The Career Connection: Looking for a Job? Don’t Beg: Seven Steps to Re-employment

If you find yourself to be one of the many who are on a job search, it is important, should you have any, to get a handle on your fear and anxiety — as those behaviors will definitely hinder your successful job search (and possibly even have you spending your limited funds on doctor visits and antidepressant meds).

You may be unemployed but you are employable. The key is: regardless of how anxious you feel, you don’t want to sound wimpy or act afraid; speak with confidence and act like a winner! Don’t beg; instead sell your value. Promoting, expanding and selling your value are the actions that will lead to re-employment.

The majority of people entering or leaving the workforce today will not be getting a gold watch for twenty-five years of service. In fact, The U.S. Department of Labor has stated that the average employment cycle includes workers having six to seven jobs and three to five career changes. You should be prepared to move on, continue to grow and learn, keep your skills up-to-date and take calculated risks. So be bold, confident and courageous and start interviewing …

Interviewing Strategies:

1.) Establish and Sell Your Brand. What does your personal brand reflect? What do people think of when they hear your name? What does your personal story say about who you are? With a well-established brand, your reputation starts to precede you and companies come a calling.

You’ve developed great contacts, relationships, experience and a personal brand. Continue to maximize your good name and good work ethic while seeking employment. Contact everyone within your social network circle and beyond and request an informational interview, investigate pro bono opportunities with “targeted companies” to showcase your talent to a potential employer risk free.

There are many free and inexpensive ways to promote and expand your brand. Seek out writing and speaking opportunities with your alma mater, non-profit organizations and newspaper and magazine editors to share your knowledge. The reach of your brand expands with each speaking engagement and writing assignment.

2.) Define Your Experience and Knowledge in Broad Terms. Using broad terms will open up doors to many different types of careers and industries. Whatever your particular sets of skills, maximize and sell them to targeted companies within many different industries.

Jenny Sanford went from the world of investment banking to running her husband’s congressional and gubernatorial political campaigns. They won both. Maybe she wishes now the louse had lost but that’s a story for another article. I personally went from construction management to becoming a motivational speaker and career coach. You must define your experience in broad terms because excellent skills are needed in many industries.

Follow the stimulus money to determine where it has gone and where the next influx of cash will go. Research the following sectors: education, healthcare, technology, green jobs, energy and utilities, transportation and the government. More than one billion dollars have been doled out to wind energy companies. Be smart and knowledgeable. Don’t waste time and energy on industries/companies that are not hiring.

3.) Don’t Go in Blind. Perform due diligence. The first task you must complete is research. Research “targeted companies” that are interesting to you and identify how your skill, talent and personality will best fit their needs.

Based on your research, what can you do for the company? How can you save time, money, improve operations, increase customers or improve its image? Have quantifiable examples of past successes and what you can achieve for them. Read and evaluate their mission statement. Know their philosophy before you arrive.

Remember every interview is about what you offer, want and expect from the employer versus what the employer is looking for, needs, offers and will provide. Make sure you can discuss intelligently and succinctly the needs and wants of the employer and how you can satisfy them.

Steven Greenberg, publisher of Jobs4pinto.com said: “The thing to avoid is thinking by sending out a ton of resumes, you’re looking for a job. You’re not.” I could not agree with Greenberg more, you are wasting valuable time and energy; invest more quality time up front.

4.) Research the Interviewer. Will it be one person or a panel of people? You may have things in common with your interviewer(s). You may have gone to the same college, or you may attend the same place of worship or your children may play on the same little league team. Find out what’s most important to them and then find the point of connection.

You want to know going in so you can weave a story of authenticity, familiarity and similarity. What hasn’t change in the American workforce is people hire who they like and trust. Remember, your competition will look very similar to you on paper. Performing these tasks up-front will absolutely set you apart. I’ve heard many interviewers say, “I have a good feeling about that guy.” Those words are visceral and usually have very little to do with cold hard data. The world has changed but what will never change is employers hire talented, smart people who they like and trust.

5.) You Have 30 Seconds. Judgment is made within the first 30 seconds of the interview; it may not be fair, but this is how long it takes for the interviewer to size you up. When you walk in the door have a smile on your face, stand tall and look directly in the interviewer’s eyes, hold their gaze and tell them how absolutely enthusiastic you are about the position. In the U.S., research has proven that holding someone’s gaze establishes trust. When seated, sit up straight and don’t slouch; slouching makes you appear sloppy, tired, lazy and unprofessional. More than 80 percent of communication is nonverbal. Having good posture and smiling transmits the proper nonverbal messages: I’m trustworthy, confident, smart and likable.

All this takes about what 15 seconds. When asked, “why do you want to work for us?” Have your VP — which stands for your value proposition and not the very important person you think you are — established and well rehearsed. It should be no more than two or three sentences. You can get into details during the course of the interview. Your value proposition tells the interviewer how the company will benefit from hiring you. You must know this going in.

6.) Interview the Interviewer. Prioritize a list of five to seven questions that indicates a long-term interest in the company. Let your questions be a reflection of the type of research you’ve done. Don’t ask simple questions that can easily be answered by reading the company’s Web site. Ask questions that reflect your IQ & EQ, think Albert Einstein meets CNN Hero. You may get answers that shock and surprise you and that lead you toward another company. Remember you are interviewing to get an “offer” not to necessarily take the job.

7.) SSHH — Listen-Up. When the interviewer is talking, he or she will be giving you direct information about the position you want, the company’s culture and what are the expectations. Let the interviewer talk 80 percent of the time and pay close attention. This will give you the opportunity to gain valuable insider knowledge to use at the time of the interview and during your follow-up. So listen-up and think on your feet; you’ll soon be hearing “You’re Hired.”

Dickie Sykes is a former construction executive and CEO of DGS Consulting LLC. To learn more about the company or to purchase its how-to products log onto www.dgsconsultingllc.com. Korean Americans visit http://korean.dgsconsultingllc.com. One dollar from every CD purchase will be donated to the American Red Cross/ Haiti until June 12, 2010.

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