Step up, find your voice and learn how to tell your “career story” with confidence!

 

 

You are the “story teller” of your own career.

Every day, people are making judgements and assumptions about you based on what you’re telling them.  So if you’re sending the message that you’ve been short-changed, passed over or stepped on in your career, then people will see you as someone who doesn’t have much value in the workplace.

However, if you send a strong, clear message that you’re a key contributor with some big successes under your belt – others will be more likely to give you job leads, job offers and bigger career opportunities.

 

 

Here are a few tips to help you frame your “career story”…

  1. Stop being humble.

Being humble can be a career killer, or at its very best, a career stifller.  Yes, it’s a nice quality to have, but if you never talk about some of the successes you’ve had with your professional network, then you career is sure to sit on a shelf for the next 10 years.

I had lunch yesterday with one of my best friends from college who went on to become an Emmy winning TV news reporter and now advises Corporate leaders as a Media Strategist. He mentioned that he’s ready to expand his business, but he’s not the type of person to brag about himself.  This is a man who has interviewed 3 U.S. Presidents (Carter, Clinton and Bush Jr.)  How would organizational leaders ever know to hire him if he doesn’t “put himself out there”?

Talking about your accomplishments builds your credibility. It lets people know what you’re good at, what you can accomplish, and what you have to offer.  It makes you stand out from the crowd.  If you want to get noticed, then you’ll need to learn how to talk about your achievements, not in an arrogant kind of way, but more in an “I’m a key contributor who gets big results” kind of way.

Write down 2-3 of your biggest achievements over the past three years.  Now, practice saying out loud in a sentence or two how you contributed to those successes and what the impact was to the organization.  For example, “I was the technical lead for a new internal tool that was launched on the SAP platform.  The tool is now saving the company $100,000 a year.”  Or, “I was the Creative Director on the marketing campaign for the xyz product which helped the company gain 3% more market share.”

The key to getting more job offers, leads and opportunities is leaning how to talk about your successes.  Nobody will know what you’ve accomplished unless you tell them.

        2. Frame your story in a positive way.

One of my favorite chapters in my new book, “The Bounce Back” gives strategies on how to frame your story to hiring managers after you’ve been laid off or experienced a career setback.  Managers, Sr. leaders, customers, and hiring managers create their perception of you based on what you tell them.  So if you talk about your career in a positive, confident way – then they are going to think of you as a positive and confident employee.

For example, earlier in my career I was laid off and then hired as the Regional Marketing Manager for a Fortune 100 company.  I believe that a large part of the reason I was hired was because of the way I told my story to the Vice President (who hired me and became my direct manager.)  During the interview, I talked about how the company that laid me off was a great company and how much I loved my role and responsibilities. I truly believed in what I was saying and so my tone was very genuine. Then, I addressed the reason for my layoff which was, “I didn’t realize when I took the position that I was expected to fill the shoes of two employees. Even though I had some big results and was good at my job, I just simply couldn’t fill both of their shoes.”  The VP called me the next day to tell me I was hired.

Everybody has setbacks in their career. Everybody!!  The key is to frame your career story in the most positive, honest and confident way possible. 

         3. Don’t take yourself out of the game because you fumbled.

I had a TV interview last week and the reporter asked about my book. I froze up.  I got nervous, said “umm” and garbled out a few sentence.  Man oh man, I wish I could have a do-over.  

It happens to all of us. Whether it’s a job interview, a big presentation or the perfect networking opportunity – sometimes, we just freeze up. It happens, and it happens to everyone.  The key is not to beat yourself up.  And don’t shy away from future opportunities to give a big presentation or go on job interviews.  The lesson is to learn from the situation and then do better next time.

Continue looking for opportunities to step into the spotlight and tell your story again and again.  If you flubbed up a presentation, then go ask the team leader if you can present again with some new data that you just received.  If you fumbled an interview, then send an e-mail to the interviewer providing a little more clarity on your experience or area of expertise.  For me, I wrote to the TV reporter and tee’d up a few more tips out of the book to share with her viewers, and right now we’re scheduling a follow-up interview.

Sometimes a do-over isn’t possible, and if that’s the case, then just get on with looking for your next opportunity and be ready to strut your stuff.  Don’t let a negative experience stop you from moving your career forward.  Get out there, find your voice and share your career story with confidence.  Your next career opportunity is out there – you just have to go find it! 😉

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Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist, international speaker and best-selling author of two books including “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand” which is currently on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books, and “The Bounce Back – personal stories of bouncing back higher and faster from a layoff, re-org or career setback“ also available on AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE.   Sherri’s gift to you is (3) THREE FREE CHAPTERS of “The Bounce Back” at http://www.MyBounceBack.com

Interviewing Secrets From Professionals Who Got the Job

Ready for your big interview?

