10 Guidelines for Success; “The Best Advice I Ever Got!”

Dirk Hoffius

Dirk Hoffius

10 Guidelines for Success; “The Best Advice I Ever Got!”

I recently stumbled over an interesting article entitled “The Best Advice I Ever Got”. I got in touch with the author (Dirk Hoffius)  who gave me permission to share it with you in an abridged manner as well as giving you the link to the entire article. Dirk is an attorney with the law firm of Varnum in Grand Rapids, MI. His title is “The Best Advice I Ever Got”. I added that it seems to me to be 10 great guidelines for success! Read on……………….

1. Do something. In other words – act, make and do. You have three choices in life: you can make things happen; you can watch things happen; or you can wonder, “Hey, what in the world happened?” Do it. Get it done. Turn your energy into plans, actions, and deeds. People will be impressed, and so will you.

2. Find a mentor. Do this as early and as often in your life as possible. You will know your mentor when you meet him or her. He or she will be smarter than you are, more talented than you are, more sophisticated than you are, and wiser than you are. Yet, somehow, for all that, he or she will believe in you. The better your mentor, the faster you will grow.

3. Be nice to everyone. Assume the kid in the mailroom is your future  boss or client, because he or she may well be. You can’t be too nice, but that doesn’t mean you should be a pushover. Nice people don’t finish last; they just don’t talk about winning on the way to the finish line. The more important you get, the nicer you’ve got to be.

4. Be on time. Ninety percent of life, according to Woody Allen, is showing up. People who show up get a 95, and what they do after they show up is the rest of the grade. Be committed to the task at hand because everyone’s time is as important as yours. Agreeing to be somewhere is a promise. Keep it.

5. The magic words. Growing up, your parents made you learn the magic words. “Please,” “Thank you,” and “I’m sorry.” If you want someone to do something for you, say :Please.” If they do it, say “Thank you.” If you do something and it’s wrong, don’t sit around waiting for everyone to forget about it. They won’t. Say you’re sorry and move on.

6. Never point your finger unless you’re giving directions. There is no payoff for laying the blame on others, events or the weather. There is no time for it and the press of events is far more important that who or what is to blame. Be part of the solution, not the problem. But, never be afraid to ‘fess up to your own mistakes. Strive for fairness in all things. Even more important is to give others the credit they deserve. You will need them for the rest of your life.

7. Stay curious. Ask questions. Whenever anything is unclear to you, never ever worry about appearing dumb. The dumbest question you’ll ever ask is the one you never ask. It was your missed opportunity to learn. People love someone who’s not afraid to ask a dumb question. They were waiting with the answer anyway. Don’t be intimidated by expertise and don’t be afraid to challenge jargon. Jargon is the mask of the insecure, the fortress of the overeducated.

8. Keep is simple. Strive for simplicity in everything. Think about it. Have you r every heard someone say, “I love the guy, he makes everything sound so complicated?” Simplicity means using plain English and always thinking how to make what you say and write  as easy to understand as possible.

9. Love what you do. Do what you love. This is absolutely critical. If you don’t love what you are doing, you probably won’t perform as well as you could. And even if you are successful, you’ll be miserable, so what’s the point? What if you don’t love what you are doing? Maybe you aren’t doing your best because if you do your best, one of two things can happen; you may have a new opportunity or you may find you like the job.

10. Learning is forever. No matter what we do in life, we are always learning and that’s a good thing because the more we learn, the better we do,, and the more we enjoy what we do. More importantly, our careers and our lives do not become boring if we continue to learn, to explore new things, and to grow. The result of always learning from classes, mentors, competitors, and anyone with whom you come in contact, is that someday you can be the best in your field. When that happens, whether you  recognize it or not, you became a mentor.

Americans love lists; these ten things are important if we are to be the  best we can be. They are lessons for life. Everytime we think we “got it” we find we can do better. We can and we will.

Dirk Hoffius

The entire text of this essay by Dirk Hoffius can be found at:

http://www.varnumlaw.com/files/documents/publications/The_Best_Advice_I_Ever_Got.pdf

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Pearl Harbor Day – December 7, 1941

The sneak attack on the United States forces at Pearl Harbor, HI by the Imperial Japanese Navy occurred on December 7, 1941. American casualties were 3,581 dead and wounded and the U.S. entered WWII in the Pacific as a result.

