Should I Put That On My Resume?

resumeobjectivesWriting a great resume is hard. To condense your background and accomplishments into 1-2 pages and have it stand out amongst hundreds of resumes is painful but necessary. Crafting a top-notch resume requires being thoughtful and knowing what to include to help you get your foot in the door.

As someone with a unique professional background who has transitioned across multiple business units and now coaches others on how to do the same, I understand how to build a resume that stays true to who you are while differentiating you from the competition. I am also well-versed in helping clients answer the question, “Should I put that on my resume?”

Here are the 10 common scenarios I have encountered and my advice on what to include:

 

1. Scenario: You worked full-time at a company for less than a year

    Verdict: It depends.

 

No, if you left on poor terms and do not have a reference from that job.

Yes, if you left on good terms and the opportunity fills a resume gap (e.g. time or skill).

 

Throughout my years of coaching professionals with varying backgrounds, the response to this scenario has often been yes. Explaining a gap in a resume is always something that should be proactively addressed in person and on paper.

 

2. Scenario: You freelanced and took on short-term assignments while unemployed

    Verdict: Yes.

 

Freelancing shows that you’re a self-starter, so it’s important you highlight that quality. Depending on the length of your freelance work, you can either list each assignment separately or put all your freelance jobs under one title (tip: if you have several clients, create a company name for yourself and list all freelance work under it).

 

3. Scenario: You volunteer for an organization on the weekends

    Verdict: Absolutely!

 

This is a great opportunity to highlight what you’ve accomplished as a volunteer. It also shows strong leadership and project management, and you can use your volunteer work to illustrate skills that are relevant to the position you want. Include this under additional data or interests.

Side note: Use this opportunity to showcase your extracurricular interests to your advantage. For example, one client of mine chose to highlight his commitment to education because his prospective employer also displayed a similar commitment through the company’s CSR efforts.

 

4. Scenario: You want to share your job objectives with potential employers

    Verdict: Leave this out.

 

While objective statements were once seen as something to list on a resume, this is no longer the case. Instead, focus on the hiring manager’s wants and include a summary statement that will speak to the desired skill set for the job being filled. Here are examples of good summaries for inspiration.

 

5. Scenario: You are active on social media

    Verdict: Yes, however proceed with caution.

 

It’s okay to include your LinkedIn profile since it is likely your most professional account, but make sure there’s consistency. The part that takes most people out of the running for a job is when their resume and LinkedIn profile do not complement one another and the information does not match. Depending on the job you want (i.e. aspiring digital marketer), it may also be appropriate for you to list another social media channel, like your Twitter handle. Just ensure the content is appropriate.

 

6. Scenario: You want to include your references

    Verdict: No.

 

While you should already have references lined up prior to your job search, there is no need to include them on your resume, nor should you put “references available upon request.” The hiring manager will ask for references when needed.

 

7. Scenario: You have a side business, project or blog

    Verdict: Yes, however proceed with caution.

 

This depends on the job and whether you think revealing this information will help or harm you. Some companies may have policies about side businesses, so make sure to find out this information before sharing anything. If your project or blog is of a personal nature, then include this if it will strengthen your application.

 

8. Scenario: You have several interests and hobbies to share

    Verdict: Yes, if is builds your professional brand AND makes you interesting.

 

If applicable, interests and hobbies can help build a rapport, though they can also be boring so be thoughtful about what you decide to include (e.g. your love of traveling is common, but your love of traveling to collect different teas from all over the world is unique).

 

9. Scenario: You are not a U.S. citizen

    Verdict: No, however with a BIG caveat.

 

You should not include this information on your resume, but be prepared to explain your situation at some point. If you have a green card, put this in your cover letter and reiterate this fact during the interview process. If you require sponsorship, do not include in your cover letter or resume but be honest when asked about your work status.

 

10. Scenario: You left school early and did not finish a degree

    Verdict: Yes, if it helps your story. No, if it hinders your story.

 

The best responses to the interview question, “Tell me about yourself” include a clear connection between your past career decisions and your future goals. Your resume should tell a similar clear story, though not everyone thinks strategically about their career before taking the next step. Therefore, the best way to address this data point is by asking yourself, “Is this going to confuse a recruiter or does it align with what I want to pursue?”

