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Careers, Communication, Interviews, Jobs, Resumes, Uncategorized

What Can You Do for a Company?

Paraphrasing from JFK, I suggest during any job hunt or interview, don’t focus on what you want to do, but what you can do for a company.  These are indeed interesting times.  Many sectors are seeing an increase in unemployment, while other sectors have job openings and a lack of talent to fill those roles.  Many of my career coaching clients are coming to me not because they don’t have a good job, but more often now because they are really thinking long and hard about what they want to do.  I discussed in another blog, “Mortality Smacks Many in the Face,” how a brush with death (209K dead from COVID in the US alone) can wake up anyone.  We only have a limited time on this earth, so what do we want to do with our waking hours since most of us still have to pay the bills?

First, we have to do an assessment of our skills.  Often I find clients telling me I’m a good communicator, or I’ve got great project management skills.  These are what I consider soft skills that anyone can develop.  They are necessary to be successful but what differentiates you from others are the hard skills.  Do you have mad computer skills and can do a data migration?  Are you a talented health economist who can improve quality and reduce costs? Are you extremely knowledgeable about education systems and training?

There are plenty of assessment tests out there, you can do a formal one or you can do an inventory of your skills.  What I have found is that the things you love to do, tend to be the things you are best at doing.  Part of the assessment process is figuring out which of the skills or tasks you do you would like to continue doing in your next role.  Once you’ve done this, you can craft a resume to highlight these areas and a LinkedIn profile that complements the resume.   Sometimes a traditional resume can accomplish this, and sometimes a different format, one that is a mix of functional and chronological is better.  There are so many free tools available these days that anyone can create a very professional-looking resume. If you’re looking for resume templates, check Google docs or Canva.  The key ingredient to a strong marketing presentation of yourself is a strong pitch.  See my blog on pitches for more details on how to create one.  

A pitch highlights and shares your best skills and in what environments you have used them.  But, what a pitch really does is translate for a company what you do, how you do it, and what that means to them.  It’s one thing to list all your accomplishments, it’s another thing to translate them into what you can do for an organization.  They want to know how you will impact the bottom line and what you bring to the table.

The purpose of a resume or a LinkedIn profile is to capture someone’s attention so they want to learn more.  Ideally, a profile will gain you entry to an informational or formal interview.  What you do with that time is key.  Preparation matters.  Ask good questions and demonstrate you have done your homework and know how to listen.  A client and friend shared how much she values the STAR approach when responding to interview questions.  If you aren’t familiar with behavioral interviews it’s simple, S=Situation, T=Task, A=Action, and R=Results.  If you can share short concise powerful stories in this format that illustrate your capabilities and demonstrate the results, this is incredible.  It leads you to the final punch, translating the results into how a company benefits from bringing you into their team. A good match results in a satisfying career and a successful company.

Careers, Interviews, Jobs, Uncategorized, Work Strategies, Working Parents, Working Professionals

Demonstrating Value on an Interview

One of my favorite activities is to present my workshop on preparing and securing a job offer. Recently, I did my regular guest visit to Empowered Women International’s (EWI) Entrepreneur Training for Success course being offered at the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia. I was excited to have the opportunity to discuss career topics with the women, their mentors (and hopefully our future supporters) the Gupta Family Foundation. An added bonus, my daughter attended plus a friend.

It was a full room, with over twenty of us, and it started out slowly. As we went around the room, introducing ourselves and sharing a few facts about who we were, I slowly saw each woman in a different way. Initially their head coverings made them hard to differentiate from each other. Soon, I noticed different colors and patterns that reflected how truly different each woman was. First, they shared their name and then three facts about themselves. A mother. A maker of family recipes. A model and artist. An accountant. A businesswoman. When we broke out into small groups and regathered to share our results, the room was heating up.

As immigrants to a new country, with a new language, new culture, it’s even more challenging to market yourself. It’s one thing to list skills and talents, but the burden to translate how you add value to an organization falls on each of us. I was amazed at how animated the women became as they shared. I shared the ingredients that make a good interview; preparation, questions, compensation, and closing questions that overcome objections.

