’t ask too many questions: Career advisors encourage interviewees to ask questions during the interview to make it seem more like a discussion, as long as you have enough questions to ask at the end. Mark says this can backfire if you ask too many questions. I see his point. Interviewers are busy people and don’t want you to take over the interview.

6. Say enough: Finally it’s essential that you effectively answer the interviewers questions with enough detail and plenty of examples of your successes. Many times a job candidate won’t provide enough information for the interviewer to make a decision on whether to hire that person. You don’t want to let opportunities to pass you by. Many jobseekers I talk with regret having not sold themselves at the interview, which was due, in part, to not elaborating on an answer they knew they could have nailed.

Effective communications at an interview requires the ability to listen and then answer the questions with transparency and accuracy. Take your time, respond with accomplishments, and most importantly just answer the questions. On the other hand, don’t give answers like my children do.

Our obsession with numbers; approximately 1 to 20 ways to succeed or fail

numbersI think people have a fascination with numbers, percentages, and dollars. I do. I know that 88% of the time I spend is productive and the other 12% of the time is wasted. I’m cool with that, but I don’t know how to explain it. It’s good that I’m at least getting a B+ in life. I spend approximately $3 a day on coffee, which is about 2% of what I spend weekly. So that’s not too bad. I read 25 pages of a book before I drift off to sleep—any less, any more, I’m up all night.

What is it about numbers that fascinates people, that makes their claims legitimate? Does it make the abstract concrete? Often we base success and failure on numbers because numbers give us something to grab, or understand better. No one really knows how many ways there is to write an effective résumé, except employers that choose people for an interview. Here is a look at numbers that get thrown around, including by me.

Interview numbers: I tell my workshop attendees that 99% of the time an employer will allow them to take notes at an interview. They must think I’m pulling this number out of a hat. I’ve been to approximately 25 interviews in my life, and at all interviews I was allowed to take notes. There must be some interviewers who don’t allow note taking.

LinkedIn Summary numbers: Your LinkedIn Summary allows you 2,000 characters. Did you know that? I once proposed to my customers that utilizing 90% of this space makes for an excellent Summary. That’s fine, but how does one use all 1,800 characters if one doesn’t have 100% compelling content? How do you retract a dumb statement like this? This is how hung-up on numbers I am.

Résumé numbers: I may believe there are 5 ways to write a résumé that will get you invited to an interview. But somewhere I heard there are 6 and another source cited 10. Does the person who claims there are 10 know more than the one who alleges only 6?

Somewhere I read that only 50% of recruiters read cover letters. Is this a known fact or a guestimation? If that’s true, then a jobseeker will waste 50% of her time writing a cover letter for all the positions to which she applies. This boggles my mind. I say to cover all your bases.

Networking numbers: Sixty percent of most jobs are gained through networking; however, more than 80% of executive-level jobs are a result of networking. Or is it 85%? When people ask me how effective LinkedIn is in getting a job, I’m tempted to say, “If used in conjunction with personal networking, your chances of getting a job is 80%.”

Did you also know you must contact a person 7 times before that person becomes a bona fide network connection? Again, how was this figured out? There are several connotations associated with the number 7, including biblical references, but I doubt you’d have to call or e-mail someone before you’re officially connected.

Getting-a-job numbers: Richard Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute, places a 4%-10% success rate on applying for jobs online. Because he is the guru of the job search, I believe him and tell my customers to focus their energy on other methods, e.g., networking, using a recruiter, knocking on companies doors. I say this because Bolles attaches numbers to his claim. Yet I’ve heard many customers say they got their interviews from Monster, Dice, SimplyHired, Indeed, etc.

My personal formula for getting a job is 60% personal networking + 20% online networking using LinkedIn + 6% applying online + 14% doing something else = 100%. These are good odds, don’t you think? The problem is, everyone’s different, so this can’t be proved.