 

Interviewing is intimidating, nerve wracking, and can make you feel like you’re two heartbeats away from having a heart attack. You only have one shot at making a great first impression so you need to make sure you’re prepared to give the right answers during your next interview.

 

As a leading Career Coach for the past five years, I’ve gathered interviewing tips from my clients who have been hired and written an e-book, “Interviewing Smart – Insider Secrets from Professionals Who Got the Job!”  Here are five key questions going through your interviewer’s mind…

1.  Can you do the job?

These questions are usually very black and white. Either you have what it takes to be successful in the position or not. Before the interview, be sure to study the job description so that you fully understand the job requirements.

Be prepared to talk about your skills, knowledge, and training that will help you perform the job successfully. The biggest mistake I see job candidates making is talking about their responsibilities, and what they need to focus on are the results and accomplishments they’ve achieved for their previous employers.

2.  What “extras” do you bring?

For most job openings, a hiring manager knows about 90% of the work that the new employee will be responsible for, but not the remaining 10%. That is because they want to know, What can you (the new employee) ADD to the position?

So before you go into a job interview, think about any additional skills and talents that you can bring to the position.

3.  Where are you at risk?

Every new employee is a risk to a company. Whether it’s a specific job requirement that you don’t meet, or potentially being overqualified for the position, or a potential health risk, etc. So, spend some time thinking about where you are a risk.

I like to beat the interviewer to the punch by stating where I’m a risk and then reassuring her why it won’t be a problem. For example, if the job requires that you need to know of a specific type of software, then I want you to sign-up for some training before your interview so that you can say that you’ve already registered for some training to learn more about the software.

The point is that you need to be able to discuss the area(s) where you are a risk, and then immediately follow-up with what you’re doing to close the gap.

4.  Does the interviewer like you?

This is an area that you really cannot take personally. Either the culture and the team are a good fit for you, or they aren’t. And believe me, it’s better to know up front during the interview, than to have a pit in your stomach every day as you walk into your new office.

I once interviewed with a Sales VP at a television station. After 1 1/2 hours of interviewing, I really couldn’t tell if he wanted to hire me or not, so I simply asked, “Do you think I would be a good fit with your team?” He told me that he didn’t think so because he allows his team to vent, kick the garbage can and curse like sailors in the office. I appreciated his candor because the reality is that I would not be happy or successful in an environment like that.

During your next interview, be prepared to discuss your professional style and work ethics.

5.  Will you be able to work out the compensation/benefits package?

Be prepared to talk about a salary range that is acceptable to you. I do not recommend giving an exact salary since the benefits package almost always includes room for negotiating vacation days, stock allowance, bonus payouts, perks, etc. But you should be prepared to give a salary range that you would accept.

Those are 5 questions that your interviewer really wants to know about you! It’s not everything you should do to prepare for an upcoming interview – but it’s a good start!

For more interviewing strategies and to learn how to negotiate a top salary, check out my “6-Week, 6-Step Career Change Program.”

 

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Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist, international speaker and best-selling author of two books including “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand” which is currently on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LISTfor personal branding books, and “The Bounce Back – personal stories of bouncing back higher and faster from a layoff, re-org or career setback“ also available on AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE.   Right now you can download three FREE CHAPTERS of “The Bounce Back” at http://www.MyBounceBack.com

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What your Interviewer REALLY wants to know about you…

Do you know what your interviewer really wants to know about you?

Preparing your answers for an interview is so much eeeeeasier when you know what the interviewer really wants to know about you! Once you understand what those are, you can be more prepared, more confident and feel less anxiety during the interview process.

Here are three (3) of my exclusive insider secrets into the mindset of interviewers and what they really want to know about you…

