JEAN'S BLOG. Best & Next Practices in: Executive Resumes, Personal Branding & Executive Job Search

Use This Simple Brain Technique to Get Your Next Job

Posted by Jean Cummings

Feb 10, 2015 8:58:20 AM

image-olympic-rings

This may seem like a blog post title that seriously overreaches. But, there is a sense in which there is one simple, essential ingredient to job search success. This is it:

Visualize your goal.

It's not enough just to have a goal, although that appears to be critical for success in job search as in just about everything else. It's also important to paint a picture in your mind of what your goal would look like, feel like, sound like, etc. Brain science suggests that the brain is stimulated in the same regions whether we are only visualizing or actually experiencing a state of affairs.

Srinivasan S. Pillay, M.D. is a master executive coach to Fortune 500 leaders who examines new findings in brain science and makes suggestions for business behavior in his book: Your Brain and Business: The Neuroscience of Great Leaders.

If you want to explore his ideas in depth, Dr. Pillay discusses a range of compelling ideas to emerge out of brain research that have the potential to enhance leadership success.

But for those of us who aren't F500 executives, goal visualization holds great promise as well. The US Olympic Committee has increased the number of psychologists on staff 600% over the past 20 years in recognition of the importance of training athletes mentally to achieve their goal. Read more at Business Insider.

For years I've been coaching clients on how to interview to get the job. One key ingredient in my coaching is to encourage clients to visualize before the interview starts that they are already in the job and functioning with authority as part of a productive team. In visualizing these states of affairs, they are feeling confident, "in their element," collegial, knowledgeable, valued and have a sense of belonging and of liking their colleagues. The impact of this kind of visualization on a client's body language, energy, attitude towards the interviewers, and general affect can be profound.

People promoting visualization as a success tool suggest that by visualizing the goal the person is actually preparing the brain to understand and proceed on the steps that need to be taken to reach the goal.

In job search, the individual can visualize the ultimate goal - being an employee at their company of choice - and also visualize performing the steps required to meet that goal: connecting with people from the company or recruiters on LinkedIn, leaving a message for a hiring authority, meeting with key networking contacts, writing two letters a day to specific hiring authorities at specfic companies, etc.

The time required to do this kind of visualization daily is not more than a minute. See if it works for you in helping you get the job you want!

Jean Cummings

 

 

 

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Topics: job search, interviewing, career management, career planning

Got Passion? Surprising Work & Interviewing Tip

Posted by Jean Cummings

Apr 30, 2012 3:24:00 PM

Image Passion Enthusiasm Credit to Kim Garst for image

I encountered the phrase “all in” in two quite different contexts lately. In the first, a minister used it to describe his faith. In the second, a technology sales executive said it about the way he works. And then in a third instance, Ralph Waldo Emerson (a voice from the past), is quoted using different words but talking about the same idea (thanks to Angel Maiers for her post and the Emerson quote:

"Passion is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without passion.”

Put this together with a research finding that most of new hires that fail do so because of attitude, not lack of skills – as much as 80%.

And add in the “personal” in personal branding, which is about your passions, values, and goals. In other words, the things that go to make up your personality.

And you’ve got a little-known but apparently crucial ingredient in on-the-job success.

The Passion thing helps in interviewing too. If you know what you’re passionate about, great! Don’t be afraid to show the energy and excitement you experience in what you do. Even if the intervivewer hasn’t thought about passion as a desirable quality in a new hire, you will radiate energy and enthusiasm and that will engage the interviewer’s interest.

Studies have also shown that there is a kind of mimicry that goes on when two people communicate – that is, your enthusiasm will ignite the interviewer's. And that’s got to help!

Surveys find that by far the biggest element in deciding whether to hire someone is based on how s/he looks and sounds. Both your facial expression and your voice change when expressing passion, and, therefore, you will look and sound even better than you ordinarily do (we hope). :)

If you’re not passionate about your work, here are some thoughts. Passion doesn’t have to be fireworks kind of passion. It can be a firmly grounded commitment. If neither of those is true, see if you can find one aspect of your job that particularly interests you. Ask yourself why. Then ask yourself how your heightened interest impacts outcomes. Then, you can take advantage of the magic of passion, at least in the part of the interview where you give an example from the interesting part of your work.

