Monthly Archive for March, 2010

Career Coaching: Job Interviewing Is A Two-Way Process

(This the second of three postings this week on the critically important subject of managing a job interview for maximum impact.)

Be guided by the fact that job interviewing is like any other form of communications process. It’s two-way process:  sending and receiving messages. Unfortunately, a great many people spend too much time with the former and too little with the latter.

Here are five tips that will help you improve your listening skills:

1. Be aware that waiting your turn to speak is not listening.

2. Focus like a laser beam on what the interviewer is saying. Listen to the words as well as the spaces of silence.

3. Assure the interviewer you are interested and that you are listening by maintaining eye contact, nodding your head and occasionally acknowledging you understand.

4. Concentrate on the facts. Collect them carefully. Take notes. Don’t get diverted by looking for hidden meanings. You’ll have time to analyze what you hear and see later.

5. Don’t get sidetracked by the interviewer’s personal appearance and mannerisms. Overlook any biased or irritating statements.

I wish your success with your job interviews.

Ramon Greenwood, The Career Coach

Common Sense At Work

How To Manage A Job Interview For Maximum Impact

(This is the first of three postings this week on the critical subject of how to manage a job interview for maximum impact.)

Planning and preparation are absolutely essential to managing a job interview for maximum impact.

First of all, be aware of the six criteria by which most interviewers will rate your interview skills and qualifications for the job.

1. Personal impression you make: neatness in dress and manner; self-confidence; and maturity.

2. Preparation for the interview: knowledge about the business of the potential employer; list of questions to ask the interviewer.

3. Communication skills, written and oral.

4. Attitude: enthusiasm, sincerity and interest in the opportunity.

5. Competence: education and experience.

6. Personal chemistry: suitability and “fit” with the culture of the organization.

By way of preparation, learn as much as you can about the kind of interviews the company usually conducts. Are they formal or informal? Are they deliberately stressful? Should you expect “tricky” questions? How long do the sessions last? Are you likely to be interviewed by more than one person?

Get a fix on the people who will be conducting the interview. You can develop this kind of information by reviewing the history of the company and its current activities as reported in the media. Seek out others who have been interviewed by the company, as well as those who work there or do business with the firm.

What is the environment like? How do people dress?

Use Negative Thinking In Your Planning

Negative thinking has an important role to play. Ask yourself what could ruin your chance to get the job?

1. Being late for the appointment.

2. Making a negative physical appearance in dress, neatness and posture; reflecting low energy or a lackadaisical attitude.

3. Being too informal and familiar; trying to be humorous.

4. Letting attention and eye contact wander.

5. Being unprepared, indifferent and unresponsive.

6. Dropping names and relating irrelevant life experiences.

7. Being overly concern with benefits and compensation.

8. Talking too much; interrupting; not listening.

9. Being evasive; unable to explain voids in file.

10. Criticizing past employers.

11. Failing to ask intelligent questions about the job.

12. Being overconfident or under confident.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, The Career Coach

Common Sense At Work

Job Advice: Negative Thinking Is A Good Thing

I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of fast-track achievers in my varied career in business and government. All almost all of them were positive thinkers in their own fashion. But without exception they knew that the powerful force of positive thinking must be leavened with a proper dose of negative thinking for Class A performance.

Consider this scenario to illustrate the point of how negative thinking can accelerate your career path.

Your boss asks you to plan the company picnic for employees and their families. This is a chance to display your skills in organizing and executing a project.

You pick the location. You line up a caterer to provide a delicious barbeque with all the trimmings. You plan entertainment, including clowns for the kids and games for all ages.

You are ready to submit your plans to the boss, but hold up. You are out on a limb if you don’t have answers for such negative questions as these: What if it rains that day? Have you lined up an alternate site? What will you do about warding off pests such as ants and mosquitoes? Have you planned for first aid kits? Have you designated someone to take your place if you are sick the day of the big event?

