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

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

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

Top Trends in Personal Branding: Job Seekers Take Note

Posted by Jean Cummings

Jan 26, 2011 8:48:00 AM

Personal Branding for Job SearchWilliam Arruda, The Personal Branding Guru, is known for "seeing around the corner." His list of the top trends in personal branding is a heads-up for job seekers who want to get out in front of their competition. Here they are, in brief:

1. Hiring Anywhere - companies are more open to hiring from other locations, and video is the way to get your message across when you're not there in person; consider creating a video to communicate your personal brand, host it on YouTube, and distribute it to interested hiring managers and recruiters

2. Homecasting - professional home offices and backgrounds become the "set" for your video communications; when you shoot your video, make your background clean and professional

3. Vidmail - William says that email is "so last decade," and that integrated text, image, and video communications will become more common; include images and/or a video in your emails

4. Professional Dress - as video becomes a more prominant vehicle for communicating personal brands, it's essential to have your dress on-brand in terms of formality and style; in video and in-person interviews, dress on the formal side of what is appropriate for your job

5. Personal Branding Infused - with the concept at least a decade old now, watch it being talked about in corporate settings with more frequency; leverage personal branding on behalf of your job search

6. Web Purity - watch for new ways to ensure that when someone googles your name, they will find you; now, several people may come up; take a look at Visibility's "Search Me" button and consider adding it to your LinkedIn profile

7. 3D PB - with blended, multimedia search becoming a reality, be sure to have different ways that people can get to know you - real-time content, images, and video; become active on Twitter, YouTube and Flickr in job-appropriate and brand-enhancing ways

8. Personal Portals - new tools are emerging that enable you to assemble in one place all the pieces of your personal brand that reside in different places on the Web; check out about.me and flavors.me

9. Revyous - establish your credibility by getting recommendations on your LinkedIn profile; watch for more sites that enable feedback on who you are professionally

Job seekers, more than anyone else, need to present themselves as relevant, valuable, and 3-dimensional, in order to capture the attention of recruiters and hiring authorities. For those of you who haven't developed your personal brand, do it now. For those who have, project your personal brand in the many ways suggested by William's list of top trends.

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Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, technology executive resumes, personal brand, executive resume writing, executive resume, career management, career planning, Jobs, Get a Job, career services, Job Interviews, personal brands, Online ID, LinkedIn Profiles

Harvard Researcher Sheds Light On Interviewing Postures

Posted by Jean Cummings

Nov 1, 2010 9:26:00 AM

Image interviewing
Do you usually think that it's what you say that counts the most in terms of getting a job offer? Think again!

That's not to say that you shouldn't go into an interview fully prepared to get your message across, ask good questions, and answer questions skillfully. You must do so to be competitive. But new research indicates that how you stand and sit may have more impact on how you are perceived that you imagine.

Harvard Magazine has a fascinating article called "The Psyche on Automatic." Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy has found that, in order to be considered competent, you need to be sure that your posture sends the message that you are "powerful." There's a high correlation between perceived power and competence. And your posture is an important way to give the impression that you are powerful - or not.

In a "power posing" study, high power postures are "expansive positions with open limbs" and low power postures are "contactive positions with closed limbs." She advises women MBA candidates to stop crossing their legs and shrinking their physical presence. "Be as big as you are," she says. For men and women, the more you can spread your arms, keep your feet on the floor, and take up maximum space the more you will be perceived as powerful and therefor competent.

"In all animal species, postures that are expansive, open, and take up more space are associated with high power and dominance," Cuddy says.

There's more! Nonverbal cues of confidence and happiness produce a mirroring effect on the person you are with and therefor a sense of connection with the other.

And, a natural smile (which affects the eyes as well as the mouth) releases neurochemicals that "correlate with happy feelings." So, you are more likely to be perceived as warm and competent. These findings go to the "likability" quality that makes such a big difference in being successful in all aspects of life.

The takeaway for interviewing? Make sure that your body and your facial expressions communicate competence, confidence, and warmth - while acing the content part as well! You'll be a strong contender for the job.

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Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, interviewing, interviewing style, career management, Job Interviews

5 Tips for Acing the Phone Interview

Posted by Jean Cummings

Apr 8, 2010 7:14:00 AM

Think a phone interview is easier than an in-person one? It may seem so on the surface, but in fact there are a couple of ways in which it is harder.
The most obvious way is that you have to project your personality and personal brand without a visual. The interviewer can't see your eyes, your smile, or your body language and so you have to rely in part on how you sound to make the connection.
Another way it's harder is that the format lends itself less well to the conversational back-and-forth that enables you to make a personal connection and communicate your reasons for why you should be hired.
Here are some tips to help you succeed in the phone interview format:
1. Be sure to be in a quiet place (or reschedule until you can be) and free of distractions (don't be checking your email or IMing while you are interviewing!).
2. Stand up (walk around if you like) and smile slightly as you talk. Do these things and your voice will project better, be more energetic, and have greater warmth. If you can convey to the interviewer simply through the way you sound that you are an upbeat, outgoing, and lively person, you have already done something important.
3. The interview is apt to be more scripted than the in-person interview, so try to answer each scripted question in a way that helps you branch out into what the company is looking for in terms of this particular hire. If you can find out what constitutes success in this position six months down the road you will be much more able to communicate how your skills and experience would make you a low-risk hire. The back-and-forth of a conversation gives you much more freedom to make your case for yourself as the right person for the job.
4. Make that personal connection. If you can move from a standard question such as "Tell me about yourself" or "What are your strengths" towards a discussion of the challenges that will be facing the individual who is hired, the pain the organization is having that occasions this hire, or the strategic changes the company is in the midst of, you will be much more likely to engage the interest of the interviewer. The interviewer has a problem you can solve. If you are able to truly present yourself as the one with the answers, solutions, or abilities to meet the desired objectives of the company, you will boost your chances of being called for an in-person interview.
4. Even though the interviewer probably will have a list of questions s/he is working from, make every attempt to work your personal brand into your answers. Your personal brand is your professional reputation clearly delineated. What is your specialty? What are you known for? What are your primary attributes? And, most important for the interviewer, what is your value proposition? How do you make money, save money, streamline operations, solve problems, lower risk, facilitate the success of others? If you are able to make a strong, clear, positive impression on the interviewer, not just as a person but as a professional, you will be remembered way longer than the other 6 people who were interviewed that morning who did not project a personal brand.
5. Have a leave-behind message that will get you to the next stage. Express your interest in speaking more about how you could meet the needs of the company. Reiterate your value proposition. Express confidence that the hiring manager (if someone different from your phone interviewer) will be interested in your ideas about what you could bring to the position that would benefit the company. If you are able to do this, the interviewer won't just remember a string of answers to a list of questions, s/he will remember why the company should get to know you better.
As you wrap up the interview, be sure to find out what the timeline is in terms of finding out about next steps. That way you can get back to the interviewer if you don't hear from him/her in the specified time period.
Also, as with an in-person interview, it is a good idea to write a thank-you email or snail mail note expressing appreciation for the interviewer's time and restating your value proposition and interest in an in-person interview.
If you follow these tips, it is likely that you will set yourself apart from your competitors who may just be responding to the set questions and not attempting to broaden the conversation, project a personality, make a personal connection, or communicate a memorable message. Ace the phone interview and you are well on your way to a job interview and offer.
Anyone out there have tips to add from your experience with phone interviews?
P.S. For interview questions to practice with (phone or in-person), here's a good site.
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Topics: interviewing, Get a Job, Job Interviews, Phone Interview

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