Q: Are you fishing where the fish are swimming?
I recently worked with a CEO, helping her to land a new job. She put huge effort into the process and it all worked out in the end. So, what’s the BIG deal? Well, in my experience, this high level of effort is the exception rather than the norm. I never cease to be amazed at how clever people can be really stupid when it comes to preparing (in reality, not preparing) for job moves. Some people put more effort into planning a date than their career. So, if getting a new job is on the agenda for you in 2016, here’s a few ‘tricks of the trade’ to consider.
- Brilliant CV: This seems like a ‘baby point’ – hardly worth mentioning. But some people pay little attention to this key document. Your CV needs to be outcomes based i.e. what you have achieved – not what you were responsible for. It needs to be geared towards the particular position (i.e. you need to know what the actual job requires rather than relying on a standard pitch). And it needs to be truthful. Don’t spoof; truth is just a click away. It needs to be 2 pages maximum with language and layout that’s punchy and attractive. It needs to make the reader scream: “I want to meet this person”. Think about creating a multi-media CV with clips from promotional work you’ve done or even a 1-minute video interview of yourself. Does your current CV pass the ‘brilliant’ test? As a by-the-way, one survey of 2,200 hiring managers (by CareerBuilder) highlighted the term ‘Best of Breed” as the single most irritating description people used to describe themself. Don’t use it. You have been warned!
- Investigative Homework: You’d be amazed at how many people just ‘show up and see what happens’ at an interview. They don’t know the products, turnover, structure and very little about the organization culture. Or they have a cursory understanding. They don’t know who they will be meeting, what their biases are or how this position came into being. They are children interviewing for an adult job. And when the ‘Dear John’ letter arrives, they blame the process and rationalize their own failure (“I heard absolutely nothing for 5 weeks; who’d want to work for them anyway?”). Too busy to do this level of homework? Then pay someone else to do it for you (or just get ready to accept a ‘long service’ award from your current employer).
- Practice interviews: You will probably only get about 4 really good jobs in a career lifetime. So, you have to make sure that when the right opportunity comes up, you nail it. And guess what? Practice makes perfect –whether you’re playing the violin or getting ready for a CEO interview. Grab your favorite headhunter and ask for a full-blown interview (not a ‘chat’ over coffee about interviews in general; a mock interview for the actual role you are applying for). When you’ve taken the feedback on board and sharpened up, you should then assemble a panel of people whom you know/respect and do it all over again. Ask them to be brutally honest. Then go away, lick your wounds and sharpen up. Steal the motto from the SAS: “Train hard, fight easy”. If you get to this point, the interview will be a doddle! Oh yes, I know that you are also too busy to do this. All those emails to be answered today. It’s a killer, isn’t it? Not preparing for interviews is a career killer – even if you are ‘great on your feet’.
- Higher IQ: You can improve your IQ score by about 10 points through practice. Go into Eason’s or the local library or get on-line and buy or steal a ‘Test your IQ’ book. Then practice the exercises. Like getting into the groove on crossword puzzles, you get better at this stuff. A good bit better. It’s match fitness. Regardless of whether you are asked to play rugby or go swimming, you are getting mentally ready for the big event. My working assumption is that you’re already smart. The trick is to make yourself smarter and get the edge over the person who will come 2nd (otherwise known as ‘the loser’).
- Cover Tracks: The most recent statistics suggest that 48% of people are checking Facebook first thing each day (28% check updates before they get out of bed). There 2+ million members in Ireland who spend 7X more time here than on any other website. Great if you like spending time on Facebook. Awful if you’ve posted your drunken escapades under the heading of ‘wasted’. Think about the jobs you will be applying for 10 years from now and don’t put anything stupid on this or any other social media site. In the criminal investigation world they follow the motto: ‘Every contact leaves a trace’. It works the same on social media. If you are not IT literate, phone a friend and get this done for you.
- The Interview: This one is easy. Look the part. Strong handshake, warm smile. Answer the questions directly (based on the answers that you had prepared in advance, of course). Tell the truth and be positive. And, like a politician, know the points you want to make in advance and make them – regardless of what questions are asked. The interview itself is a walk in the park when all the ‘prep’ has been done. Provided, that you don’t have an ‘interview routine’ which focuses on “28 things I’m good at”. Less is more. How about 3 things and 1 thing you are working on/developing. Interviewers are often bored. Don’t add to that.
