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

PARADE Update: Creating a Rock Star Resume

PARADE Update: Creating a Rock Star Resume


Meghan found a terrific job opening at a socially conscience company where she can leverage her marketing expertise and culinary background.

As I talked about in my book, “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand,” this is what I know for sure: When you are able to articulate the kinds of responsibilities, the management style and company culture where you want to work in your next career – the universe has a way of sending you those opportunities.

And now the universe is churning out opportunities for Meghan! The next step is for us to create a rock star resume.

Here are my top three tips for creating a resume to help you get noticed, get hired and even get a higher salary!

Showcase key words. Key words are those skills in the job postings that are listed as the “job requirements.” Look closely at the job description and use a highlighter to mark all of the requirements listed. Then, take all of those requirements that you meet and showcase those “key words” towards the top of your resume underneath the “Objective” section. Label this section “Key Strengths” and list those requirements that you meet in bullet format.

Emphasize results. This is the single biggest difference in making your resume stand out from your competition. Don’t talk about responsibilities. That’s boring. Instead, talk about what you have achieved for an organization, or what you’ve helped the organization achieve. For example, don’t just say that you managed a team of 9 people in the sales department. Instead, say that you led a sales team that generated $250,000 a year for the past three years. Quantify each of your career highlights in terms of dollars, numbers or percentages.

Show leadership and teamwork. Hiring managers look for candidates who are strong contributors and strong leaders (or at least demonstrate leadership potential.) Talk about projects or teams that you’ve led – and what the results were. If you haven’t led any projects or teams in your professional life, then highlight any leadership experience you’ve had in professional organizations, sports leagues, church activities or community events.

Meghan’s Assignment this Week:
I gave Meghan one of my exclusive resume templates to showcase her marketing and events-management skills. She will be busy this week converting her resume from being “responsibilities” to “results” focused. That means she’ll be meeting with past managers and business associates to learn the real results of her previous marketing campaigns and big projects. Ideally, she’ll want her resume to state that her marketing campaigns helped gain a certain number of new customers, or that the projects she worked on helped generate new revenue, saved the company money, or created more market share for the organization.
Her homework assignment is not easy, but it will be the icing on the cake to help Meghan’s resume stand out from her competition and land that fabulous job.

PARADE Update: Work your netWORK

PARADE Update: Work your netWORK


I’m so proud of Meghan! Today she had a terrific breakthrough. Through a series of powerful questions in our session together, Meghan was able to sort through all of the research that she’s been doing, as well as the wide variety of industries, companies and job roles that she’s had over her 10-year work history – and define a crystal clear career vision that excites and motivates her.

One of the biggest mistakes I see career changers make is being too broad in their career search. Applying for jobs in which they are under-qualified, over-qualified, or simply have no passion for. Those professionals who make successful career changes are laser focused on where they want to go and how they can add value to an organization.

Now that Meghan has defined her career vision and completed her personal Career Success Blueprint™, I can now help her align her networking opportunities, resume and interview responses towards that vision. I’m confident that with her strengths, passions and past career successes we’ll be able to snoop out job opportunities so that she can successfully transition into her dream career! 🙂

So now it’s time to build and leverage her professional network – and to work her network. I provide a step-by-step strategy for this in my book, “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand” and a few of those strategies include –

  • Get connected to people who could hire you, or introduce you to others who could potentially hire you. Re-connected with past employers, customers, and colleagues. Meet new contacts by attending industry conferences, trade shows, business networking events, and association meetings that target the industry (high tech, health care, etc.), or the job role (marketing, finance, management, etc.) you want. Try to attend a couple of events each week.

    Meghan made a great connection at a birthday party last week! She met someone who has the type of job role that she’s interested in and now Meghan has set up time with her to learn more about her career path, the company where she works, and her job responsibilities.

  • Network in person and on-line. Another great way to network is by joining LinkedIn.com to connect with other professionals and executives (i.e. Facebook is a social networking site, whereas LinkedIn.com is a professional networking site.) Make sure you create a profile that showcases your career strengths, results, and successes. Meghan is already making great strides in connecting with past colleagues, customers and business associates.
  • Be a resource for your key connections. When you’re in a career change you never want to give the impression that you’re hungry for a job. Instead, you want to be seen as someone who’s resourceful, knowledgeable, and has a wide network. Send out personalized notes and e-mails with links to reports, case studies, press releases, videos, and cool websites that you think may interest individuals in your network. Invite them to business networking events, and introduce them to other movers and shakers. Professionals are drawn to other professionals who are resourceful and well connected.