  1. Can you do the job?
    Do you have the skills, knowledge, and training to successfully perform the job? These questions are usually very black and white.How you should prepare: Read the job description 4 or 5 times to fully understand all of the job requirements. Select the top 2-3 critical skills that are most important.Think back on your career and select some “success stories” that you’ve had with each of those skills. Specifically, talk about the situation, how you demonstrated that skill, and the results. Keep it short and simple. Practice saying your success stories out loud. Your answers should be specific and focus on results and accomplishments.
  2. What “extras” do you bring?
    For most job openings, about 80% of the work has been defined. In other words, a hiring manager knows about 80% of the work that the new employee will be responsible for, but not the remaining 20%. That is because they want to know, “What can you (the new employee) ADD to the position?”What extra skills or areas of expertise do you have that can ADD VALUE to the company? For example, if you’re going for a job as a Pubic Relations manager, you may have some experience in marketing or desktop publishing that is not required for the job, but might be valuable to the company. This “extra” skill may position you as the TOP candidate for the job.How you should prepare: Before you go into a job interview, think about the additional skills and talents that you can bring to the position. Be sure to work these skills into the conversation, but only after you have discussed those skills and qualifications that are REQUIRED for the job.
  3. Where are you at risk?
    Every new employee is a risk to an organization. Whether it’s a specific requirement that you don’t meet, or a skill you don’t have, or potentially being overqualified for the position, or taking a medical leave of absence, etc. So, spend some time thinking about where YOU are a risk.How you should prepare: During the interview, beat the interviewer to the punch by stating where you a risk and reassuring him why it won’t be a problem. For example, when I was interviewing at the NBC Affiliate TV Station (where I worked for 4 years), the Operations Manager was asking a lot of what I thought were too detailed questions about my experience. I jumped in and said, “I’ve read the job description over and over, and I’m absolutely confident I can do this job. The one concern I have is that I don’t know how to work the equipment in the news room.” She looked at me, breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Oh! We can teach you that!” She hired me the next day and I worked for her for 4 terrific years :)Addressing your risks is also the reasoning behind the question, “Tell me about any weaknesses you have.” When you are asked this question, I recommend that you respond by bringing up an area for improvement, but quickly add what you are already doing to strengthen that skill.For example, let’s say that you are interviewing for a position for a Sales VP and the position advertises that the applicant should know a specialized software application. If you are not familiar with this tool, you could say that you do not have a lot of experience with it but that you are taking an on-line training class to sharpen your skills (but only say this if it’s true!)

    This approach shows that you are serious about your professional development and take the initiative to grow and improve your skills.

And finally…
Do you have any interviewing tips to share?  I’d love to hear about them…  🙂

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Sherri Thomas is President of Career Coaching 360, an international speaker, and author of “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand” – on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books! Career Coaching 360 (www.CareerCoaching360.com) provides career planning, management coaching, and leadership development support to help professionals change careers quickly and easily. To learn how you can reinvent your career quickly and easily, visit Career Coaching 360’s website for resume help, interviewing support, and personal career coaching packages.

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Going after your dream career.

Do you dream of doing something different in your career? Something energizing, fun and creative that actually fills you with energy and passion?

I fully believe that life is way too short to stay in a meaningless job where you feel unfulfilled, unchallenged and under-valued. I’ve had a few of those jobs and I remember waking up every single morning and dreading going into work. The highlight of my day was stopping at Starbucks every morning to get my daily dose of lattes.

If you’re in that same position and now you’re ready to reinvent your career, then I’m here to help you! First, I’m going to tell you why it’s hard to do. I know that’s probably not what you expected me to say (or want to hear), but I’m going to tell you why it’s difficult to reinvent your career, and then I’m going to help you overcome those challenges so that you can get into your new career and get on with loving your life!

The reason that most people stay in an unmotivating and unfulfilling job is because it’s easy to do. It’s familiar, it takes minimal effort, it’s easy to blank out and be a zombie for 8 hours a day, and there’s comfort in knowing you’re getting the bills paid.

It’s easy because there’s minimal risk and minimal effort. But there’s also minimal reward. I recently attended a leadership training in Oregon and the instructor said, “Those who take on more risk, get more opportunities.”

Do you think that’s true? Do you think that when you step into a new organization that allows you to stretch and grow, that you might actually be inspired to go into work every day? Do you think that if you’re energized about doing work that excites you, that you’ll be making more significant contributions, and therefore, have more opportunities for promotions and career advancement?

Stepping onto a new career path is not easy, but it can absolutely be done! I’ve jumped onto a new career path four times, and it was well worth the risk! So, how can YOU make a successful career change?

1. Define your passion. In which industry would you like to work? Advertising? Finance? Health Care? In which job role would you like to work? Software Engineer? Financial Analyst? Management?

If you’re not sure, then read trade magazines, business publications, and talk to your friends, neighbors and colleagues about their job. The key to being in a career that excites and inspires you is to find out where your passion is.

2. Lead with your transferable skills. Once you’ve determined where you want to go in your career, lead with your transferable skills. Those are skills that transition from industry to industry, or from job role to job role. Examples include: managing people, managing projects, managing budgets, as well as negotiating contracts, and proposing new ideas that helped an organization generate revenue, save costs or increase market share.