When there are ‘no bites today’, sometimes fishermen don’t mind. They enjoy the process as much as the outcome. But people searching for a job seldom love the process. It’s all about the outcome. With few senior roles on offer, you need to ensure that your marketing efforts are successful. In 2016, move onto that bigger and better pitch. Go on, reel it in!
Happy Christmas: Have a great break at Christmas with your family. I’m reliably told that Red Wine is good for Cholesterol reduction. There you go – full license. Warm best wishes for the holidays. Someone sent me a card which suggested that I would have a “Magnificent New Year in 2016”. How about that. I hope that the next chapter in your life will be great too.
PS Worst Advice of the Week: I was recently speaking at a conference of Nurses and Midwives in Salthill, Galway. One of the guys in our little music circle, Sean Dowling, is a midwife in the Rotunda Hospital (apparently, the oldest custom built maternity hospital in the world). I told Sean about the upcoming speaking gig and that I needed a good ‘opening line’ to grab attention. He came back with the following: “Paul Mooney: At your Cervix”. I thought about it for 1.2 nanoseconds. Yes, with friends like Sean who needs enemies? Thank God for Google – where I eventually found a T-Shirt with the slogan: “I’m a midwife. What’s your Superpower”? I went with that instead. Chicken? Dead right!
PPS Lighter Moment: Only in The USA!
It’s time again for the annual ‘Stella Awards’. For those unfamiliar with these awards, they are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonald’s in New Mexico, where she purchased the coffee. She took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving. Who would ever think one could get burned doing that? That’s right – these are awards for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts in the U.S.A. Here are some Stellas for your amusement:
SEVENTH PLACE: Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandably surprised by the verdict considering the running toddler was her son.
SIXTH PLACE: Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles, California won $74,000 plus medical expenses when his neighbour ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Truman apparently didn’t notice there was someone at the wheel of the car when he was trying to steal his neighbour’s hubcaps.
FIFTH PLACE: Terrence Dickson, of Bristol, Pennsylvania was leaving a house he had just burgled, by way of the garage. Unfortunately for Dickson, the automatic garage door opener malfunctioned and he could not get it to open. Worse, he couldn’t re-enter the house because the door connecting the garage to the house locked when Dickson pulled it shut. Forced to sit for eight (8 days) and survive on a case of Pepsi and a large bag of dry dog food, he sued the homeowner’s insurance company claiming undue mental anguish. Amazingly, the jury said the insurance company must pay Dickson $500,000 for his ordeal. We should all have this kind of anguish. I’m moving the dog food into the kitchen!
FOURTH PLACE: Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, garnered 4th Place in the Stella’s when he was awarded $14,500 plus medical expenses after being bitten on the bum by his next door neighbour’s beagle – even though the beagle was on a chain in its owner’s fenced yard! Williams did not get as much as he asked for because the jury believed the beagle might have been provoked at the time of the bite because Williams had climbed over the fence into the yard and repeatedly shot the dog with a pellet gun!
THIRD PLACE: Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania – because a jury ordered a Philadelphia restaurant to pay her $113,500 after she slipped on a spilled soft drink and broke her tailbone. The reason the soft drink was on the floor? Ms. Carson had thrown it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument. What happened to people being responsible for their own actions? Next!
SECOND PLACE: Kara Walton, of Claymont, Delaware sued the owner of a nightclub in a nearby city because she fell from the bathroom window to the floor, knocking out her two front teeth. Even though Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the ladies room window to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge, the jury said the nightclub had to pay her $12,000 plus dental expenses. Never happened to me in Tamangoes!
FIRST PLACE: This year’s runaway First Place Stella Award winner was…Mrs. Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver’s seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner manual that she couldn’t actually leave the driver’s seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her (are you sitting down?) $1,750,000 PLUS a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who are also thinking about buying a motor home.
Christmas Bonus: More Family Time: Want to see the family at Christmas? Here’s an extreme way to make sure they all show up (courtesy of Andrew O’Connell). I’m not quite sure what to make of this – but it is beautifully crafted….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6-0kYhqoRo
Check our website http://www.tandemconsulting.ie or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.