    The goal is to create a pull relationship with your network so that they are drawn towards you (not running away from you!)

When you’re searching for a new job, remember to stay focused in what you want, stay positive, and believe in yourself. It takes persistence and patience – but you WILL find those companies who jump at the opportunity to have you join their team! 🙂

PARADE Update: One (Penguin) Step at a Time

PARADE Update: One (Penguin) Step at a Time


When a career change overwhelms you – take penguin steps In our session today, Meaghan shared that she was feeling overwhelmed. Trying to juggle a career change with managing a family, home and “life” was taking its toll on her sanity.

This is common among career changers (which is why I think so many professionals stay in jobs that are unfulfilling and unmotivating.) Reinventing your career is a step-by-step process that takes persistence, endurance and a lot of patience. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, my advice is to step back, breathe and take penguin steps.

In the movie “March of the Penguins” the penguins took tiny baby steps as they shuffled across the frozen ground of Antarctica. Their steps are tiny but with their focus and commitment they successfully reach their final destination over 100 miles away.

Changing careers is also a journey. Sometimes you can run, sometimes you can walk, and sometimes (like when you’re feeling overwhelmed) the only way you move forward is by shuffling along and taking penguin steps.

Meaghan is in a similar situation. She has successfully assessed all of her experience, strengths and successes, and has determined the type of work she wants to be doing in her next career move. Now, she is assessing the job market to determine the industry that most excites her.

However, she shared with me that didn’t get very far with last week’s assignment of checking company websites, on-line job postings, business periodicals and industry magazines to find those industries and companies she’d most like to work in – because she was feeling overwhelmed.

My recommendation was to break down the assignment into smaller bite-sized chunks (think penguin steps.) So we took out a piece of paper and scribbled out four columns which we titled: industry, company, job role and personal contact.

Through a few coaching questions, Meaghan tackled the 1st column which was “industry.” She was able to quickly define two distinct industries that really excited her – education and food sustainability. This was a great start! She was breaking through mental roadblocks and seeing two different industries where she knew she could thrive!

Next, she quickly identified a couple of companies within each of those industries that she’d like to explore career opportunities. Then, we discussed job roles that she would be qualified for within each of those companies and industries. Also, she thought of a few contacts in her personal network that could potentially provide support.

By breaking up the step into smaller tasks, Meaghan was able to break through the clutter and roadblocks in her mind, and move forward in identifying possibilities to a career that would motivate and inspire her!

Thinking back on my own personal career, I made several job changes and I remember feeling overwhelmed just like Meaghan. Mostly, it was due to fear. Fear of change, fear of failure, fear of the unknown. But what pulled me through was knowing that if other professionals could be happy in their career, then I could do, too!

By looking at a career change as a “process” and then breaking up the process into smaller-sized tasks, it allowed me to take bold steps towards a new career – even if some of them were only penguin steps!

Meaghan’s Assignment this Week
In my book, Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand, one of my strategies for transitioning into a meaningful and purposeful career is to define the industry and job role of where you want to be. This becomes part of your career blueprint (i.e. North Star) in helping you transition into an inspiring career.

Meaghan’s assignment this week is to research a variety of industries and companies, and then complete her spreadsheet with a list of those that would excite her, as well as the job role for each industry and company listed that defines how she could potentially bring value to the organization.

By assessing the current job market and identifying job roles that are right for her, Meaghan is getting one step closer to identifying a more meaningful and purposeful career.

PARADE Update: Wanting More Than Just a Job

PARADE Update: Wanting More Than Just a Job


Focus your energy on those jobs you really want!

Meaghan had a terrific break-through this week! She was able to identify that even though she met all the requirements in a job posting that her friend had sent to her – it was not a job that she actually wanted. So she made the decision – not to apply. (loud gasp!)

I know what you’re thinking… as a Career Coach, aren’t I supposed to be encouraging Meaghan to apply for jobs? Well, yes, but my role with Meghan (as defined by her) is to help her reinvent her career into a job that she actually enjoys.

