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Archive for the ‘Job Search Tips’ Category

About six weeks ago I spent time updating my information on Linked In, the popular networking and job search site. I was told it was very important that I spend time on Linked In, but I must admit that when I compared notes with people, I was humbled (or maybe humiliated). Some of my colleagues have several hundred people in their networks whereas I had about 25. The common wisdom is apparently “Network or not work”.

So is this true? Jon Piccoult in his article “Networks Too Big for Their Own Good”, comments that the quality of these connections has been greatly diluted. As I begin to add to the list of people who I’ve had significant interaction with in business, worked with on not-for-profit boards, or assisted with fundraisers, it was a relief to hear some validation that quality, not size matters when it comes to our professional networks:

“IS your company searching for proactive, enterprising people who take the bull by the horns and get things done? These people aren’t constrained by their networks. They’ve taken real initiative, researched your company, identified executives in their area of interest, and sent those people unsolicited résumés and thoughtful, genuine messages of interest. They’re the ones who have pinned their hopes on a belief that meritocracy deserves a place not just in a company’s dealings with its employees, but also in its search for new talent.”  (Piccoult, NYT column Preoccupations, Oct 17, 2009)

So, the hopeful message is networking is important, we need to nurture these relationships with care and over time, but in the end it’s our raw talent that will make the difference.

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Perseverance

A quote from Malcolm Gladwell says, “Good writing does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade.  It succeeds or fails on the strengths of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else’s head”.    I actually think THAT is exactly what an interview well executed is supposed to do.  It  engages, creates a connection and gives the interviewer a glimpse into what makes you tick and why your leadership DNA can move an organization toward its vision for the future.

So on that note, I would like to say congratulations to several of this blog’s readers for the completion of successful interviews in the Southeast.  My brief text exchanges with several of them tell me they created exactly such an engaging interaction with their potential employer.   What did they do right?  Well, since many of us in the Midwest are snowed in for the next few days, I’m hoping we’ll hear comments from them.

One thing I see my colleagues doing is duplicating a success strategy recently recommended in an article by Phyllis Korikki from the NY Times called “How to Turn Downtime into Job Offers”. Her suggestions include:

  • Devote several days a week to lay groundwork for the search
  • Create a “success folder” to organize accomplishments.  (I understand one of our colleagues created a PowerPoint presentation to Wow their interview team.  Smart idea).
  • End every day planning the next one and two days after that to enable you to pace yourself (Contrast this with hunting on line at 2 a.m.)

The article ends with a quote that, slightly modified, could be our job search mantra:

Getting things done creates energy, energy creates more energy, more energy creates productivity, productivity begets confidence, and confidence increases your chance of being hired.

A passage from Romans 5:3-5 provides a similar but more inspirational job search mantra.  It is:

“Tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope; and hope does not disappoint”.

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I am reading Malcolm Gladwell’s new book “What the Dog Saw”. I’ve read his other books and love his writing because he knows how to tell a story in a very interesting way. But now I have another reason. He talks in his preface about how he never wanted to be a writer; He wasn’t visited by an angel and told he’d write best- selling books. He says his grades were not good enough to get into grad school and that he received eighteen rejection letters when he applied for jobs in advertising. His story sounds like the millions of others out there, like me and maybe like you. He was just a normal guy until he discovered something he could have fun doing and get paid for – writing freelance articles, first for the American Spectator magazine, the Washington Post, then the New Yorker. Just a regular guy, and then he found his passion.

In his chapter titled “New-Boy Network –What do Job Interviews Really Tell Us?”, he tells the story of Nolan Myers, a B-B+ student who is interviewing with two technology companies – Microsoft and a Silicon Valley start up called TellMe. Gladwell said that he spoke with him for only 90 minutes but that his first impression was “this guy will be successful”. So did Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft, who after hearing only one question from Myers at a gathering of interns, wanted him to accept a job at Microsoft and offered to be his mentor. So what caused such a positive reception? Gladwell says it has to do with the power of first impressions. He says that human beings don’t’ need to know someone in order to believe they know someone. He quotes a psychologist, Richard Nisbett from the University of Michigan who says that in the interview “what you think is that you are seeing a hologram, a small and fuzzy image, but still the whole person”. Our interviewers will have a natural tendency to let the first impression color the information gathered. Psychologists have named this tendency “Fundamental Attribution Error”, but that said, it can open doors.

Ok – so what real world application does this have? It means that certain members of Team Severance should indeed consult others before picking their tie for the interview (Just kidding Mark. Ok – maybe only half kidding). That the firm handshake, the steady gaze, the thoughtful, direct and honest answer to the question, the confident smile – all of these make a difference. I know several of our blog readers are actively interviewing – so just remember, don’t let their corporate jet scare you. Smile, firm handshake, and go for it.

Have a relaxing Thanksgiving everyone.

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