BEing Prepared For INTERVIEWS

You see it all the time—they dash in from the parking lot with no particular plan on how to engage their potential employer. Or they relentlessly work the phones only to discover that they’ve offered nothing more than hollow chitchat.Be prepared!  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  After all, the Boy Scouts have been teaching this idea to kids for almost 100 years.  So why in the world would most job seekers show up for an interview unprepared?

NEXT Week’s session:  Thursday, December 17th… LAST Session of 2015Closing The Deal II: Interview tactics, including POST-Offer negotiation.


Here are ten keys that you can use to create your own successful pre-interview habits:

  1. Learn about their business—their products/services, customers, industry trends, key initiatives, financial status, and competition.
  2. Discover something about the person you are meeting with. Google them, talk to their colleagues, or call others in the industry who have insights. Use a targeted organization networking approach.
  3. Identify the benefits of your value to this potential employer. The benefits need to be clear, concise, credible and compelling!
  4. Prepare ideas that hold value for your ‘next employer.’ Your language needs to reflect a focus on solutions…meeting their needs!
  5. Plan questions that establish your expertise and get them to think in new ways. The more thought provoking your questions are, the more your prospective employers will respect and remember you!
  6. Communicate an outline of your meeting prior to the actual interview. Ask them to review and provide you with feedback.
  7. Getting their buy-in before you walk in the door is critical, and it demonstrates your commitment to delivering value.
  8. Identify the resistance that you are most likely to encounter and prepare ideas, case studies, testimonials or expert opinions to help reduce their reluctance to move forward.
  9. Plan how you will close the interview appointment and decide what agreements you need to ask for.
  10. Remind yourself to be warm, friendly and courteous to everyone that you encounter. Your potential employer is constantly deciding how much they like you, how much they believe you, how much they trust you and how much confidence they have in you. It takes time—often a long time—to build your personal brand. And it takes only a few seconds for it to be destroyed.

CREATING Your High-Impact Digital Footprint

Social media is a great place to learn about and create a digital conversation with your market. Potential employers do not want to be talked-to, or worse yet sold-to on these platforms. Your “followers” want to know they have a place to come learn, to ask questions about things THEY care about, and to know they are being heard.

Here are some things I’ve learned from listening to those I’ve served since the advent of LinkedIn, the preferred place for professional level job seekers to leave their “digital footprint.”

Listen MORE than you TALK

In the Groups that you choose to join and participate in, start with treating them as a place to listen.  Getting followers to your Profile and white papers is the start – not the end. You can learn so much more about your market if you are careful to read what Group participants are posting and commenting on. See what things they “like” and look for trends that can direct your future efforts. This is also a great place for ideas you can use to refine your positioning and targeting approaches in other personal marketing formats like your resume, value proposition, and various verbal pitches.

Engage your colleagues in digital conversation

The goal is to get other professionals with similar interests to engage in the conversation by posting intriguing content that connects to your audience and engages them to “talk.” Once you get people talking with you, you can learn about what matters to them, and then provide more of this type of content to build into your “story.”  This inter-action is the front end of high-quality relationship building… pathways to your next work.

Know your Market

You should know your market BEFORE you start applying for jobs and posting things in Social Media of any kind…and listening first to your market will accomplish this.

Once you DO post something, look to see how it’s received and use this to direct future personal marketing efforts.  The response you get from people in your various Groups of choice can tell you things about your potential employers that you can use to direct your future communication efforts.

“PUSH” without being Pushy

In “PUSH Marketing,” you need to take a low-key approach and offer 90% of insights and education to your market, with only 10% of things that would be seen as a sales pitch. Of course, ALL your social media content is “selling” in one way or another, but your market will be turned off if it comes across as a hard sell.

On the other side, don’t just post silly photos or motivation quotes. Position yourself as a subject matter expert and a source of real help to your followers, by sharing valuable information your market cares about (using UPDATES to post white papers).

Listen to what your colleagues and potential employers are talking about and then provide information, links, stories, and examples that connect them to what they care about. This makes you a trusted advocate and when you DO begin to request info and referral activity, they will be more willing to accept it because they like and trust you.

Move Toward the Next Step

Make sure to ask questions or lead them to further activity with your postings.  Direct people on opportunities to engage with you… your call to action.   Recall WAYPOINT #2: Always communicate yourself in a positive, future oriented manner!


You need to monitor your presence on all your social media sites, and, during active job search, specifically LinkedIn.  Potential new contacts, potential employers, and others may be evaluating you based on how responsive you are to comments, so you need a plan to find and respond to these postings in a timely and professional manner.

