Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Who Are You When You Intervew?

In honor of Halloween, I thought I'd write a post about being something you're not during interviews. Many job seekers think they will interview well if they can respond to interview questions with what they think the interviewer wants to hear. They prep with interview books and practice the "right" answers until they feel they are convincing and believable.

But good recruiters and hiring managers peel back the layers of your answers to determine your true skill level and credibility. They don't want to hear the answer to their question recited verbatim from page 62 of the latest interview book. Instead they want to know about your individual successes, contributions, thought leadership initiatives, and consensus building activities...they want to know what makes you unique and memorable.

So rather than trying to memorize answers to an endless array of interview questions, spend your interview prep time practicing discussing your success stories to showcase how you've helped solve problems and achieved measureable results for employers.

Be whoever you want to be on October 31. But on the other 364 days of the year and on all the job interviews you have for the rest of your life, be the real you.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Networking Strategies for the 21st Century

I recently returned from the Career Directors International Career Conference where I gave a presentation on the power of on-line business and social networking tools. C.M. Russell, founder of the Secrets of the Job Search blog, interviewed me following the presentation. Listen here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Networking Authentically

Today a client told me that he was uncomfortable networking and that where he came from it just wasn't done. As I probed further I discovered that my client believed that networking was about asking for a favor and this bothered him. But networking is not about asking for favors. Networking is about asking for and sharing information. It encourages trust, community, authenticity, and reciprocity. Good networkers give more than they get. They share knowledge, ideas, and resources. They connect people and businesses. Does that sound like something that's done where you come from? Let's hope so. Make a commitment to yourself today to help someone in your community, school, or company. You'll be glad that you did.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Don't Judge a Position by its Salary

A client of mine just negotiated a compensation package with a new employer that is 45% above his previous compensation. He did this despite the fact that the salary range he was seeking was well over the designated salary range for the position. How was he able to pull this off? He was able to accomplish this by negotiating the position rather than the salary. Throughout his interview he sold his skills and accomplishments to the employer as those of a higher level candidate. By the time compensation became a discussion topic, the hiring manager was sold and had to have my client on her team. Once she realized the value my client could bring to her company, she put together a proposal for senior management recommending a title change and corresponding salary range change. The moral of the story is this. Don't judge a position by its salary. A lot can happen in between the time a position becomes available and the time it is filled. If you believe there is a match and the position presents an excellent opportunity, go for it. Get the hiring manager to fall in love with you first and often the compensation will follow.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Baby Boomers and Beyond...Search Strategies for the Over 50 Job Seeker

According to an October 2006 AARP Survey, business executives and managers are aware of the labor market shifts that will occur as baby boomers approach traditional retirement age, but few have done anything proactive to minimize the potential impact this will have on their business. The over 50 candidate can improve their chances of landing a job by becoming knowledgeable of the coming labor shortage statistics and showing employers how they can support their business's evolving needs. There are many positive perceptions attached to older workers including the belief by many employers that older workers are loyal, on time, rarely absent, committed to quality, and experienced in their fields. By focusing on success stories around these performance dimensions, the 50+ job seeker can prove their value add in a changing labor market. Baby boomers should also be cognizant of some negative perceptions regarding their generation including the belief by some hiring managers that older workers are adverse to change, possess out of date job skills, and typically have difficulty reporting to a younger boss. Again, the 50+ candidate needs to have success stories around these dimensions to prove that these perceptions are incorrect relative to their candidacy. By being aware of the realities of the future labor market and developing accomplishment-focused, metrics-driven examples of continuous success, the 50+ candidate is more likely to secure a space in the future labor market.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Salary Negotiation is a lot Like Monopoly

Today while one of my clients and I were discussing his salary negotiation strategy, he had an "ah ha" moment. He said "You know, salary negotiation is a lot like monopoly!" I liked the analogy so much I've decided to expand on it on the Career Solvers blog. Remember when we were kids playing Monopoly and we got to the point in the game where we needed to trade property or offer money in order to make a monopoly? We had to decide what we needed to do to stay in the game and then we had to work cooperatively with the other players to make it happen. Well, when you negotiate your compensation and benefits package with a potential employer the process is very similar. First, you need to establish trust and credibility and establish rapport to convince the other party that they are making the right decision. Next you have to consider your priorities and decide what you really want and what you are willing to give up. Finally you must create a win-win situation where both parties feel satisfied when the deal is sealed. So next time you are in the middle of a negotiation conversation, think carefully about what you are willing to give up to get that Broadway or Park Place card that you need in order to make a monopoly. Enjoy the game!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Top 50 Employers for People Over 50

Frequently my "over 50" clients are concerned about potential "aegism" when they conduct a job search. In such situations I strongly recommend that they invest the time to research which companies embrace older workers and publicize their commitment to attract and retain this segment of the population. AARP recently released their list of Best Places to Work for People Over 50. Seven of the top 10 companies are in the healthcare sector and include health insurance providers, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies. AARP evaluated each employer's performance on a range of workforce practices beneficial to older workers including recruiting practices, training and development, health benefits, pension plans, and alternative work arrangements. Cultural fit is more important to most employers than competencies. Take the time to target the employers that offer a good fit to increase the liklihood of getting the interview and nailing the job.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Job Market Wide Open For Accountants

According to the most recent survey by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, enrollment in undergraduate accounting programs has increased 19% between the years 2000 and 2004. Ever since the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the demand for accountants has been strong. Top accounting firms are paying an average starting salary of $52,000 to recent college grads who majored in the field and top graduates may earn as much as $57,000 to start.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the fourth largest accountng firm in New York City, has even created a separate campus candidate career portal to attract top talent. In addition, they recruit year-round and forge relationships with students as early as their sophomore year through classroom programs and leadership and teamwork conferences.