work successes

Three Steps to Land Your Dream Job 0

Landing the job takes enthusiasmThere are many steps to landing your dream job. Some are hard and some are easy.

Step 1 involves hard work. Preparation includes formulating a plan. You know the saying, if you don’t know where you are going… I offer free reviews of resumes at Job Fairs. People show me their resume and tell me they “will take any job.” And that’s what their resume looks like.

The hard work is narrowing down what specific job in what specific industry, then what specific company offers that position. In the end, you are solving the employer’s problem by offering what they need, in a way they recognize it.

Step 2 is easy. Be enthusiastic when speaking. Recruiters and HR managers surveyed said 48% of applicants were not enthusiastic or personable. They came across as negative during phone conversations and during interviews.

This is great news! You can put yourself ahead of almost ½ of the applicants just by smiling and being enthusiastic.

Step 3 is fun. After reading the job posting, list all of the things you have done for each bullet point. Then turn these into stories showing how you have; identified problems, taken action, and then share how it turned out. It’s fun to talk about your successes. And the employer will have an easier time remembering you.

Take these three steps now and soon you will hear those wonderful words “you’re hired.”

Tell a Story to Land the Job 0

Job Interview landed by telling success story  Employers hire to solve their problems. They advertise job postings and list a series of requirements they expect candidates to possess. Companies reduce the pile of applicants to those who exhibit the closest fit to their posted job description. Those that remain are interviewed to see how they would fit in.

So how do you stand out and be remembered?  The answer is, you tell a story.

For example, most positions have some interaction with customers, or clients, or guests. The question then is “how do you handle customers?”

You could say “I’m a people person!” Now my dog is a people person, but I wouldn’t hire him for a customer service position. But what if I told a story that showed; a problem a customer had, what I did to solve the problem, and how it turned out? Would you remember me? Let’s see.

I was the store manager for Best Products in a small rural town south of Richmond, Virginia. I was at home about 8:30 PM on Christmas Eve. The phone rings and it is a customer who had been in the store that afternoon to purchase a battery operated ride on car for his seven-year old son for Christmas. He is calling because as he is putting it together, he sees that the battery is missing from the package.

Now he’s almost frantic asking me what am I going to do about it? Well, first, I don’t know how he got my number and I’m thinking it might be a setup, but it is Christmas Eve. So what I did was tell him I would meet him at the store and we would find the battery. Then I called my assistant manager, just in case it was a setup.

I arrived at the store and we met the customer. We opened another box and got the battery he needed. Several days later, he came into the store and thanked me for ‘saving his son’s Christmas.”

Now if you had just interviewed two candidates and one told you he was a “people person” and the other told the Christmas Eve story, which one would you remember? When your Boss asked who you will pick for the job, which candidate would you be able to justify hiring, the people person or the Christmas Eve manager?

Remember, stand out by telling stories and land the job of your dreams.

Students should plan, so they never waste a summer 0

Joel Quass worked for VIMS on the Chesapeake BaySchool can be a stressful. Even the most motivated and inspired students face academic deadlines, family commitments, roommate distractions,  and other stressors. The thought of spending even part of the summer working just adds  additional pressure. Students view summer as spring break on steroids.

For me, summers were all about making money to pay for school. That was my plan. Summers involved long hours doing construction, pumping gas and being the Assistant Manager of a movie theatre.

But what if, with a plan,  you could use that time to forge a relationship with a multi-national corporation? Or work with marine biologists planting sea grass on sand dunes? Summer jobs in your field of interest stand out on a résumé and develop valuable contacts for future positions.

My best summer during college involved 18′ Thunderbird motor boats with giant Mercury outboard engines. My job was to chase the incoming tides up rivers that fed the Chesapeake Bay. Starting at the mouth of  the river at slack water, I would take a water sample. After logging the time and temperature, I would race upriver a specific time and collect another sample. All summer long I said to myself, “I can’t believe they are paying me to do this.”

As a  Political Science major, I never thought about leveraging that summer job into a career. That wasn’t my plan. Yet it happened in spite of myself.

I made some strong contacts at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and more importantly, at the marina where we fueled the boats. One of the Senior VP’s of the retail chain Best Products kept his boat there, and we had many of the same interests. Networking with Mr. Riley landed me an interview and a management position with Best Products after graduation.

My summer job helped me land a full-time management position after graduation by sheer luck. Imagine what a student could do during the summer if they had a plan.

Can an employer make a left turn from your résumé? 0

All I wanted to do was pick up my new sport coat. I had ordered it on Sunday and was told it would be ready Wednesday morning. My route took me a different way than I traveled on Sunday as I was dropping off some printing down the street.

Joel Quass, Professional Speaker and Author, speaks on management and leadership topics trys to get to Ocean County Mall

Traveling north on Hooper Avenue, I saw the signs for Ocean County Mall. It seemed to be telling me to make a right before the Bay Avenue exit, taking me down an exit ramp.

