Monday, November 23, 2009

Remember THIS Job Interview Strategy?!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Odds for 10 Top Job-Finding Strategies

Advice from Richard Nelson Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute?, as reported in the September 1, 2009 issue of Bottom Line Personal newsletter:
  1. Mailing out resumes/submitting or posting resumes online -- odds of success: 7%*.
  2. Responding to ads in professional or trade journals -- odds of success: 7%.
  3. Responding to ads on Internet job sites -- odds of success: 10%.
  4. Responding to ads in the local newspaper -- odds of success: 5%-24% (the lower your salary requirements the better this works).
  5. Working with a private employment agency or search firm -- odds of success: 5%-28% (best with low-wage office positions, such as secretarial or clerical jobs).
  6. Networking for leads -- odds of success: 33%.
  7. Knocking on doors unannounced at employers of interest -- odds of success: 47% (especially effective with small businesses with 50 or fewer employees; mid afternoon is best).
  8. Calling companies of interest that are listed in the local Yellow Pages or White Pages Business section -- odds of success: 69% (ask for the owner, explain your background and relevant skills, then ask if s/he knows anyone in the industry in need of someone like you, or if you could come in and talk about the industry).
  9. Partnering with other job hunters -- odds of success: 70% (works best when partnering with those having different skills/career interests than you).
  10. Taking inventory of yourself, then targeting the employers where you ought to be working -- odds of success: 86% (yes, it takes time, but if you can define your skills and the type of work you want to do in as much detail as possible, you will be able to detail what you have to offer to a potential employer far more compellingly) .

* Based on industry studies/other sources.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Risk Tolerance and Reality

Financial Advisers talk about Risk Tolerance -- the amount of uncertainty you're willing to cope with should your investments trend in the wrong direction. But Risk Tolerance applies to more than just Wall Street dynamics.

Consider where you stand with respect to:
  • Career/Job Risk Tolerance -- The amount of uncertainty you're willing to cope with should your employer choose to restructure or eliminate your current position.
  • Leadership Risk Tolerance -- The amount of uncertainty you're willing to cope with as the boss of those facing current, impending, or recently-experienced Job Risk.
  • Interpersonal Risk Tolerance -- The amount of uncertainty you're willing to cope with should an important relationship of yours hit a rough patch.
  • Self-Confidence Risk Tolerance -- The amount of uncertainty you're willing to cope with should these or other things at work or in life not go as planned.
  • Self-Esteem Risk Tolerance -- The amount of uncertainty you're willing to cope with should your self-confidence dissipate and work/life continue to trend in the wrong direction.

The underlying question here differentiates between PLANNING for potential realities...and dealing with ACTUALITIES.

So what do we do when we find ourselves needing to cope with more risk than we would typically tolerate?

When financial advisers talk about money-matters, many (most?) suggest that we not 'change horses in the middle of the stream' but rather establish, and then stick with, an allocation strategy or plan that's properly aligned with our overall Risk Tolerance level. That, they say, will serve us BEST in the long-run.

Yet isn't it true that airplanes never actually fly in a straight line from here to there but, instead, must make a series of continuous, albeit minor, adjustments along the way to properly correct for the realities of what's going on in the skies around them?

Planning for Reality is important. But effectively handling Reality is more so. Is it not? (This reminds me of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs -- self-actualization may be the ultimate goal, but if you aren't getting your basic needs met, it's sort of irrelevant.)

So how ARE you handling the REALITY of your work and personal lives these days --not just your financial reality,but your entire reality?

  • If you're struggling some, what might you do to bolster yourself and your situation?
  • If you're not, how might you help someone who is?

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Allowing H-I-STORY to Unfold

Back in March of 2007, I suggested a method for putting your best foot forward in an interview by sharing your Success Stories using the P-A-R framework:

  • P - Start by stating a PROBLEM you've dealt with that is relevant to one that your prospective employer might have and/or want you to be able to address.
  • A - Next, explain the APPROACH you took to meaningfully, if not eloquently, resolve the problem.
  • R - Then share how the RESULTS you achieved not only solved the immediate problem, but enabled additional downstream benefits as well.
As an alternative to P-A-R, you might also use the H-I-STORY approach:

  • H - Crisply state the HEADLINE for the story you're about to tell.
  • I - Assert just how IMPOSSIBLE the achievement would typically be given the circumstances your about to share.
  • STORY - After asking if they'd like to hear more, share your STORY.