These are excellent skills that can help you get your foot in the door at a new company. You’ll want to highlight these on your resume, and talk about them in your interviews and networking opportunities.

3. Attitude is king. I’ve found that reinventing your career mostly depends on two things: passion and confidence. Don’t worry if you don’t match all the job requirements. I got my TV gig even though I missed the two (2) biggest requirements – I didn’t have at least 2 years of TV experience and I didn’t have an audition tape.

To compensate, I focused my resume on my transferable skills which were being highly creative and a solid copywriter. Then, in the interview, the hiring manager told me I got the job because I was passionate about the company and the job!

Reinventing your career takes some perseverance, determination and a bit of risk taking. But the rewards are HUGE! Your next career is out there waiting for you – you just need to go out there and get it! 

If you’re stuck in your career – get professional help! Career Coaching 360 helps professionals and executives change into a more meaningful and inspiring career, and we can help you, too! Check out our career coaching packages created to fit any budget at: http://www.careercoaching360.com/careercoaching/ Also, check out our resume and interviewing services.

Interviewing Secrets – How to prepare so that you stand above your competition

Prefer to listen to the podcast version of this post?
You can also subscribe to our Career Coaching 360 podcast RSS feed. Career Coaching 360 podcasts are also available on iTunes.

Interviewing is intimidating, nerve wracking, and can make you feel like you’re two heartbeats away from having a heart attack. You only have one shot at making a great first impression so you need to make sure you’re prepared to give the right answers during your next interview.
And that is so much easier when you know what the interviewer really wants to know about you. So here are five key questions going through your interviewer’s mind…

  1. Can you do the job?
    These questions are usually very black and white. Either you have what it takes to be successful in the position or not. Before the interview, be sure to study the job description so that you fully understand the job requirements.Be prepared to talk about your skills, knowledge, and training that will help you perform the job successfully. The biggest mistake I see job candidates making is talking about their responsibilities, and what they need to focus on are the results and accomplishments they’ve achieved for their previous employers.
  2. What “extras” do you bring?
    For most job openings, a hiring manager knows about 90% of the work that the new employee will be responsible for, but not the remaining 10%. That is because they want to know, What can you (the new employee) ADD to the position?So before you go into a job interview, think about any additional skills and talents that you can bring to the position.
  3. Where are you at risk?
    Every new employee is a risk to a company. Whether it’s a specific job requirement that you don’t meet, or potentially being overqualified for the position, or a potential health risk, etc. So, spend some time thinking about where you are a risk.
    I like to beat the interviewer to the punch by stating where I’m a risk and then reassuring her why it won’t be a problem. For example, if the job requires that you need to know of a specific type of software, then I want you to sign-up for some training before your interview so that you can say that you’ve already registered for some training to learn more about the software.
    The point is that you need to be able to discuss the area(s) where you are a risk, and then immediately follow-up with what you’re doing to close the gap.
  4. Does the interviewer like you? Will you fit in with the corporate culture?
    This is an area that you really cannot take personally. Either the culture and the team are a good fit for you, or they aren’t. And believe me, it’s better to know up front during the interview, than to have a pit in your stomach every day as you walk into your new office.I once interviewed with a Sales VP at a television station. After 1 1/2 hours of interviewing, I really couldn’t tell if he wanted to hire me or not, so I simply asked, “Do you think I would be a good fit with your team?” He told me that he didn’t think so because he allows his team to vent, kick the garbage can and curse like sailors in the office. I appreciated his candor because the reality is that I would not be happy or successful in an environment like that.During your next interview, be prepared to discuss your professional style and work ethics.
  5. Will you be able to work out the compensation/benefits package?
    Be prepared to talk about a salary range that is acceptable to you. I do not recommend giving an exact salary since the benefits package almost always includes room for negotiating vacation days, stock allowance, bonus payouts, perks, etc. But you should be prepared to give a salary range that you would accept.

Those are 5 questions that your interviewer really wants to know about you! It’s not everything you should do to prepare for an upcoming interview – but it’s a good start!

If you have an upcoming interview I advise you to get professional help and meet with an interview coach! Someone who can continue giving you deeper, smarter interviewing strategies and who can fully prepare you so that you’ll ace your next interview and beat out your competition.

PARADE Update: You Got The Interview! Now What?

PARADE Update: You Got The Interview! Now What?