Arriving at the bottom of the ramp, I noticed a very large concrete barrier between me and my intended route. I could not make the left turn into the Mall.

Forced to continue on Bay Avenue, my next thought was to make a right into the entrance of Pier One and then cross Bay Avenue into the Mall.

Incredibly, there was that concrete barrier again. Now I am forced to make another right, continuing once again down Bay Avenue. The next cross street is Oak Avenue. Oak crosses Bay with large NO-U-TURN signs plastered around the intersection. So I made a left and turned up Oak Street. Now I can see the mall again in the distance.

The first entrance into the Mall from Oak is guarded by a large No Left Turn sign, propelling me forward to the next intersection with a traffic light. Once on the Mall property, I must now traverse their outer perimeter roadway to get to my final destination. Had I not needed the jacket for a conference presentation Friday morning, I would have abandoned my effort several turns ago and headed home.

After picking up my jacket, it dawned on me that I having read hundreds of cover letters and résumés that follow a similar path. I know where the author wants to end up, but I can’t get there from what they have written. Just like the first sign instructing me to turn right to get to the mall, the next transferable skill is hidden in the résumé  behind a concrete barricade.

Make your résumé and cover letter easy to navigate. Do not hide the good stuff behind No-U-Turn signs and concrete restraining walls. Arriving at the store was necessary for me. An employer thwarted by a hard to follow résumé will likely toss it and move on.

Organize and clearly mark the directions. Keep the employer from turning around and taking another road, another résumé, that is easier to follow. If an employer can follow your résumé’s traffic pattern and make that left turn easily into how your skills will benefit their problems, then it has done its job.

10 Ways To Win An Oscar (I Mean Land A Job) 0

and the award goes to (I mean the job goes to...)...

and the award goes to… (I mean the job goes to…)

I Google searched 10 ways to win an Oscar. With many thanks to everyone on-line who submitted a Top 10 List, the Oscar goes to Rick Schwartz for his list:  It’s Easy To Win An Oscar!

Here is Rick’s Top 10, re-packaged with my job tips:

  1. Be A World-Class Schmoozer - Be a real person and treat everyone you meet politely. Make sure you start with the receptionist.
  2. Don’t Be Ugly - Dress for the interview and make sure you are groomed. Leave the t-shirt and torn jeans at home.
  3. Cast A Has-Been – Everyone loves a come-back story. Show how you overcame an obstacle to achieve a goal.
  4. Do Something Scandalous  -The Facebook photo of you drunk, singing on top of a bar is the wrong type of scandalous. Think of something positive you have done. Stand out with a success story related to the requirements of the job.
  5. Live In Los Angeles - Rick talks about doing things in the town where the Oscars are awarded. Contributing time to a volunteer project in your town is a point in your favor.
  6. Show Up Everywhere  - Networking is still one of the best ways to land a new job. Make sure you are out there.
  7. Don’t Be Afraid To Get Dirty – You might want to stay away from this one. Once you start exaggerating your qualifications on a resume, it’s a slippery slope. Even if you land the job, someone will eventually find out. Don’t go there.
  8. Hire The Professional Goons – Sometimes an objective, outside opinion about your resume or your interviewing skills is needed. A small investment in a career coach and professionally crafted resume is often the difference between multiple job offers and a prolonged job search.
  9. Take Credit For Everything – Do not be afraid to toot your own horn. If you don’t believe in your ability to land the job, neither will the interviewer.
  10. Make An Amazing Movie – With a professionally crafted resume, scripting and a bit of rehearsing (ideally in front of a video camera),you can be amazing. All of your experience packaged correctly can make you the only logical choice.

Follow my ideas and be ready to accept the Oscar (I mean the job offer).

With only 346 days left in 2013, what future are you going to create? 1

Joel Quass asks what are your goals in 2013?

What do you see this year?

I have read dozens of articles about making New Year’s resolutions, both pros and cons. Many state that the very act of writing resolutions down helps solidify them in your sub conscious, and you are more likely to achieve them. Others quote Napoleon Hill and say, loosely paraphrased, “New Year’s Resolutions made without any action towards their achievement, are merely dreams”.

This morning I read – Strategy? Gut or Intuition? on LinkedIn. The author ends stating:

THE BEST WAY TO PREDICT THE FUTURE IS TO CREATE IT.

Without going into the debate about self-determination, I want to encourage finding that scrap of paper where you wrote your New Year’s Resolutions. If they are not on paper yet,  jot them down and tape them to the side of your computer monitor.

Sure there are only 346 days left in the year. But if you use them wisely, you can create a future that more closely mirrors your expectations.

Now, more than ever, you need focus 2

focus, Linked in Summary

Where will you focus in 2013?

This morning I updated my Summary Information on LinkedIn. Why? Because my focus this year is more targeted than last year. Going over my written goals for 2012, I realized that I hadn’t been specific enough. I hadn’t really drilled down, to understand what I wanted to accomplish.