Customer Crisis Example:

"Share a particularly challenging situation you faced when managing an client account."

Sure, I'd be happy to. I guess you could say that the HEADLINE for this example would be: "Client Account Saved through Amazing Teamwork!"

The situation was pretty IMPOSSIBLE, actually. Client satisfaction was at an all-time low, they already told us contract renewal would be delayed pending RFP results, and some of our team members had pretty much checked out because of all the complaining about them.

Would you like to hear the rest of the STORY?

Well, we realized that the only way to salvage the account was resolve about 85% of the client's outstanding concerns. (We didn't think we could solve all of their problems, but figured that if we resolved enough of them, we could show that we had 'rehabilitated' ourselves and were now back on the path.) To do so, we developed what we called an Expedited Three-Step:

  1. Step One - We conducted a series of 1-on-1 and group brainstorming sessions, both internally, and with our client contacts, to determine what we needed - and could count on - from everyone on both sides of the table - to complete our turnaround.
  2. Step Two - Armed with that insight, we sat down with our Big Boss and got authorization to establish an emergency SWAT team to assist us in our expedited efforts.
  3. Step Three - Implementation. The trick was getting people to step out of their comfort zones, take some risks, and really play full-out, like never before. It took a lot of give-and-take, late-night 'get-er-done' sessions, and way-too-much cold pizza, but, soon, we able to show the client some truly meaningful progress, enough to earn a no-bid extension of the contract in question.

Clearly, it never would've happened without some amazing teamwork to bring it all home and I'm so pleased to be able to say that I helped it all come together like that!


Many otherwise fully-qualified applicants take too long to get to the punch-line of their story. The value of the H-I-STORY approach, then, is that it puts the headline first. Then, and only then, is the story told - but even still, not until the interviewer agrees that it's a story worth hearing.

Do you see how good things are just more likely to naturally unfold when you've captured your interviewer's Undivided Attention, like that?! Try it and see for yourself.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Self Doubt? Get Out!

An article in the March 2008 issue of Dance Magazine (my daughter subscribes!) caught my eye. Written by Anne L. Wennerstrand and titled, "Hang in There," the piece "counsels dancers not to let self-doubt stand in the way of building a career."

Indeed. And there's broader applicability, as well. Per the author:
"No matter where you are in your career [bz: or what career you're in], you can stay encouraged by learning how to respond differently to your circumstances. With a little benign curiosity, you can feel more empowered and energized in the face of inevitable disappointments."
Benign curiosity. I like that notion.

Emily was an accomplished ballerina who held an unquestioned belief that if she wasn't "special enough" she wouldn't be worthy of future success and approval. As a result, she placed way too much importance on what others thought of her work. Through benign reflection she realized that this was due, in large part, to her early ballet teachers who "devalued her abilities in class, forcing her to prove herself worthy of their attention." Wow!

Michael, a musical theater dancer, would become extremely anxious and fearful when preparing to audition, notwithstanding his success in a number of prior shows. Through benign curiosity he learned that the voices in his head were really those of his family, who never really supported his love of dance in the first place. Hmmm.

So what is YOUR self-talk telling you and where did those ideas initially come from?
Likely, from a very long time ago. "The voices of self-doubt that a dancer [bz: or anyone else] may hear," writes Ms. Wennerstrand, "are often the result of the “outside getting inside.” These voices can be those of parents, teachers, and authority figures who were once relied upon for safety and approval. By developing awareness, dancers [bz: and others] can learn to question some of those internalized voices."

So don't just listen to your negative self-talk and accept it as truth, wonder about its truth. Question its truth. Consider that it may NO LONGER be true. ASSERT that it doesn't have to be true.

And tell your self-doubt to get out!

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Crain's Chicago Business quotes Barry Zweibel

Barry Zweibel was quoted in Crain's Chicago BusinessSeptember 29, 2008 - Barry Zweibel was quoted in "Laid-back Layoffs", an article by Crystal Yednak, in today's issue of Chicago Business.

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Professionalism AND Competence

professionalism OR competenceI think they got it wrong.

