What every job seeker should know, and most don’t!

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www.womenventure.org T: 651-646-3808

Here are some often overlooked fundamentals to conducting an effective job search
and landing on your feet.

1. Find a safe and supportive place to move through your emotions. If you ignore this important step in the process you’ll end up conveying your ‘mess’ and not your ‘message’ in every networking, interview situation.

2. Focus, focus, focus. If you don’t know where you want to go and how you are going to get there you’ll waste enormous time and energy, and you’ll burn through the people who want to help you without getting results.

  1. What is your ideal next career position?
  2. What is missing from your experience, knowledge, skills or connections to get you there?
  3.  How do you know when to expand your search parameters?
  4. What’s your financial bottom line? How long can you afford to search?
  5. What resources are available to you to extend that time line, or to reduce stress while you’re in the process?
  6. How clear are you on what you’ll do if you are offered something that is not what you really want/need?

3. Spend your energy with what is IN your control, not on what’s OUT of your control.

  1. You have a tremendous opportunity in your hands—embrace it
  2. Find gratitude in each day. It will save your life and is contagious
  3. Your attitude is yours to control. Choose wisely

4. Don’t go it alone. Do you know what you don’t know? When we don’t know what to do, we do what we know. For most people this means repeating old behaviors which have yet to get the results we need.

5. Get the right people in your life boat.

  1. Find accountability partners
  2. Find guides and cheerleaders
  3. Find those willing and able to help
  4. Learn how to respond to those close to you, who should not be in your life boat

6. Once you have clear focus and next steps, be very specific in what you ask for from others.

  1. People want to help. Make it easy for them to do so while getting what you need.
  2. Informational interviews are conducted by the job seeker, not the one being interviewed. It is not a job interview. It is your job to be well-prepared, to ask the questions and to honor the other person’s time.
  3. Know where you are in your process. Are you gathering information to ascertain what career path to take? Are you learning about an organization or industry? What is your objective?

7. Be visible and search-able both in-person and on-line with the right people. Out of every 100 jobs more than 75 are still found because of who you know, but more importantly, because of who knows you.

  1. Volunteer where you will retain or gain experience, where you will be seen by those in a position to help you, and maximize the relationships you make
  2. Google yourself
  3. Get on linked-in and make sure your file is 100% complete
  4. Develop your value to others and your personal brand. In today’s economy complete is not enough, you need to be compelling
  5. Maximize key words in your profile and when applying for jobs
  6. Become a subject matter expert on LinkedIn
  7. Get your resumes on line: Minnesotaworks.net

8. Have a clear, well articulated personal brand. Don’t try to be all things to all people.

9. Develop five top STAR stories. They are the key to conveying your value. Know them by heart.

  1. Situation, Task, Action and Result: (2/3 of the story should be on the action and result)
  2. Showcase multiple skills and results from which you can draw in each story to demonstrate your value specific to the employer’s need
  3. Telling a relevant, concise and value-demonstrating story will make you memorable and compelling

10. Practice your own cheese sandwich till you can deliver it with full confidence and watch your interview and networking experiences turn around.

  1. Check out my blog (https://elizabethpetrylee.wordpress.com/ ) for the full how-to’s to building a cheese sandwich of your own and master your most dreaded interview question.

To learn how to do all of these, or for help with starting your own business, contact WomenVenture.

Get Hired! our two day career workshop is a great way to kick-start and focus your career search. Pursue Your Passion and Purpose is a powerful class series designed to find the career and life path which fits your call to purpose and passion. Testing and Assessments provide concrete feedback about your skills, aptitudes and natural talents. Our career transition groups support and hold participants accountable during job search. And our Life Coaching and Career Consultations give you the one-on-one attention you want.

If you are considering starting your own business or want to grow the business you have, Plan to Succeed and our other business services can move your plans to action. WomenVenture has a tuition reduction/scholarship program so that ability to pay is not a barrier to getting the support and guidance you seek. Please speak to our Client Services Team members for complete information. www.womenventure.org T: 651-646-3808

To connect with the community of past clients, current participants, volunteers, sponsors and our staff join our womenventure (one word) LinkedIn group and join the discussion.

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A quiet conversation with Connie Chung…

What a lovely experience to speak one-on-one with Connie Chung and to feel her attention and presence fully with me. She was a delightful keynote speaker at WomenVenture’s Fall Leadership Event last Friday and I found her equally vibrant and fun when we took some time out to visit.

