success

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.

The Law of Attraction

Yes I do believe that when you put positive energy out into the world…positive energy and good things will come back to you…I am going to begin a course tonight to become an Advanced Law of Attraction Coach so I can expand the great info that I want to pass along to you…stay tuned and I will get back here as soon as possible with the new information.

Coach Loretta

Best Customer Service ~ Outback in Pinole, CA

As a Career Coach/Workshop Facilitator one of the main things that I have taught is how to

give great customer service. It seems to me that customer service is often lacking even

though the customer is putting out good money for services. I don’t usually go out of my 

way to say much about the customer service I receive because most of the time, it simply is

not worth mentioning! However, my husband and I went out to dinner the other night at the

Outback Steakhouse in Pinole, CA and the customer service was off the charts in customer

care and satisfaction. I am not going to go into the details but I am going to say that there

was an aspect of the dinner that was not up to my standards and when I told our server, he

immediately offered to make it right. I accepted his idea for a resolution and within a few

moments, a young man came over and introduced himself as “Ian” and really went out of his

way to find out exactly why I was not happy, and then proceeded to go into the kitchen and

cook my new food himself…to my specifications. He was gracious and customer oriented

and left me wanting to tell as many people as possible that they should go to Outback in

Pinole, CA and enjoy the experience because the customer service is the best! I will say it

one more time…”Ian, you are one of the best customer service representatives that I have

encountered and I have posted it on my facebook page and now my blog and I have told

several people that Outback, Pinole is the place to go!” Thank you for the best dinner out we 

have had in a very long time!

Loretta Perry-Dawson

Communication ~ In General it is a skill to build ~ Listening is a communication skill

I have spent a lot of time working on communication information because so much of what we do when we are job searching is about communication and it is so very important that we put our best foot forward and communicate effectively. I was working with someone recently and I asked him to tell me what communication means and he sat for a minute and then broke it down pretty succinctly in four words, well actually four if you want to be technical because one way to communicate has 2 words, those words are: talking, writing, listening and body language. Those are the primary ways to communicate, of course we have other ways such as sign language, volume, tone, etc…but they fall under the 3 categories because if you use sign language it is words in body language, so to speak. Tone comes under talking and of course writing covers all kinds of communication whether you are providing it or taking it in because you are reading it.

Let’s take a look at the importance of being a good listener. Listening is a skill that can be learned and should be learned because most people don’t listen,  people are often thinking of what they are going to say next and very often this causes them to miss significant points in a conversation. So what does that have to do with job searching? It has lots to do with job searching because if a prospective employer gives instructions or asks a question, you better listen so you can follow the directions or answer the question(s) correctly.

I want you to think back and honestly try to remember a time or times when you missed a point or answered something sort of off topic because you weren’t paying attention. Well, you certainly don’t want that to happen when you are talking with a prospective employer. People speak at about 125-175 words per minute but most people can listen intelligently at about 800 words per minute so it is fairly easy to see why a person’s mind would wander. Also people usually change about 75-80% of what you say into what they want to hear because people are not taught to listen. We hear things all the time, the sound of a train or siren, traffic going by, a dog barking outside, or children playing just out of sight…think about it…we hear things all the time but how often do we stop to really listen to what we hear? Our minds work very quickly and so it can be quite easy to let your mind wander into other things.

Also it is a stressful time when we are in an interview or talking with someone we want to work for and our minds can be running through many ideas, thoughts, fears, or statements we want to make sure we say, thus we might not be paying as close of attention as we should. It is critically important that we listen carefully to everything that an employer wants or says so we are on the same track.

So how do you become an active listener? Repeating back what you hear (or think you hear) is always a great way to make sure that you heard correctly. Asking questions in between a persons statements to you will help you stay focused. Inquiring if you understand them correctly by restating what they have said, in your own words, so they have a chance to let you know if you have gotten off track or if they maybe aren’t explaining things correctly. Of course nodding your head in agreement or using sounds (uh huh, oh, yes, mmmhmm)  or words to convey that you are listening is a good idea too.