Often recruitment and selection decisions are influenced by what others have said about you, so you need to work hard to direct the conversation, or the market will.

Your digital footprints are all over LinkedIn and other social media platforms, whether you put them there or not, and you need to commit to keeping up with them or suffer the consequences in the court of customer opinions.  LinkedIn is a powerful tool to assit you in both PUSH and PULL Marketing of your branded “value proposition… YOUR Digital Footprint.

THIS THURSDAY’s Session 8:45 AM at The Egg and I in Addison

The Careerpilot’s high TECH-HIGH TOUCH philosophy comes into play with the explosive growth of business professionals using social networks to build relationships, meet new contacts, and market themselves.  While the Internet provides many choices, diving into the virtual meet-and-greet can represent a real challenge.  Which one is worthy of your start-up investment: learning curve time and actual ROI of your efforts…  Where to begin?

 Thursday, November 19th… a LinkedIn PRIMER

JOINING a network like LinkedIn is simple, but turning it into a powerful networking tool takes a bit of savvy. Here’s how to build a network, leveraging your available time… and put it all to work — without HIGH TECH, social-networking anxiety.

TASK #2  Build Your Network

Goal: Stay focused.  LinkedIn will allow you to search for people you know to see if they’re already members. But once you connect to someone, you can also look at the profiles of anyone they know, and in turn anyone those people know. Because of these three degrees of separation, your network can grow rapidly. Before you begin connecting, decide who you want to connect to.

I started with twenty contacts from my MSOutlook.  My “first line” Contact base has grown to well over five hundred by accepting and sending out INVITATIONS to people I know, are likely to be interactive within our network, or who could provide resources to me or the Candidates I serve… what’s really impressive is how this translates, numerically, into your second and third lines of contact… we’re talking, WOW!!!

The 411 on “How Not to Be Connected”

If someone contacts you and you don’t want to form a connection with them, you don’t need to flatly reject them and worry about the attendant awkwardness. When looking at the invitation to connect, simply hit “Archive.” The other person does not receive a message saying their invitation has been rejected, and you don’t have to worry about unwanted invitations clogging up your inbox.

Likewise, if you find that an existing contact is blasting you with too much information or making overly aggressive requests for introductions and recommendations, LinkedIn will let you remove that person easily — and without the contact knowing they’re out of your network.

If only it were that easy in real life.

What’s Next?

  1. Check in on “Network Updates.” Found on your LinkedIn homepage, Network Updates are kind of like your Facebook news feed. Check these periodically for a quick snapshot of what your connections are up to and sharing. This is also the approach through which you can “publish” your white papers to create visibility (PUSH marketing that leads to PULL)
  2. Be identifiable. Find out who’s checking out your profile by allowing others to see who you are if you view theirs.
  3. Export connections. Transfer your LinkedIn connections to another contact management system? LinkedIn enables you to easily export your connections. Just click on “Contacts,” “My Connections,” and then scroll down and click “Export Connections.” You have the option of either exporting as a .CSV or .VCF file. JibberJobber???
  4. Easily find email contacts on LinkedIn. Speaking of connections, the “LinkedIn Companion for Firefox” is a great plugin that helps you identify the LinkedIn profiles of people who are emailing you. It also enables you to easily access other LinkedIn features via your browser.
  5. Leverage the power of LinkedIn Groups. Did you know that if you’re a member of the same group as another user, you can bypass the need to be a first degree connection in order to message them? In addition, group members are also able to view the profiles of other members of the same group without being connected. Join more groups to enable more messaging and profile viewership capabilities.
  6. Take advantage of advanced search options. LinkedIn’s Advanced Search feature provides a much richer search experience. For example, say you want to find out if you’re connected to anyone that works at a specific company. Type the company name in the company field in Advanced Search, then sort the results by “Relationship” to see if you have any first or second degree connections to any employees.
  7. Link your Twitter acct to LinkedIn. Share your LinkedIn status updates on Twitter, and vice versa. Learn how to connect your Twitter account in your “settings” area.

Get the Most From Your Connections

Goal: Now that you’re connected, put all those people to use.

There are three main things your network can do for you:

  1. answer business-related questions,
  2. make recommendations and introductions, and
  3. provide company information.

Make sure that you focus on helping others when you first join. It’s the idea of bringing something TO the party. If you offer up helpful stuff and services, your reputation will go a lot further than if you’re just out there for yourself.  GIVE before you expect to get interaction from you new, and developing, electronic network.

Recommend and introduce colleagues.

Recommendations work as a form of currency in a social network. Those who are happy with your work can write a brief description of their experience on your LinkedIn profile.