For many of you, Pearl Harbor was in a high school history book. For you history buffs, you know the story. The (in my opinion) definitive work on the subject is the book “At Dawn We Slept” by Gordan Prang.

at dawn we sleptIt is a great read… as exciting as any novel you will read. As we mark the 73rd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii consider getting a copy and reading the story.

A very short executive summary of Japanese intentions is the plan was to eliminate the U.S. Navy from interfering with Japanese efforts to invade and conquer the oil-and-rubber-rich lands of the southwest Pacific. Their thinking was that by the time the U.S. Navy was re-built, the Japanese conquests would be completed and the Americans would accept it a fait d’acompli (wrong!), as well as focusing on the war in Europe. Despite Japanese planning, they did not know for sure where the American carriers were. In fact they were not at Pearl, escaped destruction and became from the foundation for American success just a short time later at Midway. It was the beginning of the end of the Japanese Navy and hence the war in the Pacific.

http://www.amazon.com/At-Dawn-We-Slept-Untold/dp/0140157344

If you don’t have the time or interest to read the book, you can find an excellent summation of the events leading up to and including the attack at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attack_on_Pearl_Harbor

USS_Arizona_Memorial_(aerial_view)The USS Arizona (BB-39) lies on the bottom of Pearl Harbor where a number of its crew are entombed. Oil still leaks from the ship to this day. A memorial straddles the ship and visiting the memorial is a somber event for any travelers to Oahu.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Arizona_(BB-39)

Whether your read more about December 7th, 1941 or not, take a moment today and honor the 2,403 Americans that died that day (and an additional 1,178 were wounded).

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4 Barriers to Getting That Job Offer!

The Shocking Truth About Your Image

Four bizarre reasons customers may not like you (or people may not hire you!)

By Jeff Mowatt

I came across an interesting article that address some of the issues that get in the way of interviewing well and ultimately getting a job offer. The four principles Jeff mentions:

  1. You look different than expected (dress for success when interviewing)
  2. You’re hard to understand (verbal skills aren’t good)
  3. You exaggerate (don’t puff your experience or fib on your resume)
  4. You’re indiscreet (don’t ever bad mouth a past boss or employer)

….all apply to the job seeking process. I found the article a refreshing reminder of the barriers to success and getting job offers. With that said… read on! I have added a comment or two and put them in italics to distinguish them from Jeff’s original article. Many thanks to Jeff for letting me share this with you!

Jeff Mowatt

Jeff Mowatt

Whether it’s fair or not, we are often judged on first impressions. This harsh reality is nowhere better seen than in today’s ultra-fast business world where customers size-you-up in a nano-second based on your personal image. Since their impression of you will determine whether or not they want to do business with you (or interview you… or hire you), the impact on your career and on your organization’s bottom line can be staggering.

Ironically, when corporations bring me in to speak at conventions on how to boost customer retention, I often find that there’s been little or no professional training for employees about personal image. Since it’s often awkward to confront employees on these sensitive issues, you need some ammunition to make the task easier. Here are 4 image-related reasons that customers may not like you or your employees. Incidentally, customers will never tell you these reasons to your face — they’ll simply do business elsewhere.

1. You look different than expected.

Customers prefer conducting business with individuals who meet their visual expectations. So if you want to keep customers, dress in a manner that customers expect. A plumber dressed in an Armani suite makes the client uncomfortable. An alderman in khaki shorts would shock the council members of City Hall. A waitress with too much makeup, sporting tattoos and body piercing would likely put off a patron in an upscale restaurant. On the other hand, a bar tender in a conservative suit and tie may appall a customer in an alternative nightclub.

“But that’s not fair!” decry so many employees at the thought of being told what to wear. Again, first impressions may not be fair, but they are the realities of the business world. You hire employees to take care of customers — not for the sake of expressing their sartorial individuality. They can do that on their own time. Your job as a business owner or manager is to create an environment, including staff wardrobe, where your customers feel comfortable.

The most effective way to convey this message to employees is to have a written dress code. When writing your code, it’s best to check with an attorney for the laws that apply in your jurisdiction. The great thing about a dress code is it often weeds out would-be applicants who wouldn’t feel comfortable in that environment. That’s better for everone.

2. You’re hard to understand.

Customers don’t want to strain themselves to understand front line staff. If you or other employees don’t speak the local language clearly, then customers will generally go to your competitors where they won’t have to work so hard to communicate — or to spend their money. This is doubly important when speaking on the telephone, where customers don’t have the benefit of non-verbal communication to help them interpret what’s being said.