We will talk more about listening skills in communication next time…see you then…

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 ~ Interviewing ~ What are they looking for? (Part 3)

The question of the day was:

What are they looking for when they ask where you expect to be in 5 years?

They are hoping that you will want to grow with their company because it is very expensive for employers to hire and train new personnel but it is true that not everyone will be staying with the company so really consider what you want to be doing in five years before planning out this answer. Let’s take for example a person that I know that wanted to work in an office while going to college but expected to graduate and move on…and graduated but didn’t move on because she loved the job, people she worked with, and made decent money. The day she interviewed she answered the question honestly but threw in a curve. The answer was something like this…”Well, as you know I am still in school working on a degree in __________ and so when I graduate I think I will pursue my career of __________. I have always enjoyed working in an office doing administrative work and I know that I will give you 100% while I am here. Of course there is always the chance that the opportunities here will be worth my making this my choice for a career home.

Remember, if you are a student and you are taking a transition job and there is no upward path for you it is best to be honest and say that when you graduate you will pursue the career that you have been working toward.

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 ~ Non-verbal Impressions (part 5)

Last time we talked a bit about posture so first we will pick up and reiterate those points and then move forward. We have determined that as you walked in and shook hands you were standing tall and showing confidence; you sat down and sat at attention, not military attention, but a tall and straight posture again showing your confidence; but you are leaning forward just a little bit to convey interest in the process and the people with whom you are having a conversation. Interviewing is a conversation between you and the person(s) sitting across from you. Of course it just doesn’t feel like a natural conversation because of the nervousness of the situation, but make no mistake it is a conversation and you want to engage the other people by telling stories and asking questions.

There is no one way to sit during an interview and it is important that you are somewhat comfortable so you can feel at least a little relaxed but you also don’t want to be too comfortable so you start to look sloppy or arrogant. I know one person who likes to sit with his legs crossed with his ankle resting on his knee because he has very long legs and when there is a table in front of him the alternative is to have his legs stretched way out in front of the table. He sits down and pushes his chair back a bit and crosses his legs but he also sits tall and straight and leans forward to show interest. He could never be comfortable with his legs sticking out from under the table; it would undermine his confidence level.  As I said in earlier posts, I keep my feet on the floor in front of me so they don’t start doing their usual little dance and jiggle routine!  I have another friend who sits with hands on her lap and her feet crossed at the ankles. She likes her hands in her lap because if she does start to fidget it is less noticeable. You must be comfortable but not casual because you are not in a casual situation. I guess I need to take a moment to say “you aren’t in a casual situation…most of the time” but my clients that are truck drivers, service technicians, and construction workers say that their world is a bit different and it usually is more of a casual atmosphere. You have to be the judge of your own industry and if you aren’t sure…err on the side of caution.

Everything you do is some sort of a communication that you are conveying to the interviewer(s) so make sure you practice in front of a mirror, with another person, or use a video camera and find out what your non-verbal body language is saying.

Let’s talk about eye contact and how that impacts the impression you make. It stands to reason that if you are nervous you might want to look anywhere in the room except directly at the people asking you questions because you are fearful  they will see the fear and nervousness reflected in your eyes. The problem with that theory is that when you don’t look people in the eye it portrays fear, lack of  confidence, and even the impression of dishonesty to the person who’s eyes you are avoiding. A potential employer wants a confident and honest person in their employ so make sure you make good eye contact with each person as you are speaking. Remember that one person may have asked you the question but all panel members are rating you so you must try to give them equal time and respect.

Another factor of eye contact is the expressiveness that can show when a person is telling about an accomplishment that makes them really proud or when telling a story that describes a situation that shows the kind of person and/or employee he/she would be. People tend to get animated and expressive when telling stories that they are proud to tell and that animation can show through during an interview and the pride shows in the eyes and in the voice!