They Didn’t Plan On Hitting An Iceberg

Before the Titanic’s maiden voyage a nervous passenger asked the captain, “Is this ship really unsinkable?” In the ultimate burst of positive thinking, the captain replied, “Madam, God himself could not sink this ship.”

Positive thinkers all, the owners had provided lifeboats for less than half of the approximately 2,200 passengers. When the Titanic hit a huge iceberg and sank only 705 people made it into lifeboats and survived the frigid waters of the North Atlantic.

Too bad someone hadn’t leavened all that blind confidence with a little negative thinking.

Murphy’s Law On The Job

There are more values than a bit of irony and hearty chuckles to be found in Murphy’s Laws. How do the following laws square with your experience?

• If anything can go wrong, it will.

• Everything takes longer to accomplish than you first imagine.

• Everything is more difficult to accomplish than you anticipate.

• Everything costs more than you expect.

Greenwood’s Career Guidelines

If you’re convinced of the positive power of negative thinking, as I am, I recommend that you ask the following six basic questions about all of your projects each and every day:

1. What can go wrong?

2. What must I do to keep my project from jumping the track?

3. If, despite my best efforts, my project does derail what will I do to straighten out the wreckage and minimize the losses?

4. Is the potential reward from the project worth the risk?

5. Can I afford the losses?

6. If I lose, how will it affect my other projects and my career?

Common sense career coaching says you must believe that your projects–and your career–will be successful. And you must work hard to make it happen. But always be prepared to answer this question, “What if I hit an iceberg?”

I wish you career success.

Ramon Greenwood, The Career Coach

Common Sense At Work

Strong Cover Letter Opens The Door For Your Resume

There is no question about it. A strong cover letter (aka sales letter) can make the difference in your search for a job by separating your job application from the slush pile of resumes that accumulates on the desks of hiring officials.

In most instances, your cover letter will be your first and only opportunity to make a good first impression on the potential employer.

It’s purpose is simple: capture the potential employer’s attention and cause him to go on to read your resume which you hope will lead to an interview and an offer for a job. It is meant to open the door so you can make the case that your training and experience qualify you as the best answer for the needs of the employer.

Career Advice: A Few Minutes Is All You Get

You only have a few minutes to grab attention and make your main point. Your letter must be well written, brief and to the point…never more than one page, no matter how fascinating feel your selling messages are.

There’s absolutely no allowance for mistakes in grammar and spelling. Your letter must be “Type written”…no hand written notes.  Use top quality stationery. Make it first class all the way. A sloppy letter will stop your application dead in its track.

Career Tip: Your Letter Should Be Comprised of Three Parts.

The Opening:

Personalize your letter by addressing it to a person and a title. Be sure you’ve got the correct address. Cookie-cutter letters are a waste of time.

The opening paragraph is the headline. Its task is to compel the reader to continue reading. Hold it to no more than 40 words. Relate to the employer by demonstrating that you are interested and resourceful enough to have accumulated knowledge about the business as well as the opening for which you are applying.

The selling message:

Refer to the enclosed resume; summarize the reasons that the assets you bring to the table are aligned with the needs and interests of the potential employer. Deal with overall facts; leave the details to your resume.

The Closing:

Clearly state that you are seeking an opportunity for an interview to discuss in depth how your training and experience can be put to work for the employer. State a time, five to seven days out, when you will follow up by telephone to arrange for an interview at a time and place convenient for the employer.

Assure Total Quality and Relevance of Your Job Application

Have a third party (hopefully someone with strong talents in composition, grammar and proof-reading) to edit your sales letter and resume. Errors scream lack of attention to details and ignorance.

Run a quality control check on the letter and resume.

1. Is it logical and easily understood? Is the layout easy and quick to read?

2. Is it persuasive?

3. Is it free of errors?

4. Does it convey a message of quality and professionalism?

5. Is the message expressed in terms of benefits to the employer? Is it expressed in dynamic and action-oriented words and terms?