With careful thought and the right information, you can create a resume that will push you to the forefront. I can help as well.

IMG_4115To gain insight into how a job hunting expert would address your specific scenario so that you can reap the benefits of your most powerful and brand-building experiences, set up a 15-minute consultation with me.  I have helped professionals at every stage of the job hunting process and will help you feel confident that you have put your best foot forward.

Sample Resume Summary Statement (s)

SUMMARY 1

X-plus years in business-development career includes:
· Selling online solutions for X-plus years in start-ups to selling offline offerings in conglomerates
· Turning weak ties to long-term ties with Fortune 500 firms (ex: MSFT relationship exceeding 10 years)
· Forging win-win partnerships (ex: Company X deal that influenced Company Y buyout by Company Z)
· Devising new revenue models and streams when traditional models were no longer selling or sustainable
· Selling cross-disciplinary solutions (ex: digital ads, analyst research, sponsorships, and database marketing)

SUMMARY 2

X-plus year career as a programmer and technical architect includes:
• Working on Java-based three-tier systems as an independent software engineer for X-plus years
• Earning “inventor” status on seven patents while working for Company A
• Going from idea through operations and then on-going improvement while adjusting to business needs
• Gaining recognition for the ability to lead IT teams from employers and managing up to X employees
• Collaborating with cross-functional partners to ensure a user-friendly interface across sectors

[JOB OPENING] Seeking a business development consultant (i.e. sales lead whisperer)

Ideal Start Date: Wednesday, April 16th 2014 (however, flexible for the best candidate)

About Career Outcomes Matter LLC (melissallarena.com)

Career Outcomes Matter LLC is a New York-based talent management consulting/career-coaching firm.  Our mission is to provide firms with strategies and tools to support successful employee transitions, and help high-performers use their “superpowers” to propel career leaps. Launched in 2011, we are looking for a business development/marketing consultant who appreciates highly strategic thinking, works well when faced with few resources, and would love to bring out the lead generation whisperer in them. This engagement is for 10 hours a week.

Work will include, but is not limited to:

Helping the CEO of Career Outcomes Matter LLC directly to:

  • Inform, create, and manage a project plan outlining the firm’s B2C/B2B strategy
  • Manage Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn social media posts via HootSuite
  • Audit and repackage materials to create marketable offerings that sell themselves
  • Grow CRM database, manage its segmentation efforts, and focus on conversions
  • Identify newsletter partnership opportunities and lead their well-planned execution
  • Automate or streamline existing manual processes
  • Complete other ad hoc assignments as necessary

What’s in it for you:

  • Build your resume by adding value to an entrepreneur through tangible results
  • Test out business development ideas that larger organizations would not let you test nor lead
  • Gain expertise around how to squeeze the value out of resources in a limited resource firm
  • Access to a manager known for empowering consultants with highly marketable skills
  • Gather social media experience that any organization would desire in an aspiring digital market
  • Work remotely and around your school/work/life schedule

Qualifications:

Ideal candidates are:

  • Type A professionals who thrive when given goals
  • Exceptionally responsive (i.e. deliver quality work)
  • Meticulous (and like using that word)
  • Strong communicators, self-starters, sharp, energetic, and well-organized
  • Resourceful (able to find a way)
  • Able to sense big opportunities and jump on them
  • Able to prioritize well-thought out ideas (i.e. not just addicted to brainstorming) and are willing to take them all the way through execution

Pay

• $10 an hour + BONUS potential based on leads generated that are closed  

Here is a Method That is Helping Females and Minorities Gain Board Seats

boarddirectorBeing on a company’s board of directors has many benefits for your career and overall professional growth. As a board member, you get to serve in a position of leadership by providing strategic direction and advice to ensure the company stays true to its mission. It also broadens your network and reach in unforeseen ways.

As Aisha Barry, a board member for the Ohio State School of Chemical Engineering, describes it: “Being on a board has required me to listen more intently to the opinions of others (in these cases, peers with equal or more experience but in a different area), integrate this thinking quickly and help define winning solutions for an operation that I don’t have the opportunity to impact daily or via my management skills.”

