Tuesday, May 26, 2009

6 Tips For Getting Hired in this Economy

With unemployment numbers climbing and people needing to keep a positive cash flow, you could find yourself interviewing for a position that you may be overqualified for, not all that interested in and yet really need. Here are some basics to keep in mind:

1. Be enthusiastic.
Even if the job is not your #1 choice you need to act as if it is ~~ if you want to get hired, that is. When I interviewed candidates, I would explain what the job entailed, what the responsibilities of the position were and what the successful candidate might look like. You, the candidate, need to keep the conversation interactive. I can’t tell you how many candidates lost out on employment opportunities because their enthusiasm level was imperceptible. Tell the interviewer why you want to work at this company and why you are perfect for the job. She/he shouldn’t have to check you for a pulse ~~ not in any economy!

2. Have a great resume.
Your resume is your #1 marketing tool, absolutely! Professional resume writers know the importance of branding, positioning and value statements. It’s our job to write resumes that get noticed. Make the investment here; it will pay solid dividends for you.

3. Be able to articulate your accomplishments.
Be prepared to talk about your accomplishments using the STAR acronym. Have examples ready. Explain your achievements in terms of what the Situation was, the Task(s) you performed, Action you took and Result achieved.

4. Know what’s important to the company you’re interviewing with.
Utilize your local library and introduce yourself to the Reference librarian. These folks are a job seekers best friend. They know their stuff and they know how to get to it fast. Do your homework; know what the company is about and what is important to it.

5. Know what you are worth.
When the interviewer asks what salary you are looking for, know your value. Know what the job typically pays; know what your experience is worth. Take current market conditions into consideration so you don’t price yourself out of the competition.

6. Be able to explain why you should get the job.
There are more people competing for the same jobs these days. Add in the folks that were laid off from jobs they were good at, and it’s easy to see that “there’s a lot of talent on the street” as we say in HR. You need to differentiate yourself from the competition, know what makes you unique. This is an important job search technique to master.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Serendipity in Seattle

Don’t you just love it when things work out exactly how you hoped they would? Talk about being in the right job, in the right place at the right time… I loved this story: A senior loan officer for Sterling Savings Bank in Seattle, gazing from his office window about a month ago, noticed that a duck had laid her eggs in the overhang just below his window. The eggs hatched on Monday.

Next thing he knows, Mama Duck glides to the ground and calls out to her ducklings to join her so they can all go for a swim in the river across the street. He watches as the first one gets into position. He flies out of his office, down to the street just as duckling #1 is getting ready to take a leap of faith and off he goes. He catches him, Mama's watching from the sidelines. Duckling #2 makes his way to the edge and takes a flying leap! The banker, Joel Armstrong, catches him and places him on the ground and watches as #2 joins his mother. #3 steps to the edge, boom takes a leap, the banker catches him too. A crowd has gathered watching this scenario unfold on a bright sunny morning in Seattle. And so it goes until all twelve have joined their mother. The crowd erupts in applause. People have joined in to help, someone shows up with a box to place the hatchlings in so they can get across the street to the river. With all her ducklings in a row behind her, they make their way through traffic (with a little help from their friends), finally making it to the other side where they jump into the river for their first family swim.

I just love it when the universe aligns and places people in the right place at the right time. Some believe it’s the universe that brings this about. I believe it’s the One who made the universe that brings about these serendipitous moments. Not sure where I read it, but someone once said: “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” I like knowing there’s Someone looking out for us all, don’t you? It gives me comfort.

Morale of the story:
Know that for today at least, you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Blog is Born

There’s nothing like a layoff to get the creative juices flowing. Mine came the first week in January after five and a half years and just three days after receiving the latest recognition award for my credenza. My manager, who clearly brought his heart to work that day, had tears in his eyes as he delivered the news. His own severance package came shortly thereafter when our national division was eliminated causing many others across the country to lose their jobs as well. The largest bank in the country was scaling back.

I worked with some incredibly smart, grounded individuals who continuously supported and celebrated the success of their peers. The job itself was never my passion. Coaching held that honor which is why I did it as a sidebar to full-time employment for more than fifteen years. I regularly attended industry meetings, took advanced training and gave lectures on timely career topics, all to stay connected; to keep the “saw sharp.”

I hibernated most of the winter, reading and writing then writing and reading. I needed the recovery time. I always loved to write, loved everything about it and would look for any reason to do it. I was quick to oblige when someone needed a bio written, a self evaluation, or help drafting an email.

As the snow fell, I read “Stillness Speaks” by Eckhart Tolle and learned the importance of emptying the mind so the voice within can be heard. The economy continued to deteriorate. Loyal clients called needing resumes updated, guidance on job searches, new positioning statements. Colleagues from the bank needed the same, voicing concern about getting hired in this economy. The writing continued. I made more and more time for solitude. I watched Captain Sullenberger put that plane down in the Hudson River with 154 people on board. I listened as reporters interviewed survivors whose lives changed that day, asking them how it felt to be given a new beginning.

A modest severance package gave me a soft landing and time to think about “what now?” After reading Eckhart’s book, I started each morning with15 minutes of solitude. I got quiet enough to hear the voice that said: “Write, just write.” And so I did.

I came to the realization that maybe I wasn’t destined to write the great American novel after all. I had always been a stronger writer with the shorter snippets. Maybe it was time for the career website I always talked about and never had time to do when I was so consumed with making my numbers for the quarter. And so it began. I started writing content for my own website.

Then it clicked ~ a Blog ~ write what you know and share your perspectives on work and life. After all, my NYU certification is in “Career and Life Planning.” Two things have come out of my winter solstice: Careerstimulus.net and a blog to go with it ~~ TA-DAH!

After sending off final copy to the web designer, I went for a manicure for the first time in six months. Patti asked how things were as she deftly worked the knots in my neck during the gratis massage that accompanied each visit. “How are you Cheryl?” “Long time since we’ve seen you – how’s work? I paused for a moment and said “Things are good Patti. I am a fulltime Career Coach now. I write resumes and help people change jobs.” “That’s great. A lot of people need that now” said Patti. “Have any business cards?” She took the cards and put them into a lucite card holder that she just happened to have and placed them on the counter. They are the first thing you see as you enter the salon.

Then it hit me. No longer was I looking in the rearview mirror; I was looking through the windshield at my future.