5 ways a successful job search counts on how you treat people

I tell my daughter, who is often late for appointments, that life is about minutes. The first time I told her this was when she missed a train into Boston by a few minutes. Not just when catching a train, I went on to explain; but when you have an appointment of any kind.

SONY DSC

The message I delivered to my daughter particularly applies to the job search. Here are five notable examples of how a successful job search counts on how you treat people :

1. Be punctual. When I think about the conversation with my daughter about how minutes matter in life, I think that not only is it important to be punctual when you need to make a train. Punctuality is also important when you’ve made arrangements to meet fellow networkers or potential decision makers.

Especially when you’re scheduled for an interview that will determine whether you get the job or not. Or if you’re meeting someone at a coffee shop for a networking meeting. You don’t want to keep people waiting.

2. First impressions count. You might be rolling your eyes at this well-known fact, but I’m talking about internalizing and embracing this. Yes, you can practice how to shake hands, maintain eye contact, dress for the occasion; but this is something you must do every day.

Think beyond the interview if you want to conduct a successful job search. Your first impressions must be outstanding during networking events, while you’re connecting in your community, even at family gatherings.  If practicing your first impressions is what you have to do, then practice them every day.

3. The way you communicate matters in all forms. Of course your written and verbal communications—which includes your resume, networking, and the interview—are important. But communicating effectively also includes listening and not over-talking.

Over-talking you wonder. Is it even a word? Treating someone with respect means allowing them to do some of the talking, at least. I’ve been to too many networking events where someone feels the need to dominate the conversation. Telling me what they do doesn’t require them to talk without coming up for air.

4. Think of others in your network. One of my favorite posts I wrote is 5 ways to give when you’re networking for a job. This isn’t one of my favorite posts because it garnered many views; it’s a favorite because it talks about the importance of giving back in the job search.

True networkers don’t think only of themselves; they think of others as well. Treat others well by reciprocating when someone does a favor for you. But you don’t need to wait for someone to help you first. Turn the table by doing something helpful to other job seekers. Offer advice on their resume or LinkedIn profile or provide a lead, of offer great advice.

5. Meet your stakeholder’s expectations. This raises the question, who are your stakeholders? The most obvious one is a potential employer. Meet their expectations by networking yourself into becoming a referral. Submit a resume that speaks to the their needs and backs up your claims with accomplishment statements. Go to the interview prepared by having done your research.

Other stakeholders include your network. Related to the previous way to treat others well in your job search, consider ways to reach out to various stakeholders like the community in which you live. For example, when you have time, shovel your neighbors driveway, or help them move furniture. Help them help you by giving them a clear understanding of what you do and what your goals are.

Consider volunteering at a nonprofit that can use your talent. One example would be developing a website for your son’s preschool.Take over the bookkeeping for a start-up. Offering your marketing assistance to a restaurant that is suffering.


The success of your job search will depend on how you treat other people, whether they’re other job seekers; your neighbors; and, of course, potential employers. It comes down to more than just being punctual, you must heed your first impressions, communicate properly, treat your network well, and satisfy your stakeholders. When all of this comes into place, your chances of landing a job will be greater.

5 times when TMI hurts your job search

When my wife and daughters talk about bras and other female accessories in my presence, that’s too much information (TMI) for me. Or when they reveal certain information on the relationship of one of my girl’s boyfriend, that’s also TMI.

tmiWhen my older customers introduce themselves during our networking events, they may reveal TMI. Such as how they were let go from their previous employer, or how they have been out of work for a certain number of months, or that they’re lost in their job search.

What these folks fail to realize is that there are situations when disclosing your deepest and darkest secrets is not a wise move. And a networking event is one of them. So when is it harmful to your job search to disclose TMI?

The answer I’d like to give is always, but that’s unrealistic and a very cold statement. There should be times when you can voice your frustrations, such as with family members and close friends. There should be times when you can let your guard down.

But let’s look at times when you shouldn’t.

Networking Events

I’ve already mentioned networking events. But this deserves more discussion because this is a time when you have a large number of people listening to you deliver your elevator pitch, or simply talking with you one-on-one.

This is a time when most people are listening for confidence, not defeatism; when they want to hear a positive tone, despite your feeling of despondency. After all, the purpose of networking is to create relationships that are beneficial to you and your networking partners.