This concept has nothing to do with discrimination based on ethnic differences or nationality. It has to do with basic communication skills that are essential to do the job. If it’s a question of improving your knowledge of the local language, then take courses until you’re fluent and easy to understand- not just enough to get by. (If English is not your first language – enunciate very carefully and practice your verbal skills.)

3. You exaggerate.

Don’t exaggerate to tell customers what they want to hear. If a task will take 15 minutes to complete, don’t say, “It’ll only be 5 or ten minutes.” This is called lying. Customers hate that. Organizations that stay in business over the long term, adhere to the age-old adage, under promise and over deliver. ‘Nuff said.

4. You’re indiscreet.

‘Indiscreet’ describes the cashier at a self-serve gas station who chatted with his friends while I entered to pay. He barely stopped his conversation with his buddies to take my money. I felt like I was crashing a private party. I never went back.

While this obvious display of rudeness is relatively rare, a much more common example is when employees converse amongst themselves in front of the customer. Numerous times I’ve been on airplanes when the flight attendants, while rolling food carts down the aisles, are so engaged in their personal conversations that they barely stop long enough to take the dinner orders. Meanwhile every passenger has to listen to their private conversations, whether they want to or not.

To top-off the indiscretion list, far too many employees inadvertently tell customers more than they want to hear. For example, when a customer asks a front line employee, “How are you?”, they really don’t want to hear complaints. It’s just a greeting. Yet some employees take this as an excuse to complain with, “Oh, I’m 60-40″, or as a security guard once told me, “I’m vertical.” (Yikes)! Some employees respond with, “I’ll be great when my break starts.” In other words, the employee will be happy as soon as he or she can get away from their job and us — the customers. All of these indiscretions make customers wish they were dealing with professionals. (By careful of what you say and where you say it. I have heard far too many things I should have NEVER heard in elevators and from the next table over at lunch!)

There is hope.

Awareness of these problems is half the battle. A lot of employees simply don’t realize they’re committing these offenses. Another part of the solution is training. Bringing in a professional trainer to address the employees as a group provides the advantage of third party objectivity, in a fun non-threatening manner. One thing is clear though, if you do nothing about these issues, your business will continue to suffer without anyone else telling you why.

Jeff Mowatt is a customer service strategist, award-winning speaker, and bestselling author. For more tips, training tools or to inquire about engaging Jeff for your team visit www.JeffMowatt.com.

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Top 7 Reasons Customer Service Slides

If your job involves customer service (and whose doesn’t!) – this is a MUST read for you!

customer service checkmarkMany thanks to Jeff Mowatt for letting me share this story with you. This article is based on the bestselling book, Becoming a Service Icon in 90 Minutes a Month by customer service strategist and award-winning motivational speaker, Jeff Mowatt. To obtain your own copy of his book or to inquire about engaging Jeff for your team, visit www.jeffmowatt.com or call 1-800-JMowatt (566-9288).

Top 7 Reasons Customer Service Slides

By Jeff Mowatt

When I’m asked to speak at conferences on how managers can boost business, they often assume we’re going to focus on gaining new customers.  Ironically, that’s the last thing we should focus on. Neglecting existing customers to chase new business is akin to gathering water in the proverbial leaky bucket. We can exhaust ourselves trying to collect more water when we’d be further ahead by simply fixing the holes. The more sustainable approach to growing business is ensuring existing customers are so thrilled that they’ll not only return; but they’ll also recommend you to new potential customers. The challenge is without attention, customer satisfaction often atrophies. To ensure that doesn’t happen in your organization consider these top seven reasons why customer service slides.

1. Assuming customers notice good service 

They don’t. Customers are too busy and distracted by their mobile devices to notice when service is merely good.  Employees need to provide service that’s remarkable.  Fortunately, that doesn’t mean working harder.  It just means choosing words more carefully. Compare, “Do you want us to deliver it?”  Vs.  “Would it be helpful if we delivered that for you to save you a trip?” The second phrase didn’t take more work, yet the wording made the offer more noticeable.

2. Establishing Customer Service as a department

If you set-up a customer service department, it by default means other employees will assume that taking care of customers isn’t their job. That means employees end-up redirecting customer concerns when they should be addressing problems themselves.

