career

Networking- important for your career

I was at work today and got a call from a person that I worked with over a year ago but she remembered my work ethic, how hard I work for my clients, and my knowledge base and contacted me to help her put a group of workshops together. In return…I have a chance at getting to know more of her federal employee coworkers and bosses so maybe if an opportunity comes up…she would recommend me for a job if I decide to be in the market.

Then I got home and saw a facebook post from my daughter that said “Just chatted with someone from my 2nd grade team for an hour and twenty minutes! It’s nice having such a supportive team and building such good relationships!” 😀

Yes, Jen it is awesome building such great relationships and having a supportive team and that is where keeping up on your networking can be so beneficial. I must have made a very good impression for this person to want to contact me and remember me all this time later…I actually worked with her prior to my hip replacement which was in October of 2012 so it has been more like a year and a half. I guess my next blog should be about making a great impression since that is part of this conversation.

On another networking note…contacts that I have from a previous job have contacted me to let me know that a job that I would probably like is going to open soon and that I should be the one to apply. I have stayed in touch with all of these contacts and cultivated great working relationships as well as friendships and they are paying off with job assistance…and I am not even actively looking! Imagine what would happen if I was looking and started calling all those networking contacts that I have spent years cultivating?!

So when you are job searching remember to call everyone you know to let them know the type of job you are looking for…but also let them know that for the right pay and benefits package, you might take another type of job. You always want to look flexible and open!

Please also remember that no matter how you feel make sure that if you go out of the house and you are actively searching for work…you are clean and well groomed. I don’t mean that you need to be in suit or skirt but rather make sure you are showered, hair combed, and your jeans are clean because networking can happen anywhere. I have gotten job leads in the grocery store checkout line and at the local coffee house. Making a great impression, especially a first impression, is key because you never get a second chance to make a first impression and it takes a long time to change an opinion of a bad first impression.

See you next time.

Coach

Communication ~ Interview Killers & Winners

You need all the advantages you can get when you are going into an interview but there are mistakes that can kill the advantages. We will cover a few of these today.

First things first…do your research! You must know about the company and what the purpose and mission are before you can sell yourself to them. Go online and research everything you can find from their web site and from any news articles or press releases you can find. One of the questions that is often asked at an interview is “What do you know about our company?” If you can’t give them something substantial…it is an interview killer! If you can tell them something about their mission statement and goals and how you fit into those goals or why your own philosophy is in alignment with their mission statement…it is an interview win!

You must know exactly what you can do for the company. The company needs to know how you “fit” into their organization and it is up to you to tell them. You must know exactly where you can help them. If you have 10 years of experience in sales and consistently have rated number 1 or 2 on your sales team…tell the employer that you will bring those skills to their company to increase their bottom line. If you can give any type of accomplishments…it is always a win!

Know your strengths…if you are an organization wonder…let them know that. Unfortunately the question is often phrased as “Tell us some of your strengths and some of your weaknesses.” You must be able to state what your strengths are without hesitation, but without sounding arrogant. One of the reasons that I am such an excellent resume writer is my outlook on it…I am not necessarily a better writer than someone else but rather it is how I look at the challenge. I am an excellent resume writer because I see resume writing as a challenge that will strengthen my writing skills and I approach it as something that I want to be the best I can make it. I am sure there are better resume writers out there but I can offer that I will always take on the challenge and do my best. As for weaknesses, I generally advise clients to talk about something that they want and need to improve upon…and if they have already started with that improvement that is all the better. I personally get very frustrated while trying to work on my web site so I have reached out to a company that is going to help me learn more functions so it will be easier on me and I will be more efficient. These are interview wins because I know myself and what I can offer and I know areas that need improvement and I am trying to make those improvements happen.