Community Networking

Many people don’t realize that whenever they talk with someone in their community, there’s a chance, slight as it might be, that they might know of someone with whom you can speak, heard about a job opening, or even know the hiring manager of the department in which you’d like to work.

Therefore, it’s wise to not disclose TMI to anyone with whom you speak outside the home. Sometimes in my workshops I’ll listen to people as they talk about how they were unjustly let go. Workshops are part of your community and not where you should share this information unless asked.

I reiterate, if you want assistance from people, you need to come across as calm, friendly, and even confident. If you appear confident, others will be confident in your abilities.

Online Networking

Often I’ll see TMI shared on LinkedIn. What people need to realize is that recruiters, hiring managers, and HR are trolling LinkedIn for talent and that they read what people write. So if you come across as angry or you share inappropriate posts, you’re hurting your cause.

The same applies to Facebook and Twitter. I am acutely aware of the content people share on Facebook, content that would severely hurt people’s chances of getting a job (have you seen the F bomb thrown around on Facebook?).

Many people reason that because they’re working, they don’t need to be concerned about sharing TMI. To them I say, “Nothing lasts forever, including your job.”

Family gatherings

Family member would love to help you find your next job and get out of unemployment. They really would. However, many of them are not in a position to help you. Sure, they may hear about an opportunity that seems right for you…85 miles from your home.

Am I saying you shouldn’t let family know you’re out of work? No, not at all. Just be selective as to which family members you share a great deal of information with. Cousin John, for example, is in your industry and understands the job of an accountant. Therefore, he is an ideal person to talk to at length.

The others. They’re the ones who you mention in passing that you are in transition. Explain what type of job you’re looking for and some of your best strengths. Going into a long drawn-out story about your unfortunate situation will probably garner some sympathy, but will not instill confidence in you.

Interviews

There are questions that are meant to determine if you raise any read flags. The most obvious are the weakness question, why you left your last job, and even tell me about yourself. Be aware of questions like this. Don’t disclose too much information that can hurt you.

Rather share information that shows the value you bring to an organization. Your answers to questions that ask for a negative result should be brief; no longer than 30 seconds. And they should always circle back to what you’ve learned from the experience.

Ironically my clients tend to describe every nuance of their weakness. At times I need to put up my hand and loudly say, “Stop.” Then they ask me if they’ve gone too far. TMI. Interviewers do want to hear self-awareness, but enough is enough. TMI.


As career consultants, we always stress telling the truth. But there is such thing as too much information (TMI). Know when you need to speak in a positive manner, as when you’re out and about; and know when you should avoid disclosing TIM at interviews.

4 things to keep in mind when answering “What is your greatest weakness?”

A conversation I had in the past with my daughter aroused in me emotions of both concern and relief. Yes, two conflicting emotions, but the feeling that stays with me is the feeling of relief.

Job interview

Relief because she was truthful about her faux pas, her display of bad judgement. All was forgiven, although not forgotten.

“This is what the truth accomplishes,” I told her.

This is what you get when you ask your kids to be honest, regardless of the response. But is the truth always the best policy?

That depends.

What Is Your Greatest Weaknesses?

What interviewers get from candidates in response to this interview question aren’t always honest answers. Candidates are guarded, weighing every word they say; because they feel one wrong answer can blow the deal.

For this reason, I think this is the dumbest interview question ever. Nonetheless, I ask my workshop attendees this dumb question, because I know they will be asked it in an interview.

So when I spring the question on my workshop attendees, I often get a moment of silence. Their minds are working like crazy to come up with the correct answer. They think the best answer is one that demonstrates a strength disguised as a weakness.

So they come up with answers like, “I work too hard,” or worse yet, “I’m a perfectionist.” I tell them these answers rank high on the B.S. scale, at which they laugh. But it’s true. These answers are predictable. They’re throwaway answers, wasted breath.

Instead, I advise my workshop attendees to follow these simple steps.

1. Keep It Very Short: I can’t tell you how many people talk on and on when their answer should be no longer than 20-30 seconds.

2. State a Legitimate Weakness: Interviewers want transparency. They also want to see self-awareness – that you’re aware of your mistakes. People who think they’re flawless are unable to see their mistakes, learn from them, and correct them.