3. Measuring sales vs satisfaction

It’s tempting for managers to evaluate the business by focusing on monthly or annual revenues.  That’s fine for measuring how the organization has been doing up till now.  But the factor that determines how the business will do in future is not sales; it’s customer satisfaction. Sales measures success today.  Customer satisfaction predicts how you’ll do tomorrow.

4. Rewarding longevity over service

It’s fine to have ‘service’ awards for long term employees. However, length of service isn’t nearly as important as quality of service.  Customer service cultures that thrive are those where recognition is focused more on internal and external customer service, than on just showing up.

5. Training focuses on technical vs interpersonal skills

The term ‘soft-skill’ somehow implies that customer communication skills aren’t nearly as substantive as technical skills.  The irony is that customers take for granted that employees have basic technical skills.  What customers do notice are the interpersonal and communication skills employees use to interact with them. Technical skills deliver the work.  Soft skills create the customer relationship.

6. Lack of recovery skills 

When customer service training consists of providing customers with information, transactions, and being polite, that skill set will take the employee as far as the nearest foul-up.  If employees aren’t trained on how to interact with customers when things go wrong, then they’re not fully trained. Ironically, customers don’t notice (or appreciate) your service when everything goes well. The time when they actually notice and judge you is when things go wrong. That’s why of all the customer service skills you can provide, those that get you the fastest return on investment are recovery skills.

7. Lack of reinforcement 

Without regular reminders and reinforcement, employees revert back to old habits of focusing more on transactions than on customers. That’s why we advocate a three phase approach to building a customer focused culture.  Phase One is conducting a customized customer service seminar – including recovery skills – which we film to serve as an orientation for new hires.  In Phase Two we provide employees with monthly bulletins and by-weekly tips.  And finally for Phase Three we teach managers how to stage their own regular CAST© (Customer Service Team) meetings so they can continue to train employees in-house and adapt to changing customer needs. That way you’ll convert a one-time customer service training event into an on-going continuous improvement process.

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A Proven Plan to Uncover the Hidden and Unpublished Job Market! Part 2 of 2

Job-Seeking Strategy – Uncovering the Hidden and Unpublished Job Market… another way to find a job!…..Part 2

hidden-job-market-970x451What is the “Hidden and Unpublished Job Market”?

The term “Hidden Job Market” refers to job openings that exist or will in the very near future, but that are not available to the general job-seeking public; they are not being advertised, are not on the internet job boards and are not listed with staffing services. They may or may not be listed on the employer’s website.

Last week we discussed in detail how do you get your foot in the door for these “hidden” jobs.

You do so by executing a self-marketing plan. It is the most pro-active way to unearth those hidden jobs… as well as those that are not hidden, but you have just not found them yet. This self-marketing plan involves you making lots of phone calls and following a carefully worded script (see notes accompanying each aspect of the call). To refresh your mind go to last week’s post.

In part 2 of this topic this week, I will discuss to whom you make these calls and some modifications depending on who you are calling.

OK… to whom do you make these calls?

Everyone! Yes – everyone you can think of!

You are going to make calls to your network of contacts…. with some modifications depending on who you are calling.

When calling business associates… follow the menu detailed last week 100%.

How about others to call other than business associates? Think of it this way… the person that sat in your dentist’s chair before you may well have bemoaned to your dentist the fact that he or she is having a tough time finding someone for a critical job…same for your doctor and same for your priest, minister, rabbi, etc.

You want to modify the opening resume request slightly to:

“Frank – Harry Smith here. How have you been??…it has been a while since we talked.”

Depending on the frequency of contact with each person, you may need to remind them of who you are and how you and they are connected. If necessary, do so as was covered before with the “Bill” example.

“Say Frank – I have a favor to ask. Nothing heavy mind you, but important to me. I am in the process of changing jobs and trying to make sure I leave no stone unturned looking for opportunities.”

 “I would really appreciate it if I could email you my resume so you can see my work history and then give some thought as to who I should be talking to. I will also send you my target list of firms I am most interested in, and it would be great if you knew someone at any of them. Will you do that for me?”

“What is your email address?”

And… take it from there!

There might be some contacts where it is better to email your request with your resume and target list as attachments. For those that do not work with a telephone at hand – such as your doctor and dentist – this is a better approach. When you call and want to talk to those type of professionals, you are taking them away from their primary work. Better to let them hear your request on their “down time”.