Introductions are trickier but also more valuable. This is where your personal judgment needs to come into play. When someone contacts you for an introduction, be sure you understand and approve of what they want before making the handoff. Likewise, make your intentions clear when you are asking for an introduction.

Learn more about your professional network.

You can quickly learn a lot about a potential business partner or contact by reading their profile. This represents smart interview preparation… It can show you a lot of things you can discuss and build a relationship on.

Unlike, for example, someone’s Google results, everything you find on LinkedIn has been voluntarily placed there by your contact.  Further, watch to see who your contacts are becoming connected with to figure out who might be worth getting to know yourself.

The “low hanging fruit…”

The drop-down menu on the top navigation tab INTERESTS gives you quick access to people who are most likely to accept your well written invitation to connect!

THIS Week’s Session: A LinkedIn Primer… Thursday, November 12th, 8:45 AM at The Egg and I Restaurant in Addison

Before you connect to others, you must first set up a profile page on Linkedin. While your page will detail your work history, don’t assume you can copy and paste your resume and be done with it… although that IS a good place to START, assuring that you are in sync with your resume.

Your profile page should reflect your professional interests, passions, and ambitions at this point in your career.  It becomes the core of this high tech, written collateral.

This week’s session: Your LinkedIn PRIMER… a look at three key TASKS involving your use of social media!

As you proceed, keep your goal in mind…

·         Do you want to have that fully optimized, SEO-centric magnet that attracts interested parties TO you? (PULL Marketing)  -OR-

·         Do you want that terrific, user-friendly home page and profile that is easy for a reader to navigate? (PUSH Marketing)  -OR-

·         Do you want your profile and homepage to be appealing to both? (<== MY preference)

A checklist of things to include:

  1. A picture. It’s been said that, “People do business with people.”
  2. A specific and high impact “headline” with keywords relevant to your industry… your headline follows you around through several of the interactive applications.
  3. Preferred contact method and data… At the bottom of your profile, you can let people know how you want to be contacted — through LinkedIn, by e-mail, or over the phone.
  4. Desired information, networking “targets”… What you want to be contacted about… At the bottom of your profile, you can select interests like reference requests, consulting offers, or career opportunities. Be sure to update your profile to stay in synch with your career.
…and don’t overlook the “power” of recommendations… start thinking of who you might want to encourage to endorse you and your services.  Job seekers: your references are a great start!

The LinkedIn site will walk you through filling in the blanks, but you’ll want to think ahead about two areas:

Positioning Yourself

Just like on a GREAT RESUME, directly underneath your name will be a short headline of four or five words. More than anything else in your profile, these words are how people find and define you.

Are you seeking to connect mainly with others in your field and industry? Then a simple, title-oriented headline like “Senior Product Development Director at The XYX Corporation” is best. Are you seeking to branch out into other areas? “Leader of High-Performing Engineering Projects” alerts others quickly to the value you would bring to an organization. Regardless of how you phrase your headline, make sure to use keywords that will help others find you.

Be Clear on What You’ve Done, and What You Want to Do…

Whether you are an active job seeker, or simply using LinkedIn to extend the reach of your personal marketing plan, POSITIONING yourself clearly is the epicenter of efficient networking… just as if you were beginning to launch an active JOB search to implement your Personal Marketing Plan!

When listing your past job experiences, use verbs as much as possible. Show what you’re passionate about, and what you’ve learned from each job. Consider listing “non-jobs” you’ve done, like chairing a conference or leading a panel.

NEXT Week’s Session: Your LinkedIn Primer

Last week we got into conducting your job search efficiently and productively… next week, we’ll give IT a boost with a little help from our digital friends…

Thursday, November 12th... LinkedIn PRIMER, your three basic tasks.

Some encouraging words from a “landed” friend of ours…

<< I wanted to update you on my career transition. Four months ago I joined a privately held company, Restaurant Technologies Inc as an Account Manager. After 30 years working for The Coca-Cola Company, I have enjoyed the change. My months were filled with “getting back inside kitchens”, working with chefs at many of the metroplex’s casual dining, quick serve and hospitality venues. 

Last Friday I was promoted to a a Regional Sales Manager position. I am excited to utilize my skills I have gained to lead the southwest account managers during our company’s growth.

I remember my 18 months of unemployment being challenging. Your smile, encouragement, and wisdom helped me get up every day and try again. I am grateful to God that He has used this experience for me to learn to trust Him for my daily provision. I am thankful how He orchestrated our meeting each other, because nothing is a coincidence

Thank you again for being there for me. Let me know how you are doing and if there is anyway I can help you.

