Tag Archives: preparation

Soccer and doing what it takes; 7 things to do in your job search

The other day, my son and I were shooting the soccer ball at the net. He was loving it, and I was hating it for the mere fact that my feet were numb from the cold. Regardless, I was constantly telling him to shoot with his opposite foot. “Why?”he asked me.

“Because you need to be multi-talented,” I told him. “You need to be able to shoot the ball with whichever foot it comes to. If you have to turn your body so you can shoot with your left, you’ll lose opportunities.” I’ve played some soccer in my day, so my advice was sound, albeit not what he wanted to hear.

While I was “coaching” my 10-year-old kid, I got to thinking about the advice I give jobseekers, most of whom listen and others who don’t. The ones who listen are those who send me e-mails or even stop by the career center to tell me about their upcoming interviews or, best of all, their new jobs. It’s all about the effort they put into their job search that makes the difference. They do the hard work, while I simply provide the theory. Such as:

  1. Network, network, network. Tell everyone you know that you’re looking for work. Be clear as to what you want to do and where you want to do it. Clearly explain your occupation (human resources vs. human services is a big difference), your greatest attributes, and your extensive experience.
  2. Look for a job where most people aren’t. In other words, penetrate the Hidden Job Market, which, coincidently, has a great deal to do with networking. “Why?” as my son would ask me. Simple, employers gain a lot more from not advertising than they do from advertising their positions. When they advertise, they spend more money, have to read hundreds of résumés, and interview strange people.
  3. Research, research, research. Always know the requirements for the jobs for which you apply. Know about the companies as well. This will come in handy when you write your résumé and other written marketing material, as well as when you interview for said positions.
  4. Market yourself with targeted résumés for each job, rich with quantified accomplishments and a strong personal profile that makes the employer want to read on. One of my respected contacts on LinkedIn, Laura Smith-Proulx, wrote a great article called Is Your Resume Summary Boring Employers? In it she advises jobseekers to include a substantial, quantified accomplishment in the professional profile.
  5. Send a cover letter with each résumé, unless instructed not to. True, some recruiters do not read cover letters, but many do. And if your job will involve writing, you must send a well-written, targeted cover letter that isn’t boring. Refrain from using a pat opening line that reads something like this, “I was pleased to read on Monster.com of an opening for a project manager….”
  6. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Never go to an interview unprepared. You’ve researched the position and company, so you should have an understanding of what questions might be asked. Prepare your answers for a behavioral-based interview using the STAR formula (Situation, Task, Action, Result). If you are asked traditional questions, you’ll be better prepared to answer them because you’ll have examples to share.
  7. Finally, consider building a LinkedIn, FaceBook, or Twitter networking campaign. Online networking should not replace face-to-face networking; rather it should supplement your networking efforts. LinkedIn is considered the premiere professional networking site, but the other two have garnered results for some people.

I explain some very basic job search methods, yet some jobseekers refuse or don’t understand how to begin and follow through with the basic tenets of the job search. Like my son who shies away from shooting with his opposite foot and, thus, will miss opportunities; these jobseekers will find it more difficult to find a job.

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Nerves can be a killer at an interview; don’t let them

Interviews are stressful. I know only one person who said she loved being interviewed, but I don’t know if she was telling me the truth.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of being interviewed—the last one I attended was four years ago and it ended successfully. I “performed” well and shined more than I thought; but I was still nervous and couldn’t remember a word of what I said.

Jobseekers who attend my interview workshops nod their heads in agreement when I talk about how nerves can sabotage the interview for any qualified candidate. It just seems to overcome them when sitting in the hot seat. This, to say the least, is a stressful situation.

Stressful is fine. We have to experience stress to keep us on our toes, as well as learn how to deal with it better. Yet, some people have a very hard time taming their nerves at an interview. You talk with them in a different environment, and they’re as calm as a lake in the morning. But at an interview it’s as though they’re about to walk the plank.

I notice it in one woman I coach. She maintains steady eye contact, speaks with a steady voice, and recalls the answers to any question; but she admits that at an interview, this all goes out the window. It’s the nerves.

Here are some ways to get over the nervousness that leads to a stressed-out interview, including some things you’ll want to do before the meeting.

  1. Realize that the interview is nothing more than a conversation between you, the seller, and the employer, the buyer. Your job is to engage in the conversation. Don’t see it as an interrogation, where you’re getting raked over the coals by Andre Braugher from Homicide: Life on the Streets. Henceforth remove “interview” from your vocabulary.
  2. Be prepared. Let’s say it three times: prepare, prepare, prepare. This means knowing what some of the tough questions might be asked. Forbs.com recently wrote a piece on 10 of the toughest questions. There are many more, but this sample of questions gets to the root of what employers are trying to determine about you. It goes without saying that you must know the competencies for the job and can predict questions based on meeting them.
  3. Realize the interviewer has one purpose and one purpose only, to find the right candidate. She wants to get as much pertinent information from you as possible. This means she wants you to relax and answer her questions with clarity and confidence. She doesn’t want you to fail. Doesn’t that make you feel better.
  4. You are the right person for the job. You’ve applied for a position you’re suited for. If you haven’t applied for the right position, you shouldn’t be at the meeting. There will be other people who applied for the same position and aren’t qualified, but you are. You’ve earned the right to be there, so give yourself a hoorah.
  5. Prepare yourself emotionally for the meeting between you and your potential employer. If given the chance to meet with the employer later in the day, take it and use the morning to review some facts about the job and company. Take a walk and practice your answers, call a friend and talk about light matter, do yoga before getting dressed, or any activity that relaxes you.
  6. To further decrease your nervousness, you may want to bring a cheat sheet. Although I recommend against it, some jobseekers use it as a security blanket. An an article in CareerBuilder.com supports bringing a cheat sheet: “Bringing a cheat sheet and questions. There is no rule that says you can’t bring a nice portfolio with some notes and question on it so during the interview you glance down at it,” says Mark Lyden, author of “Professionals: Do This! Get Hired!”. “What should be on the cheat sheet are little reminders of situations (your life experiences) that you may want to give as an example to answer one of the interview questions

I’ll be the last one to say the meeting between you and the employer will be stress-free. I experience the nerves before and during any time I have to speak before a group of people, but I’ve learned to turn that nervousness into positive energy, mainly because I’m confident of what I have to say.

If you are paralyzed by fear and nerves, perhaps you should speak to a professional who can suggest coping skills. Your chance of getting a job should not be dictated by your fear and nerves; you’re the right one for the job, and you know it.