The benefits of being a board member can be immeasurable. However, for many boards, diversity remains an issue. According to the nonprofit organization Catalyst, only 16.6% of Fortune 500 board seats are held by women, trailing behind South Africa and several western European countries. Minorities don’t fare much better, with 13.3% representation on Fortune 500 Boards. Of that percentage, minority women make up a dismal 3.2%. Though the numbers have steadily increased over the years, they’re still abysmally low.

Fortunately, proof is emerging that having diversity on corporate boards actually benefits companies. An article from Slate details how boards with women on them are more aggressive and result in better performance. But how does one get on a corporate board, especially as a woman or underrepresented minority? To get a seat at the table, you have to develop a strategy that will take you to the next level. Here are three recommendations I have for becoming a potential candidate for the board seat.

1. Find an influential sponsor

Mentors are great. They provide guidance on a number of professional situations that you encounter. However, when it comes to progressing within a company to a position of decision-making, particularly as a woman or minority, sponsors are vital. They act as your advocate and introduce you to the right people, making sure you and your work are noticed.

Because sponsors tend to be in positions of influence, acquiring one is easier said than done. It involves strategic networking with decision makers and high-level conversations with senior-level professionals (note: use my Starter Kit to guide you). Your work and reputation must also be sponsor-worthy. Sponsors put their names on the line whenever advocating for you, so it’s important to add value by excelling in what you do and helping the sponsor with his or her success. Once you’ve established a solid relationship with the sponsor, be honest about your interest in becoming a board member. It won’t happen overnight, but a sponsor will help facilitate the steps necessary to getting that seat on the board.

2. Discover your niche and leverage it

When it comes to getting on a corporate board, it’s important to do your homework. Who are the current members of the board and what do they bring to the table? Discover what makes each person unique. Then, looking at your own skill set, how do you think you can be helpful to the board members? Identify those strengths that set you apart and focus on ways to leverage them within your career.

For example, you may notice there is no one on the board who excels in social media marketing, an area that you are familiar with and think would be useful to the board. Use the opportunity to learn everything you can related to social media marketing and showcase your expertise in a way that gets noticed by the right people.

3. Don’t be afraid to highlight your leadership skills

When looking at positions of leadership in today’s workplace, women and minorities continue to lag behind white males. A recent study shows that when it comes to leadership roles, the assumption that women prefer less demanding positions because of their lifestyle is false. Rather, women—particularly women of color—do not advance as quickly as their peers due to inherent biases in the workplace.

To counter the incorrect assumptions about women and minorities when it comes to leadership, you need to show your ability to lead. It may require spearheading a large-scale project at work or creating opportunities through other avenues in your career. The goal is to not be afraid to step up to the plate and show what you are capable of. This will help you when it comes to leading as a board member. Ronald Rapatalo, who’s a board member of the Highbridge Community Life Center, elaborates: “Being on a board, I get to practice my leadership in a different way than how I lead at work. For example, I’ve gotten to work on fundraising, which is not part of my daily work.”  

Conclusion

Getting on a board may seem like a daunting task but it can be done. As Carolyn Thomas, board member of Girls Inc. of NW Oregon—says, “Don’t let fear be a roadblock. If you have the time and desire to serve on a board then make it happen by putting that desire out to your network. You will be amazed by what opportunities and connections exist to help you find the right board to serve on.”

With the right combination of influential sponsors, in-demand professional skills and visible leadership qualities, you can work your way to becoming a strong contender for a seat on the board and to obtaining a broader network which will help you thrive in your career.

I have worked with many female and minority professionals through my career coaching by Career Outcomes Matter to empower these individuals to progress to positions of leadership and influence. By subscribing to my site, you can gain insight into how these transitions have occurred and how you can be next.

A 90-Day Plan: The Key to Getting an Offer

90dayplanWant to make a good impression during your interview with the hiring manager? Come in prepared to answer and ask thought-provoking questions. Want to make an even bigger impression on the hiring manager and differentiate yourself from the other candidates? Let him or her know what you will do your first 90 days on the job.

The first 90 days of any job is crucial. It’s the standard grace period for new employees and the time during which first impressions are made. Therefore, it’s beneficial to have a plan that will show you can do the job and alleviate any concerns your potential employer may have. With a one-pager indicating what you will prioritize in the first 90 days, you’re making it easier for the hiring manager to envision you in the role.