3. Be Smart, Though: I asked at the beginning if honesty is always the best policy. The real question is, how honest should you be? In other words, don’t mention a weakness that is vital to the position at hand.

For example, bringing up your fear of public speaking when you’re applying for a training position would be a major problem and probably eliminate you from consideration.

4. Talk About What You’re Doing to Address Your WeaknessThis is of great interest to the interviewer, and something people tend to leave out of their answers.

shadowReturning to the training position example: If you were to say that you tend to talk too much during your presentations, but that you have learned to ask more questions to generate engagement, that would be an answer that is honest and shows your efforts to correct your weakness.

People Make Mistakes

Smart interviewers understand that candidates make mistakes. No one is flawless. They don’t want to hear you dance around this question. It’s a waste of their time and just makes you look silly.

Furthermore, interviewers want to hear self-awareness. They want to be sure that you know what your weaknesses are and are doing something to correct them. Self-awareness speaks to your emotional intelligence (EQ), which is necessary if you want to succeed in the workplace.

Lynda Spiegel, a job coach who has interviewed hundreds of candidates, believes transparency is the best policy:

“There’s nothing to be gained by candidates trying to bluff their weaknesses. To act as though a strength is a weakness (“I can’t seem to turn off my work email when on vacation”) is disingenuous, and to claim that there are no weaknesses lacks credibility. The best way for candidates to approach questions about their weaknesses is to acknowledge one or two, explain what they’ve done to address them, and then move on to their strengths.”

The weakness question is one I consider to be … well, dumb. It lacks creativity and doesn’t address the requirements of the position. But it’s also a question everyone should be able to answer before they get to the interview.

To Review:

  1. Keep your answer short.
  2. Be honest, but not too honest.
  3. Explain what you’ve learned from your weakness and the measures you’re taking to correct it.
  4. Practice your answer before arriving at the interview.

Back to My Daughter

I appreciated my daughter’s transparency and, as a result, I now trust her more than I would have if she hadn’t told the truth. In addition, I understand she’ll make mistakes in the future.

This is not too different from the reaction an interviewer will have when a job candidate shows transparency. Interviewers trust candidates more when those candidates are honest (to a point).


Now read how to answer other tough questions:

“Why should we hire you?”
“Tell me about yourself.”

4 facts about introverts at parties

Recently I went to an acquaintance’s birthday party. When my wife and I agreed to go, I was psyched to have an evening out without kids. It would also be nice to catch up with people I hadn’t seen for a long time. This was two weeks before the night of the party.

party

But as the night approached, I became anxious, thinking about how uncomfortable it would be to be surrounded by 30 or so people, most of whom I didn’t know. This feeling persisted throughout the day and I seriously considered telling my wife I wasn’t going to attend.

But the day of the party, my wife told me she didn’t want to stay too long because she wasn’t feeling too well. Ah excellent; an exit plan. This is one fact about introverts at parties.

1. Entering a room full of strangers and having to introduce themselves to these people makes introverts uncomfortable. They would rather enter a room with people they know well.

It was no different for me when my wife and I found ourselves in a room full of strangers. So immediately I looked for people I knew. None were present for the first, long ten minutes. here did the host say the beer was we wondered out loud.

At this point If I had the option to leave, I would have. But my wife, who is an extravert, is not the leaving kind; so I scanned the room looking for a familiar face, any familiar face. Alas a good friend entered the room. We made eye contact and she headed our way.

two people talking2. Finding allies will make acclimating to the party more bearable for introverts. Once they’re comfortable, they see promise in the party.

Soon after our friend arrived and I was more relaxed, I noticed another person I recognized and someone with whom I had somethings in common. I excused myself and made my way over to this person.

I had found an ally to associate with; not a large group to join and exchange stories or one-up each other with witty remarks. We settled comfortably on a couch to talk about my trip to Wisconsin and his work.

3. Deeper conversations, is the introvert’s preference while their counterpart prefers broader, more varied discussions. It’s how we roll.

The conversation with my ally turned into something philosophical about the economical ramifications soccer has on the world. We talked on and on for what seemed like hours.

My wife freed herself to check on me (her introvert) to see if I was having a good time. The look of reflection and concentration on my face—and the fact that my ally and I weren’t talking at the moment—must have worried her, but I assured her things were great. (Introverts are comfortable with moments of silence.)