I asked her how it made her feel to not apply for a job that she’s highly qualified for, and she said “empowering.” Since she completed Step #1 in my 4-step process, she now has the knowledge and understanding of what she needs in her new career to be fulfilled, challenged and inspired. In other words, Meghan now has her own job requirements! (Sing it, Sister!!)

This is a huge milestone when it comes to reinventing your career because so many times throughout the process we’re faced with a fork in the road. Turn right and you’ll go down the very familiar career path where you’re in a cycle of being in qualified yet unfulfilling and uninspiring jobs. Turn left and you’re faced with unchartered territory of changing industries, job roles or professional goals – which can be new and exciting, yet make even the most experienced professionals feel anxious and afraid.

The fact that Meghan has chosen to reinvent herself in a new career in unchartered territory and feels EMPOWERED is huge!

I remember one of the times I felt most empowered in my own career was when I turned down the opportunity for a 2nd job interview. At the time, I was in between jobs with no other potential offers in sight. I had just come out of a cycle of jobs working for a string of what I considered to be poor managers.

After my 1st job interview with this particular hiring manager, my stomach was in knots, my throat had a big lump in it and I couldn’t sleep. I realized that what was keeping me awake was not the fact that I was out of a job – it was the idea of working for that particular hiring manager. He had the same traits as some of my previous managers and I knew that I’d be frustrated and unhappy working for him. In other words, I didn’t want to leave one sinking ship for another sinking ship – even if that was my only potential offer at the time.

I sent the hiring manager a thank-you but no thank-you note, and then focused all my energy on identifying my own job requirements and finding the right job for me. Two months later, I was in my dream job!

I’m not sure if the universe sends us our right job because we’re clear on what we want, or if the right jobs have always been there and we missed them because our focus was scattered and we didn’t see it. But what I do know for sure is that when me and my clients get a clear focus on defining our job requirements, and then focus all our energy on getting that job – it works!

When you have the commitment and enough money in the bank to be able to explore where your passion is, what your strengths are, what kind of responsibilities excite you, and where all of those intersect with today’s job market – that’s when you’re going to hit gold. Meaghan’s Assignment this Week
The next step for Meaghan is to assess today’s job market and identify which jobs are right for her. She needs to research company websites, on-line job postings, business periodicals, and industry magazines to find job openings that excite her. Now that she’s put a stake in the sand to identify her job requirements, I’m excited to see where that takes her. 🙂

PARADE Update: One Step Closer

PARADE Update: One Step Closer


I’m delighted to see that Meghan has completed her first assignment – creating her personal Career Success Blueprint™. Her goal is to transition into a career that motivates and inspires her … and now she is one step closer. She’s created a career vision that excites her!

Many professionals and executives become stuck when they think of career goals. It can be difficult trying to envision a career that would be meaningful, purposeful and inspiring. I mean, seriously, who has that, right?

Well, actually lots of people! Specifically, those who are able to articulate their passions, strengths, successes and the type of organization and management style where they perform their best.

I’m thrilled that Meghan has successfully identified each of these key areas. She knows the type of career that inspires her includes doing meaningful, socially conscious work, flexing her creative muscles, as well as being in a project management-type of position where management respects her ideas and gives her decision making responsibilities.

She also has defined the type of organization, culture and management style that she needs in order to be at her career best.

This is a big accomplishment for Meghan, and I’m proud of her for completing her first assignment! Her background and work experience includes being an executive pastry chef, marketing specialist and entrepreneur, so getting clear on a career vision took dedicated focus and thought.

Establishing a powerful career vision and goals is critical if you want to have a meaningful and purposeful career. One of the biggest mistakes I made in my own career was thinking that if I got a job – then that was where I was meant to be. After a few months, I’d start feeling unfulfilled, unmotivated or unappreciated. Then, one day I realized that I need to be more proactive in my career. I needed to set the bar higher for what I wanted (and needed) in my career. Once I did that, I achieved greater success than I ever dreamed possible inside a Fortune 100 company.

Now that Meghan has a strong sense of direction and purpose for her career, we’re moving on to Step #2 which is – assessing the job market. Meghan needs to understand what kind of jobs are available that align to her personal Career Success Blueprint™.

Her assignment this week: review on-line job boards, industry magazines, company websites, and business periodicals to get a clear understanding of what the “hot jobs” are, and what the requirements are for those jobs.

She’ll need to come back to me with job postings that she’s found that excite her! It doesn’t have to be the entire job listing, but can just be something in the listing that excites her such as the job tile, a few of the key responsibilities, or even the description of the organization.

