Overwhelmed by all of the job seach advice? Do this …

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Have you ever attended a job search meeting and felt bombarded by all of the various advice and recommendations? Do you hear something different from everyone you meet to the point of being overwhelmed with what to do?

Recently I attended a highly valued networking meeting of management level job seekers that also included several representatives from respected recruiting/retained search firms.

During the meeting the representatives from the recruiting/search firms had the opportunity to answer questions and provide many tips, tactics and approaches they believed vital to landing a job. Some of the information was valuable. At the same time some of the other advice provided in particular by one representative who has a considerable number of years in his field to me wasn’t valid and actually counter-intuitive . Having conducted a job search a few times in my career I have learned what works consistently, what works some of the time and in certain situations, and what only sounds good in theory. Equally important, I learned what works for me may be slightly different than what works for someone else.

No one has all of the answers, all of the right tactics, or all of the right approaches and methods to a job search, and yet this person presented his ideas as of if only those approaches worked. No one approach or person can state there is only one approach in job search. Why? Because quite simply every person is different and therefore, every hiring manager is different. Therefore, no two interviews and hiring processes are the same, no matter how many you have experienced. I have learned not to trust, or rather, question every job search approach or tactic no matter the source. Yes, consider it, evaluate it, but also question it.

What is the right course of action for you in your job search?

Question everything you hear or are directed in a job search. Why? Because what worked for another person may not work as well for you. You have your own style and may excel at one job search tool or approach than another. For sure, you must have a solid resume and practice at being able to convey who you are and your talents. Attempt to use all tools available and yet use what works for you and feels right. I have also discovered much of job search is not about a tool or tactic and rather comes down to using your own skills and trusting your intuition as to how to conduct a job search.

There are a myriad of job search tools and tactics and I do recommend you consider at least reviewing them. Then decide what works best for you, or rather, how to use the tool, but in your own style and ability. For example, I believe networking is a vital component of a successful job search. Initially I failed miserably at networking fearing it was like cold calling someone and I simply was not comfortable with that approach. Once I learned how to network through a referral process, I excelled at it because I had the opportunity to learn about someone in one-on-one. This approach has proven to be much more comfortable to me and fit who I am and my style. Meeting someone in person continues to be an extremely valuable venue for effective networking.

Further, and most important, I found for me, that simply, some tactics touted by many, are not effective. Specifically, having spent years researching personal development I discovered that many tactics touted as being effective often lacked an understanding of the way people think, act and believe.

For example, I don’t believe in elevator speeches as they are too rehearsed and say little. Sure, understand how to explain to someone what makes you a special hire, but I have found other approaches to delivering that information. The human element behind the concept of producing an elevator speech is partly about you being able to state what you do, what you excel at, and how you do it, all in 30 seconds. The real importance is for you to decide what you want to be when you grow up. What do you want to do, what matters to you, where do you want to go and why are you good at it? Most people struggle with those questions. Once you answer these questions, then an elevator speech isn’t an elevator speech at all. Instead of sounding rehearsed, your information will flow smoothly in a relaxed style. If you want to turn someone off, just start spouting an elevator speech. If you watch the recipient’s body language, it will strongly tell you that they stopped listening a few seconds after you began your speech.

I also don’t believe in target lists, although it is a constant promoted approach in every job search meeting. Some people believe they work great. But I have seen how they hindered many candidates. (But that concept is for another day as I will soon publish another article and post on this specific topic.)

One key I learned is our own inner thought process, our beliefs and actions determine our job search success more than any tactic or approach. To put this in perspective, when we are employed we are making decisions every day regarding what project to work on when, who to meet with to collaborate on a project, and much more. Conversely, when unemployed, it is easy to feel as if someone has grabbed the TV remote control from us. Hence, we feel out of control. We are at the mercy of when someone returns our call, or responds to an email, or simply waiting to hear on the status or outcome of an interview or potential job offer. As you have discovered, there are some factors you can control and impact, and there are some factors out of your control. Knowing how to manage the factors you can impact and understand mentally and emotionally how to deal with the factors for which you have no control is the essence of a job search.