With a grateful heart,

Janine (French) >>

“Adjusting Your Sails…” Re-Charting Your Course When Faced With ‘the challenging waters of career transition.’

Have you ever had to take a step backward in your career, perhaps accept a lesser position or lower compensation? Or a step backward in the marketplace-deferring a near-term opportunity in favor of a longer-term one? The path forward isn’t always a straight line.  If you’ve ever gone backward in life you’ve probably found it difficult at best.

THIS Week’s session, Thursday, November 5th... Implementing Your PMP, including a look at LinkedIn Networking.  Remember that when you significantly change your positioning and branding statement (adjusting your sails) you are essentially re-starting your campaign.  Your ship can only follow one charted course!

As most of us are achievement oriented, we push forward, not backward. We look for ways to make progress, not digress. We don’t like the thought of giving up ground. Psychological studies confirm this.

  • We place more value on what we have than what they don’t have.
  • We will spend more money to keep something than to replace it.

Yet sometimes digressing or giving up something along our careerpath, at least temporarily, is exactly what we need in order to grow and succeed in the long-term. If we are currently in or approaching an unsustainable set of circumstances, we may need to stop and take a step backward.

Going backward can be a trivial decision or a life-changing one. It can involve a minor inconvenience or a major overhaul. It can be a brand new career or a slight role change.  The key is that it be OUR decision and not one thrust upon us by a soft job market.  When faced with the decision to keep forging ahead or taking a step backward, the first decision is “can I make what I’m currently doing work by continuing ahead?”

If your informed answer is “no” then the next question is “how far backward do I need to go?”  You generally wouldn’t need to go back to the very beginning or want to give up any more ground than you have to. Any amount of going backward can be tough, but starting over can be overwhelming.

You don’t need to build all new skills if you have existing skills you can leverage…can you spell transferrable skills and strengths?   Starting over may seem attractive, but it can create as many new problems as it appears to eliminate. While it may seem like the easiest option, it can be the laziest which is rarely the best.

When confronting difficult issues, address the source of them without creating unnecessary new ones. Keep what is working. Only go backward far enough to learn what needs to be learned and do what is needed to get back on track. Once addressed, refocus on going forward. Let go of your prior concerns. Accept that you had to take a step backward. It’s alright. It was actually part of a bigger step forward. As the cliché goes, just don’t throw out the baby with the dirty bath water… Keep the baby!

Consider what part of your life – professional or personal – may no longer be sustainable. Are you dealing with a chronic issue that is so debilitating that you can no longer ignore it?  Are conditions so challenging that you need to rechart your course… getting so difficult and complicated that the effort is no longer justifiable? Are your habits moving you further away from your desired future instead of toward it? Have the ‘next steps’ along your careerpath become so dysfunctional that you can no longer handle it?

Consider the following nautical wisdom…

The PESSIMISTS complain of challenging conditions…

                              The OPTIMISTS expect the conditions to change soon…

                                                          While the SKILLED Sailor simply adjusts his sails!

Back to ‘real life,’ now,  Ask yourself:

  • Has this situation gotten to the point that the effort is no longer justified for the return I am getting?
  • Would the time, money, and effort of going backward be repaid in a reasonable time frame if I chose to stop and go backward?
  • If I keep doing what I’ve been doing, will it merely exacerbate the situation?
  • Am I putting another temporary fix in place that doesn’t address the real issue?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your situation is a candidate for stopping whatever you are doing and taking a step backward. Rather than perpetuating your difficulty another day, release, cycle, or occurrence, accept responsibility for making a change.

Admit that maintaining the current direction isn’t sustainable. Rather than continue to treat symptoms, decide to address the source. Rather than maintain the troublesome status quo, identify what needs to change. Is it you? Probably. Is it also someone or something else?  Probably. Accept the need for change and rather than cover up, cope with, run from, or overlook the inevitable, decide to address it.

Once you have decided to stop and back-up, solicit the feedback and help of others… return to an informational networking approach in your job search, seeking wise counsel. Have the conversations that need to be had. Involve your key stakeholders. Do the research and analysis needed. Identify the issues to be addressed, learn any lessons to be learned, agree on the solution that solves the issues, and edit your Personal Marketing Plan to be implemented. Do what is needed to start heading in the direction that enables the future you desire.

Adjust your own sails!

Take heart. Most every great advancement was preceded by a step backwards. Most every success was preceded by a failure. Most every self-improvement was preceded by adversity. It is through mistakes and obstacles that we gain experience and grow.