Sunday, February 24, 2008

Selling Yourself in Your Interviews

A current client has been wrestling with how to sell herself in her interviews. She is torn between the story she believes is the most true about her (that she is hard working, dedicated, and committed to doing the best work she can at any given point in time) versus the specific accomplishments that have come about as a result of her efforts. She prefers to tell the former, but as she goes through her interviews, she is beginning to realize that potential employers seem to be more interested in and tuned in to the latter.

It may be obvious that her best approach is to tell a combination of her own perspective and while at the same time being clear about how her work adds value for her employer. She, herself, may not put as much stock in the actual numbers, but she is becoming increasingly aware that unless she willingly communicates these numbers, she will always be at a disadvantage in the interview game. So, our coaching has helped her to tell stories that begin with: One of the things that makes me good at my work is my dedication to always giving my best effort in everything that I do. A recent example of this includes a project, where I . . . and then she goes on to detail the specific things she did that lead to a measurable result.

Regardless of how one forms and tells their stories, the strongest and most impactful ones will have at least three elements in them (in no particular order):
A brief and clear description of the steps, skills, and behaviors utilized to accomplish the task;
A report of the results achieved, in value-added language whenever possible;
A statement about how the two above make you unique and stand out from others who may have similar skill sets and achievements

By telling your stories in this way, you will have a much easier time selling yourself in your interviews. You will obviously need to give plenty of thought to crafting, and even rehearsing, these stories and the more stories you are prepared to tell this way, the more likely you will do well in your interviews. Best wishes in your job search.

Mark Guterman

Monday, February 18, 2008

Updating your resume after a long hiatus

In my previous blog entry, I described the current Bay Area job market as transitional. I say transitional because we’ve yet to feel an across the board slow down in hiring. However, economic indicators point to a slow down at some point in the near future. How significant, we won’t know until we’re living in it. With that point in mind, I’ve encouraged those who seek to make a job change in 2008, to do so earlier in the year (now), versus later.

One of the first things one has to do in order to get a job search started is update their resume. This can be a challenging, especially for those who have not looked for a new position, or have been out of the job market, for a while. When I work with folks in these situations, the main challenge they encounter when it comes to updating their resume is where to start. What items need to be added? What items should be left off?

To me, one of the best guides to keep in mind while crafting your resume after a long hiatus is to consider who will be receiving it. Who is your targeted audience? Once you determine that, you can then anticipate what kinds of skills and experiences they might be seeking from prospective candidates.

I believe, even a general resume, not necessarily targeting a specific position, should still have a theme to it. Before you sit down and start writing your resume, you should have a career objective in mind. What type of position do you seek? What types of companies/organizations do you what to work for? Who will probably be reviewing your resume first? Do you know the backgrounds of your audience and what they look for? Ask yourself these questions, before you start typing; answering them will help you establish a starting theme. Updating your resume is not just about chronicling your work history. If you’re not sure of the answers to these questions, then the best way to find out is to conduct research and start networking. These topics will be the subject of my next blog entry.

Alchemy’s career services practice can assist you in preparing your resume.

--Steve Hernandez

Friday, February 8, 2008

Job Market Update

In my first Blog I promised to update our readers on a quarterly bases on how the job market is doing. The difference between now and last November is that the deaded "R" word (recession) comes up in every interview and I am expected to give some insight as to what it means to each candidate.

Here is what is going on in the Bay Area for Finance, Accoutning, HR and It opportuinties - There is no slow down....yet. We have more opportunties to talk about with our candidates now than in November of 2007. It appears that there is a strong demand for candidates for senior staff positions in all functional areas and there is a slight decrease in Director and Manager roles. In addition there is a continued demand for technical roles in Accounting and fewer jobs that focus on planning and analysis. Many industries we support - Financial Management, Hightechnology and Biotechnology are healthy and continue to grow.

A survey discussed hiring trends for the first quarter of 2008. In it 29% of employers were looking to increase head count, only 7% were looking to decrease, 60% were anticipated no change with 5% unsure.

We did see a slow down in December. We feel the slow down in hiring was not due to economic factors but the fact that hiring managers and candidates were not available during the holidays.

During the last recession the Bay Area was behind in the curve in terms of when the recession impacted or job market. If you think we are headed into a recession and you are looking to make a change, now is the time to do it before your choices of opportunities become more limited. If you are bullish take your time, I will update you on the market in a few months.

Happy hunting!

Bryon McDougall

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Job Change is Simple and Not Easy

Even when you are completely ready and motivated for what awaits you, the change process is stressful. Add to that the often non-rational aspects of a job search and it should come as no surprise that changing jobs is often not as simple or as easy it looks.

With this in mind, there are several things you can do to ease your way through the job search and minimize your stress:

· Take steady and regular steps in the process and work at a pace that is right for you. Each of us has a rhythm and pattern that works best for us—find yours and stick with it.
· Take care of yourself. During times of stress, we often forget to do this. Exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and eat well.
· Be sure to spend time each day to appreciate yourself, those around you, and for what you have.
· Reward yourself when you have had a particularly productive day, conducted a great interview, or have made contact with a key connection.
· Take “time outs” from the process, as needed, to re-energize yourself.

Another aspect of managing a job change is to see the trajectory of your entire career and to recognize that this is but one part of a larger journey. This change, whether big or small, needs to be seen in the context of your entire life (and relative to what’s most important to you) and of your career (think of past changes, future changes, and how you have and will successfully navigate those). Keeping this job change in perspective will help minimize any stress you are feeling.

Changing jobs is a fairly straightforward process, but it is often accompanied by a fair amount of stress. By following the guidelines above, you will have a much smoother journey and be much more likely to achieve the goals you’ve laid out for yourself.

Mark Guterman