OK… you now know how to tap into the “hidden job market”. Is this whole process a bit assertive? Yes, it is – and it is understandable that you might not be comfortable making these calls at first. Keep in mind two things – first, virtually all of the people you will call won’t think poorly of you for doing so. Second – it works and is a viable strategy for you to find a job. So – gut up and make the calls!!

I cover this topic in greater detail in The Ultimate Job-Seeker’s Guide in Chapter 9 … get your own copy for only $14.95 (or less at Amazon).

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A Proven Plan to Uncover the Hidden and Unpublished Job Market! Part 1 of 2

Job-Seeking Strategy – Uncovering the Hidden and Unpublished Job Market….another way to find a job!

What is the “Hidden and Unpublished Job Market”?

hidden-job-market-970x451The term “Hidden Job Market” refers to job openings that exist or will in the very near future, but that are not available to the general job-seeking public; they are not being advertised, are not on the internet job boards and are not listed with staffing services. They may or may not be listed on the employer’s website.

This is a lengthy post so I will divide it into two sections. This post will discuss:

How do you get your foot in the door for these “hidden” jobs?

  • Timing – Due to the nature of most of the hidden jobs… timing is critical. Which means you need to be ready at a moment’s notice to respond. LinkedIn and Facebook profiles have to be current and in good shape. Resume and cover letter both need to be up to date as well as ready to send. Interview question responses need to be completed and ready to be reviewed in the event that a telephone interview is in the cards very quickly after initiating action.
  •  Check your sources frequently – perhaps every day – job boards, websites of targeted employers with available job listings, classified ads, etc. When a hidden job becomes “unhidden” you want to know about it and be ready to act that day – not a week later. Ben Franklin had it right when he talked of early birds and worms!
  • Networking – As noted in the title of the great networking book by Harvey Mackay Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty – you build your network before you need it. If your network is skimpy, however, use what you have and get to work to build it to a far more robust level. We will cover how to put your existing network to work for you to unearth the hidden job market, but you should make building your network a priority. My advice to you is to buy – and read – Harvey’s book!
  • Have and execute a self-marketing plan – The most pro-active way to unearth those hidden jobs… as well as those that are not hidden, but you have just not found them yet.

Self-Marketing Plan:

This self-marketing plan involves you making lots of phone calls and following a carefully worded script (see notes accompanying each aspect of the call):

“Bill – Harry Smith here. How have you been??…it has been a while since we talked.”

Hopefully it will not have been so long that Bill hasn’t a clue who you are!! Networks and contacts are like tuna salad – the fresher the better. If it has been awhile… or the person is just a business card you collected at a meeting a year ago, you should add:

“Bill – you may not remember, but we met at the XYZ meeting/conference/reception/whatever last year in (city). I enjoyed our brief conversation then…and I was impressed. I kept your business card knowing that I would want to touch base with you in the future… like now when I need some advice!”

“Say Bill – I have a favor to ask… nothing heavy mind you.. but important to me. I am in the process of changing jobs and I really need a critical eye to take a look at my resume. I respect your judgment and know I can count on you to tell me like it is.”

Note what you have done: (a.) you have paid Bill a compliment. We all like getting a compliment, and (b.) you did not ask Bill for a job or if he had an opening. You never want to ask that question… it puts people on the spot, makes them uncomfortable and puts them in a position to usually say “no”… and people don’t like to do that, especially to a friend or acquaintance.

“May I email my resume to you and then get some feedback in a few days?”

You asked Bill to do something that is both very easy and will take very little time….so virtually all asked will say “yes”.

“Great!!”

“I will also include my target list of possible employers…and it would be most helpful if you knew anyone at those firms…getting my resume in front of a decision maker is my objective… I can get that feedback at the same time I get your read on my resume.”

Bill has already said “yes” once… he is not going to say no to this add-on request, although it is a bit more time-consuming. The target list has been compiled through your knowledge of the area’s finest employers, newspaper articles regard those firms that are expanding, those firms posting jobs that are of interest. Limit listings to 15-20; one page only.

“Bill… I can’t thank you enough. I really appreciate your input. I am working on my schedule… and I need to be near your office in the next few days. Can I swing by your office and take a few minutes of your time to get your feedback?? What day and time will work for you… I am at your disposal.”