To put it in interviewing terms, when asked about my customer service skills,  I had said “I’m a people person”.  Well my dog is a people person, but you wouldn’t hire my dog to give a keynote presentation.

A focused response to the question about customer service would be my relating the story of when I was a Store Manager for Best Products in Hopewell Virginia. It was 8PM on Christmas Eve when I got a phone call from a customer who had bought a ride-on car for his 8-year-old son. The father was putting the car together after his son went to bed when he found the battery for the car was missing from the package. The father had called me to ask what I was going to do about it?

I told the man I would meet him at the store. I called my Assistant Manager, just in case it was a set-up (it wasn’t) and I drove to the store. We found the battery he was missing and his 8 year-old son’s Christmas was saved. Now that’s a targeted response to the question of customer service skills.

In reading my Summary statement on LinkedIn, I realized that I was talking as a “people person”, without clear focus. This caused me to think more precisely about the specific, measurable goals I have for 2013. Then I took that focused information and re-wrote my Summary statement. Now, my Summary more closely reflects my focus, my goals for 2013.

While the year is still young, I encourage you to focus.

Start by reviewing your LinkedIn Summary statement.

Is it focused? Is the information current? Does it really identify your value?

While you are on LinkedIn, take a moment and  Customize your public profile URL . It only takes a moment to get rid of all of those letters and numbers behind your name.

If you really focus, 2013 will be your best year yet. I, for one, can’t wait!

Did you go far enough? 3

Will you go far enough to find the gold?Have you ever had trouble locating something or have a problem you couldn’t solve?

When this happens: 1. You can try to figure it out or locate it yourself 2. You can ask someone else to find it or solve the problem for you or 3. You can just give up.

Yesterday I overheard a man talking to his wife in the supermarket. He couldn’t find the brussel sprouts. She took him further down the aisle and there they were. I heard him say to her, “I didn’t go far enough”.

If you are looking for brussel sprouts at the supermarket, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t find them. Not going far enough only means you may have creamed corn for dinner instead. But what if it’s your business we are talking about?

What if you have invested your life savings along with the savings of your relatives. What if you have purchased drilling and mining equipment valued at a million dollars to excavate a gold mine? Now what if you can’t find gold?

During the 1848 California Gold Rush, this happened many times. One claim in particular was talked about by Napoleon Hill. The story was of a man who had purchased a claim and had found a very large seam of gold. He had mortgaged everything and borrowed from his relatives to mine the claim. After a few weeks, the “mother lode” went dry. No more gold. What did he do? He sold his equipment to a junk dealer for 10 cents on the dollar and went home. He didn’t go far enough.

The junk dealer hired a surveyor. The surveyor went to the mine and told the junk dealer, “dig ahead a few more feet and you will find the seam again”. The junk dealer did that and found one of the richest gold mines in California.

Whether shopping for vegetables for dinner or running a business, make sure you go far enough. Don’t settle for creamed corn when you have your heart set on brussel sprouts. And never, ever give up your business or your dreams before you have gone far enough. Because, during the act of going far enough, you will almost always find your answer.

The junk dealer learned that in 1848. And because his wife went a little farther, the man I saw in the supermarket yesterday learned it too.

Six Reasons You Don’t Need To Know How To Do the Job To Land The Job 4

When I interview, one of the first things I look for is common sense. If the candidate does not possess a basic understanding of how things work, I have a very hard time visualizing them working for me. I always feel I can teach someone to say, sell diamonds or drive a forklift, but I can’t teach them common sense.

Today, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) published its 2013 Outlook Ranking Candidate Skills. These were ranked in the order of importance to the interviewer. Guess where Technical knowledge of the position came in?

So here are the TOP SIX Skills/Qualities employers are looking for:

  1. Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization
  2. Ability to work in a team structure
  3. Ability to make decisions and solve problems
  4. Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work
  5. Ability to obtain and process information
  6. Ability to analyze quantitative data

Seven was technical knowledge related to the job. So the first six skills employers are looking for sound to me like NACE Qualities and Skills Employers are looking for in JOB searchescommon sense. In fact, if you look at the definition of common sense:  sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts (Merriam-Webster dictionary) these first six skills are all about common sense.

I’m not saying a solid technical foundation won’t land the job, but remember there are many applicants who have the technical skills. This survey, and my years of interviewing experience, suggest that there is more to the interview than just presenting your skills. If your future employer can’t see that you have common sense, they will have a hard time seeing you as a part of their team.

Don’t Practice Helicopter Leadership 0

“Whether you’re going to be a head coach, a leader of the team or the father of your own household, it is not about being friends; it is about actually being a leader.”

Phil Simms

What a great reminder of how a leader must act.

The article was featured in today’s Harvard Business Review. It was written by William Rhoden of the New York Times. Make sure you take a look as you decide how you will lead today.