As I knew she had done several interviews already, with people who ask questions for a living, I opted for the road less traveled and asked her what I hope were uncommon questions in our short time together. Her answers were candid and I’d like to share some of them with you.

Over the years Ms Chung has spoken with great esteem and respect of the elder statesman icon Walter Cronkite. In her keynote she cited him as a mentor. She lovingly assumed his voice and manner. Though quite humorous her regard for him and her appreciation of his impact on her professional life was palpable. I wanted to know about the off-camera friendship. So I asked, “Was there banter, humor, or silliness off-set?” A spark lit in her eyes, and a grin spread across her lovely face. She recounted a story of Mr. Cronkite dancing on top of a table in the back, off camera. What I would have given to see that!

I asked her what she does when the hectic pace and demands of being in the public eye weigh heavily upon her. Where does she go? What does she do to come back to center and have space for her quiet self? Would you believe it, she sorts and organizes her dresser drawers? In folding her clothing neatly and tending to this simple task the wrinkles of a busy world smooth out into the background and her mind finds quite. I thought of offering to let her ‘settle’ to her heart’s content in my closet, where garments spill out of drawers and clothes are stacked teetering on the ironing board. But somehow I suspected that a drawer of Dior is a lot more fun to organize than a drawer of sweat socks and chlorine-faded swimming suits. So much about Ms Chung is elegant, smart and poised, not flashy. Her attire, feminine yet tailored.

Her speech is eloquent. I believe she is a wordsmith at heart. When I asked if she had a favorite word she chortled. Her laughter popped out, like a cork from champagne. She retrieved data for the answer, her eyes moving to the side. “Well”, she said… “The word I can never say is rural.” And then she gave me a word, which I have to believe, really cannot be her favorite, but then again maybe it is… “eviscerated”. The lovely, petite Connie Chung chose eviscerated. In our quiet conversation I admit that I had momentarily lost track of the hardworking news anchor, the journalist, the tenacious and astute business woman. I was visiting with Ms Connie…With eviscerated I snapped right back.

I love being surprised when I talk with people, whether famous, or just the little kid on the corner drawing with colored chalk in the road. After our good-bye, and yet one more photo with another admiring fan Ms Chung departed. I wondered, “How does one drop a powerful word like that into everyday parlance”? I’m not sure, but I am headed home to ‘eviscerate’ my sock drawer and give it some serious thought.

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How to answer the most dreaded interview question…

Just pull out a cheese sandwich.

The cheese sandwich technique was first introduced to me by my firecracker friend Jackie Buck. It is so effective in an interview that people email me and stop me in the grocery store to share their stories about how they used it and its impact on their life. With this simple technique they mastered the response to the: “Oh, I hope they don’t ask me about THAT” interview question which previously plagued them throughout their job search.

Every job seeker, no matter who she is, has something in her past that she does not know how to address in an interview. Whatever her concern, the cheese sandwich allows her to address the question in a succinct, confident and articulate manner. The result? Interviewer doubts are replaced with a “Yes” vote of confidence. Not only is the objection eliminated, but the potential employer is left with a positive, compelling reason to hire the candidate. Sound easy? Well actually, it is. However, Ms Job Seeker must not skimp on the work that goes into creating the sandwich before opening her mouth. The cheese sandwich only works if carefully prepared and practiced in advance.

Here’s how it works: The cheese sandwich technique places a stinky, bad-news statement (the smelly cheese), between two positive (good news) layers (the bread).
The bad ‘stink’ is because of how Ms Job Seeker views the situation in her past. If she changes how she talks about it, she will change how others perceive it. Sandwiching the bad-news in between two positive statements and placing the emphasis on where she’s headed leaves the interviewer with the knowledge that she is confident, candid and values being the best contributor she can be. It also demonstrates that she appreciates the reason for their question or potential for concern while demonstrating that it need not be viewed as an obstacle to her brining the value needed to their team.

Here are the easy steps you can use to create your own cheese sandwich.

C: Concern
Determine what makes an interview question about this part of your work/life history concerning to you? It may be that you were fired from a job. Maybe you have been out of the workforce far longer than you deem acceptable. Perhaps you are changing careers and not yet confident in communicating your ability to transfer your skills and experience to this position. Ask yourself: What do you believe the outcome of the interview will be if you answer this question candidly?