As the hiring process is increasingly using assessments and simulations in an attempt to be more objective, your passion need not lose its power completely. It may be the single differentiating factor between two otherwise similar candidates. It may, in fact, be the one that will put you over the top!

 

 


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Topics: job search, interviewing, interview style, career management, Get a Job, career brand

Job Search Tip: Distracted & Mentally Stressed? Move Over Meditation!

Posted by Jean Cummings

Dec 15, 2011 8:31:00 AM

Refreshing Your Focus in Your Job Search

Ever had someone tell you to meditate to reduce stress? Ever felt you couldnt? I've heard so many people say, "I just can't meditate." And there are times when I have trouble meditating too. Well, last night I heard a lecture from a Harvard Medical School-affiliated psychologist that cited a cool study validated in both US and Europe.

The study was designed to test whether certain activities could actually refresh attention and improve distractibility for students at the University of Michigan before they took on tasks requiring intense focus.

As a job seeker, you know all about stress and the need to be fully attentive! For instance, you need to be all "on" when you are reaching out to others in your networking process, planning out your job search strategy, customizing your resume to a position, and, most challenging of all, having to be highly mentally focused in meeting and interview situations.

The UMichigan test had students accomplish a mentally tiring task. Then the researchers split them into two groups. One half walked around the downtown area. The other half walked in a nearby arboretum.

When re-tested, the arboretum walkers improved 20% (!) on a test of attention and memory given pre- and post-walk. The students who walked through the busy town center didn't improve at all.

The conclusion from this and other studies is that attention can be restored through activities that enable the mind to unfocus for a while. The best places to do this have been natural settings like woods, churches, and monasteries. Looking at paintings at the art museum, even going to your favorite Starbucks or coffee bar have been shown to accomplish the same result.

So, if you are spending a good proportion of your time highly focused on your job search, take some daily restoration time doing one of the activities above. And, before an interview, take a walk in the woods. You will go into the meeting with improved focus and abililty to leverage "directed, selective, and focused" attention. (It may also help you before holiday family dinners as well, particularly if you have siblings who push your buttons!)

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Topics: job search, interviewing, IT executive resume, job interview

Acing the Skype Interview

Posted by Jean Cummings

Dec 7, 2011 3:23:00 PM

Skype interview

Innovations in video conference technology are changing the job interview. Skype interviews are becoming more common. While you may not have to worry about traffic, parking, and making sure you arrive ten minutes early to the interview, Skype interviewing has its own rules to follow.

Make Sure Skype is Working

Your technology has to be ready for the video interview:

 • Make sure to download and test the Skype software well before the interview. This means configuring the audio and checking the video quality.

 • Use a professional Skype username. Not a good idea to to introduce yourself as “BigJohnnySurfGuy59.”

 Remember: They Can See You

 • Smile. Smile. Smile. By smiling and maintaining eye contact, you can directly engage the interviewer and make a real connection.

 • Dress for the occasion. Wear something that won’t clash with the camera. Dress in solid colors and avoid patterns that might confuse the eye. Also, just because Skype only shows the top part of your body, exchange the pajama bottoms for something that is as formal as your top half. You'll feel more professional!

 • Style your hair and apply make-up. Skype technology can pick up most blemishes and loose strands, so be sure to look like someone who has not just rolled out of bed.

 • Use proper lighting. The interviewer should be able to clearly see you.

 • Clear the background and make sure there are no cult movie posters or distracting paintings hanging in view.

 • Write out notes and prop them up on the keyboard to remind yourself of your career brand, success stories, and the questions you've prepared. 

The Skype interview doesn't have to be scary. For many people, interviewing from their home base helps them feel more comfortable and able to communicate effectively.

For more info, visit Alison Doyle's post on about.com. 

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Topics: job search, interviewing, job interview, Skype interview

Interview Follow-up: 10 Things to Do Right

Posted by Jean Cummings

Nov 28, 2011 12:46:00 PM

 interview

A good first impression can be squandered without an equally good follow-up. It's important to follow up with the employer in a way that shows your continued interest and helps your candidacy. Here are 10 tips:

  1. Send a thank-you note on the same day as the interview. Make it handwritten, sincere, and appreciative of the interviewer's time. This gesture alone differentiates you from the competition who often don't send thank-you notes.
  2. Don't just thank them for their time. Clarify any points that you failed to communicate well in the interview. Expand on some of your answers to more clearly demonstrate how you can add value. 
  3. Write a brief email with key achievements you didn't have time to mention, such as how you increased productivity, cut costs, or expanded the client base at your previous job.
  4. Use a range of different media for follow up: phone, fax, email, snail mail.
  5. If you've got an idea about how to help the company achieve its financial and strategic goals, don't be afraid to mention it along with a brief Challenge-Action-Results verbal snapshot about how you helped your employers in the past.
  6. Show the employer that you made their company a priority by keeping up with their business news. Attach to an email a news article citing the company's entry into a new market, adoption of an emerging technology, upcoming acquisition, etc. Make an intelligent comment about that news.
  7. Have a professional reference call your interviewer to really drive home the point that you are the right person for the job.
  8. Before following up, make it a point to do some research on company culture. Ask an employee what it is like to work there and what it takes to be successful at the company. If you're lucky, your interest may get passed along up the office chain of command.
  9. Be patient. The hiring process can take longer than you might think. Regular follow-up once every two weeks or so makes sense.
  10. Be persistent in terms of getting through to the hiring manager. If you have something of value to convey, make 10 or 11 attempts (an average number required to reach a busy executive!)

An assertive follow-up effort can make you a more attractive candidate. So, put your thank-you card in the mail, pick up the phone, and improve your odds of getting a second interview.

 

 

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Topics: job search, executive resumes, interviewing, interview style, executive resume, CIO resumes, Get a Job, Job Interviews, job interview

10 Ways NOT to Follow Up after Job Interviews

Posted by Jean Cummings

Nov 28, 2011 9:12:00 AM

job interviews, interviewing, job search

Job interviews are like first dates. The follow-up can make or break you. Let's say you've clinched the job interview and left the employer with a firm handshake and a good impression. You don't want them to think you weren't that interested in the job, so get ready to plan your next meeting. Your getting hired may well depend on how you choose to follow up with that employer.

When following up after an interview, you don't have to appear to be "the desperate job seeker." In fact, the real truth is that the employer needs YOU. So be prepared to show them some value that you bring to the table. You are the one with the skills, background, and expertise to help that employer solve some pain the company is having or jumpstart growth. But it's easy to make a mistake in the follow up. So, heed these tips:

  1. Don't call just to follow up. After all, how does your following up benefit your potential employer? Call with something meaningful to say. 
  2. Don't send your resume again. They already have it. Doing so will only clutter their inbox.
  3. Don't call back the same day. The interview process takes a while and they are likely to be interviewing other candidates.
  4. Don't leave long-winded voicemails inquiring about the hiring process.
  5. Don't send emails about the voicemails that you left. Overdoing it can be a turnoff to the employer
  6. Don't sound frustrated or annoyed on the phone if they are not responding in the way you would have liked.
  7. Don't go over the head of your interviewer. If your interview is with the senior program manager, don't try to contact the CIO.
  8. Don't skip the follow-up phone call altogether. This makes you appear uninterested.
  9. Don't miss their next phone call. Make time right then to speak with them or set a firm appointment for another time when you are free.
  10. Don't let them forget about you. Send a thank-you note after your interview. Then get in touch with them in some of the ways listed in my next blog post.

So, find a happy medium between stalker and slacker when following up after an interview. The goal is to help the interviewer remember you and want to engage with you further.

 

 

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Topics: job search, executive resumes, interviewing, executive resume, executive job search, Job Interviews, job interview

In a Job Search, Who Gets Hired? The MBA or Certified Technologist?

Posted by Jean Cummings

Nov 18, 2011 4:48:00 PM

Image teamleadImage courtesy of jscreationszs

Let's get real. In business, the guy with the Ivy League MBA usually gets hired first, for IT management positions.  Companies want to hire a graduate of a nationally ranked Business Management program that has been awarded high praise by Business Week or The Economist. However, in today's innovation economy, the MBA has a rival for some management positions: the IT Certified Technologist. 

In terms of cost and time efficiencies, IT certifications yield fairly high value for a lower investment of time and money.  So, while MBA graduates have spent anywhere between one and three years earning their advanced degree, an IT specialist has had the chance to earn certifications in multiple, specialized fields in a more condensed period of time.  

MBA graduates, especially those who come from a top-ranked program, develop business acument through studying finance, marketing, and entrepreneurism. MBA graduates have often studied under the leading professors in their field, endured the rigors of academia, and demonstrated their business savvy through varied internships. 