If we are seeking response from an email, voicemail, or interview we begin to think like waiting to hear from someone after a first date: Will they call back, when will the call back, what should I say when they contact me, how long should I wait to contact them if I don’t receive a response, and does no quick response mean they are not interested? Spending time on these questions can distort our view of reality potentially making you appear too aggressive, or impatient or potentially bothersome to the hiring manager. At the same time understanding that the hiring manager during the interview potentially was more focused on meeting an urgent deadline or responding to an important email after the interview are challenges few discuss yet every interviewee encounters. You are sure to hear all sorts of suggestions from others on how to manage this challenge. Sort through the potential options and do what works best for you.

But if someone tells you that it should only take a certain amount of days for you to land a job or not to use a tactic for which you found value, such as not talking to anyone you meet at an networking meeting outside of the meeting, then don’t follow that advice. Consider it, question it, and then decide for yourself.

The confusion in job search and requirement that we question everything is best demonstrated by asking someone for advice on a resume. Ask 20 people and you will receive 20 answers. Instead when I first conducted a job search 15 years ago, I asked for a copy from everyone in which I met, especially from those who landed a job. From there I pulled what struck me as highly effective as well as incorporated some of their input.

In your job search, listen to everyone, but determine what makes sense to you. Often people providing job search advice have never been on the other side of the table; your side as being interviewed. Sure, you can ask many a hiring manager why they didn’t hire someone. We all hear many stories, of crazy answers to questions, not being prepared, mistakes on resumes, and much more.

But in the end getting hired boils down to what really is the most nebulous factor of all: that you are a good fit. Only the hiring manager can describe what a good fit is to them. At yet every hiring manager will have a different belief on what constitutes a good fit. The greatest challenge in the interview is seeking to determine and convince the hiring manager that you are a good fit – and I would contend this can be more important that being able to fix their immediate problems which is often stated as the key to interview success.

From my experience there are 2 vital components of a job search that have the greatest impact on landing the job. These 2 components can’t be provided or directed by someone else. Only you can determine and must decide what exact type of job you want; you must know exactly what you want because often a hiring manager isn’t sure. Hiring managers often are not sure exactly what they need other than someone to fix an immediate problem. And often that problem is not revealed in a job description and rarely fully conveyed in a job interview. I often discover from researching a company, talking to my network about the company and officers you can determine how to help the hiring manager. Having worked a many size companies, I have found that your experience can often provide you insight into what the hiring manager needs, sometimes before they do.

The other vital component is self-confidence. You radiate your self-confidence of lack of it, to everyone you meet. Everyone can feel if you are cautious or confident. When confident, you will be much more relaxed and the real you will be revealed to each person you meet. Answering interview questions and projecting your knowledge will flow easily in words and body language.

Most likely some of you will not agree with some or all of my suggestions. And I can say, good! Question what I have said and determine what works for you. The key is to understand no one has all of the answers. Determine what works and feels comfortable and use what intuitively feels right. Tactics don’t land you a job, you land a job. Believing in your ability sets the stage for an effective job search. And you can question everything, and even question yourself. And when you answer with confidence you are ready for landing a new job.

The real reasons you get asked stupid interview questions

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I recently read about how to respond to stupid interview questions and thought, but “Why do you get asked stupid questions in the first place?”

You may reason that asking trick questions gives the interviewer the upper hand, or the interviewer wants to try to make you look inferior, or try to unsettle you.

Yet, at the core, these aren’t the real reasons you get asked these stupid interview questions. There are 3 main reasons why you actually get asked these crazy questions:

1. Most hiring managers are not highly skilled at interviewing. Most hiring mangers lack the expertise and knowledge of how to ask a question and then read the person’s body language during the response. They lack the ability to listen clearly (they may be distracted thinking about the email they need to write once out of the interview, or the project their boss has demanded they get finished in the next 30 minutes) and therefore they don’t pick up on everything you say. Due to their lack of interviewing skills, they depend on the interviewer’s playbook – a list of standard interview questions, such as tell me your strengths and weaknesses and tell me why you want to work here.

These standard questions unfortunately have been asked so frequently that candidates have learned how to answer with well scripted responses. The answers all sound the same and provide little insight into the candidate’s ability nor differentiate them from any other candidate. The result is the well scripted answers make the hiring decision even more difficult.

Turning to clever questions gives a hiring manager something you never thought of: an easy out in the interview process. Whoever answers with the most clever answers is remembered and in turn helps the hiring manager forget about what really matters – if you are a great fit, have passion, skill, expertise and knowledge for the job. Since most people struggle to determine the value of one candidate compared to another, the easy choice and decision becomes to ask a stupid question, and worst of all, let that be the deciding factor on who lands the job, or at least gets to the next round! (I will give you my answers to the stupid questions at the end of this article.)

