work successes

The Three C’s of Interviews – Two land the interview, the third lands the job 5

Has this ever happened to you? You hear about a job and review the posting. The job description reads just like your resume. You have done everything that the company is looking for. Your references and your on-line presence confirm you are that person. You apply and get a call for an interview. The job seems destined to be yours! But something goes a little sideways during the actual interview and two weeks later you learn they hired someone else. What happened?

Employers really are only looking for three things.  The first two are what get you into their office for the interview. The third is what actually gets you the job. 

The Three C’s of Interviews are:

  1. Capability
  2. Character
  3. Compatibility

First, they want to know if you can do the job. Some major employers now use keyword software to sift through on-line applications looking for specific skills. Make sure you read the posting completely and include references to the exact skills being advertised.

Second, employers want someone they can trust.  Be sure to coach your references so they know what position you are applying for. Remind them of specific projects that you were involved in so they have a positive story to tell about your abilities. And review your on-line presence. Know what an employer will see when they Google your name.

The third C is the hardest to measure. Before the interview make sure you have done your homework about the company, the industry and the major players in the organization. As you enter the building, the office or the conference room, you must be observant. Look at the posters and pictures on the walls. How are the employees interacting? Are there clues you can pick up about the culture?

Years ago I had an interview for a management position.  The Executive I was to speak with was seated at his desk. Behind him was a huge photo of a sailboat. I was the Commodore of our sailing team in college and had lived on a sailboat for a year between high school and college. It was very easy to find a mutual interest that showed the interviewer I was compatible. Conversely, at another company the poster behind the interviewer said “we are going to have a sales contest, the winner gets to keep their job”. That was a very different kind of interview.

In the end, you can feel pretty confident that you have gotten past the first two C’s when they call you for an interview. Your job during the interview is to make them “C” you fitting in. Do that and you will be sitting in a new hire orientation for your new job.

The 9 Hour, 12 minute and 36 second challenge 1

How do you spend your workday? On average, a full-time American worker spends 9 hours, 12 minutes and 36 seconds working and commuting. Do you enjoy what you do? Can you honestly say “I can’t believe they are paying me to do this?

I spent a summer during college working for the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. My job was to collect water samples in the Chesapeake Bay. I would tow an 18 foot Grady-White motor boat with twin Mercury outboards to different rivers that feed into the Bay. I would then follow the incoming tide, stopping to take water samples at designated intervals. One overcast day I saw two water spouts dancing around the mouth of the York River. I saw magnificent sunrises, sunsets and met interesting people at every marina I stopped at. “I couldn’t believe they were paying me to do what I would have done for free”.

Ok, you’ve got me. Having a summer job and “working for a living” is not the same thing. But, the closer you can get to that feeling, the more satisfaction you will get from your 9 hours, 12 minutes and 36 seconds.

Four ways a new job is like Back-to-School 0

Back to school cartoon

Going back-to-school is a lot like starting a new job

When you begin a new job, it’s a clean slate. Just like the first day of a new school year, everything is before you. The opportunities are endless. Then comes:

  1. The first pop quiz (A question from your boss about how you would handle something)
  2. The first written test ( You must write the proposal to land  the Attwood Sewing Machine account)
  3. The first report card (Your 90 day review can be nerve-wracking even if you know you’re doing a good job)
  4. Parent/Teacher Night ( Ok, your job won’t have that, but you may be invited to social functions that your significant other is expected to attend)

Have a plan for your new job, set your own expectations. You will be better prepared for the first pop quiz and everything that follows.

Are You Using Your Vacation Time This Year? 1

 I met Steve when he spoke this spring at a WCBS and The Wall Street Journal sponsored Small Business Breakfast in Connecticut. He’s a fascinating guy with an interesting background. The story of how he became the spokesman for Jobs on WCBS is a story to itself.

Take a listen to Steve’s thoughts on vacations from his recent Podcast.

Then weigh in on your vacation plans.