An IT Certified Technologist, on the other hand, has had intense training in technologies that may give a competitive advantage to the employer. With options ranging from Global Information Assurance Certification, Cisco Certified Security Professional Certification, Certified Information Systems Auditor, and CompTIA Security Certification, IT specialists bring a lot to the table. 

Not only have IT certifications proven to be valuable indicators of field mastery, they also correlate with wage increases, promotions, and new employment opportunities. In a study of 700 network professionals, conducted by Network World and SolarWinds, over two-thirds of the respondents reported that an IT Certification had earned them a new job. Almost one-third of the Certified Technologists surveyed said that professional certifications earned them promotions and salary increases. The evidence from this study suggests that IT certifications improve the employment prospects and earning potential of IT professionals. 

Perhaps it comes down to how critical technical mastery is to increasing profits and driving sales. In the balance, does business acumen trump technical knowledge? It appears that the greater the level of authority, the more critical is the business skill set. Certified Technologists who really "get" how to leverage contemporary and emerging technology to advantage their company have a valuable role to play. If they add business management skills to the mix, they are increasingly competitive for the top jobs.   

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Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, technology executive resumes, interviewing, executive resume writing, executive resume, CIO resumes, career management, career planning, executive job search, Get a Job, career services, career brand, IT resumes

3 Very Easy Shortcuts to Getting a Personal Brand

Posted by Jean Cummings

Nov 4, 2011 7:30:00 PM

personal brand

When people first hear that they need a "personal brand" to get a job, they often can't relate. First they think, "I am not a consumer product. The whole idea of branding myself turns me off!" And then they worry about how they are going to get this foreign thing, this personal brand, so that they can compete in the job market. They assume that their personal brand is going to be hard to figure out on their own.

There is a shortcut to going through a long process of personal branding. (Please note here that I am a Certified Personal Branding Strategist and have seen the incredible benefits that come when an individual goes through an in-depth process of self-discovery with a strategist!) But it isn't for everyone.

This personal branding shortcut is for people who are short on time, money, and/or interest and who just want to be as competitive as they can be in looking for their next job.

Here's what to do. Answer the following three questions and then use those answers in your resume, both in the Summary section at the top of the resume and in the body of the resume itself. And Voila! you'll have a personal brand that will serve you well.

1. What do people value you for most at work? What would they miss the most, in terms of getting work done, if you weren't there? What do people turn to you for?

2. What is your value proposition? Define this in terms of your ability to contribute to reducing costs, adding revenue, increasing profit margins, streamlining processes, reducing time-to-market, improving internal and external client satisfaction, enhancing user experience, innovating to add new functionality or revenue streams, amping up team performance, reducing risk etc.

3. What five adjectives would people use to describe you? Things like leader like, entrepreneurial, smart, creative, international etc. Pick the ones that have particular bearing on helping you be successful at work.

Then, at the top of your resume, after your name and contact information, center your title - that is, your job or the job you are seeking. Underneath your title write a sentence about how you typically add value to an organization, your answer to #2. Center it and put it in bold. This is the most important piece of a brand to an employer, for obvious reasons.

Then, in a brief summary paragraph or set of bullet points in the top third of page one, include answers to #1 and #3, along with your other credentials.

Then be sure that you demonstrate your value proposition (#2) in the achievements you talk about in your resume.

If you can't think of the answers to any of the three questions above, ask your co-workers for their take on what makes you special, unique, and valuable to an organization.

This quick start guide to do-it-yourself personal branding may be sufficient to accurately and authentically differentiate you from your competition and help you get your next job! Good luck with it - and let me know how it goes!

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Topics: LinkedIn, personal branding, executive resumes, technology executive resumes, interviewing, executive resume writing, executive resume, technology resumes, career management, executive job search, Get a Job, Job Interviews, personal brands, LinkedIn Profiles, career brand, reputation management

Zen and the Art of Job Search

Posted by Jean Cummings

Jul 20, 2011 7:01:00 AM

 executive job search - poise and power 

As I was driving home Sunday from a weekend away, I tuned into an NPR interview on the radio. He was taking about stress-free productivity. Something job seekers need desperately! Along with everyone else practically! His ideas sounded oddly familiar...