I was tempted to title this entry, “10 reasons why numbers mean nothing.” But as I thought about it, I realized that there is some merit in numbers. For example: Your chances of getting a rewarding job are 0% if you use the sitting-on-the-couch-and-hoping-for-a-job-to-land-in-your-lap method. Zero percent of employers will be impressed if you send a résumé and cover letter written in crayon. Zero percent of jobseekers will get their dream job if they arrive at an interview dressed in just their underwear. So these are safe numbers to cite.

Note of apology: This writer acknowledges that there are many great authors who cite numbers in their entries, and hopes not to offend those who do. Henceforth, this writer will cite numbers whenever appropriate.

5 ways more business advice sounds like job search advice

I love reading articles on how to succeed in business because they speak to how to succeed at the job search. I can relate almost everything to the job search, but business is by far the easiest way for me to see a connection, as evident by an article written by Richard Branson, founder of Virgin group.

1.Listen more than you talk. “ Brilliant ideas can spring from the most unlikely places, so you should always keep your ears open for some shrewd advice,” says the author. This point the author makes is sage advice when, as examples, you’re networking or at an informational meeting.

People like to be heard, not talked at, so make fellow networkers feel appreciated. You’ll get your turn to talk if the relationship is worth nurturing. If you’re granted an informational meeting (I prefer this term over “informational interview), you’re there to gather information, not dominate the discussion.

2. Keep it simple. “Maintain a focus upon innovation, but don’t try to reinvent the wheel.” An example of this is jobseekers who are constantly thinking of the next best thing for a résumé, or have 20 people review it. (Twenty people will result in 20 different answers.)

Often it’s not your résumé that needs constant revisions; it’s the way you distribute it. Take heed of the advice job search experts, recruiters, and employers give; find the avenues by which to send your accomplishment-based and keyword-rich résumé. These can be found through networking.

3. Take pride in your work. The jobseekers who succeed at getting a job in quick fashion are those who show pride in their work. By work, I mean the effort and focus you put into developing a support system, namely your network; the pride you display by dressing the part whenever you’re in public; the professionalism you demonstrate at interviews; and the follow-up after your interviews.

4. Have fun, success will follow. I wouldn’t blame you if you felt like popping me one in the mouth. Looking for work isn’t fun—I know, having been there—but as the author said, “A smile and a joke can go a long way, so be quick to see the lighter side of life.” Your supporters and employers will respond better to positivity than a display of despair and bitterness.

I’m often impressed by the jobseekers I see who don’t give into their inner fear and frustration, but rather smile whenever they attend my workshops. This shows confidence that employers are seeking in their candidates, even in my workshops but especially at an interview.

5. Rip it up and start again. “Don’t allow yourself to get disheartened by a setback or two, instead dust yourself off and work out what went wrong.” This is perhaps the best advice we can take away from this article.

Often we’ll experience letdown during the job search, and it’s human to hope that our first interview will result in a job. But the fact remains that you’ll have as many as 7 opportunities before getting a job offer.

I’m constantly impressed by jobseekers who suffer a long unemployment before landing a job. This is a testament to their perseverance. No matter how sick and tired you are of hearing, “Don’t give up,” keep in mind that giving up will not result in a rewarding job.

The sooner you think of yourself as a small business owner who has to market and sell your product, the sooner you’ll land your next job. I would add one more point to Richard Branson’s article….Work hard at what you want. You’ve worked hard while employed, so working hard at your job search should follow naturally. This time you’re your own boss, though.

Job-search advice for extraverts in 2 areas

writing-resume

With the plethora of job-search advice for introverts and approximately zero for extraverts, it must make the E’s feel…unloved. I’d like to give some love to the extraverts, because that’s the kind of nice guy I am. In this post I’ll advise the E’s on mistakes they can avoid.

There are two components of a jobseeker’s marketing campaign, written and verbal communications, where extraverts can use some help. We’ll look at the résumé, networking, and the interview.