One hour after Meghan sent her hot-off-the-press professionally updated resume to a hiring manager, he called to see if she could come in for an interview the next day!

Interviewing is intimidating, nerve wracking, and can make you feel like you’re two beats away from a heart attack. But preparing for the interview is much simpler when you realize that there are just five key questions going through your interviewer’s mind.

Here are three of them:

Can you do the job? You need to be able to talk about the skills, knowledge, and training you have that will help you perform the job successfully. My recommendation is that you walk into your next interview with 3-4 “personal career stories” that showcase a career success. Your stories should include: what the goal was, what the challenge was, and what the result was.

What “extras” do you bring? For most job openings, about 90% of the work has been defined but not the remaining 10%. This means you have a terrific opportunity to flaunt any bonus talents that may be of value. For example, if you’re going for a job as a Pubic Relations manager, you may have some experience in marketing or desktop publishing that is not required for the job, but might be valuable to the company.

Where are you a risk? Every new employee is a risk to a company, whether it’s a job requirement that you don’t meet or a skill you don’t have, or the potential that you’re overqualified for the position. I recommend that you beat the interviewer to the punch by stating where you a risk and then reassuring him why it won’t be a problem. If you’re asked what weaknesses you have, respond by bringing up an area that could improvement but quickly add what you are already doing to strengthen that area.

For a complete discussion of all five question, see my best-selling eBook, “Interviewing Smart: Insider Secrets to Getting the Job

Interview Tips for Recent Grads

If you’re a recent college graduate (or even if you’re not), check out my most recent interview on NBC Phoenix Channel 12 with tips to set yourself apart from the other applicants and help you land that first job – even if you don’t have “experience”.

The Key to a Successful Job Interview

Your message needs to be crystal clear during a job interview. A resume is a logical, factual and one-dimensional piece of paper. But when you meet with a potential employer face-to-face you can bring your message to life and make it more powerful and memorable. Whether you are networking with a potential employer or sitting in a formal job interview, you have a limited amount of time to get your message across. So, telling a great career success story is critical.

The key to a successful interview is pre-selecting stories that demonstrate you have the right experience and knowledge to perform that job successfully. Talk about past experiences, results, and accomplishments that relate to the new position. Summarize each story by giving an overview of a particular situation or challenge, the expectation or goal, your specific contributions and the result of your contributions. Practice your stories out loud, over and over again. You must be able to talk about your experiences and successes confidently.

Remember, you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression, so you need to be polished, professional and confident.

Suggested Promise of Value – Ready to Transition

If you are in the market for a new job with a new company how do you identify the skills, knowledge, and training the marketplace values and the right messages for the potential employers? Let’s look at a few simple steps.

The first step is to research the current marketplace to identify the skills and job requirements. (I give more tips on searching the current marketplace in my February 15th post.) Don’t worry if you cannot find your ultimate dream job, the point is to identify the kinds of companies that are hiring and the types of positions that are available.

Getting a job offer can be a challenge. Look at yourself from the hiring company’s prospective. More than likely they have waited longer than they should have to fill the position, meaning that their employees are overworked, overwhelmed and over stressed. Now they have to take precious time and resources to advertise for the position, sort through stacks of resumes, conduct multiple rounds of interviews and train the newly hired person. It is a time intensive and resource draining process. Making a poor decision and hiring the wrong person not only results in extreme frustration and stress, but also can cause a company to lose a big project, an important clients, or worse, credibility among peers, clients or companies within the industry.

If you have the skills for the job, the message you should be sending is that you are the one and only candidate – and that you will succeed. Your resume and the answers you give during an interview must give a clear message that you are results driven and have the skills, strengths, and experiences required to succeed at the job.

Are You Good Enough to be an Expert?

I was giving a career advancement seminar in Chicago when a participant raised her hand and said she couldn’t do the exercise (identifying your signature talents) because she didn’t have any signature talents. This shocked me because I had co-presented with her a couple of years earlier and was amazed by her knowledge on the topic, which was event planning. I responded by telling her that from my opinion, clearly, she was an expert in event planning. But her response was that she really didn’t view herself as an expert in that area.

 

If you are also having difficulty identifying your signature talents and you have more than five years of professional work experience, I have two thoughts for you. First, many times during our career we find ourselves in a negative environment such as having conflict with a manager, colleague, or client. And if you’re in a negative environment right now, you may be hearing some inner voice tell you that you are not good enough to be an expert in anything. If that’s the case, then quiet down that voice. I’m here to tell you – you DO have expertise that benefits your employer and clients – or else they wouldn’t have hired you!