The purpose of the assignment is to see what types of job openings are available that align to Meghan’s strengths and spark enthusiasm for Meghan. This will give us the roadmap to create a customized resume to help her land her new career!

I can’t wait to see what she finds! 🙂

PARADE Update: Make Those 20 Seconds Count

PARADE Update: Make Those 20 Seconds Count


Meghan shares the same challenge that many job changers in today’s market are facing. That is, her career history includes such a wide variety of industries, job roles and responsibilities, that she’s not sure how to market (or position) herself to potential employers.

The biggest mistake I see job seekers making is writing their resume and including every job that they’ve ever had and every skill that they’ve ever had. However, most hiring managers don’t care about all the different skills you have and tasks you can perform – they simply want to know – can you successfully perform their job?

So to position Meghan in the best possible light to hiring managers, and help her stand out from competition, I’m working with Meghan on the following –

Step #1 – Creating her personal Career Success Blueprint™. This includes her identifying three (3) primary areas of responsibility she wants to have in her next career. She’s also identifying her “must have” conditions about the company culture, management style and working conditions. These may include a baseline salary, flexible hours, telecommuting, professional training and development, a clear career path, autonomy, growth company, etc.

Step #2 – Assessing the job market. Meghan needs to understand what kind of jobs are available that also align to her personal Career Success Blueprint™. She’ll need to review on-line job boards, industry magazines, company websites, and business periodicals to get a clear understanding of what the “hot jobs” are, and what the requirements are for those jobs.

Step #3 – Customizing a polished and professional looking resume. Hiring managers, on average, only take about 15-20 seconds to review a resume before determining whether or not to interview the job applicant. Therefore, it’s critical that Meghan’s resume showcases her in the best possible light. I’ll teach Meghan how to create a resume that highlights the right key words, and makes her stand out from the competition.

Step #4 – Developing a personalized job search strategy. Now that Meghan will have a keen focus on what she wants in her next career, as well as a top notch professional resume – now she’ll be ready to seek out those job openings. I’ll help her create an on-line and off-line targeted job search strategy, as well as give her my exclusive networking techniques to help her get more referrals, recommendations and job leads.

PARADE Update: Getting Started: Sherri Thomas and Meghan Olesen

With nearly one in 10 Americans looking for work, the job search is tougher than ever. PARADE chose five unemployed people looking for work and paired each with a career counselor. Below is the first update from Sherri Thomas, Career Coaching 360 for the PARADE series “The Job Hunt“.


Getting Started: Sherri Thomas and Meghan Olesen

Meghan Oleson and I had our initial consultation this week so that I could better understand her career history, goals and vision, as well as share my strengths as a career coach and areas of expertise. I’m impressed with Megan’s young age (she’s 30 years old) and her ability to successfully transition into a variety of job roles and industries including being an executive pastry chef, marketing specialist and entrepreneur.

She has many wonderful strengths and passions, plus a wide range of transferable skills that we can tap to help her reinvent her career!

The first question I asked Meghan (and all my clients) is how best I could help her.
Option A) Help her find a job RIGHT NOW.
Option B) Help her create a career vision, action plan and transition into a meaningful and inspiring career (this approach takes more time, thought and focus – but the result is having a thriving career with more options, more stability and more passion!)

Meghan chose Option B.

This means that over the next several weeks, I’ll be giving her my exclusive steps to create her personal Career Success Blueprint™, as well as helping her create a simple but powerful career action plan that includes a job search strategy, networking techniques and a polished and professional resume to build a powerful personal brand, increase her marketability, and stand out from her competition.

After Meghan determined that this is the direction she wanted to go, then it was time for her first assignment – creating her personal Career Success Blueprint™. The first step is for Meghan to define her career vision. This includes three (3) key skills or responsibilities that Meghan wants to be known, recognized and paid for.

Envision yourself one year from now in a career that motivates and inspires you. What are you doing? What kind of responsibilities do you want to have? What kinds of projects and initiatives do you enjoy doing? What kinds of teams do you have a passion to lead? For her first assignment, Meghan is drawing a Venn diagram (three circles that connect to each other) and inside each circle she is writing one key skill or responsibility that she desires in her next career move.

With so many talents and strengths, I’m excited to see what she’ll choose … 🙂