1. Written communications. For most, the job search begins with submitting a résumé and possibly a cover letter to the employer. The act of writing a résumé can sometimes be problematic for extraverts, who prefer speaking than writing.

Introverts, on the other hand, prefer writing than conversing and as a rule excel in this area. The I’s are more reflective and take their time to write a résumé. They prepare by researching the position and company–almost to a fault.

Extraverts must resist the urge to hastily write a résumé that fails to accomplish: addressing the job requirements in order of priority, highlighting relevant accomplishments, and promoting branding. One excuse I hear from my extraverted customers for faltering in this area is that they’ll nail the interview. At this point I tell them they ain’t getting to the interview without a résumé to get them there.

Where the E’s can shine in this area of the job search is the distribution of their written material. They are natural networkers who understand the importance of getting the résumé into the hands of decision makers, and as such should resist simply posting their résumé to every job board out there. This is where the I’s can take a lesson from their counterpart, the ability to network with ease.

2.Verbal communications. Speaking of networking; extraverts are generally more comfortable than introverts when it comes to attending formal networking events. But not all E’s are master networkers. The main faux pas for poor networkers is loquaciousness, which is a fancy word for talking too much. While I’s are often accused of not talking enough, the E’s have to know when to shut the motor–a tall order for some E’s.

stop talkingNetworking isn’t about who can say the most in a three-hour time period. Take a lesson from the I’s who listen to what others have to say. People appreciate being listened to.

Many of my extraverted customers tell me they talk too much, and some have admitted they botch interviews because they–you got it–talk too much. Some of them say they can’t help it. E’s are known to be very confident at interviews, which is a good thing. But they can also be over confident which leads them to ignore the tenets of good interviewing. That’s a bad thing.

At interviews extraverts must keep in mind that it’s not a time to control the conversation. The interviewer/s have a certain number of questions they want to ask the candidates, so it’s best to answer them succinctly while also supplying the proper amount of information.

Lou Adler writes in a recent article this about answers that are too long: “The best answers are 1-2 minutes long….Interviewees who talk too much are considered self-absorbed, boring and imprecise. Worse, after two minutes the interviewer tunes you out and doesn’t hear a thing you’ve said.”

There has to be a middle ground, referred to by folks like Daniel Pink as ambiverts, when it comes to reaching the right amount of talking and listening at networking events and interviews. Accordingly, extraverts who “score” slight in clarity on the continuum (11-13) are more likely to be better listeners, as well as comfortable with small talk. This is likely true for introverts who also score in the slight range.

When it comes to written and verbal communications in the job search, extraverts have to be cognizant of taking their time constructing their résumés and knowing when it’s time to listen as opposed to talking too much. Without understanding the importance of effective written and verbal communications, the job search for the E’s can be a long haul.

7 ways to be professional in the job search

ProfessionalimsMy daughter recently had to defend her position when she was accused of something that she and I felt was unjust. Nonetheless, before she spoke to the principal, I told her to be professional. The look on her face was priceless.

“How should I act professional in this situation, Dad?” she asked.

Exactly. How do you act professional in a situation that is less than desirable? The best answer I could give my daughter is, “Do your best.”

This recent event prompted me to think of 7 rules about professionalism in the job search:

  1. Be nice to the people you meet. In your job search you’ll run into a number of putzzes, like the networkers who are all about themselves; the people who don’t call or meet you when they say they will; the inside contact who said he’d deliver your résumé directly to the hiring manager, but doesn’t. In all these situations it’s best to act the way you’d like to be remembered. That’s professionalism.
  2. Observe how the job search is conducted. I’ve witnessed those who understand the norms of the job search and those who don’t. The ones who do, dress appropriately, maintain a positive attitude (despite how they’re feeling inside), and follow proper etiquette. You are part of an organization called the Job Search.
  3. Take the job search seriously. And be focused. Your job search is one of the most important events in your life; don’t take it lightly. I ask my workshop attendees how many hours a week they should dedicate to their job search. The ones who tell me what they think I want to hear say more than 40 hours. That might be a bit extreme, as there are other important things in your life, like family. I say 30-35 hours should suffice. Work smarter, not harder, as they say.
  4. Listen to constructive criticism. It is essential that you don’t get offended when someone critiques your “brilliant” résumé, interview performance, or networking etiquette. People generally want to help you in your job search. You’re not required to take their advice, but listen to what they have to say.
  5. Show up reliably. In your case, it’s for the interview and appointments you’ve set to meet with other jobseekers. The rule of never being late still applies. Call ahead if you’re going to be late, though. You might get some forgiveness. This rule of professionalism speaks to following up with what you’ve planned. Develop the mindset.
  6. Be helpful to others; what goes around comes around. This is a great rule to keep in mind when networking. Remember that you’re not there to just take from others; you’re also there to give information and advice and possible job leads.
  7. The employer is not your enemy. Here’s the thing, the employer is only trying to hire the best person possible. Many hiring managers, HR, recruiters have been burned by hiring the wrong person—68% have done it at least once—at the price of $25K-$50K. Give reason for the employer to feel she’s hiring the right person.

I was proud of how my daughter handled the situation. She acted professionally and manged to arrange a compromise that she and the principal were happy with. I, on the other hand, might not have done so well.

6 topics to include in your follow-up note

thankyounote

Some job candidates believe the interview is over after they’ve shaken hands with the interviewers and have left the room. Well, that went well, they think, and now it’s time to wait for the decision.

And perhaps it went well. But perhaps one or two other candidates had stellar interviews.

So here’s the question: when is the interview really over?

The answer: after you’ve sent the follow-up note.

If you don’t believe that a follow-up note is important, read the article, Write a Post-Interview Thank You that Actually Boosts Your Chances to Get the Job, and note that by not sending a follow-up note (according to CareerBuilder):

  • Employers are less likely to hire a candidate–22%.
  • Employers say it shows a lack of follow-through–86%
  • Employers say the candidate isn’t really serious about the job–56%.

If these figures aren’t enough to convince you to send a follow-up, then don’t hold out much hope of getting a job, especially when smart jobseekers are sending them. I hope this gets your attention.

So if you’re wondering how to go about sending a follow-up, consider to whom you’ll send it and how you’ll send it.

Who do you send it to? If you’re interviewed by five people, how many unique follow-up notes should you send? That’s correct, five. Take the time to write a unique follow-up to everyone who interviewed you.

How do you send it? You can send your follow-up note via e-mail or hard copy. This depends on your preference and/or the industry, e.g., someone in the humanities might prefer a thank you card, whereas someone in high tech might appreciate an e-mail. Here’s an idea: send both, an e-mail immediately after the interview and a professional card a week later.

What do you say in your follow-up note?

1. Show your gratitude. Obviously you’re going to thank the interviewers for the time they took to interview you; after all, they’re busy folks and probably don’t enjoy interviewing people.

2. Reiterate you’re the right person for the job. This is the second most obvious statement you’ll make in your follow-up  notes. Mention how you have the required skills and experience and, very importantly, you have the relevant accomplishments.

3. Interesting points made at the interview. Show you were paying attention at the interview. Each person with whom you spoke mentioned something of interest, or asked a pertinent question. Impress them with your listening skills by revisiting those interesting points.

4. Do some damage control: How many candidates wish they could have elaborated on a question, or totally blew it with a weak answer? Now’s your chance to correct your answer. This may be of little consequence, but what do you have to lose? Besides, interviewers know you were under a great deal of pressure–it’s hard to think of everything.

5. Suggest a solution to a problem: Prior to the interview you were unaware of a problem the company is facing. Now you know about the problem. If you have a solution to this problem, mention it in your follow-up or a more extensive proposal.

6. You want the job: You told the interview committee at the end of the interview that you want the job. Reiterate this sentiment by stating it in you follow-up note, which can be as simple as asking what the next steps will entail. This shows your enthusiasm and sincere interest in the position.