To create a 90-day plan, you want to think about the position you’re interviewing for and what would need to be addressed going in. Here are a few questions to consider to help with your strategy.

What are the departmental goals and objectives?

Whether you already received this information during the interview process or not, it’s important to get a firm understanding of what the hiring manager and other members of the department identify as the departmental goals and objectives. Revisit conversations and strike up new ones to help you clarify what needs to be done. Be prepared to listen and observe to not only learn what is being said but also what is unsaid.

What are the position’s main priorities?

This question will help you connect the description of the job to the departmental objectives. How does your position help the department and/or business achieve its goals? Furthermore, based on what you are learning and observing, which of your priorities are the most important? Take the time to discover the answers to these questions then draft a plan that will show how you intend to approach these priorities in the first 30, 60 and 90 days of the job.

Who are the people I would need to meet with to help me reach my goals?

Work relationships are invaluable when it comes to your career. Get to know everyone in your department and what they work on. Not only is this good information to know generally but it will likely help you in your responsibilities. It’s also good to familiarize yourself with departments outside of yours and who the key people are in each area. This will help you connect the dots and see how your role relates to others within the larger organization.

What are the “quick fixes” and what requires more time?

In the early days of a new job, it’s beneficial to identify the “quick wins,” those tasks that can be completed easily in a short time frame and will visibly improve some part of the department or company. Avoid making hasty decisions by working with the necessary stakeholders to determine which projects can likely be addressed immediately versus those that need more time and planning.

How will I measure my progress?

As you work toward achieving your goals, what tools of measurement will inform you of your progress after 30, 60 and 90 days? It may be setting up weekly or biweekly meetings with your supervisor or utilizing performance metrics to track your progress along the way. Regardless, the idea is that you will want to establish a system to help you understand how you’re doing and whether any changes need to be made.

Conclusion

By addressing these questions in your 90-day plan, you will show the hiring manager that you’ve given serious thought to the role and have created a strategy accordingly. Your plan will also communicate that you’re able to hit the ground running and do what you’re getting paid to do in an efficient and effective way.

As a career coach for the job hunt, I have worked with many anxious job seekers on how to draft a 90-day plan that will propel them to first choice. I also offer mock interviews and guidance to help clients create a strategy that they feel confident communicating.

More of my tips on how to create a lasting impression during interviews can be found by subscribing to my blog.

Psst: Here is a sample that is detailed and here is one that offers more of a 10K foot view.

Is Your Boss a Micromanager? Take the Quiz to Find Out

micromanager

Every workplace has one—the manager who wants to know what you’re doing, when you’re doing it and how you’re doing it at all times. They may even take charge of projects they initially asked you to oversee. If this sounds like your boss, then you’ve got a micromanager on your hands. While micromanagers may have good intentions, they ultimately have a negative impact on your performance and prevent you from professional growth. How can you be sure your boss is a micromanager? Take the quiz below by adding one point for each statement that applies to you.

1. Your manager checks in on you constantly.

While it’s expected of a manager to check in on their direct reports to see what they’re doing and if they need any assistance, a micromanager crosses the line by always wanting to know where you are and what you’re working on.

2. When asking you to complete a task, your manager tells you, in detail, how to complete the assignment.

A manager will assign a task and may even provide suggestions on how you should go about it, while a micromanager will tell you exactly how you should complete the task, leaving no room for your input or opinion.

3. Your manager indicates being swamped at work but refuses to delegate any projects to you.

Even though you’ve offered to help your clearly stressed manager with one of the many projects on his or her plate, your manager hesitates to relinquish anything to you or another direct report, instead preferring to oversee everything from start to finish.

4. Your manager wants constant status reports on the progress of a project.

A manager will typically want occasional status reports on a project to ensure it’s moving along smoothly, however a micromanager wants to be much more involved, seeking continuous updates to the point where it delays the completion of the project.

5. Your manager gives you a task to complete but later decides to do it him or herself.

When assigning projects, one of the ways a micromanager shows his or her true colors is by reclaiming control. It may be a subtle action, in which your manager slowly but surely takes over, or an immediate decision. Regardless, the project is no longer yours.