Yes, it was David Allen of Getting Things Done fame. I'd read it years ago - it's a classic in the field of personal organization - and used the system for awhile, then fell away (alas, the end of most good intentions). But his words about having too many different kinds of things to do on our minds causing significant stress resonated big time for me.

So I pulled out my iPad when I got home and did what he said to do: take everything on your mind and write it down in a way that makes sense to you. And then have a system for checking it and also for continuing to enter anything that is a to-do and that preys on your mind. I used Notes but there are lots of apps I will explore. (Put that on my list!)

OK, I did that. The rewards Allen promises are valuable: the ability to be highly productive and react in perfectly appropriate ways to stressors. He describes the "mind like water" that martial arts practitioners use for perfect readiness and power. 

I think daily pauses (mini meditations if you like) for deep breathing and contemplation of a serene image (water receding from the beach, then rolling in again, for instance - my image) help get us into that frame of mind of poised readiness and response.

Looking for your next job involves a myriad of things to do and keep track of: executive resumes sent, personal branding initiatives, targeted cover letters written, networks contacted, appointments planned and kept, research on companies, interviews planned and attended - all with various schedules and levels of importance. What better time to apply Allen's ideas?

The Zen job search would be one conducted with full confidence that you had the bases covered and WRITTEN DOWN according to your system, so that you can act from a place of calm productivity.

The Zen interview is when you can bring a mind open and a readiness to respond to the interviewer with calm interest, quiet confidence, generous openness to the other person, and keen listening (to hear the subtext of questions), and make an appropriate on-brand response that speaks to the employer's needs. A Zen mind is also ready to ask insightful questions and proactively project its personal brand in appropriate ways into the conversation. 

So, "mind like water," T.S. Eliot's "the still point in the turning world," and Yeats' "I hear lake water lapping, with low sounds by the shore." Now we are ready. Bring it on.

 

 

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Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, technology executive resumes, interviewing, interview style, personal brand, executive resume writing, executive resume, CIO resumes, career management, executive job search, Job Interviews, personal brands, career brand, salary negotiation, salary negotiations, job interview, power of attraction

Are You an Entrepreneur Seeking a Job? Reinvent Your Personal Brand

Posted by Jean Cummings

Nov 30, 2010 8:33:00 AM

image entrepreneurism resized 600

LinkedIn is having a great discussion about personal brand reinvention based on an article in the Harvard Business Review. Most comments have to do with someone changing dramatically from a software engineer to an artist, etc. But there's another kind of career reimagining that needs to happen for entrepreneurs who want to transition within their own industry.

Here's the scenario in which a job seeker MUST change their personal brand even if they're not changing their industry or even changing their chief competency: they've been running their own business for a number of years and now want to transition to being an employee of a company. It's doable, though not an easy sell.

Usually they can demonstrate extensive knowledge of the industry and superior capability in one or more functional area (usually more). But the hiring authority has concerns about whether a CEO / entrepreneur would be happy or committed over the long haul to working in a situation in which the org chart has clearly defined boundaries between jobs. Employers may have concerns that the entrepreneur would be reporting to someone else for the first time in a long while.

The imperative for entrepreneurs is to infuse their personal brand with elements that assuage those concerns while conveying an irresistible value proposition and even exalting their entrepreneurial experience as a competitive advantage in certain cases.

1. Brand Reassurance: Some of the elements of the new brand might be extensive experience consulting within companies, working with internal and external teams, reporting to program managers or other managers / executives, interfacing and interacting comfortably up and down the organization etc.

2. Value Proposition: The value proposition would depend on the function and industry. For example, an independent sales rep might be able to report having an extensive database of C-level contacts in Fortune 100 companies and a strong closing ratio. Both would be highly valuable to the right company.

3. Turn Your Liability into an Asset: Entrepreneurs may also find that the very fact that they have a mindset of taking a great idea and commercializing it in the form of a viable long-term business is valuable to the right kind of company - a mid-sized to large company that has institutionalized an intrapreneurial approach in some or all of its groups - or - an early-stage company or startup that is looking for proven entrepreneurial talent.

Because it's a harder sell than making a move as an employee, the entrepreneur must nail these new aspects of their personal brand - both in their networking and in their resumes, cover letters and other marketing materials.

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Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, technology executive resumes, interviewing, executive resume writing, executive resume, CIO resumes, career management, career planning, Get a Job, career services, personal brands, reputation management, IT resumes, careers in retirement, job interview

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