Yesterday's USA TODAY Snapshot poll question was this: "As long as they are good at their job, should rude and unprofessional co-workers be tolerated?"

And not surprisingly, a vast majority of those surveyed (84%) said "No."

But from this, USA TODAY concluded: "Professionalism over competence" (italics added by yours truly) and that's just faulty logic.

Without asking about the opposite side of the coin - something like, "As long as they are not rude or unprofessional, should co-workers who are awful at their job be tolerated?" - there's no real basis for their conclusion. Indeed, beware of conclusions based on insufficient evidence.

To me, it's as likely as not that most people would prefer their co-workers to be good at their job, polite AND professional. Wouldn't you?! But that wasn't asked.

Instead, people were asked to pick just one, which is like asking someone, "Which do you prefer - breathing in or breathing out? No, really, pick one!"

So don't pick just one, I say. Pick both. Pick professionalism AND competence.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Control, Challenge, Commitment

In their book, The Hardy Executive: Health Under Stress, authors Salvatore R. Maddi and Suzanne C. Kobasa offer a unique view on the "positive benefits of stress" for executives. The good news is that a particular personality style - hardiness - is actually quite resistant to stress.

"People with hardiness work hard because they enjoy it, rather than because they are compulsively driven. They make decisions and implement them because they view life as something constructed, rather than given. And they are enthusiastic about the future because the changes it will bring seem potentially worthwhile. Despite the anxieties and risks they encounter, these people find their lifestyles generally exciting and satisfying, in part because it is strenuous."

The better news is that hardiness can be defined as the simple combination of just three tendencies - namely, toward control rather than powerlessness, toward challenge rather than threat, and toward commitment rather than alienation.

And the even better news is that hardiness can be "instilled in adults" rather readily. Here's how:

To increase your sense of control - Believe (or just act as if you believe to start) that you really can influence what's going on around you. Dig into how you might turn a given situation to your advantage; don't just accept things the way they are as oftentimes very small changes can make huge differences. (In contrast, people who feel powerless act like passive victims, show little initiative, fail to utilize the resources they already have at their disposal as effectively as they might, and tend to get stuck in their own myopia.)

To increase your sense of challenge - Realize that it's natural for things to change and that change is often a "useful stimulus" for, as I like to say, helping good things happen sooner. Rather than seeing your work (or life) as strenuous instead of exciting, practice seeing it as exciting because it's strenuous. (In contrast, people who feel threatened tend to think that it's natural for things to stay stable - which it's not - and fear change because they think it will overly disrupt their comfort and security - which it often does not.)

To increase your sense of commitment - Get interested in whatever you're doing - as in really interested. Dig in wholeheartedly, cheerfully, zestfully! (In contrast, alienated people tend to hold back, label their work as boring, and often appear exhausted and disheveled.)

So whenever you start to feel the negative effects of stress and strain, consider how you might assert more control over the situation, how you might see it as more of a personal or professional challenge to step up to, and how you might commit more fully to it and, as a result, your own well-being.

In other words, focus on becoming more of a Hardy Executive.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Write It Down; Bring It With You

Ever attend an important meeting - one where you really wanted to make a good impression - and then as soon as the meeting started you forgot all the wonderfully insightful points you were going to raise?! You're not alone - it happens to a LOT of people, actually. I could tell you exactly how many people, but, unfortunately, I forgot to write it down!

And the last three words of the problem, become its solution: Write it down!

Yes, write it down - whatever "it" happens to be - and bring it with you - to wherever you need it to be.

Unless your an actor, actress, professional singer/songwriter, or rogue card-counting gambler, the ability to memorize is rarely a prerequisite for success.

There's no downside to bringing notes with you to an important meeting, sales call, performance review, interview, etc.

  • Best Case: You're so in the zone that you don't need to look at your notes.
  • Worst Case: You're asked about them, to which you can simply say that you felt the conversation important enough to: (a) properly prepare; and (b) be sure not to digress off-point ... out of respect for the topic and the meetings attendees.

Tell me, who would fault you for that?

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Job Search Stuff - category archives

Follow this link to the GottaGettaBlog! archives for more postings from Barry Zweibel on the topic of: Job Search Stuff.