6. Your manager has a tendency to withhold information because he or she doesn’t think you need to know.

Of course you should not always be privy to everything your manager is working on, but if you have a boss who has a tendency to hold back information from you, forcing you to rely heavily on that person to do your job, your manager is micromanaging.

7. Your manager requires you to seek his or her permission before you start a task.

While a manager may appreciate the initiative taken when you decide to take on a task on your own, a micromanager frowns upon an employee taking action without his or her consent and will likely require the employee to seek permission before starting anything.

8. You constantly feel anxious around your manager and are afraid of making a mistake.

When working under a manager, you should feel as though you have a balance between the autonomy you desire and support from your supervisor, but when working under a micromanager, you likely feel neither autonomy nor support.

9. Your manager constantly questions your judgment and decision-making.

A micromanager lacks trust in his or her employees, often without justification. This leads to continuous suspicions regarding their direct reports’ judgment calls and ability to make decisions without guidance.

10. Others around you refer to your manager as a micromanager.

The most obvious sign of a micromanager: when your peers or those who know your boss refer to him or her as a micromanager.

Now tally your points to find out if your boss is a micromanager:

0-2: You have nothing to worry about. Sounds like you have a great manager!

3-5: Your manager shows hints of being a micromanager but has not completely crossed over.

6-8: Warning! You have a manager who’s very close to being a full-blown micromanager.

9-10: Your boss is a complete micromanager and has created a toxic work environment for you.

So, is your boss a micromanager?

If, after taking the quiz, you discover you have a micromanager for a boss, there are ways to cope. As a virtual career coach, I have helped many clients handle sensitive micromanaging situations so that they can excel in their careers. I have also provided executive coaching to micromanagers to help them amend their behavior.

The workplace is never easy to navigate, but with some guidance, it can be done. Subscribe to my blog to learn more effective tips on how to handle workplace relationships and career growth.

The 5 Questions that Will Impress Any Hiring Manager

questions “Do you have any questions for me?”

After successfully answering all the hiring manager’s questions about your past experiences and interest in the role, you’re finally asked if you have any questions for the hiring manager.

At this point you can either say, “No, I think you’ve covered everything” or you can ask strategic questions that sell your strengths and position you as a top candidate. With my expertise, guidance and career coaching, I ensure my clients do the latter.

Through my mock interviews, I have helped many job seekers craft questions that have differentiated them from other candidates. Below are some questions commonly asked during the interview process that I finessed to help my clients differentiate themselves from others. It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that even while asking questions you are still trying to sell yourself—the onus of the sales process has not yet been lifted…so don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet not even during this Q&A portion.

1. Original: How does this position contribute to your departmental goals?

Tweak: My understanding of this position is that it ties to your departmental goals in this way [insert specific ways based on your prior networking and research as well as the job description]. In what ways can the person elected to assume this role accelerate her impact?

Note: This question shows that you’re mindful of how the role and its strategic vision support the department’s overarching goal. It also determines if there are any low hanging fruit that can be addressed to help speed up anything on the hiring manager’s behalf.   

2. Original: Knowing your departmental goals and where you want to focus for the next several months, what qualities should the ideal candidate possess that will help you achieve these goals?

Tweak: In prior roles where I have been asked to do similar things such as [insert an example that ties directly to your desired role] and [insert another example that does the same], I have leaned on my ability to do [insert a desired skill]. What are other skills that you’ve seen the most successful hires possess?

Note: You are essentially asking what you can do to help make the hiring manager’s job easier. This question gets to the heart of what the interviewer needs and provides you with the opportunity to further show you have the qualities of the ideal candidate.  

3. Original: Your team has accomplished a lot over the last several months. Which accomplishments have been the most important to you and why?

Tweak: No major tweaks. I would suggest listening closely to what the interviewer brings up during the conversation for project highlights and incorporating them into the set-up portion of this question rather than making this generic (e.g. “accomplished a lot”).

Note: This is your chance to demonstrate your listening skills. It’s also the opportunity to get a sense of the hiring manager’s priorities and why they were elevated to the top.

4. Original: How will my performance be measured?

Tweak: In prior roles, I have measured the performance of my direct reports or third party vendors in this way OR my performance has been measured in this way (e.g. overall team contribution to a specific goal and my contribution to these goals). How do you measure impact? As someone who prioritizes assignments based on goals, what are the biggest goals that you’d want me to own given your overarching needs?