After you’ve made it this far in the process–networking, writing a tailored resume and cover letter, and multiple interviews–it would be a shame to blow it by not sending a follow-up note. Take the time to send a unique follow-up note (within 24-48 hours). When you get the job offer, you’ll be happy you did.

4 reasons to say no to a job offer

no thanksOriginally posted on Tim’s Strategy.

I don’t recommend that my customers say no to a job offer unless there’s a good reason. That’s why when one of my most promising customers told me she was reluctant to accept a job offer at a leading hotel corporation, I advised her to consider the circumstances.

First of all, she would be assuming a great deal of responsibilities. And second she’d be making 70% of what she previously made. Both of these factoids seemed the equivalent of doing hard labor in a rock quarry and being paid minimum wage.

I only needed to point out the disparity of salaries for her to decline the offer, even though she had negotiated a $4,000 increase. (Actually she’s smart enough to realize this.)

There are times when you should decline an offer. My customer’s story is just one of them. A ridiculous salary offer isn’t the only reason for declining an offer. There are three others.

Motivation. When pundits say you’re not the only person interviewing you, they’re correct. The responsibilities of said position have to motivate you to be your best. Motivation is a key factor in being a high achiever, and you don’t want to settle for less than being your best.

One of my best connections and an expert on motivation-based interviewing, Carol Quinn, states that motivation-based interviews is one of the best ways for interviewers to determine the potential of a candidate. So it figures that not only should the employer be concerned about your motivation; you would want to be motivated as well. Will the position challenge you to do your best and offer variety, or will it be a dead-end street?

Bad work environment. Another reason for not accepting an offer is sensing a volatile work environment. A former colleague of mine would often confide in me that where she was working was a toxic work environment. Management was distrustful of its employees and would often be abusive.

During an interview you should ask questions that would uncover the company’s environment. A simple one is, “Why did the former marketing specialist leave?” Or, “What makes your employees happy working here?” What about, “How do you reward your employees for creativity and innovation?”

Sincere answers to these questions will assure you that you are entering an environment with your eyes wide open, good or bad. Vague responses should raise a red flag. The best way to determine what kind of environment you may inherit is to network with people who work at a potential organization.

Security. A third reason for not accepting an offer is the financial status of the company. If you discover through discussions that the company is at risk of closing its doors soon, it’s not wise to accept the offer, even if you “just want a job.” This also goes for grant-funded positions. A position that will end in less than a year should make you consider if you want to join the organization only to be let go before you even get your feet wet.

Lack of goals. Some of my customers have told me that they’ve been taking temp-to-perm positions that have spanned over many years; and that they’re tired of the short-term stints. Additionally, their résumé resembles one that shouts, “Job hopper.”  Your current unemployment can be a time to strategize about where you want your career to go, a time to experience clarity, not throwing darts at a wall of short-term jobs.

While I wanted my customer to land a job in a short period of job seeking, I would have kicked myself for telling her that a bird in hand is better than nothing. I have tremendous faith in her abilities and tenacity. She will be land soon. That I’m sure of.

4 reasons for NOT saying at an interview that Perfectionism is your strength

perfectionistI can say with certainty that I am not a perfectionist. Today, for instance, I’m wearing brown shoes, olive-green pants, a black belt, a blue striped shirt, and a Mackintosh plaid tie. And, oh, my socks don’t match. I attribute this imperfection to my upbringing in a chaotic household, where no one really knew how to dress.

My colleague won’t mind me telling you that she prepares her room the night before her workshops. She puts aside exactly three Starbursts, a cup of lukewarm water, two paper towels, and enough sharpened pencils for twenty attendees. Not only that; she dresses like she’s going to an interview. Is she a perfectionist? No. She’s probably this way because she was brought up as an Army brat.