Why did you leave your last job? This could be problematic if you had some trouble and were let go but at that point you simply need to be honest about what you learned from the situation…even if it wasn’t your fault. You never want to bad mouth a former employer because that is an absolute killer! You can however state that unfortunately there were changes within the company and personalities were not working out and being the “low person on the seniority list” you were the one who have to vacate the position…however what you learned was….maybe you learned that with a new change in management you were not allowed to be as involved with decisions and you should have taken a moment to watch the new manager and see and ask how they preferred you to involve yourself. Changes at a company can make staying an impossible in some situations but you must learn something in both staying and leaving. Maybe you simply could not work under the newly promoted person because your personalities did not gel…being upfront and stating that you knew the situation was coming where you would have to leave but prior to that time you tried to make it work and unfortunately it just couldn’t. Learning to watch and learn is not a bad thing so it can be a win in an interview. Trying to make something work is a win for you because you tried…just don’t say that you tried but the other person is a jerk and didn’t…simply state that there are the RARE instances where 2 personalities just can’t seem to work no matter how hard you tried.

Job hunting is hard work…it is the hardest job you will ever have but hang in there and keep trying until you find the right job for you.

See you next time…

Coach

PS…remember to send the thank you note immediately after the interview! One to each member of the panel.

Interviewing ~ Quick View

A client recently asked me to do a “quick view” of some of my tips on my blog so that her teenagers would read it. Her point was tha for many young people that are used to technology providing information immediately, it might be easier to gain their attention if I gave them the information “now”. So over the next few days I will be providing the “quick tip” verson of interviewing. My friend also stated that she loves reading the long blogs because she wants the in depth information and she asked me not to get rid of it…so I will attempt to do both and work back and forth between the two sytles.

Enjoy…

INTERVIEWING TIPS 1

It is important to be on time for an interview. It is best if you arrive about 15 minutes early. This will give you time to relax and fill out an application, if necessary. Dress appropriately, since the first impression is a lasting one.

Interview Tips:

1. Do some research on the business before the interview. (See “How to Find a Job,” “Research the Employer.”)

2. Practice interviewing.

3. Go alone. Do not take children or friends.

4. Greet the employer with a handshake.

5. Make frequent eye contact.

6. Smile, be polite, and try to relax.

7. Listen carefully to the questions asked. Ask the interviewer to restate a question if you are confused.

8. Answer questions as directly as possible.

9. Be upbeat and make positive statements.

10. If you’ve worked before, talk about what you learned from it.

11. Use examples of how your skills and abilities would fit the job.

Watch for more “quick tips” coming soon…

Communication ~ Resumes

I had a bit of an accident and haven’t been here for a bit, but things are fine and now let’s get to that post about resumes and the importance of categories. It doesn’t really matter what type of resume you are working with at some point in time the information needs to  be broken into categories. Generally the first time an employer looks at your resume he/she is going to give it about an 8 to 10 second glance so it they can’t grab onto something quickly, they could very well lose interest. The unfortunate truth is that employers are looking to screen you OUT so they can concentrate on the best of the best they receive. I know…nobody likes to hear that from me, but it is the truth so I might as well be the one to tell you. Better me than the employer that kicks back your resume…so let’s look at categories and how you make them work for you on your resume.

In the last blog I gave some job titles and then wrote down skills that were used in those job titles…and every job was almost the same all the way down the resume. This time we will work on breaking skills into categories to show that it is possible to NOT have everything sound the same.

This time we will take a resume that has lots of customer service including restaurant and clerical and bring it full circle to make a strong “all around” customer service/clerical/administrative resume

CUSTOMER SERVICE

  • Greeted guests and ensured that they were___________________________________________________
  • Answered customer questions and provided information _______________________________________
  • Resolved customer _____________________________________________________________________
  • Provided superior customer service; strong skills in ____________________________________________
  • Served customers their orders and made sure _________________________________________________
  • Responded quickly to customer ___________________________________________________________
  • Strong belief in ensuring customer _________________________________________________________