Next, I taught a technique called a FAB Presentation-Features, Accomplishments, and Benefits. With these two exercises, you will be able to present yourself in the most powerful way during any conversation. Key components to note are my “Closing Questions”, “Salary”, and the “FAB”. Walk through the anatomy of an interview (below) and then practice the FAB exercise (below) to prepare for any type of interview. Go out and grab that next opportunity!

ANATOMY OF AN INTERVIEW

First there are several types of interviews. While they have much in common, they do have slight differences.

  • Scholarship/Honor Society
  • Entrance/College
  • Informational
  • Internship/Permanent Position

Prep for Positive Results

You wouldn’t just show up to a client presentation and wing it. So don’t do this when you are interviewing. An interview is a marketing presentation of yourself, and it’s important to do the prep work so you can have the best possible outcome, an offer. When you get an offer, you have the power to decide if you want the job, otherwise, you have nothing.

Homework for an interview

  • Learn about the company
  • Read about the people meeting with you
  • Search the internet for articles about the organization
  • Review the company website to understand their business

“Package yourself”

  • Bring an updated version of your resume
  • Dress appropriately (Even if they are business casual, you have to impress with your interview “suit”)
  • Review the position and anticipate areas of interest (FABS- see exercise)
  • Ask insightful questions to learn about culture, training, career path (see exercise)

Closing Questions

There are many ways to close an interview. I believe there are two types of key closing questions that you should focus on. It’s perfectly legit to ask these.

  • Objections – Ask if the interviewer has any concerns or if anything is unclear. By exposing any objections, you have a chance to overcome them while you are still there. This increases your chances of moving to the next step.
  • Process – Ask about what the next steps are in the process. Gain clarity on your competition. Find out what the time frame is on a decision. By asking for more information, you will be able to better manage your own expectations.

Thank you Note – Get business card(s) to ease writing a “Thank You” note (Email or Snail Mail). MAKE SURE THIS IS NOT GENERIC! A thank you is an opportunity for another contact. Make it count. Add additional information, share a relevant article, or make a suggestion based on the earlier conversation.

Salary – Is probably the conversation people most dislike.  Typically it doesn’t come up on the first round, let the company raise the issue. Here’s an easy approach to demystifying the process. Be direct and honest.

  • Share your present base plus bonus
  • State you are open for a fair offer
  • If they push again, you can use a “redirect”
  • You can ask what the range of salary is for the position
  • Ideally, don’t state a figure, you have a 50% chance of being high or low
  • Receive an offer and then you can counter

You have shared, now it’s their turn to share. If the range is what you would consider, confirm it. Typically, to make a move, a professional likes to see a 10% increase of the base. There are other nuances to this conversation, but these are the basics.

NUTS & BOLTS

Below is a tool that I would suggest you use to field questions you will be asked on an interview. Most questions fall into three categories. I suggest you prepare 3-4 FAB statements for each category. This way you will be prepared to field any questions in a succinct powerful way. It will give you more confidence. You will not forget a detail or tell a long drawn out story.

Questions you receive will be focused on:

  • Skills/talents/subject matter expertise
  • Ability to manage people and projects
  • Client Services and Business Development

FAB Presentation Exercise

Features, Accomplishments, and Benefits (FAB)

A FEATURE is a fact about you. This is a point where you begin self-analysis. Focus on the features that describe your abilities, skills, & experience. Remember features are factual and objective. They describe “WHAT. . . “

An ACCOMPLISHMENT is a significant achievement accomplished during education or employment (high grades, publications, promotions, projects that stand the test of time) Accomplishments are stated in a very specific language and should include quantitative measures. They describe “HOW WELL. . .”

A BENEFIT is an example of what you can do for a future employer. The benefit takes into account your previously stated features and accomplishments. A benefit translates the facts for a future employer in terms of what you can do for them. They describe “HOW YOU ADD VALUE. . . ”

Before an interview create at least 10 FAB statements. Write them down, and review them. Focus on three categories you know you will be asked about, skills, management and client services. FABs will help you field difficult questions. They will help you to gain confidence by recognizing that you have concrete skills/abilities to share. FAB statements are powerful ways to translate skills from your resume to actual benefits for future employers.