 

Five Ways People Burn Bridges When They Leave A Job 10

There are times when wanting to get out of a situation seems like the only thing that matters. “Just get me out of this job”. And the consequences? You’ll “cross that bridge when you come to it“. So something happens at work that you see as the last straw and you decide to quit, to give notice, to say “take this job and shove it”.

However you may feel on the inside, when you finally make the decision to leave, you must do it on good terms.

Don’t be the person who:

  1. Failed to give proper notice
  2. Slacked off after you gave your notice
  3. Talked trash about those in the office you never got along with
  4. Called out sick two days before your last day (but went clothes shopping for your new job)
  5. Failed to thank those that mentored or helped you

At the time, you may feel justified in doing these things. Later, you may find that things aren’t as great in the new company and those problems you had with your previous job seem smaller and smaller. Now what do you do?

If you pulled any or all of the five things above, your chances of getting your old job back are pretty much slim to none. Leaving on good terms sets up a safety net. And if they can’t re-hire you, they can and will give you a positive recommendation, perhaps even a contact they know is hiring.

Don’t let getting out of the job at any cost cloud your vision of how you should leave. Keep your bridges in good repair instead of burning them. You never know when you’ll need to cross one.

Don’t let your attitude keep you from getting the job or promotion 3

“People don’t get what they want, they get what they are”

Dan Cruoglio

Attitude is the key to getting the most out of each day. And having the right attitude is critical in landing a job or a promotion. In fact, I would go out on a limb and say that you will not get the right job until you get the right attitude. As my friend Dan said “it’s what’s on the inside that counts”.

What I think he means is your inner beliefs, your core values, your ideas about yourself will eventually surface. If you are telling yourself you want to make $100,000 a year and have the corner office, but deep down (when no one is looking) you only see yourself in a cubicle, living paycheck to paycheck, guess where you end up. As Dan says “When you squeeze a lemon, you don’t expect to have orange juice come out”.

Figuring out what you are willing to give to get what you want is the key to getting what you want.  If you truly want the corner office, you will “pay the cost to get it”. Everything has a cost and you must be willing to give what it takes to get there. To get the corner office the cost may be arriving an hour  before everyone else every morning, volunteering for the tough jobs, the jobs others shy away from because they are hard. It may mean long weekends reviewing notes, re-writing proposals, learning the things you need to sit in the comer office. It may mean extensive travel, time away from family and leisure activities. Knowing the costs and then making the commitment to paying those costs is the only way to get to that corner office.

So if you can figure out who you are, not just on the outside, you will be light years ahead of most candidates for a job or a promotion. Then you must make the commitment to do what it takes to achieve what you want. Once you do that, you will be one step closer to the right job or to picking out the desk for your new corner office.

Seven ways to take charge of your To Do List 9

So you want to be more organized and have a list of things to accomplish. Now what?

  1. Create your list at the end of your workday, before leaving the office (give yourself permission to plan your next day, you’ll sleep better and will arrive at work feeling organized)
  2. Budget 10 – 15 minutes for planning and solitude (make this a daily priority on your list; Without a plan, you are just busy, not effective)
  3. Rank your list (deadlines for projects, client calls to return, you know what’s most important)
  4. Do the task you ranked #1 first (this is soooo… hard when there is e-mail to look at, YouTube video to share The Tickle Me Plant and co-workers to talk with)
  5. Check your tasks off as you complete them (there is a certain satisfaction in completing a task and the act of checking it off causes the body to release positive endorphins. Occasionally, I will write something I did on the list, just so I can cross it off)
  6. As new items come up during the day, add them to the bottom of the list. You will rank them at the end of the day (KEEP ONE LIST. If I write a note on a little slip of paper, I carry it in my hand until I can write it on my list. When I put a note in my pocket, the odds of it ending up on my to-do list decrease exponentially)
  7. “Do first things first and second things not at all” – Peter Drucker (The point of a list is to focus your attention on the most important aspects of your job. When you cross off your number 1 item, number 2 becomes your new number one.)

Apply these seven techniques and you will find you have taken charge of your To Do List.

Pencil Whipping? Are you insane? 0

Are You Pencil Whipping Your Checklist?

