Archive for the ‘Success’ Category

iStock_000012681402XSmallJust about everyone acknowledges that making contacts through networking is one of, if not the best ways to land a new position.  In fact, some estimates suggest that about 80% of all jobs are not advertised, and the openings are communicated through word of mouth.   So it stands to reason that the best way to learn about these opportunities is through the contacts you make. You can go to dozens of job events, hand out countless business cards, join the hot online groups, and connect with the universe, but the best way to make networking pay off is to turn those contacts into relationships. 

As a psychologist I am acutely aware of the importance of building relationships with clients.  By relationship I mean a state where people trust one another because of openness, honesty, and a sincere demonstration of willingness to help. An article in The Wall Street Journal by Dennis Nishi (March 24, 2013) reminded me of the critical role that the development of relationships can play when seeking a job.  Nishi’s article emphasizes going beyond brief contacts by developing ways to get in front of the right people.  Nishi relates the experience of a job seeker who, instead of asking for help, offers to help, thereby building strong relationships with individuals who might in turn be helpful to her.

A colleague of mine does a lot of networking to build his business and employs the same strategy.  He meets a lot of really nice, successful, energetic people, but often there is little they have in common.  However, when he comes across someone whose interests are aligned (professionally or socially) he starts to build a relationship by asking, “What can I do to help you? “  Sometimes there’s payback, sometimes there’s not, but on balance my colleague believes that giving is a good way to start getting.

Sometimes being more open about your situation with casual acquaintances can also be helpful.  I had a client who found himself engaged in conversation with another father while both were watching their daughters’ soccer match.   At first, my client focused on a conversation about the game and raising daughters.  At an appropriate time he mentioned that he had been laid off from his job as a salesman for a building supply company. It turned out that the other dad owned a roofing and siding company and was looking for a salesman.  He invited my client to come in for an interview and hired him.

Certainly there’s no harm in asking everyone you meet if they know of any jobs.  It’s just more likely that people will give it extra thought and go out of their way to help if you have some kind of relationship established.  It doesn’t have to be a life-long commitment, just a mutual demonstration of interest and caring.  You’ll find It helps to build a connection as opposed to just a conversation about your need to find a job.


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It’s a cardinal sin to go into a job interview without planning and preparing to manage the opportunity for maximum impact. First of all, be aware of the six criteria by which most interviewers will rate your interview skills and qualifications for the job.

1. Personal impression you make: neatness in dress and manner; self-confidence; and maturity.
2. Preparation for the interview: knowledge about the business of the potential employer; list of questions to ask the interviewer.
3. Communication skills, written and oral.
4. Attitude: enthusiasm, sincerity and interest in the opportunity.
5. Competence: education and experience.
6. Personal chemistry: suitability and “fit” with the culture of the organization.

By way of preparation, learn as much as you can about the kind of interviews the company usually conducts. Are they formal or informal? Are they deliberately stressful? Should you expect “tricky” questions? How long do the sessions last? Are you likely to be interviewed by more than one person? Get a fix on the people who will be conducting the interview. You can develop this kind of information by reviewing the history of the company and its current activities as reported in the news media. Seek out others who have been interviewed by the company, as well as those who work there or do business with the firm. What is the environment like? How do people dress?

Use Negative Thinking In Your Planning

Negative thinking has an important role to play. Ask yourself what could ruin your chance to get the job?

1. Being late for the appointment.
2. Making a negative physical appearance in dress, neatness and posture; reflecting low energy or a lackadaisical attitude.
3. Being too informal and familiar; trying to be humorous.
4. Letting attention and eye contact wander.
5. Being unprepared, indifferent and unresponsive.
6. Dropping names and relating irrelevant life experiences.
7. Being overly concerned with benefits and compensation.
8. Talking too much; interrupting; not listening.
9. Being evasive; unable to explain voids in file.
10. Criticizing past employers.
11. Failing to ask intelligent questions about the job.
12. Being overconfident or under confident.

Interviewing Is A Two-Way Process

Be guided by the fact that interviewing is like any other form of communications process. It’s a two-way process: sending and receiving messages. Unfortunately, a great many people spend too much time with the former and too little with the latter. Here are five tips that will help you improve your listening skills:

1. Be aware that waiting your turn to speak is not listening.
2. Focus like a laser beam on what the interviewer is saying. Listen to the words as well as the spaces of silence.
3. Assure the interviewer you are interested and that you are listening by maintaining eye contact, nodding your head and occasionally acknowledging you understand.
4. Concentrate on the facts. Collect them carefully. Take notes. Don’t get diverted by looking for hidden meanings. You’ll have time to analyze what you hear and see later.
5. Don’t get sidetracked by the interviewer’s personal appearance and mannerisms. Overlook any biased or irritating statements.

Greg Olsten is an Associate in Professional Services at IvyExec.com.


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We hear from many unemployed people that holidays are exceptionally stressful, especially those associated with gift giving.  There are many reasons why this is understandable.  It is hard to be joyful when one hasn’t gotten over having lost one’s job.  Secondly, it’s hard to feel generous when regular income has been greatly reduced, if not eliminated.  Realistically, a new position may not appear before the New Year.  Focusing solely on your lack of resources will only amplify your level of stress.  Frankly, family and friends understand your situation and would prefer that you not dig yourself into a deeper hole.  Those close to you will most likely feel good knowing that you are not fretting away this holiday season.
Experience is sometimes the best teacher.  Many of you may recall from older relatives who lived through The Great Depression, holidays were no less joyous when a typical gift might have been an orange or a bag of candy.  Maybe this is a year when you re-think gift giving and come up ideas that don’t put a crimp in your wallet.
Here are some examples:
1.     Make some CDs of your favorite music that others might enjoy.
2.     Has someone admired one of your possessions you no longer need?  Imagine how appreciative the recipient would be if you gave them something you personally valued.
3.     Create a photo album of memorable moments shared with a loved one.
4.     There are tons of things that can come out of your kitchen like baked goods, preserves, pickled veggies, or your favorite sauces.
5.     How about creating gift certificates good for car washes, household chores, or baby-sitting?
We’d like to hear your suggestions.  Not only for economical gifts, but for ways you can avoid the holiday blues.

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That’s what you think! And it’s all in your head. Sure, you may not catch up with the best of the bunch, but you should be able to beat the pack.

A lot of people believe that because they think they don’t have certain skills, they’ll never get those skills and a good job. And many are afraid to try because they don’t want to be seen as a failure. Sadly, not trying locks them out of opportunities. Have you ever known someone who wasn’t very smart yet was very successful?  It happens all the time.

Most likely you’re pretty smart and excel in lots of areas, but you think there are areas you just can’t master. Notice we said, “think.” Why “think?”  Because lots of really bright people think that if they can’t grasp something right away, they never will. They’re wrong.  The key is effort.  That’s why people who are not smart slog through learning a new skill and ultimately master it.

Few of us can do what Einstein, Michelangelo, Mozart, Newton, or Shakespeare did, but to get a great job we don’t have to. So how do people without such “gifts” succeed? Research makes clear that effort or persistence is just as important and often more important than intelligence when it comes to success. As Einstein pointed out, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Successful people believe if they work hard at something they can “get it.” And if they don’t get it right away or perfectly, they don’t see themselves as failures.

Guess what: if you have the ability to learn anything, you have the ability to learn just about everything. All you need do is apply yourself, and stick with it.

Here’s the big picture: if you think you can’t learn something new, you won’t.   And it’s unlikely that you’ll get a top job.  So here’s our advice: “Don’t believe everything you think.” Do what you need to do. Then let us know how you achieved something you thought you couldn’t.

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