Note: It’s important to determine how your impact will be measured because it will help you negotiate your salary later on (the more aggressive the goals, the higher your salary should be). This question also communicates to the hiring manager that you know your work will be judged, therefore you want to establish agreed upon goals.

5. Original: What are the opportunities for professional development?

Tweak: Throughout my career, I have opted to participate in various professional development opportunities including X and Y (side note: make sure X and Y further your candidacy or are relevant to the job at hand). It’s always been critical when selecting these trainings that I could immediately use them on the job. What training opportunities aside from hands-on experience have you or your team experienced that you’d recommend to any new hire? Alternatively, I am also a self-directed learner; are there any courses that you’ve seen outside of the company that have been particularly useful?

Note: This question will clarify the options available to you while communicating your interest in developing within the company. It also shows the hiring manager that you’re continuously thinking about ways to improve your work.

Ultimately, the goal is to stand out from the crowd by showing the hiring manager your strategic thinking, keen interest in helping the team reach its goals and openness to improving and developing your professional self. Learn other ways to differentiate yourself in the job hunt by subscribing to my blog.

“WOW!” Hiring Managers: Answers to the Top 5 Interview Questions

hiringmanagerCongratulations! You successfully made it past the HR screening. Now it’s time to meet with the person who will ultimately decide if you’re the right candidate for the job—the hiring manager.

When going into an interview, it’s important to know what questions to expect and how to approach them. Preparation is key, which is why, as a career coach, I provide mock interviews and guidance for those looking to successfully navigate these crucial career moments.

Below are five common questions asked by hiring managers and how to prepare for them.

1. Tell me about your experience at Company X.

In other words, how does your past experience relate to the job the hiring manager is looking to fill? When answering this question, you want to convince the hiring manager that you can hit the ground running and bring value to the team by providing specific examples that resulted in successful outcomes. It’s also helpful to identify how your current and prospective employers differ. This will help you determine which skills to emphasize.

Sample Answer: Despite working for a company that prefers organic growth, I have worked through the nuances that evolve when two organizations with distinct cultural norms are brought together. For example, recent new leadership from Company Y brought new ways of evaluating projects. I set out to understand their ways of doing things by building a rapport with key leaders and sharing with them my institutional knowledge that I built during a successful eight-year career in the firm. An example of when my knowledge was beneficial is…etc.

2. What is your biggest professional accomplishment to date?

This is your opportunity to provide an example that shows you can do the job. Think about the skills detailed in the job description and which of your accomplishments most directly relate. The goal is to convey to the hiring manager not only your past successes but also what you are capable of accomplishing if offered the job.

Sample Answer:  My greatest accomplishment was when I grew the IBM business on my agency’s behalf by 25% in one year. Most clients were cutting back on producing events as a way to warm leads for their sales force. With my creative team, I came up with a way to offer the same high-touch experience via webinars. Each webinar was accessible 24 hours a day and led by IBM thought leaders. In the end, I reduced event production costs by 40% and, with those cost savings, IBM invested in more webinars worldwide. I won my agency’s award and was soon promoted.

3. How would people you have worked with describe you?

This question centers on how well you work with others and your ability to manage relationships with your peers, managers and direct reports. Give examples of situations that illustrate how you work with people across various functions. Answer truthfully, as the hiring manager will reach out to your references at a later point to ensure your perception of yourself is in line with theirs.

Sample Answer:  My managers would describe me as someone who would rather tirelessly overcome obstacles on my own than continuously seek managerial guidance. I make my managers’ lives easier in this way. For example, when I first started working at firm C, I was asked to figure out ways to cut costs. Instead of relying on my manager, who had other projects to oversee, I decided to better understand the transportation logistics behind the wood chips that my employer needed in each facility. After seeing what worked best and what could be improved, I took this information to my manager, who was grateful for the initiative I took.

4. What is your greatest weakness?

Often dreaded by job candidates, the key to answering this question is to be honest yet strategic. On my site, I go into more detail on new and effective ways to answer this question truthfully without taking yourself out of the running. You also need to address the unspoken follow up, which is what you are doing to overcome your weakness. Ultimately, you want to show the hiring manager that you are self-aware, thoughtful and proactive about your strengths and weaknesses.