INSANITY – “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting it to come out different” Wikiquote

I’ve said more than once that Managers need to be organized, to have checklists for their day-to-day activities. Used properly, checklists allow a manager to inspect many different areas they oversee and then check off that they have looked at a specific task, project, deadline, etc.

Yet the danger of checklists is they can become routine. Managers can get busy with an employee, a customer, a supplier and spend vast amounts of time on one task.  Now it’s getting near quitting time, so out comes the checklist and; check, check, check and done. The checklist may be completed, but the tasks have not. If you are doing this day after day, you may be wondering why the checklist isn’t working and why the same results occur.

Make today the day you stop Pencil Whipping your checklist. Take the time to actually review each item you have listed. Stop making excuses for not doing the really important (and perhaps uncomfortable) parts of your job. Remember, you set up a checklist to remind (force) yourself to review certain things. They are on the list in the first place because of their importance to your success and the success of your company.

Join me as I renew my commitment to not pencil whipping my daily checklist. The outcome will be different, you’ll feel better and so will your employees.

1.3 Million Jobs created last year – Five reasons why you didn’t get one 16

1.3 million new jobs created last year

The radio announcer was excited to report that in the past year there have been over 1.3 million new jobs created. With that many new jobs out there, I got to thinking why someone might not get one of those jobs. Those of you who have not landed a job should review the list and see what you might want to brush up on before your next interview.

Here are my top five reasons you didn’t get the job:

  1. You didn’t research the company – If one of the first questions you ask is “what exactly do you do?”, then you are wasting the interviewer’s time. Learn as much as you can about the company, including a recent headline that you can drop into the opening conversation
  2. You didn’t show how you increased sales - You need to demonstrate that you can contribute to the bottom line. Even if your job does not have the word sales in its title, you have ways you can increase revenue. Think of at least three specific examples and be ready to share them
  3. You didn’t show how you decreased expenses – There must be hundreds of little things you have done over the years to save companies that you have worked for money. Think of three examples tailored to the company you are applying to and then relate the story of how you saved the dollars and the impact that had to the company’s bottom line
  4. You didn’t show how you provided excellent customer service – There are times in everyone’s job where they interact with customers. Being able to give specific  examples instead of saying “I’m a people person” will give the interviewer a story he or she can remember when the final hiring decision is made. Be sure to include the problem, your solution and what the final outcome was.
  5. You never gave yourself permission to be successful – Napoleon Hill noted almost 100 years ago that most people need to be made “success conscious” before they can achieve their dreams. You need to be comfortable about the salary and the position. If deep down (maybe sub-consciously) you do not feel you deserve the job, then something will get in the way of your achieving it.

The good news is there are still jobs being created. Review my list and adjust as needed. Then enthusiastically go after that next job. I’m sure you will end up in a New Hire Orientation before you know it.

“Meat In The Tube” or How to stand out in an interview 0

In order to get hired, you need to give the interviewer a reason to remember you. Having specific, memorable stories related to your work experience is a must. And I mean specific, not a general “I’m a good structural engineer”. Instead it’s; “I’m a great structural engineer, I  recently  created the XXX, to solve problem YYY and the result was ZZZ, saving my employer millions in start-up costs.

I’m always interested in stories people are using as they interview, and I was thinking about a client I had worked with recently. She was asking about how to be remembered after the interview and I related this story to her:

As I traveled Interstate 64 towards Hampton Virginia, I was listening to the morning traffic report. The on-air personality was describing the traffic conditions in Chesapeake, Smithfield and up in James City County. Then he turned his attention to the tunnel that connects Hampton with Norfolk. That’s when he said “watch for back-ups at the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, there’s a lot of meat in the tube“.

I can honestly say I had never heard that expression before. And even though it has been 3 years since I heard it, I still remember it! And I’m willing to bet that some of you decided to read this post just because you wondered what in the world “meat in the tube” had to do with the interview process.

To get hired you must get noticed. To get noticed you must stand out. To stand out, you need specific, memorable stories. I am sure each of  you have many great stories about your work successes. Think about them, practice them and  have them ready for your next interview and you will surely stand out, just as that radio announcer did.