How well Bill knows you will determine how successful you are in getting a personal meeting. If you can hit 50% on these, you are doing great. Why do you want a personal meeting rather than a telephone conversation? You will have Bill’s full and uninterrupted attention and an opportunity to impress Bill with your demeanor and personality. Refresh Bill’s memory of how sharp and personable you are. All harder to do over the phone.

(If Bill can’t grant a personal meeting)

“Hey …no problem… I will give you a call in a few days or so to get your feedback. Thanks again… you will have my resume and target list within the hour… let me confirm your email address.”

You want an agreement that Bill will take your call and give you the input you want on your resume as well as the details regarding who Bill knows on your target list. You have also confirmed Bill’s email address. Send him your resume and your target list as email attachments (done in MSWord of course) along with the following email:

Bill – thanks so much for taking my call today. I am excited about the challenges of a new position and I really appreciate your candid review of my resume – does it flow?? – is it clear as to my achievements?? Any and all comments will be appreciated. I have also attached a target list of employers I am interested in…. and it would be most helpful if you have any contacts at any of them that can get me past the gatekeepers in HR. And of course… let me know who else you think I should be talking to.

Thanks again… and I will give you a call in a few days.

Regards,

Harry Smith

The operative words in this email are resume review and who do you know.  In order to review your resume, Bill has to read it. First mission accomplished – you have a potential employer (depending on where Bill is located and what his business is) reading your resume… and you have a “sphere of influence” reading your resume.

What is a “sphere of influence”? It is a person whose position and achievements make them a valuable contact in and of themselves… AND… because of who they know and who is in their network.

People talk with people of all walks of life, but particularly with peers… spheres of influence talk to other spheres of influence. You make this kind of call to enough spheres of influence… and sooner or later you are going to hit one who either has a job opening – hidden or not… and/or knows someone who is in a hiring mode.

But – Bill’s job is not to find you a job. Bill is busy (or else he wouldn’t be a good sphere of influence!!) You need to follow up! If you can get the personal face time with Bill – great. If not, make this call 3 – 4 days after you emailed your info to Bill:

“Bill – Harry Smith here… is this a good time to talk?

Just following up on our recent conversation and the email I sent you. What are your thoughts on my resume?”

At this point – don’t talk any more. You want – gently – to make Bill talk to you about your resume. Depending on how certain you are regarding the content of your resume, you really want Bill’s comments. Listen intently… make notes… and recognize that he may have some good input to fine tune your resume. If you get a blanket “looks good”, ask a few questions such as:

“Bill – if you were to make one recommendation to improve my resume, what would it be?”

“Does it flow smoothly, or are there are areas that are confusing?”

DO NOT be defensive or argumentative about any comments Bill makes!!

“Thanks… that was really helpful.”

“As to my target list.. let’s see … there are about 20 firms listed on it… do you have any contacts at any of those I can leverage to see if they have an opportunity where I can make a contribution?”

Make sure your list is no longer than 15 – 20 firms…any more than one sheet of paper becomes an imposition. If Bill says “Yes, I do… at XYZ”, ask for the info.

OK… back to your request of Bill. If Bill offers to make a call on your behalf, you have a decision to make.

If Bill is not a close friend, decline his offer by saying:

“Bill – I appreciate the offer… but let me make the call, mentioning that you referred me. It will help me get a feel for the organization. I will let you know how the call goes, and I may ask you to make a follow up call or email.”

Why don’t you want Bill to make the call? Because you can never be sure that he did make the call!!…it is not a priority for Bill… it can fall by the wayside…and you sure can’t call him back to ask him if he made the call!!

On the other hand if you and he are very, very close… and you have no doubt he will make the call, then you will say:

“Great.. who will you be calling so I can follow-up a few days after your call? How about if I make the follow-up call in a week?”

“One last question Bill. Can you think of any other people or organizations I need to contact… is there someplace I have overlooked that comes to mind?”

This is one last effort to get any additional leads from Bill.

OK… Bill, I really appreciate your help.. .it has been most valuable. Thanks again…and I will keep you posted as to my progress. If something comes to mind… just give me a shout or send me an email. It would be greatly appreciated.

#####

In OK…now you know a proven process to unearth hidden and unpublished jobs. In part 2 of this topic next week, I will discuss to whom you make these calls and some modifications depending on who you are calling.

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For jobs and career opportunities in the Washington, DC metro area –  visit the NRI website. Many jobs are listed there …..and NRI Recruiters can find others for you!