H: Honesty
Acknowledge the event in one concise, honest statement. Do not place blame on anyone else. Equally important, do not assume responsibility that is not yours. The cheese portion of your sandwich will be two sentences at most and delivered simply as a statement of fact. Think of the neutral way you answer when someone asks you what the time is, or for your office address. There is no emotion attached to these statements.

E and E: Eliminate the Emotion
Now that you know what you are anticipating will happen if answer the question honestly and you have crafted one or two short sentences about the situation that occurred let’s look at what comes through loud and clear; your body language. Ninety-three percent of the message we convey comes from our tone of voice and our body language. Only 7% comes from what we actually say. This is why you must practice your cheese sandwich again and again before the interview so that you can control delivering the cheese (the bad news) with neutrality and inject enthusiasm and positive focus on the beginning and ending statements (the good news leading up to the situation and the great news leading you to where you are going now).

Think back to your situation. What emotion gets triggered when you think about the experience or event? Was your job eliminated? Have you re-entered the workforce after a divorce? Get a firm grasp on the emotion that bubbles or roars up inside of you when you think about this part of your life/career journey. Is it anger? Is it shame? Is it sadness? Name it. Once you have done so, acknowledging its depth and its hold on you take it firmly in hand, yank it out and put it up on a shelf. That’s right. You are not denying its impact and importance, but negative emotion has no place in an interview. So tuck it up and out of sight. In order for the cheese sandwich to work all negative emotion must be entirely removed from your tone and your body language. How successful you are will depend almost entirely on this simple fact. There is a place and a time to process your feelings. Interviews are neither the place nor the time.

S: Sandwich
You made it this far, now for the fun part. Build your sandwich. Prior to the negative event in your past think of a positive lead-in that speaks to your abilities, your collaboration, your leadership, your attention to detail. (This is the bottom slice of bread.) Craft a statement that:

• Is true about you from your past work history
• Distinguishes you as providing an important value, skill or experience needed to excel in the position for which you are applying
• Creates a positive impression about your character

Then develop a statement which demonstrates how you have grown, learned from or developed in a way which will benefit the employer and makes you the right choice for this opportunity. This is the top slice of bread.

E: Enthusiasm
No cheese sandwich is complete without a special ingredient. Your closing statement needs to be one in which you firmly believe and can deliver with sincere enthusiasm and an up-beat tone. It is the impression with which you will leave the interviewer. If done authentically it is what will differentiate you from all other candidates.

Here are some examples of the cheese sandwich in action:

“I see a gap on your employment history of 5 years. What were you doing during that time?”
“As you can see from my resume I worked for company X for 8 years. During that time I was able to build a solid team and improve customer satisfaction 22%. When the economy shifted the company needed to reduce our workforce across the board. While this was a difficult decision it proved to be a wonderful catalyst for me because I was able to take time to advance my personal and professional development. I grew my network. I developed deeper relationships within the community. It is because of my past work experience, but also because of what I accomplished in these most recent years that I really understand what it takes to build great relationships. It is what has prepared me to earn the respect and trust of your clients in filling this role.”

“I see that you have a criminal record from 5 years ago.”
“You’re correct. I made a poor choice and it had a significant impact on my life and the decisions I have made since. The matter has been fully resolved. I am highly motivated to continue to grow and improve the value of the work I do. Recently I earned my GED and I have begun to give back to the community as a volunteer helping others to complete their GEDs. It is a wonderful feeling to see that overcoming a difficult time in my life serves to inspire others to reach their goals.”

“In your last job you earned $10,000 more. We can’t match that.”
“I faced this same situation once before. It appeared at first blush that this difference in salary might be deal breaker. In fact after I was hired I learned that the Director almost did not offer the position to me because my salary had previously been higher. But they wanted… they needed someone who could turn the department around and build strong team morale. We worked together and crafted a fair and workable solution and I accepted the position.”

“I wish you could have seen the Director’s face when after 4 months of work this department not only met the budget but through attention to detail and relationship building affected enough cost savings to cover my whole salary for the period too. I am confident that if we could find a fair solution then, we can do so now. Does that sound reasonable?”

If you master the cheese sandwich technique you will be amazed at the response you receive. Email me. I would love to hear your cheese sandwich success story.

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Hawaii in a Box

How to make a lasting impression…

I think about the kalidescope of people in my life and what makes them memorable. Sometimes the impact someone has on me is disproportionate to the time I have spent with them. The person I meet once or twice can alter something in me, in how I am in the world. It’s like finding a beautiful agate on a north shore stroll. It isn’t unexpected, but there is a simple pleasure and delight in it. Like a wind chime note lingering on the back porch air something about them reaches in just below the surface and pauses, just being noticed and then it moves along. Maybe it’s the human-ness of others that resonates within. The calling to be something more, to bring something more into the world we inhabit.