The problem with this approach is that what you focus is what is achieved. The silly questions are an attempt to weed out less talented candidates, but the result is they weed out the better candidates. When you focus on not hiring a lesser candidate you end up with a lesser candidate. Focusing on hiring the best candidate is not achieved by asking the candidate what animal you would want to be or what is to be on your tombstone. You hire the best candidate by asking the tough questions and by being willing to dig deeper into what the candidate is saying by asking follow up questions.

What are the tough questions? Ask the candidate what drives and motivates them, what their passion is and where and how do they obtain their passion. Ask them what achievements are they most proud of and why. Listen how the candidate describes these achievements in detail. And have them tell you what they regret most in life. After all, the word “interview” is to get an look “inside”  someone. Wanting a clever response for a stupid question does indicate the internal fortitude, knowledge, wisdom, expertise and passion of a candidate. Instead, ask the candidate how they work under pressure and to provide examples. Unfortunately, these questions become an afterthought all too often.

2. Too much pressure to make the right decision. Consider this: have you ever wondered why you are required to go through 4, 5 and 6 rounds of interviews and multiple psychological testing? There is extensive pressure today to make the right decision, get the right person to hit the ground running, and add value to the bottom line yesterday. Our resumes are filled with cost savings, revenue created, efficiencies generated and the impact to the bottom line. And yes, even all resumes all look similar rather quickly. Hence, don’t ask the candidate silly questions; rather, ask questions that make the candidate reveal who they are. Asking insightful questions requires discipline, patience and great listening skills. The pressure is on to deliver the perfect candidate. After all, why does the job description require someone with the exhausting list of skills and knowledge?

But, how can a hiring manager deal with the pressure to not make a mistake in the hiring process and relieve themselves from the pressure of not making a mistake when hiring someone? By putting the pressure on multiple people and spreading the responsibility to many people.

Sure, having at least one other person besides the hiring manager interview the candidate makes sense to get perspective. But all too often the candidate ends up coming back for more and more interviews which only frustrates the candidate. Requiring the candidate to continually come back for more interviews is strong indication that the hiring manager and company is unable to make a decision and get it right. In addition the hiring is by committee instead of one person taking the lead and responsibility.

Consequently, the hiring manager can have everyone possible interview you, and from there these people discuss who they like and don’t and collectively the decision gets made. If the person turns out not to fit, anyone can easily state it was a group decision.

Finding and hiring the right candidate simply does not require 6 people to interview a candidate to determine if they are a great fit. The amount of time and energy used in the interview process can easily be offset by hiring someone with the right skills and teach them technical skills if needed. More on that in another article, but for now, let’s move on to the most important reason for stupid questions:

3. Companies are actually risk averse. Although companies like to state otherwise, most are risk averse. The big misconception today is that companies want their employees to take chances, take risks and be entrepreneurs in the business. Sure, companies such as Google and Apple thrive on their employees taking risks as they push creative boundaries. But most companies, and that means over 90% of companies don’t want risk takers, unless you are always right. Too many companies can’t afford for you to take risks because if you do and fail it costs the company money. And most companies today are all about driving shareholder value.

Consequently, all of the testing and interviews are an attempt to be absolutely sure you are the right candidate – the perfect fit. Yet, with closer attention in the interview process it will become apparent rather quickly which are the perfect candidates. Quite often, the interview process is so lengthy that great candidates move on and receive offers or opportunities elsewhere.

In summary, hiring managers are much too careful to take risks in hiring and therefore spend far too long in making the decision out of fear of selecting the wrong candidate. If they select the wrong candidate and projects don’t get completed, their own job is in jeopardy. To be risk averse makes managers spread the risk to others. Employees today are not often rewarded for even being successful at taking risks, so with much more downside than upside, the hiring manager feels pressured to depend on others to make the decision for him/her. Even if you had a string of positive risk taking, so much is about what you have done lately.