6. Does the message include a call for action?

Bottom line: Your resume will be awash in a sea of applications, all of which are clamoring for attention. A strong sales letter can make the difference between your becoming a serious candidate for a job and an applicant who never gets considered.

I wish you career success.

Ramon Greenwood, The Career Coach

Common Sense At Work

Achieving your Long-Term Career Goals Is A Process

If you’re anything like the typical young or middle-aged American professional, chances are you don’t want to stay in your current job forever. You see your present place of employment as only a stepping stone to bigger, better things, goals that you’ve dreamt about since college or even before that.

The sad truth is that many of us settle into a job and forget about our dreams of going to law school, writing a novel, or moving overseas. On the other side of the coin, some are so eager to pursue what they “really want to be doing,” that they shrug off their current employment as a worthless pursuit, and so they under perform as a result. They think, “This isn’t what I was made to do, so why bother?” Both attitudes—while opposite—are incredibly misguided.

If you’ve got big dreams—great. Ambition is often the key to success, and not everybody has strong ambition, so the worst thing to do would be to squander it. But, at the same time, ambition means nothing if you can’t carefully plan both your short and long term career goals.

The key to sticking by your long-term dreams is to see the path to those dreams as a process and not an end. If your goal is to become a published author, you need to understand that a steady job is absolutely necessary in an economic climate that has never—for the most part—supported full-time writing careers. That means that excelling at your present job is a must—you’ll need to earn the livelihood in order to support yourself as you work on your writing.

An acquaintance of mine, whose long-term career goals are to one day run for public office, has lately fallen into the trap of dismissing her current position as a school office administrator.  While politics and office work are not directly linked, it’s important to think of everything as a process.

So even if you think your work right now is so far from the job you eventually want to pursue, you should ask yourself, “How will my current job, no matter how seemingly unrelated, help me develop skills that I’ll need when I do begin pursuing my dreams?” My friend’s job does indeed involve skills necessary in politics; she constantly has to be talking to people, addressing complaints, and performing damage control. And that’s exactly what an elected official does every single day in office.

The key to paving the way to your goals is excelling in everything you do. In order to get a better job, one that you’re more passionate about, you’ll have to develop a good track record, since references often play a much bigger role in landing new work than you’d think. If you can’t handle the small tasks, then moving on to a more stimulating job will be impossible. Remember—career success is all about the process.

By-line:

This guest post is contributed by Katheryn Rivas, who writes on the topics of online universities .  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: katherynrivas87@gmail.com .

Don’t Let Bullies Disrupt Your Career

Bullies are a fact of life in the workplace, especially during

times of recession. Nearly one fourth of employees in the United States have suffered from bullying and abrasive management.

“The pain and degradation of workplace bullying shatters lives nationwide,” declare Drs. Ruth and Gary Namie in their book The Bully At Work…What You Can Do To Stop The Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity On The Job.

They say, “The fear, shame and loss of dignity that originate at work can then creep into every other aspects of a bullying victim’s life, affecting friends and family members.”

Those who are on the receiving end of bullying can suffer a loss of selfesteem and self confidence. Bullying causes health problems and devastation of family life. Productivity suffers.

The Namies identify four classic types of bullies:

1. The Constant Critic–extremely negative, nitpicker, perfectionist, whiner, complainer.

2. Two-Headed Snake–passive aggressive, indirect, dishonest style of dealing with people and issues, pretends to be nice while sabotaging you.

3. Gatekeeper–needs to control all resources, deliberately cuts the victims out of the communication loop.

4. Screaming Mimi–controls through fear and intimidation, emotionally out of control, impulsive, explosive, threatens physical violence.

Haunted by their own inadequacies, bullies often target those who are bright, creative, self-assured; in other words, those people they see as threats. Sixty-three percent have some college or a college degree; 78 percent are between ages of 24 and 46.

