Sunday, October 30, 2016

Making a Change

The concept of change scares the hell out of some people. Many of us like our routines, and we don’t like unplanned or unanticipated surprises, or anything that upsets the status quo. But change does and will happen. Actually, I have observed that the people who attempt to exert the most effort to control all aspects of their lives, and the lives of everyone around them, are much more easily freaked out, than if they just stepped back and took on their problems as they occur, like the rest of us. These are sometimes the same people who automatically assume that change always portends something negative, and rarely do they consider change may actually portend something better. As a result, we get the very outcomes we expect whether we mean to or not, good or bad, our perceptions will make it so. If you’re negative you’ll reap lots of negative stuff. If you are positive it won’t be so bad. Our perception is reality. If you seek a bad result you’ll certainly find it.
Most of us accept change as a fact of life, and a few of us actually look forward to change. Some of us get downright bored if things remain the same for too long. I used to fear change, but it’s like the cliché of a glass of water being half-full, or half-empty. Change rarely portends only dark certainty but, more often, new possibilities, some good and some bad, but one never knows. Do we have setbacks, yes, we all experience them and to use yet another cliché, you may need to take a step back in order to take two steps forward. Once again, it is all about how we choose to view it. One thing is sure, new circumstances keep us on our toes, and perhaps we are at our best when we have periodic changes in the scenery of our lives. How many opportunities are missed for fear of change? Your frame of mind will make a big difference; are you open to a new circumstance or will you fight it every step of the way? Turning negatives into positives is what we do in life. Taking a situation that holds others back, and making it work in your favor, is what sets you apart from others waiting for someone or something to do for them what they seem unable to do for themselves. If you freak out over the reality of change you are going to have to get over it if you want to move ahead. I would suggest it’s not so much change that scares us, as the worry about being caught unprepared to react to it when it comes. 
If you are going through a period during which you are questioning what is ahead for you, who knows, you may later look back and realize this was an exciting time and you were more alert, sharper edged and at the top of your game, prepared and ready for your next step and whatever life throws at you.



Monday, October 17, 2016

Act in Your Own Best Interest

When you search for a job and subsequently interview, you’re supposed to ask questions. Although increasingly, I find that people have a reluctance to do so and they somehow imagine a good resume is all that is necessary and somehow everything else will fall into place and take care of itself.
There are five basic types of questions: Factual, Convergent, Divergent, Evaluative and Combination. But let’s keep things simple, for our purposes I’m only concerned with open-ended and close-ended questions. Consciously knowing the difference and learning when to use one or another can help you, regardless of whether you are being asked, or you are the one asking the questions.
Open-ended questions require an explanation. Open-ended questions are like the name says: they are open-ended requiring explanation that will help to gain more insight or better understanding. Let’s say for example, I want to engage a person in conversation that has no real reason to speak with me, and I ask, “Are you interested in considering a new job opportunity?” Their reply is possibly going to be “no”. That was a close-ended question. If I wanted to learn more about him, I might have instead inquired, “Tell me what kind of job would appeal to you?” That was an open-ended question requiring a more thoughtful response resulting in more information.
A close-ended question is one that elicits a simple yes or no answer. If you ask a lot of close-ended questions you will not get a lot of information and the conversation will not go far. By the very nature of this kind of question, it’s not meant to. When you watch television and see a courtroom drama, you will notice a lawyer will ask someone on the witness stand a close-ended question when they might say “Did you or did you not see who killed your neighbor?” The intention is to limit the witness’ response to a yes or no and cutting off and preventing any discussion. He doesn’t want details and the lawyer has steered the question and answer process to serve his intention.
Determine, according to what will benefit you most, when to employ an open-ended or a close-ended question. When you want a black and white answer or a clear decision ask a close-ended question. When you want to keep the dialogue alive and extract more information, with which to make a better decision and prove yourself worthy of another interview, ask engaging open-ended questions. Conversely, learn to recognize when these methods are being used on you. Interviews are never meant to be, nor should they be, one-sided. I am not exaggerating when I say most people with whom you are competing in the job market are like zombies, simply going through the motions.
When sitting in front of a hiring official, their behavior is almost entirely reactive. I can assure you it doesn’t take much to set yourself apart from others, and it’s much easier than you think to make real impact. In the end they may not choose you, as there are never any guarantees but, take some initiative so when you walk out that door, unlike most others who’ll be forgotten five minutes later, you’ll have made an impact they’ll remember.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Stand Apart, Stand Out

How does one exude self-confidence without appearing arrogant or conceited? It’s simple really, but first let’s put it into context. When you attend a first real interview, I’m not talking about a telephone screening or a cattle-call and assembly-line assessment center. Instead, the first real interview when the purpose for the meeting is to consider you for whatever role you’ve applied. During the interview you will be asked, “…tell me about yourself.” We’re not going to talk about how to present yourself, that’s a whole other subject unto itself. I want to focus instead on what to share when presenting yourself, your experience and qualifications.
I’m an American living and working in Europe, I have 25 years of experience as a recruiter on two continents. I recognize there are cultural differences that influence people but that should not matter as the world and especially business is more inter-connected than ever. Interview an American and, on average, they have no problem telling you about themselves and their accomplishments. Europeans are less open and I have run into many who regard such self-portraits akin to self-promotion, as if it is a bad thing when interviewing for a new job. Regardless of from where a person is, there are a lot of people who are shy or reticent to talk about themselves and their career accomplishments. 
When you interview, you’ve got to tell the interviewer not only about what your responsibilities and qualifications are, but key to your candidacy is what you’ve accomplished with your qualifications; how did you handle your responsibilities? Did you rise to any challenges and what are some examples? If you don’t tell them, how will they know? Many think if it’s on their resume a hiring official will see it, but that’s a weak excuse and oh yeah, do you know when most interviewers review your resume? Too often it’s about 5 minutes before they shake your hand at the start of the meeting. The reality is that it’s up to you to get them to wake up and take notice of you; to show how you stand apart from others seeking the same job. It’s ultimately on you to demonstrate why you are the best person for the job compared to everyone else. Or are you like most people who mistakenly hope a piece of paper will do it for you?
Ask yourself, what are the things you’ve done and are most proud of? This is a good place to start. First, any successes or accomplishments you would share with an interviewer should be directly related to a current or past job position. Second, it must be somehow verifiable, you’ve got to be able to prove anything you point to with documentation of some kind or be able to produce a reference of someone willing to back up your claim. Documentation can be a performance review, a company news letter, an award, a company stack ranking list related to office, district, region, etc., listing your standing compared with others, such as what most salespeople receive on a regular periodic basis. It could be a press release within which you are noted or listed or a certificate of accomplishment. Whatever it is, you’ve got to be able to prove your claim if asked.
Then work on it, write it down, refine it, and rehearse it. Be able to speak with confidence and with some brevity. Condense the information down to brief but impactful points about which you can elaborate if asked. While most others are only parroting what’s on their resume, you’ll be talking past the piece of paper, relating to them what you’ve actually done.