Sometimes it is the humor and delight as we look at situations from different perspectives and we decide to remain playful while working hard.

I like to be memorable. Truth be told, I love it. I like to think that some little thought of me pops up every now and then, sliding like a bead on a string between everyday moments. I try to be kind. I try to be patient. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes not so much…

It seems to me that being memorable, whether in business or our personal interactions is about demonstrating that we see a ‘not so obvious’ aspect of another; that we take the time to consider who they are below the surface and our routine day-to-day interactions.

Working in a non-profit we are often the recipients of the generosity and talents of our volunteers. One such volunteer is Kate. I wanted to thank her for all she has done to help us. I got the inspiration for a special thank you from a blog she wrote about her young daughter describing what was fun, good and exciting as “Hawaii”. So I created ‘Hawaii in a box’. I found a real grass skirt at the thrift store and hot-glued a lei of brightly colored flowers around the waist. I burned some CDs of Hawaiian music (and yes, I hula-ed about the house with my pistol-hot glue gun in hand, swaying hips narrowly avoiding the open silverware drawer). I put in some sea shells, and a few more leis for her and her daughter and I decorated the box.

But you don’t have to own a glue gun to create an impression that sticks. Do something others don’t take the time to do. Here are some ideas that can make you memorable and help you to grow the connections in your life into meaningful relationships.
• Send a handwritten note after you meet with someone thanking them for their time
• Email when your friends have birthdays, or better yet: send a snail-mail card
• Acknowledge the difficult anniversaries too. If someone you know suffered the loss of a parent or spouse, acknowledge the date with a thoughtful outreach
• Hold the door for the person behind you and smile at them when you enter a building
• If you find someone else’s copies on the communal copier, deliver them on the way back to your desk with a friendly ‘have a great day’
• Change the toilet paper roll
• Take some pictures of others at a company event getting an award and send it on to them with a Post It note “Thought you might enjoy having an extra copy.”

And if hula isn’t your style, try jazz, hip hop or good old rock and roll and make your next meeting, commute to work, or ‘get up in the morning’ one that sets you on the right path.

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Remember when a tricycle could be anything

…and a dishtowel tied at the neck, secured with a clothespin clasp gave you the power of flight? When pedaling as furiously as your legs would allow lifted your imagination soaring over the trees…  Remember your bubbling delight when you realized that from your new vantage point the ants on the pavement were actually Mr. Webb and his dog out for a walk.

Remember when the boundaries of your day-to-day world were the blocks beyond school; the deep-dark, sucker-filled waters of the dappling creek as it disappeared under the road then out again and on and on to the bluff till it spilled and leapt down into Lake Michigan? And real adventure was a sure thing after your room was cleaned and a deadline meant ‘be home in time for supper’.

Remember when turning the wheel on your upside-down tricycle meant that you could make cotton candy of any rainbow color and size? And that caterpillars were really, truly AMAZING.

What if today, instead of remembering you approached your day with the same curiosity, un-hampered belief in the possible and delight in the small moments that rekindle your spirit in your work, your relationships, your attitude and your ‘in-the-moment’ presence in the world?

As a trainer I have a front row seat to experience people who thirst for more out of their career and life journeys. They make a choice to rekindle curiosity, to hold hands firmly with brave friends and splash into the unknown, to look at the little moments in life from a new vantage point, whether with close-up intensity and intention or from a bird’s eye view scanning the whole landscape.  I watch and listen as they hone-in on old beliefs that have kept them tethered and unable to claim their full purpose and potential. I celebrate with them as they begin to understand that what they thought must be so, might not.

I extend the same invitation to you.

Choose today to invite possibility of something new… a new perspective in how you view and move through your world. Look for the moments when you lose track of time, when your whole focus is on the color, the texture, the experience of what is right in front of you and everything else fades into the background.  What lights you on fire?

As you put your day to bed ask yourself,” When was I most alive today? What was I doing? With whom was I doing it? At what other times do I feel this way?  How can I build more moments of full-on, present-to-the-moment living? If I don’t know how, who can help me to find out?”

Jump on your tricycle. Pedal like the wind. Reclaim the inspiration in your everyday.

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