ADMINISTRATIVE/CLERICAL

  • Billing, meeting minutes, mail, filing, phones, computers, office machines, errands, and reception
  • Organized registration for ________________________________________________________
  • Coordinated and hosted events; organized ________________, such as a____________________ for participants, facilities, catering, signage, displays, _________________ requirements, printing and event _________________
  • Met with sponsors and organizing committees to plan __________________, to establish a_____________, or to review _______________________________ and event ___________________________________
  • Arranged the availability of __________________________________________________, and other event needs
  • Planned and developed __________________________________________ according to customer requirements
  • Conducted post-event evaluations to determine _______________________________________________

CASHIER

  • Received and disbursed _________________; kept records of _______________________________ transactions
  • Received checks and cash for ____________, verified amounts and examined ________________________
  • Explained, promoted, and sold ____________________________________________________________
  • Strong ability to multi-task in fast-paced environment by ______________________, ______________________, maintaining ____________________________________, and finishing all ______________________________
  • 100% accuracy rate for __________________________________________________________________

Another strategy is to use definite accomplishment statements to grab the attention of the reader…we will delve into that type of resume writing next time…but a quick example might be:

Flexible Leader: Operational turnaround in previous company –

  • Resulting in company’s elevated ___________________________________________________________
  • Successfully slashed over budget cost through _____________________, labor _______________,__ and

productivity ______________________

Communication in Career Planning ~ Why is it so important?


There are various aspects to career planning and in order to reach many of those goals you need to be able to communicate your skills and worth to an employer, to your network, and even to yourself.

The beginning stages of the career planning process are usually about setting your attitude for success and choosing goals. In order to do this you must be able to clearly articulate/communicate your needs, desires, and steps so you know exactly where you are going and how you are getting there.

One of the areas that we work with as we are defining your needs is to look for your transferrable skills, those skills that you already have that can slide from one job to another. Those skills could be hard skills such as computer knowledge or soft skills. Soft skills are traits of behavior such as flexibility, punctuality, honesty, and getting along well with others and again we are going to have to decide the best way to communicate those skills to a prospective employer.

Since your resume is often your first impression to an employer it is critical that your wording express exactly what you can do so you can grab the attention of the reader. Clearly communicating your skills, qualities, and achievements will give the employer a reason to take a second look.

After you have impressed them sufficiently with your writing skills and they want to interview you, then you must again show your superior communication skills to them while you are having a conversation during the interview. You will be asked a series of questions that you must answer and articulate your particular skills in relation to the job they want you to do. This is not as easy as it seems and it must be practiced…to be perfect. You must communicate with yourself; you must communicate out loud to either yourself or to others so you know exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it.

If you can’t say it to yourself how do you expect to communicate it to someone else?

Often the first question asked in any interview is “Could you please tell us something about yourself?” so you must be prepared to answer that question. The trick is to communicate and articulate how your previous experience, skills, and talents mesh with the current job opening. Most people know what they do, or have done in previous jobs but most people aren’t sure how to explain those skills, qualities, and traits to others in relation to something new. I have helped many people learn how to do this so they can be successful and I want to help you strengthen your communication skills in this particular area.

Being a great communicator is a skill like any other in which it must be practiced and continually upgraded to be able to be the best. We spend considerable amounts of time communicating with others in various way and they are all important to be aware of so we can use them to the best possible advantage.

Communication ~ Interviews ~ Non-verbal Impressions (part 7)

Let’s talk about mannerisms and body movements ~ also known as nervous habits! Do you know what you do without thinking about it? Do you play with your hair, move your feet nonstop, scratch, use the word fillers of “uh”, “um”, “ya know”, “like”, “hhmm” or any others? If you are in a swivel chair…do you swivel? Well this time our blog is about those nervous habits and the fact that you must not only be aware of them, but you must overcome them before the interview! As a career coach I talk to people every day about their non-verbal communication

We all have nervous habits that we do and never even think about unless someone brings them to our attention. Today I am here to tell you that you must do one of a couple of things…either ask someone close to you to tell you every time you do something physical without thinking about it or you must do a self-assessment and decide and discover those habits that give out nervous cues and could possibly sabotage an interview.