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Copyright © Robert Mulberger All Rights Reserved

Number One Networking Tip ….Mastering the “Elevator Speech”!

Number One Networking Tip ….Mastering the “Elevator Speech”!

Elevator-SpeechAs you meet people for the rest of your days… as you network your way through life… there is a question you will be asked countless times.

The question is…”so Tom – what do you do?”. Rightly or wrongly… what “we do” defines us in the marketplace/work force/conversational world…and it is hard to find a time when that question isn’t asked. Whether you meet someone leaving church… in the gym locker room ….or over coffee in the local diner…that is often one of the first  snippets of conversation to take place with a stranger.

You really need to have a good… and brief… response ready to roll off your tongue! While your expertise in responding might be less important over coffee at the diner than in a business networking situations… but … is it really?? Networking is networking – your objective is always the same – to establish a relationship however brief with others. Brief because it is the first contact… from there both parties decide whether to just file away the business card…or to continue the dialogue.

This is sometimes referred to as an “elevator speech” because you can deliver it in the time it takes to ride an elevator to your destination. Which means it is no longer than 30 seconds!

Like anything else you are going to do a number of times…it makes great sense to figure out the  best way to do it…then “cook book” it. Use the coffee shop type of dialogue example as a chance to hone your response.

My elevator speech?

Thank you for asking. I am in the business of helping organizations get the work done by providing both temporary workers and direct hire placement services to fill job openings. As a matter of course doing this, we find people jobs. We work in four specialty areas – accounting/finance – legal – healthcare and office administration.

Shake me awake in the middle of the night and ask me the question and these fifty-three words just come out!

One of the outcomes of effective networking and a great network is the ability to parlay that into interviewing opportunities. Remember the Six degrees of separation theory; that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum (usually) of six steps.

Your elevator speech is an opening comment to the entire network building process; the network that can yield you opportunities in the “hidden and unpublished” job market….to get the job offer you want!

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How to Best Follow-Up After an Interview!

How to Best Follow-Up After an Interview!

OK….the interview seemed to go well… you are now on your way to your next destination and you are thinking to yourself “wonder when I will hear from them?”

You have already made a serious interviewing error!

follow upPart of your responsibility during the interview comes near the end when you say, “I have really enjoyed talking with you….and it would seem that my credentials and experience are a good match for your open position. If that is the case from your perspective, what is the next step?”

 

Listen carefully and ask questions to flesh out the details.

What you want to know is:

  • How many follow-up interviews with other people is part of the process?
  • What else is involved (reference checks, etc.)?
  • When might those take place?

Without being overly assertive, you want to end this line of dialogue with a statement such as, “so what I hear you saying is that all things being equal, I should hear from you – one way or the other – by next week?”

In other words, you close out the interview so that as you head to your next destination you KNOW when you will hear back!

But you aren’t done yet… there are several other things you can do to promote your candidacy:

Send a one-page (only!) follow-up letter via U.S. Mail. Not email… U.S. Mail gets opened and read. Mail it the same day or the next day at the latest… you want it to arrive very quickly so it can have an impact on the deliberations regarding the different people interviewed for the open slot.

In that letter you of course thank the interviewer for their time, state that you are very interested in taking the next step…AND you mention one of key factors of the job as one of your assets…what you bring to the table. …such as “I think my recent experience installing a new accounting system at XYZ Corp will enable me to hit the ground running on day one!” If at all possible “mirror” the job listing with words and phrases that will have the interviewer saying “wow – this seems like a very good fit!”.

I wrote before about creating a “brag book” (Moving Up the Career Ladder; How to Get that Next Job – March 24, 2014). A “brag book” is a collection of positive things about you written by others… testimonials if you  will. If you have done this, dig out a short one and include it in your follow-up letter. Such as:

“A year or so ago, I received a note from my CFO that read in part – “Bill – thanks for the great job on the transition team. Your contributions were critical to success”.

Third-party testimonials can help further confirm that you are the hire to make!

Now what to do when the employer doesn’t get back to you as discussed? Stay cool…no need to get upset about it. Stuff happens. Shoot an email to your contact or make a tele call. “I am sure you are busy, but I wanted to follow-up on our interview last week. I recall understanding that I would hear back by now. Can you give me a status report? By the way, I am still very interested.”