Communication ~ Interviews (Part 3) ~ Non-verbal impressions

We have been talking about communication for a few weeks now and still there is much to talk about in the realm of communication and the ways in which we communicate with one another. I have written about the spoken word and I still haven’t covered all that I need to cover; we have gone over the resume communication; we have touched on first impressions and the best way to err when working toward career endeavors…is to err on the conservative side.

We communicate in so many ways, we talk to each other, we text, email, instant message, there is sign language both for those that use it for hearing impairment and for those that are communicating in other languages and trying to get someone to understand what they need or want; we communicate in books, poems, laughter, tears, and so many other ways that I probably could write blogs about communication for months and still not cover everything. For our purposes we are focusing on interviewing and part of the interview is the non-verbal communication that is done, first when you walk in the room and make that first impression of how you are dressed and how well groomed you appear, through each and every gesture you make while the interview is in progress.

It is very important that you never assume that the people on your interview panel have seen any information about you because they may have only your name and nothing more. It is becoming increasingly popular and smart for employers to make sure that the interviewers have no preconceived ideas about you before you walk into the room. For instance, let’s just say that an interviewer was given my resume to look over before I walked into the room, along with 5 or 6 other resumes and in that batch of resumes I am the only alumni of Napa Valley College; that information alone may not be a big deal…but…what if the interviewer also went to Napa Valley College and we have something in common so I am already shining just a bit more than the other candidates? I am not saying that you shouldn’t tell the interview panel about your college education, I am saying that many employers don’t want their interviewers to prejudge BEFORE you come into the room.  Prejudgments can lead to discriminatory behaviorand many interviewers are not allowed to know anything about you until you walk into the room and then they must judge and rate you by ONLY what you say and do after you are introduced to them. Imagine that the interviewer was from a rival college and bore ill will toward me based on that information, that could cause a prejudgment in the opposite direction and keep me from getting a job rather than put me in the forefront.

Yes you want to give them as much information as you can while you are there…but now the Napa Valley College alumni on the panel doesn’t know that I too am from Napa Valley College so he/she doesn’t favor me before I am in the room and until I  make the connection by my own communication. He/she was never given any information about me so there could be no prejudgments either way.

Let’s talk about the type of non-verbal communication that is seen in an interview…one of the ways to communicate effectively and not say more than a few words is to simply hand your resume to each panel member because you are going by the assumption that they have NOT seen your resume…and you want them to see it. As you are introduced, you simply give each person a new copy of your resume so that it can be discussed during the interview…But I am getting a bit ahead of myself…

The first non-verbal communications with the panel are going to be your confidence level, a bit of your personality, eye contact, and your handshake. You must make sure that as you are introduced to each person, you smile, you give a firm, full extended hand as you handshake while looking the person in the eye and expressing your pleasure to meet with him/her.

The way in which you walk into the room will tell the panel volumes about you and how you perceive yourself. If you walk in with your shoulders straight, you are standing tall, you look each person in the eye, give a firm handshake, smile to show that you are a person that enjoys the company of others and are comforatable with others, and say hello in a clear strong voice…you have portrayed yourself as a confident, self assured individual. By contrast…if you walk in with your shoulders slightly (even just a tiny bit) hunched over and you are looking everywhere else but at the person you are meeting, then you shake hands and only give them your fingertips, or give a limp noodle shake ,you have just portrayed yourself as timid, nervous, scared, and definitely not confident in your abilities to do the job.

Remember these tips

  • Stand straight and tall
  • Smile to show that you are a personable person
  • Make eye contact with each person as they speak to you and you speak to them
  • Give a firm, full-grip handshake
  • Give each person a copy of your resume

The above tips are only the beginning of the non-verbal communication you will be doing while you are in an interview. Next time we will talk about maintaining the confidence level by how you sit, how you move (or don’t move) in your seat, and the continuation of eye contact, and more tips on non-verbal impressions.

See you then….

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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

Colleague Statement
“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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