If you claim perfectionism as a strength at an interview, you’re likely to lose the job before the interview’s over. Here are four reasons why:

First of all, interviewers have heard this claim far to often and it insults their intelligence. Someone I once interviewed answered my question, “What is your greatest strength?” with a smug look on his face, that he was a perfectionist. I immediately thought he was a con man.

Second, a perfectionist is someone who has a difficult time finishing projects or assignments because he thinks it must be perfect,which is a tough bill to fill.

Third, a perfectionist is most likely going to irritate those around him because he will expect perfection from them. CBS Money Watch repeats“It also messes up the people around you, because perfectionists lose perspective as they get more and more mired in details,” says

perfect womanLastly, an astute interviewer realizes that there are negative ramifications that accompany perfectionism. Psychology Today states,  “A one-way ticket to unhappiness, perfectionism is typically accompanied by depression and eating disorders.” Those who consider themselves to be perfectionist are so concerned about being successful that they’re more focused on not failing. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Bad news for perfectionists abound when Wikipedia also claims there’re serious psychological ramifications associated with it: “Researchers have begun to investigate the role of perfectionism in various mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and personality disorders.” Yikes. This makes me glad that my ties rest in my drawer at work like a nest of snakes, instead of hanging neatly on a tie rack at home.

However, there seems to be some contradiction when Wikipedia describes perfectionists as perfectly sane people who simply excel: “Exceptionally talented individuals who excel in their field sometimes show signs of perfectionism. High-achieving athletes, scientists, and artists often show signs of perfectionism.”  This makes sense. I suppose that if I were to be operated on, I would want a perfectionist as my surgeon.

I’m certainly not a perfectionist, and it hasn’t hurt my performance–my performance reviews consistently garner “Very Good”–but I wonder what it would be like if my clothing were perfectly matched. I’m sure I’d suffer some malady. One thing is for certain, it’s better to choose a different strength to give at an interview.

Heed your inner voice in the job search

inner voiceIf you’re like me, there have been times when you spoke without thinking and said some incredibly stupid things. Worse yet, you might have blurted words that had negative consequences. At times like this, your outer voice took over like a hurricane leaving devastation in its wake.

If only you had heeded your inner voice, the voice that tells you to stop and think before you talk or write something you’ll regret. The voice that is rational and will usually save you from embarrassment and, ergo, negative consequences.

A customer of mine recent told me during a Salary Negotiation workshop that he was offered a job during the last of four interviews. But when he was told the salary for the job would be $12.00 an hour, half of what he made at his last job, he screamed, “Are you (expletive) kidding me?” Needless to say the interview and all possibility of getting the job went up in smoke.

He asked me if he had said the right thing? The rest of the group shook their heads; I simply said, “no.”

Jobseekers need to be cognizant of their inner voice and not let their outer voice speak for them. Another of my customers was asked an illegal question during a phone interview. “How old are you?” she was asked.

She promptly swore obscenities and hung up on the recruiter who was probably screening her and was in no way indicative of the people for whom she might work. She was clearly listening to her outer voice which told her, “Illegal question, illegal question,” and she acted impulsively.

Instead she might have said:

“I’m 49; however, I’ve been consistently acknowledged for my productivity. In fact, I’ve out worked my younger colleagues and covered other shifts when they needed weekends off. Because my kids are self-sufficient, I require no time off. You should also consider my job experience, as well as life experience, which younger workers don’t have.”

The outer voice is apt to reveal its ugly head when jobseekers are frustrated and despondent over the job search, such as when they’re networking and asked about their current situation. A listener understands her partner’s anger, but hearing him speak negatively is off-putting. The networker has most likely lost his contact because his outer voice defied him, truly revealing his feelings.

What would you like to do in the job search? You’d like to listen to your outer voice, which encourages you to express your negative thoughts.

There will always be those who are prisoners to their outer voice. They will talk without consulting their inner voice and will pay the price. These are folks who are often trying to dig themselves out of a whole that is insurmountable. Although they proudly spoke their “mind,” it’s not usually worth the trouble they land in.

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