These 7 parts of non-verbal communication during an interview have been designed to assist you to learn how to portray yourself with the utmost confidence. You are making great eye contact, standing up straight and tall, and you have a great handshake that doesn’t break someone’s hand nor is it sloppy like a limp noodle so why would we let our nervous habits ruin our chances? Simple answer…because we don’t know that we are doing them!

I coach people to sit in front of a full length mirror while they practice interviewing, or have someone else pretend to be the interviewer and ask the questions while observing and listening, or set up a video camera and watch yourself after you are finished. All of these methods work and depending on who you are…one may work better than others. Sometimes I will get a shy client that doesn’t want anyone else they know watching them interview so the mirror or video is the better idea but other times I have someone that doesn’t like themselves on camera so the mirror or other person is the better option. This is a personal choice and there is no right or wrong way to practice (except to do it silently in your head…it must be done out loud and visually).

Think about it…if you are an interviewer and you are trying to listen to an answer and the person is constantly tapping their foot…do you think you will have trouble concentrating? The answer is probably yes. I had a client once that had a “click” pen with them and every time he/she got nervous the pen would start going “click, click, click, clickity click” and it was very distracting. That client had no idea that he/she was even clicking the pen until I said something so now my advice is…NEVER bring a “click” pen to an interview. You do want to have a pen and paper, just make sure it isn’t a pen that you must click the button on top to make it work. I have another good friend that is consistently using the palm of his hand to flatten his hair because it is just a nervous habit. He is aware that he has the nervous habit, but not aware when he is doing it! Do you play with a piece of jewelry? Maybe you are just spinning a ring around and around on your finger without ever noticing that you are doing it…the employer will notice. There might be different ways they will perceive the action…one might just see it as nervousness coming through but another might get so distracted that they miss your entire answer.  A nervous habit can ruin your chances of getting a job simply because the interviewer got distracted and missed a very important answer.

Take a very good long look at yourself using the eye of a critic and practice NOT “clicking the pen”, “playing with your ring or earring”, “tapping your feet”, “swiveling in your chair”, or whatever YOUR nervous movements might be!

Communication ~ Interviews

The 45 second to 2 minute “elevator speech” is your way to give the employer a snapshot of you when they ask the most commonly asked interview question ~ Could you please tell me something about yourself?

This snapshot should include a bit about your traits:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • punctual
  • flexible
  • hard-working

It should contain information about your skills:

  • skilled in MS Office Suite (all programs)
  • Coordinated and scheduled events for 50-100 participants
  • Answered multi-line telephone systems, transferred calls, and took messages
  • Worked closely with Executive Director to create employee manual

You want them to know about your work history and accomplishments:

  • While working at XYZ Company I was promoted from Cashier to Lead Cashier in less than 6 months
  • I supervised between 4-8 people depending on the day and shift
  • I was trained in bank deposits, scheduling, time card preparation, and monthly reports
  • My manager chose me as employee of the month for 3 months in a row, which is the limit each person can have in any 6 month period
  • And working as a team we streamlined our work stations and created a more timely service rate for our customers and created greater turnover and profit margin for the company

You simply need to know what you do and then put each part down on paper and practice saying it so you think it sounds good…and then practice saying it to someone else. The more you practice, the better it will sound when you are talking to an employer.

This “Tell me about yourself” speech can also be used when you are talking to anyone about yourself and your career. It is a very common question at social events, or business events, or even family reunions where not everyone knows each other…”So, what do you do for a living?” You already know the basics of what you want to say, so you just change it to a more casual version and give a great picture of who you are and what you do for a living.