4. Leaving when it’s time is important to introverts. They don’t like to close the bar…unless they’re having a great time. Generally introverts prefer leaving earlier than others. It’s a matter of energy level.

So when my wife asked me if I was ready to leave, I feigned disappointment before telling her I was ready. At the moment I was engaged in a superficial conversation. Time had escaped me—it was now 11:30 pm—and I was happy that I didn’t get the 10:00 pm itch.

In the car my wife remarked that she and I hadn’t seen each other all night, which to me was fine. She could fill me in on all the gossip. We both agreed that the party was a success. She was able to catch up with her many friends, and I enjoyed the solitary, in-depth conversations I engaged in.


Not all parties go as smashingly as this one had. Perhaps the stars were aligned, but I was simply happy that I left the party more energized than when I had arrived. Plus, I had a few great conversations. And that’s all I really needed.

My 9 LinkedIn failures for 2017

Some of my colleagues and I are participating in The Biggest Loser contest. You know the concept; the person who loses the most weight wins. I’m gonna lose. I’m still eating cereal at night and large roast beef subs, instead of small ones.

new-year-resolutionAccording to an article in U.S. News Health, 80% of New Years resolutions will fail. So resolving to lose weight, spend less time in front of your television, giving up smoking, and other vices will most likely result in failure. Why? This is the reason the article states:

Whether you’re feeling anxious, depressed, frustrated, fatigued, weak and out of control, or simply bored, emotional friction (stress) becomes the high-octane fuel of failure.

As the posts on 2017 resolutions are starting to roll out, I have decided to be realistic and not write about my successful resolution; rather I am going to write about how I plan to fail in 2017, particularly when it comes to LinkedIn. This, I reason, will make me feel successful…by failing

So here are my 2017 LinkedIn failures.

1. Being on LinkedIn every day of the week, every week of the year. This includes holidays. At this writing  I’m already failing. I’ve failed at staying off LinkedIn every day for at least seven years. So far so good. Read my post on running the LinkedIn marathon.

2. Criticizing LinkedIn when it pulls a bonehead move. There are ass-kissers who love everything LinkedIn does.There are trolls who bash LI for every little blunder. I consider myself a realist. Nonetheless, I’ll be honest about LI’s mistakes and adequate customer relations.

3. Shamelessly sharing my posts on LinkedIn from Things Career Related, Recruiter.com, LinkedIn Publisher.  However I will try my best to share my connection’s posts more often. Read to Share is golden.

4. Letting go of one of my stringent principles of NOT accepting default invites from LinkedIn members who don’t send personal invites. I apologize, Mom, but you didn’t send a personalized invite.

5. Offering LinkedIn etiquette advice. The hypocrite I am, I’ll still tell people how to act on LinkedIn, including how often to share updates. Don’t do what I do, do what I say. Note: I’ve been called by some a “LinkedIn Etiquette Police.”

6. Staying within the limited commercial searches LinkedIn has imposed. Although I use this feature in my LinkedIn workshops at a nonprofit career center, I don’t make it to the last workshop of the month without seeing, “Bob, you’ve reached the commercial use limit on search.”

7. Participating in Groups as much as I should. I’m sorry, I can’t get excited about the changes LinkedIn made approximately a year ago to this feature. Furthermore, the people I ask if they’ve been using groups mostly respond with a negative.

8. Reaching out to more people after connecting with them on LinkedIn. If you’re supposed to reach out to every LinkedIn connection, I guess this will be an epic failure for me. I’ll try to schedule times to talk with people after I get out of work, but I don’t see this improving at a great rate. An introversion-type thing?

9. Persuading my LinkedIn clients to use the platform four days a week. They think this is overdoing it, but I tell them it will help them immensely in their job search. I also tell them being on LinkedIn once a week is even better, while also warning them against becoming obsessed like me. (Related to #1.) But LinkedIn isn’t for everyone.


If resolutions are 80% likely to fail, I’ve decided that I will not fail…at least when it comes to LinkedIn. Other resolutions I’ve made, which will fail, are to lose weight by joining the Biggest Loser competition at work, getting rid of clothes I no longer wear, and start new projects at home.