The Namies do an excellent job in exploring the reasons behind bullies and how their malevolence is manifest. Most importantly they explain in real-world terms what victims can do to ward off and defeat bullies. I recommend this book.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, The Career Coach

Common Sense At Work

Career Advice: How To Get Off On The Right Foot With The New Boss

Bosses are likely to come and go during this time of upheaval in the world of work. Here are seven steps you can take to make certain your relationship with a new boss gets off on the right foot so there’s no interruption on your career path.

1. Don’t be shy. Introduce yourself to your new boss at the earliest appropriate opportunity. Be sure he knows what your qualifications and responsibilities are and where you fit in the organization. Remember, you won’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.

2. Learn as much as you can about his experiences and qualifications; his style of management; and his idiosyncrasies.

3. Understand his objectives and priorities.

4. Offer to help him achieve his career goals. Communicate by words and actions that you are a loyal supporter. Truth is he needs you as much as you need him.

5. Don’t assume that what you have been doing and how you’ve done it will pass muster with the new boss.

6. Be sure you understand what he expects from you.

7. Recognize that you have an opportunity for a new beginning in your relationship with the boss.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, The Career Coach

Common Sense At Work

Career Coaching: How To Manage Conflicts With Your Boss

If you are the get-things-done type, sooner or later you will come in conflict with your boss.

The reality is that if you do not have periodic disagreements with your supervisors you are probably not being as assertive as you should be in moving your career ahead.

These conflicts can prove to be hazardous to the health of your career if they are not handled with common sense.

No one enjoys conflict, especially with the boss.  But when you have an honest difference of opinion, it is better to pay the price of discomfort and take the risk of some penalty than to bottle up the frustration and nagging conscience that results from not meeting what you see as your responsibilities.

Career Tips: How To Turn Conflicts To Your Advantage

There are nine steps you can take to lessen the damage that can result from conflicts with your boss. In fact, you can turn these conflicts to your advantage.

1.  The first step is to concisely define the issue– preferably in writing– so that you have a clear understanding as to what the controversy is all about.  Determine how important it is to the parties involved and to the organization.

If it is not truly important beyond your personal feelings, forget it.  Save your energies for another time when the stakes are significant.

2. Give full consideration to the points of view of all parties concerned, especially the boss. His responsibilities are different than yours.  He may have a legitimate reason for his opinion, which you are not aware of at the moment.  The conflict you see may disappear with an explanation.

3. Weigh your reasons and objectives against the good of the organization.  Before you “go to the mat” on an issue, be sure you are motivated by what you believe to be the larger interest and not just your own narrowly defined agenda.

4. Ask for a face-to-face discussion with your boss if, after due consideration, you still feel the difference is worth pursuing.  If the matter is not resolved with a meeting, ask permission to leave a written explanation with your boss for his further consideration.

5.  Never push your boss into a corner where he has no room for compromise.  Do not air the conflict with your boss in the presence of others.

6.  Avoid letting the matter be positioned on a personal basis.  Emotions and personalities have no place in a confrontation with the boss.

7.  Be tactful.  Show respect for the boss’s position and responsibilities.  Whatever the outcome of your differences with him, he is still your boss.

8.  Keep the matter in perspective.  It is good to remember that win, lose or draw, it is a rare situation when the resolution of an issue results in a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or the world coming to an end.

9. Don’t pin a medal on your chest if you prevail or wear the black of mourning if the decision goes the other way.  Get on with the job. If you have been heard and the boss still doesn’t agree, be a good trooper, support his decision, openly and aggressively. If the outlook is contrary to your basic values look for another job.

If you can’t discuss the inevitable conflicts with your boss in a free and open manner so as to arrive at acceptable resolutions, or if such disagreements are so frequent and painful that your life and career are being disrupted, recognize you have a problem larger than any single issue.  It may be that you are at odds with the standards and objectives of the boss or the organization.  Or the personal chemistry between you and your boss may be out of balance.

Then, your options are clear: resolve the conflicts,  live with them, or locate another opportunity.  Life is too short to exist in a world of turmoil and confrontations.

I wish you career success!

Ramon Greenwood, The Career Coach

Common Sense At Work