Networking is an important part of job search or career changing and you want your answer to come evenly and smoothly when you are meeting new people and hoping to gain them as allies in your career endeavors. Networking has gotten me 2 different jobs because I was able to articulate my skills, my traits, and my future plans to someone that had the contacts to help me go further. Future posts will have more on networking but I want you to start thinking about it now because it is something you should be doing every day. Every day you should tell  people what you are doing and where you want to end up. Are you a student? What are you studying? Your instructors have been in the business you are entering so they are your first point of contact…get to know them and let them see the best of you. Are you a dislocated worker? Tell everyone that you know and everyone that you meet what you do and the type of work you are seeking. 80% or more of jobs are gotten through networking with other people, so you can see why you can’t be shy or timid when you are job searching or changing careers.

Communication ~ From Resume to Interviewing

I have tried to give you much information on communicating your skills in your resume so that you gain the attention of a prospective employer. I know the importance of wording in your career endeavors but getting the interview is just the beginning. So, let’s say that you have created a dynamite resume using things like keywords ~ just as a refresher ~ soft skill keywords are things like:

  • reliable
  • flexible
  • adaptable

Action keywords are often found at the beginning of the bullet statement:

  • prepared ______
  • presented ________
  • streamlined ______

and the last are industry related keywords: As a Career Coach I might use words such as:

  • facilitate
  • resume
  • interviewing
  • group coaching
  • intake assessment

An Administrative Assistant might use words such as

  • Customer service
  • Keyboarding @ ____wpm
  • phone skills
  • scheduling meetings and appointments.

Each person knows their industry and job so the words would be based on what you do, who you do it for, and of course the job description you are looking at…

You have created a dynamic resume and the employer wants to meet you…what now?

Now it is time to communicate your skills both orally and with body language to show the prospective employer that you are the best person for the job. Of course you will look over your resume, because it has been written specifically for, and tailored to the position but you don’t want those to be the only words you use because if they haven’t already seen the resume, they will when you walk into the interview and hand it to them.

Yes that is one of the first communication items when you are interviewing ~ never assume that the interview person or panel has seen your resume because in reality they may not ever get the chance to see it if you don’t give it to them. Interview panels often must only rate you on what you do and say while you are in the room with them; they often may not be allowed to have any advance information to create any preconceived ideas before meeting you. This gives everyone an equal chance when you walk through the door.

The first line of communication is your “first impression” and how you walk into the room…walk tall and confident, give a firm handshake, and make sure you look the interviewer(s) in the eye and tell them you are glad to meet them and repeat their name. Make sure you smile and are friendly without being overly excited; you want to show you are happy to be there. Nonverbal communication is very important, sometimes even more important than the words that come out of your mouth because if you are telling me that you are comfortable in stressful situations but you are sitting across from me biting your fingernails or tapping your pen on the table, I might be wary of what you are saying and what your actions are telling me.

Keep this in mind…if you have turned in a resume and the employer wants to talk to you…you have already done something to impress them so be confident that they have seen what you know…you know that you are a great person for the job, maybe even the best person for this particular job. Make sure you walk in with confidence to show them that you know you are great at what you do and that you can make their company better by bringing your skills to them.

Next time we will focus on your “elevator speech” and how to make it sound awesome and convincing…

Resume Mania this week

Wow, I have done some complicated resumes this week and some of them were careers that I don’t know much about…but they are done and the clients are extremely happy! I even have one client that is happy and his isn’t even done yet, he is writing it himself, with my assistance, but he just feels like now he isn’t floundering in a sea of the unknown. Another resume was for a project manager that has vast experience and had lots of accomplishment stats. It was great fun to work with him because he enjoyed everything he learned and he realized the importance of communicating your skills in your resume. Communication…on paper, in body language, and oral articulation are critical to your success. More tips on resume tomorrow! It’s nice to have traffic on my other website but this is my primary so I just refer them here.