But just in case you were wondering, go ahead and ask me the stupid questions and I will tell you what animal I want to be (a dog, because they possess a keen sense detecting genuine character in someone); what I want on my tombstone (I am reincarnating so don’t touch any of my stuff I will be right back), my weaknesses (if I had a bunch do you think I would have gotten this far?) and why do I want to work here (because from my experience I have seen the same problems at previous companies, know how to fix the problems and am excited by the challenge to help fix them at your company). And I can provide examples of being creative (developed and created a website for one company where I worked that is now their main form of communication to the media, press, customers and employees. And I have Finance expertise!)

But when you get done with those questions, be sure to really listen to me (and all of the other candidates) explain and provide examples on how I can directly and immediately impact your company. Sense how my keen business acumen has made impacts on companies from top to bottom. Read my body language, my handshake, how I look you in the eye, feel my passion and excitement combined with the calmness of my self-confidence and sense my perseverance. Gain awareness of why my negotiation, analytical and communications skills are top notch. Feel my desire to build and develop a great team, have proven leadership skills and yet can work side by side with anyone. Go ahead, ask me the tough questions.

The company bottom line will be glad you did.

 

What makes a positive attitude? These 10 components

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We often hear that having a positive attitude is the main ingredient for success. But what does it mean to have a positive attitude? How do you know if you really have a positive attitude? Is it simply being in a good mood and smiling?

I’ve discovered there are 10 key components that comprise having a positive attitude. When we fully embrace a positive attitude all 10 components are intertwined. All components seem to blend together effortlessly as we move through our day with a positive attitude. The components are:

1. A willingness to examine our strengths and weaknesses, and willingness to change.

An open mind is the foundation for a positive attitude. Knowing that our world is in constant change, it is imperative we adapt and evolve right along with it.  On a Universal basis, never letting our beliefs evolve is the same as telling the Universe to keep us in the same place. Consequently, there is no room for growth, and we do not move forward.

A commitment to examine ourselves takes courage. When you are willing to view your strengths and weaknesses in an attempt to build a better you, a positive view of your future takes hold within you. You set goals to achieve, you examine what does not work and what does work and move forward. Continually transforming into a better version of ourselves grows our positive attitude.

2. Being open to new ideas and concepts.

When we are open to new ideas and concepts, we are willing to view our world differently. There is always something new to learn about life. There is a saying that in life there is nothing as permanent as change.  We must be willing to consider new approaches to push through challenges in order to grow.  When we grow and learn, we then achieve our goals. Once we achieve goals we find inner happiness.

Most people do not succeed in life because they give up when their first or second effort fails. Successful people, and those possessing a positive attitude, learn from what did not work and try again. And if that approach does not work, they look for new approaches and try again. Successful people probably fail more than people who give up because of their belief in being open to new methodology to accomplish their goals.

Keeping an open mind includes ending relationships and moving on to new ones. The same is true with experiences, such as ending employment with a company or moving to another city or state.

Our positive energy of an open mind signals the Universe to continue bringing us wonderful new opportunities for relationships and knowledge.

3. Possessing the will and courage to address our fears.

Facing our fears is often our greatest challenge. By creating negative images and scary scenarios, our minds keep us focused on fear and what we can’t achieve. In doing so, our minds create mountains that we believe are impossible to climb. Yet when we actually turn and face our fear, we discover that the challenge was much less than we anticipated. Those overwhelming mind-created images of how difficult and emotionally challenging the task would be quickly melt away once we move through our fear.

We have all faced our fears at some point in our life. It may have been the first day at a new school, that key interview that landed our first job, taking a chance on saying hello that started a wonderful relationship, trying our hand at a hobby, or simply daring to try something new no matter how small it may have seemed at the time.

When we face our fear we are pushing past what we believe we know and move into the unknown, out of our comfort zone with the belief something better awaits.

4. Believing God wants you to have abundance and achieve your goals.

Having a positive attitude includes believing wealth and abundance are within our reach. Besides wealth, abundance includes knowledge, the quality of relationships, health, and a feeling of inner peace.

To achieve our goals implies that we believe God (or whatever you consider a higher power) wants us to succeed and obtain abundance.  God desires that we are able to experience the joy that is acquired by having abundance. At times we will incur setbacks on our path to obtaining our desires. By embracing these challenges, we increase our knowledge and ability to ultimately reach our goals and realize abundance.

God wants everyone to receive and enjoy as much abundance as possible. We are at our best when we can experience and create the total richness of life in every way and share it with the world.