Sample Answer: My greatest weakness is my low patience when a team member withholds important information to the detriment of his or her peers or the assignment’s success. I have always tried to maximize knowledge-sharing by bringing team members together prior to launching any assignment to ensure everyone is on the same page. Yet, there have been times when people have withheld information even after these efforts. In those instances, I have learned to speak privately with those team members to understand why information was withheld.

5. Why are you the best person for this position?

In asking this question, the hiring manager is looking for you to succinctly convey what sets you apart from the other candidates. Think of your most impressive and unique strengths that closely relate to the job description and use those to pitch yourself in a way that clearly illustrates the skill set and qualities you bring to the table.

Sample Answer: My analytical horsepower sets me apart from other candidates. For example, I imagine all of your candidates can create robust Excel-based financial models. However, I can also see and articulate the business story behind the numbers to influence decision-making. During a major food-chain deal, I conducted the due diligence necessary to come up with the right multiple that my superiors should consider based not only on raw data but also on what was the best way to position the assets we were selling. My strategy resulted in a more profitable deal. *Side note: The best way to benchmark your skills verses those of other potential candidates is by leveraging my highly acclaimed The Winning Benchmarking Matrix (TM)

Learn more about how to handle interviews and career transitions by subscribing to my blog.

How to Answer: “What Are Your Salary Expectations?”.

salarynegotiationsHere’s a scenario many of us are familiar with:

You applied for a job you want and, after days of anxious waiting, you land an interview to discuss the role and your qualifications. During the discussion, you go over your professional background, why you’re interested in the position and what the job entails. Then, some variation of this question comes up: “What are your salary expectations?”

Another common situation is when you’re going through a job application, and again, you come across a question about desired salary.

Whether it’s during an interview or on an application, no one wants to answer this question, however it’s one that must be asked. Firstly, it’s a quick way for employers to eliminate candidates with overly high expectations. It also lets the employer know what they will need to offer you if they decide you’re the person for the job.

Answering this question is tricky. If you say a figure that’s too high, you’re likely out of the running, but if you give a number that’s too low, you have undervalued your work and your potential contribution to the company. So how do you answer this question?

On Job Applications

Applications are tough because there’s no way to skirt the question, and if you leave it blank, some employers may not even consider you. In this case, it’s always best to write something down. A few tips:

  • Consider how competitive the market is for your skills and let that inform the number you put down. If the market is saturated then you don’t have as much to leverage. Do your research to understand how in-demand your skills are and what the typical compensation package looks like.
  • Look at your current salary and typical salary progression for the industry you’re in. If you’re switching industries, look at the progression within the new industry. You may have to aim lower or higher depending on what you’re looking to transition into.
  • Determine your walk away number and put down a salary 10-15% higher. That way, you know you’ll be okay with the lowest salary offered to you.
  • If there is an opportunity to list a range, do so but make sure the lower end of the range is a number you’re comfortable with.

During Interviews

In an interview, postpone answering the question by focusing on asking the interviewer for more details about the position and scope of responsibility. You should try to determine which goals you’re responsible for, whether you’re bringing in revenue, if you’re doing something that’s never been done before, whether you have direct reports or manage a budget and any other information that may influence compensation. If the interviewer keeps pressing you for a number, here are a few things to consider:

Similar to doing market research before writing down a salary expectation on a job application, you want to do your homework for interviews as well. In particular, look up salaries at the company you’re interviewing for. Sites like payscale.com, glassdoor.com and careerbliss.com, to name a few, provide detailed information on salaries for either the exact position you’re interviewing for or comparable positions.

  • What is the total compensation package? Try to find this information out before giving your salary expectations. Compensation is more than salary and you may find that you would rather focus on negotiating more vacation days or a flexible work arrangement than your paycheck.
  • Typically in an interview, you can and should provide a range instead of an exact number. But again, don’t say any numbers you’re not comfortable with because if the employer offers you a salary at the lowest end of your range, you don’t have much to negotiate with when it comes to getting a higher salary.
  • Don’t be too stubborn or cagey at this phase of the interview process. It may communicate to the interviewer that you’re too much of a hassle to be bothered with. Instead be confident but flexible until you reach the stage where an offer has been made. By then you will know what’s most important to you and what you can leverage to get your ideal compensation package.