I’m interested in knowing if there are some LinkedIn resolutions you know you’ll fail. I’d like to add them to this list.

Photo, Flickr, Carrie

3 things to keep in mind when answering, “Tell me about yourself”

The directive from the interviewer, “Tell me about yourself,” strikes fear in the hearts of even the most confident job candidates. That’s because they haven’t given serious consideration to how they’ll answer this directive.

elevatorpitch

It’s also because they haven’t taken time to construct a persuasive elevator pitch, which is one of the most important tools in your job search toolbox. There are three components necessary to answer, “Tell me about yourself.”

1. Keep it relevant. You must be aware of what the employer wants from their employees, which requires from you not only researching the job but also the company.

Let’s say, as a trainer, you’re aware of the employer’s need for satisfying people of cultural differences. You’ll begin your elevator speech by addressing this need.

You’ll begin your elevator pitch with something on the lines of:

Along with my highly rated presentation skills, I’ve had particular success with designing presentations that meet the needs of diverse populations.

Then you’ll follow it with an accomplishment, as accomplishments are memorable.

For example, the company for which I last worked employed Khmer and Spanish-speaking people. I translated our presentations into both languages so that my colleagues could deliver their presentations with ease and effectiveness. This was work I did on my own time, but I realized how important it was to the company. I received accolades from the CEO of the company; and I enjoyed the process very much.

Finally, you’ll close your elevator pitch with some of the strong personality skills for which you’ve been acknowledge. In this case, your innovation, assertiveness, and commitment to the company would be appropriate to mention.

2. Be on your toes. Being prepared is essential to job seekers who need to say the right thing at the right time to a prospective employer. This is where your research on the company comes into play—the more you know about said company, the better you can recite your elevator pitch.

One way to answer, “Why should we hire you?” is by using your elevator pitch. Throughout the interview, you’ve paid careful attention to what the employer has been saying regarding the challenges the company is facing.

They need a manager who can develop excellent rapport with a younger staff, while also enforcing rules that have been broken. Based on your new-found knowledge, you realize you’ll have to answer this question with a variation on your rehearsed pitch. You’ll open instead with:

I am a manager who understands the need to maintain an easy-going, professional approach as well as to discipline my employees when necessary. As this is one of your concerns, I can assure you that I will deliver on my promise, as well as exceed other expectations you have for this position.

Then you’ll follow with an example of what you asserted.

If I may give you a specific example of my claim, on many occasions I had to apply the right amount of discipline in various ways. There was one employee who was always late for work and would often return from break or lunch late, as well.

I realized that she required a gentler touch than the others, so I called her to my office and explained the effect she had on the rest of the team when she wasn’t where she was supposed to be. I then explained to her the consequences her tardiness would have on her. (Slight smile.) I don’t think she had been spoken to in such a straightforward manner by her other managers. I treated her with respect.

From that day forward, she was never late. In fact, she earned a dependability award. There are other examples. Would you like to hear them?

3. The purpose of your elevator speech. When employers listen to your elevator pitch, they should recognize skills and accomplishments that set you apart from the rest of the candidates.

Tell your elevator pitch in a concise manner that illustrates these skills; don’t simply provide a list of skills you think are required for the position. Remember that accomplishments are memorable and show your value added, especially if they’re relevant to your audience, e.g., an employer.

Above All Else, Your Elevator Pitch Must Show Value! The value you bring to the employer. As in the example above in which the candidate understands the needs of the employer to be building rapport with young workers, while also enforcing rules; you must know the employers pain points.

Once you’ve got a full grasp on the employer’s pain points, you’ll know which content to include in your elevator pitch and how to deliver. it.

Whether you use your elevator pitch to answer the directive, “Tell me about yourself,” or the question, “Why should I hire you?” there are enough reasons to develop one that is relevant and shows you can think on your feet.


Now read how to answer other tough questions:

“Why should we hire you?”
“What is your greatest weakness?”

 

8 Ways to challenge yourself if you really want a job in 2017

In my workshops, I often ask the participants to deliver their elevator pitches unrehearsed. Or I’ll ask them to answer interview questions when they least expect it. Or I’ll ask them to talk about their accomplishments. In other words, I challenge them.

challenge

The job search is stressful as it is. I totally get this. But I also get that the more you challenge yourself in your job search, the easier it will become and the better you’ll do. Think of it as akin to pushing yourself to run that extra mile when you want to stop. You’ll be better for it in the end.