Closing out the interview will let you know when to expect to hear back as well as give you a chance to further sell yourself!

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Strengthen Your Network…To Get That Job Offer!

Strengthen Your Network…to Get That Job Offer!

Often it will be via your network that your next job offer will materialize. You use your network to make connections that lead to job leads. Don’t overlook the “six degrees of separation” theory * ….where a friend of a friend, etc. can lead to you talking to the right person at the right time!

Building your network never ends and requires diligence to follow through on every-day events. Yet it is a most worthwhile endeavor. Leveraging your career is aided greatly by the breadth and quality of your network!

The following is adapted from an article by Lauren Thaler as appeared in the newsletter of BizConnect – a Washington, DC networking organization (http://www.bizconnectonline.com/).  Many thanks to Lauren and BizConnect for letting me share it with you! BizConnect is an organization worth looking into to expand your networking contacts!

networkingEffective networks can make a huge difference in your personal growth and success.  To say nothing of getting Final Four tickets, a physician referral while on vacation and a host of other very useful and practical end-results!

Lauren has some great thoughts how to improve and grow yours!! Read on…..

Strengthen Your Network by Lauren Thaler

As a motivated networker, you have likely given a lot of thought to how you network. Which networking groups and events should you join? How do you introduce yourself to a new contact? What is your approach to following up with potential clients or referral sources?

There is a lot of strategy behind networking—that’s for sure. And if you are like other network-minded people, you probably give more time and attention to these types of thoughts than the average working professional. In fact, it may sometimes feel like you already know everything there is to know about networking! Well – here are two ways to strengthen your network that you may not have thought of yet.

Consider building your network on personal interests and passions you enjoy instead of professional similarities like industry, organization, or job level. As Patricia Fletcher of Inc. Magazine astutely points out, “Our long-term constants provide the base from which we can grow into successful entrepreneurs and contributors to society.” Therefore, building your network on these constants may offer a better foundation than building your network on variables; your job and your industry of focus may very well change in the years to come.

You may have heard the next piece of networking advice, but we’re going to really dig into it and provide a new angle that you may not have thought of before. Traditional networking guidance suggests that we should try to meet new contacts based on what we would like to receive from them in the form of sales and referrals. However, have you considered a slightly different approach—Instead of using a method of what can be gained from others, consider an approach that puts you in charge of delivering the value. By helping or bringing value to others first, you are boosting your social capital and making a strong first impression. Being known as a giver instead of a taker often means that you will get more in return in the form of referrals, introductions and ultimately sales opportunities.

Have you tried these strategies before? If so, was there a noticeable improvement to your networking experiences? If you haven’t thought of growing your network in these ways, give them a try.     ########

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* Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps.

Top 10 Soft Skills You Need to Have to Get Hired!

Top 10 Soft Skills You Need to Have to Get Hired!

top 10How Are Your Soft Skills?

Most Hiring Managers Say Soft Skills Just as Important (as hard skills) *

A majority of employers believe that soft skills (less tangible traits associated with one’s personality, such as a positive attitude) are just as important as hard skills (abilities that are learned to perform a specific job function and can be measured, such as operating a computer program).

Career Builder’s survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals found the 10 most popular soft skills that companies say they look for when hiring:

1. Strong Work Ethic – 73%

2. Dependability – 73%

3. Positive Attitude – 72%

4. Self-motivated – 66%

5, Team-oriented – 60%

6. Organization (can manage multiple priorities) – 57%

7. Works well under pressure – 57%

8. Effective Communications – 56%

9. Flexibility – 51%

10. Confidence – 36%

OK…time for some self-analysis…. How do you stack up against these 10 factors? Some will take more time than others to improve…your objective is that a reference check of your current and past  employers will grade you favorably in these ten areas. It also seems to me that these are 10 factors to achieve success in life as well as on the job. Take the time to rate yourself on a 1-10 scale and then get started on getting all of the ratings in order.

If you are on the job market, print this and put in your job-hunting portfolio  so as to keep  in the forefront as you go through the process, especially interviewing!

* Adapted from “Most Hiring Managers Say Soft Skills Just as Important” from Staffing Success – the publication of the American Staffing Association.

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For jobs and career opportunities in the Washington, DC metro area –  visit the NRI website. Many jobs are listed there …..and NRI Recruiters can find others for you!

Copyright © Robert Mulberger All Rights Reserved