Learn more about salary negotiation and other interviewing tips by subscribing to my blog. My career coaching has helped job seekers get the job they want with the salary they deserve.

Little Known Ways to Approach HR Recruiters

hr recruiterAfter entering keywords on LinkedIn, examining first and second-degree connections and browsing through countless profiles, you finally found the internal HR professional responsible for filling the job you want. Now what do you do? You don’t want your initial communication to take you out of the running, so how do you connect with the recruiter to let him or her know about your interest in the position?

As a career coach who knows the ins and outs of how recruiters work, the first thing you should do before deciding on your plan of action is to ensure your resume is as tailored as possible to the job you want. You don’t want to reach out to the recruiter with a resume that looks unrelated to the position you’re applying for. You also want to tweak your LinkedIn profile accordingly before doing any outreach. Once you’ve tailored everything, you have a few options when it comes to contacting the recruiter:

1. Look to see if you have any connections in common online or off.

To make your outreach easier, it’s best to see if you have any connections in common, either online on LinkedIn or offline through someone you know who works at the company. One of the great things about connecting online via LinkedIn is that it allows you to increase and explore your network with the click of a button. Since you now have the name of the recruiter, the obvious next step is to look him or her up on the social networking site. If you see “2nd” in the top right corner of the profile, that means you have connections in common. View the names at the bottom of the profile and decide which of your shared connections, if any, you can reach out to regarding the recruiter.

If, for some reason, the recruiter is either not on LinkedIn or is a third-degree connection who you’re unable to reach, search through your online and offline network to see who you know that either currently works or used to work at the same company as the recruiter. Similar to online, the goal is to find a connection that you can leverage to help make the introduction.

The benefit of reaching out to one of these shared connections beforehand is that you have the opportunity to get a sense of how the recruiter operates. They may prefer an email rather than a LinkedIn request or some other form of communication. Gather as much information on the recruiter as you can so that you can approach the person strategically. Also see if you can use the connection’s name as a referral once it’s time to reach out to the recruiter, making the outreach more personalized. You have one chance to make a first impression, so determine your communication plan prior to outreach.

2. Look to see if you have any affiliations or interests in common.

If you lack any online or offline connections in common, do some research to see if you share any common interests or affiliations. For example, is the recruiter in the same group as you on LinkedIn or the same organization offline? The affiliation does not need to be professional; you may share an alma mater or a specific personal interest. Whatever the connection may be, bring that point of reference to the forefront in your communication to the recruiter. It may serve as an icebreaker that will help you introduce yourself in the same way a shared contact can.

Another option is to use a shared group on LinkedIn to get the recruiter’s attention. As I mention in my blog, it’s not enough to simply join LinkedIn groups, you also need to participate. Do this by listening to the conversations taking place to see where you can strategically provide your input and possibly even reference the recruiter in the discussion. It must be something extraordinarily interesting given the recruiter’s employer and should demonstrate the thinking the solicited job requires. With this tactic, you want to be careful not to overdo it so as not to scare the recruiter off. Ideally, this will serve as another entry point in your outreach.

3. “Cold email” the recruiter.

When you have nothing in common—no shared contacts or affiliations—try “cold emailing” the recruiter, also known as sending a direct email or message to a recruiter who is not expecting contact from you. This may be daunting but it’s also effective when done correctly. With a cold email or LinkedIn message, you want to be careful not to come on too strong or sound desperate. You also need to ensure your approach is highly tailored (e.g. infusing the job description keywords throughout your communications with the recruiter).

If you decide to initially connect with the recruiter on LinkedIn, quickly move the conversation to email so that you can provide your resume and cover letter once you reach that point in the process. In your communication, briefly express your interest in the position and your desire to connect for reasons X and Y (note: your reasons should directly relate to the job you’re interested in). Engage the recruiter but remember not to go overboard.

Conclusion

Whether you connect through LinkedIn or email, the goal is to convey to the recruiter your interest, enthusiasm and desire to be part of the team. It requires being very resourceful and stepping out of your comfort zone to get noticed. Ultimately you want to prepare as best as you can so that you can initiate contact in the most effective way possible.

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