Here are some ways you can challenge yourself and improve your job search skills:

1. Allow Yourself to Be Put on the Spot

When someone like me asks you to deliver your elevator pitch, don’t bow out and say you’re not prepared. So what if you feel uneasy in front of the other job seekers? So what if you don’t do well at first? This is an opportunity to practice, challenge yourself.

When you’re asked to describe your biggest challenge, don’t plead the fifth. That won’t fly in an interview. You can’t say, “I’m not prepared for this question. Next.”

So what if you don’t get it right on your first try? Accept the challenge.

2. Tell People You’re Out of Work

To most people this seems like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised how embarrassed some people are about losing their jobs. They don’t realize it’s a natural part of life, especially in a bad job market.

I encourage job seekers to let as many people as possible know they’re looking for a job, even if it means they’ll be embarrassed. Take the challenge of contacting many people in person to let them know you’re in transition. In other words, network within your community.

3. Attend Organized Networking Events

You may have heard that no one likes networking events. Don’t listen to the naysayers. You’ll be passing up a great opportunity. Networking events offer the opportunity to engage in conversation with other job seekers who could provide sage advice or possible leads.

I know networking events can be uncomfortable, but I challenge myself to attend them simply to sharpen my skills. I suggest you do the same. Challenge yourself to attend at least two networking events a week.

4. Have Others Read Your Résumé

You may think you’ve written a great résumé and cover letter, but other people may not agree—like the time my wife told me she thought my résumé was “verbose.” I’m not sure if she used that word exactly, but I got the picture that someone would think it laborious to read.

Asking my wife to read my résumé took courage and prompted me to edit it. Challenge yourself to have someone else read your résumé, and then take what they say as constructive criticism.

Read my very popular post on avoiding getting too much input on your résumé.

skier5. Ask for a Mock Interview

This may be the closest you’ll get to an actual interview. Mock interviews are a valuable teaching tool, and any organization that offers them is providing a great service. But mock interviews don’t have to be conducted by a professional job coach or career advisor; a friend of yours can perform the function just as well.

When I challenge job seekers to participate in mock interviews, many pass on the opportunity. Others, though, see a mock interview as a valuable tool that will help them better understand how they answer questions, their body language, and their facial expressions. You should challenge yourself to participate in a mock interview.

6. Reach Out to Your LinkedIn Connections

Introverts may feel the severity of this challenge more than their extravert counterparts. However, your connections are not bona fide connections until you reach out to them in a personal way, as in a phone call or coffee meeting.

Some of my LinkedIn connections I’ve reached out to have proven to be great networking partners, while others turned out to have little in common with me. The point is that as challenging as this is, it’s well worth the effort. You could develop real relationships that you never would have developed otherwise.

7. Get Off the Internet

Not completely, but use it seldom and in different ways. Instead of defaulting to your comfort zone of job boards, use LinkedIn to find relevant connections through the “Companies” feature. Then connect with these people and follow my suggestion above.

Also visit your target companies’ websites to see how they’re doing in terms of growth. Contact the companies that are doing well with a job-search networking email to ask for informational meetings (or networking meetings). This takes courage, but it will yield better results than using job boards alone.

8. Participate in Informational Meetings

Informational meetings have been critical to many job seekers’ successes, but landing an informational meeting isn’t easy. Many of the people you’d want to meet with are very busy, with little time to spare. You may have to elicit help from one of your LinkedIn or personal connections in order to secure an informational meeting.

When you attend an informational meeting, remember that you’re the one asking the questions about a position and the company—so ask intelligent ones. You’re not there to beg for a job; you’re there to gather information and get advice.


Reader, taking on the challenges outlined above—having people read your resume, asking for mock interviews, etc.—are necessary if you want to land the desired interview. The interview is perhaps the biggest challenge of all when it comes to the job search, but if you prepare yourself by facing these smaller challenges first, I have no doubt you’ll land the job.

I would love to hear about your success story. Please leave a comment below!

This post originally appeared in recruiter.com.

Photo, Flickr, ANKESH KATOCH

Photo, Flickr, jirifx