5. Having faith that you, God, and the Universe create your reality.

An important requirement in having a positive attitude relates to faith. This faith is about having faith in you, God, and the Universe to work collectively to create a wonderful reality. Creating those wonderful experiences that you will see in your mirror have their foundation in faith.

When we awake each morning to take on the day, we do so with faith in the potential of a new day. When we awake with faith, we believe that today can and will be different from yesterday. We believe that even in some small way, we will make one step forward today. We have faith that we are able to create the change that moves us toward our goal.

In addition, part of faith is hope.  A positive attitude implies having hope that today will be better than yesterday, or at least as positive as yesterday. We desire to hope that we can surmount our challenges. Our mindset is to believe that God and the Universe will be there to help us in our efforts to grow and learn. We have hope and faith that we will be led to the right information and in the right direction to help us learn and achieve our goals.

6. Believing you can impact the world.

Each of us brings special talents and abilities to the world in a different combination than any of the other 7 billion people in it.  Your unique special skills, talents, abilities and expertise are in a perfect combination that only you can use to impact the world. You are here to impact the world in your own extraordinary style.

Every time we speak and especially when we act, we have an impact on those around us. The more love, knowledge, expertise and kindness we share, the greater the impact we have on those around us.

All positive words and actions are powerful. Saying hello to a neighbor or holding a door open for someone, or picking up something that someone dropped, are demonstrations of a positive attitude

Always remember you make a difference.

7. Believing that life is fun and to be experienced.

A fundamental component of having a positive attitude is in believing that life is fun and in engaging in different experiences. We can truly experience and understand all that life provides only by interacting with other people. We can learn an extensive amount from the physical earth and all living creatures.

The best environment for us to grow and experiences ourselves is through our connections and intermingling with other people.

Engaging in life produces opportunities for us to feel the wonderful emotions of joy, love, gratitude, exhilaration, anticipation, laughter, and so much more. When we feel these emotions, we know we are alive.

We will stumble and fall along the way. But the happiness that comes with experiencing every wonder life has to offer is beyond comparison. And in the end, life and a positive attitude is all about being happy.

8. Believing that there is goodness and value in everyone.

A wonderful component of a positive attitude is to believe that there is good in all people. We can believe that each day the world becomes a better place for everyone. When we believe that there is good in all people, we have a sense of being connected to everyone and every living thing in the Universe.

As we look for the good in other people, our minds focus on the goodness in our life. By continuing to focus on the positive, we fill ourselves with positive energy. This positive energy helps create more positive experiences in our life.

Each of us has our own physical body. This separateness creates the appearance that we as humans and animals are not connected. Yet, we are all spiritually connected, and we feel the pain and joy of anyone and everyone in the world. We share knowledge on a spiritual and Universal plane that can occur only if we are connected.

When we look for the goodness in everyone, we also find the goodness in every experience. We appreciate how far we have come, where we are, and what lies ahead.

9. A willingness to be yourself and believe in yourself.

A positive attitude incorporates a willingness to show the world our true self. When we decide to stand up for a cause, an idea or a belief that may go against the majority, we are willing to show the world our true self. There can be an opportunity when we decide to follow our passion and live our dream, although many may tell us that following this path is too risky. Taking this chance, or leap of faith, is demonstrating willingness to show the world exactly who we are.

A positive attitude comes with being happy who we are. We do not spend time attempting to imitate others; rather we continually to grow and be the best we can be.

A willingness to be yourself infers a willingness to believe in yourself. Believing in yourself states you are comfortable with who and what you are. We all make mistakes, and when you can love yourself despite your mistakes, your positive energy will flow and glow.

10. Believing that loves conquers all.

There is nothing as powerful in the Universe as love. Love conquers everything. Love is who we are at our very core. The very essence of every living creature is love.

Demonstrating love all around us radiates God through us.  Only when we are loved and share love are we closest to God.

Love gets demonstrated in a multitude of behaviors. We can express love through a warm smile, a gentle hug, listening intently, showing compassion, or just being there for someone. There are hundreds of methods to display love and none is more powerful than any other. Simply expressing love radiates to the soul of those around us, giving them hope and faith.

The most powerful method to demonstrate a positive attitude is through our expression of love for all living creatures.

With these 10 components in your possession you are now ready to have a positive attitude every day and achieve your goals.

~ Excerpt from the book: Beyond Intent: Crossing the Threshold to Your Dreams