Communication ~ Write your resume to impress

Resume Writing

~ Effective Communication to Sell Your Skills to an Employer ~

All my life, or as far back as I can remember anyway, I have like creative writing. I even once wrote a story for my niece, Amy, called Amy and the Giant Avocado. Yes, I know it seems like a funny name and why an avocado…but Amy loved them so I created a story around it. Not a great story, but it was okay. I also liked to write poetry, kept a journal and wrote short stories and clips that I didn’t keep…then I found resume writing…creative writing at it’s finest! Why? Because it has to grab the attention of the reader, it must be catchy sounding, look great, look traditional but different, and the biggie…it must be TRUE! Let’s take a look at what it might take for me to help you write a resume ~ or ~ articulate what it is you do at work. Always remember that a resume is a sample of your work product so if it has words spelled incorrectly or other mistakes it will take away from the impression you are trying to make.

Most people know what they do at work. Let’s take a Receptionist for an example of what might happen when I get together to help with the resume. Here comes the question ~ ‘What exactly do you do at your reception job?’ and here comes the answer ~ ‘Well, I am a receptionist – I do receptionist stuff!’! Now I have been a receptionist and I have a pretty good idea of what a receptionist does but in every job I was a receptionist…I did many things that were different from the previous job. It is getting the information from another person that is the most challenging aspect of resume writing. Writing one is easy…I can even write it without you if you give me a good enough job title or similar titles so I can find the information but that doesn’t help you and it is my job, my mission, my goal to help you learn to tell others what you do. If you can’t tell me how are you going to tell an employer during an interview or tell someone you happen to be networking with at a job fair? The truth of the matter is that I usually have to pull the information out of most people because they know what they do but they don’t know how to say it. Let’s get back to our receptionist for a minute ~ ‘Okay, you say you do Receptionist duties but what does that mean ~ do you answer phones?’ ‘Of course I answer phones!’ ‘How many lines do you answer?’ ‘Tons of them ~ it’s a multiline switchboard that is the base answering area for the whole business and I make appointments for people! Duh!’ (I should have known that – how silly am I?) However, the reality is that answering phones is quite different than answering multiline switchboard phones, transferring calls, making appointments, and taking messages for an entire company and would be written very differently. So of course I know a receptionist answers phones but I want you to stand out from the rest of the receptionists applying for the job so we need to be detailed.

Staying with our receptionist for another moment let’s talk about customer service in the lobby of the business. ‘What else did you do?’ ‘I talked to people when they came in to the business, you know like a receptionist does! Duh!’ (Hmmm, guess I should have known that one too!) ‘When guests or clients come in did you just say hello, how are you today?’ ‘Of course not, I had to figure out what they wanted and where to send them!’ Now again I have something completely different than talking to people that came in the lobby; I now have ‘Greeted customers and clients, ascertained reason for visit, contacted the appropriate person, and ensured the clients’ needs were met while they were waiting’ Not to mention this one…remember those multiline phones? ‘Multi-tasked by answering heavy multiline phones, greeting and ascertaining customer needs, and inputting appointments into the computer system.’

We all know what we do at our jobs but we don’t always know how to say what we do. As an expert resume writer and certified career coach I have been trained to help you so you can communicate your assets and skills to an employer making you a great candidate for the position in question. Many of my colleagues look at me like I am crazy when I say that I love writing resumes, but I do love writing resumes. Sometimes it is the creativity that is needed, other times it is the balancing act of getting enough information on the resume without putting too much, and still other times it is to see the look on a persons’ face when they see exactly how much they have done, and how important they are/were to an organization. Every job has its purpose and a resume can be written to reflect not only that purpose, but the pride that a person takes in doing a great job. Need a resume? I can help… www.careercreate.com

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Non-verbal communication is still communication
You have made it to the interview and now you need to make a great impression. What are your nervous habits? Do you really sit as straight as you think you do? Are you making eye contact? Watching the clock? Read more to ensure you are communicating what you want... Career Blog

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“Loretta is a highly experienced and productive professional in the field of Workforce Development, Job Readiness, Career Counseling, Workshop Facilitation, and Job Search Preparation. I have worked with her closely for over six years, and she has consistently been a valuable, key resource in the employment community. For three of those years, she was at Napa Valley College as a resource specialist in their career center... 
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