Like most Executive Resume Writers, I am constantly on the hunt for evidence of emerging resume writing trends and best practices. How else can we stay ahead of incessant shifts in the market?
Enter Career Thought Leader’s Global Brainstorming Day. This annual event brings together hundreds of resume writers from around the world to name the current and evolving trends impacting job seekers on a global basis. I’ve sorted through CTL’s findings to identify 6 key resume writing best practices that senior executives most need to follow.
- The days of needing only a resume to job search at the executive level are over. What executives increasingly need is a portfolio of career documents.
- Examples include 1-page resumes (see below), LinkedIn profiles, personal marketing briefs, leadership addenda, executive bios (in varying lengths), and personal commercials.
- Additional documents may be needed as LinkedIn “add-ons,” such as an interview PowerPoint presentation that outlines the match between you and the job in question.
- Nowadays letters range from traditional cover letters to e-notes, recruiter letters, and company letters. Letters are also needed for thank you, follow-up, networking, and spot opportunity situations.
- Branding in resumes and related career communications tools has never been more critical. Without overt branding, your resume will fail the key word density test and fail to win you job interviews.
- Overt branding includes things like a resume title, a tagline, unique-to-you summary content, and emphasis on the unique “golden thread” that runs throughout your career history.
- Branding should also be consistent across documents (your resume and cover letter) and platforms (your resume and your LinkedIn profile) without necessarily being repetitive.
- On LinkedIn, for example, your branding must be consistent but will often be slightly broader to accommodate multiple career search targets.
- Achievements have been must-have additions to resumes for more than a decade now, and their presence on resumes is urgently important. Well-written, achievements add key words to resumes, which boosts the document’s ability to win you interviews.
- The basic “formula” for citing achievements in resumes is often referred to as a CAR or SAR story: the challenge or situation you faced, the actions you took to remedy it, and the results your efforts generated. While there isn’t necessarily for all 3 of these for each achievement on your resume, you need to spell these out for yourself before inserting them so you know which details are key to include.
- Most resumes I review are weak in results. For maximum impact and key words, results must be stated in specific measurable terms. That is, it’s not enough to say that you increase sales or profits – you must characterize how much you increased them.
- Achievements should also be front-loaded whenever possible. By this I mean placing the result first, followed by the situation and/or actions. This strategy gets your results noticed more and makes them more readable by recruiters who sometimes read down the left-hand side of the page for a snapshot of your on-the-job success.
- It’s more important than ever to know and cater to your audience. Hence, customizing resumes for each use is critical. This means adding in last-minute key words before submitting your resume for jobs online or to recruiters.
- Such customization may include the simply infusion of a few extra key words in your resume’s title or core competencies section, or more extensive section-by-section alterations that enable your resume to apply to more industries or labor market sectors.
- Even taglines sometimes need to be adapted for companies, industries, and sectors. In fact, the savvy job seeker should probably have 2 or 3 taglines ready to swap in and out of resumes and cover letters as needed.
- Remember to adjust the amount of experience your resume reveals based on the amount sought for the job you are applying for. Demonstrating more experience than that amount will dramatically lessen the likelihood you will win an interview.
- Color is now widely used in the presentation versions of resumes – the resumes you hand-deliver, fax, or email to specific contacts.
- When applying for jobs online or submitting your resume online to employers or recruiting firms, it is critical to upload the right format – your ASCII text version. If you submit your Word or PDF version instead, the Applicant Tracking System, or database, that reads your resume may “mistranslate” it, which will likely eliminate you from consideration for the job.
- Pay attention to how you label your saved resume. I review thousands of resumes annually and see vague document titles that make it difficult to identify a candidate’s document in a long list. Aim for something like “LastNameFirstnameResume” or “LastnameFirstNamePositionTitle”.
- Given rampant identify theft, many executives are increasingly omitting their full address on resumes. This is fine, but make sure you include your location (even if just a city/state/country), your phone number, and your email address. If you are located outside the US or desire international relocation, offer a Skype or related number.
- Resumes and cover letters are getting shorter. Resumes are presently trending at 2 pages even at the senior executive or C-level. Three-page resumes are needed less and less frequently.
- Although full-fledged resumes are expected to reach 2 pages, there is a place for 1-page networking resumes and marketing briefs. These resume-like documents don’t provide the level of detail offered by their longer predecessor, but they do give readers a concise overview of your experience and achievements, which may be all they need in networking situations.
- Cover letters have shrunk by nearly half since 2008, with email-based e-notes rising in relevance and frequency.
- Email host trends indicate that Gmail is highly favored among executive job seekers while other hosts such as AOL are increasingly viewed as antiquated.
The bottom line? CTL’s Global Brainstorming Day participants see tons of changes impacting executive resumes, but the resume itself isn’t quite ready to exit the stage.
Here’s to your best practices-driven executive resume!
Let’s face it, it takes abundant creativity and sustained focus to set and achieve resolutions. I’m a resolutions sort of person and enjoy the end-of-the-year and beginning-of-the-year planning processes. Some years I do quite well at achieving my goals; other years I don’t do well at all. Looking back, I do my best goal achievement when I can sustain creativity and focus throughout the year. What about you?
Creativity is on my mind because my husband and I took 2 of our nieces to see James Cameron’s 3D journey into the world of Cirque du Soleil over the long holiday weekend. Without a doubt, this movie was the most exuberant explosion of creativity I ever seen – from the music to the production to the incredible talents of the Cirque troupes. Wow! Humans capable of this much creativity are surely also capable of solving almost any problem our species ever faces.
So how can creativity help with job search and career transition challenges? When you think about it, you can see that being in a career transition offers challenge after challenge to your creativity, because you have to constantly think of new language for resumes and cover letters, new employers and industries to pursue, new key words to use for job board searches and career documents, new ways to express your brand, new strategies for getting the attention of hiring managers and recruiters, and so on. If you allow yourself to relax into a creative rut during your search, it will stall, like a high performance vehicle with no gas.
Creativity is the fuel that drives any life transition – without it you will wander aimlessly and achieve next to none of your goals. Hence, if you want to shorten your career search in 2013, one not-so-obvious way to do so is to bolster your creativity. By improving your ability to think outside the proverbial box, you can approach your search in fresh ways.
If you already see yourself as a creative person or have creative outlets you pursue, then you will likely have some creativity-enhancing habits in place. I use music and sensory stimulation (scents, images, sounds) to cultivate my creativity, for example. I go to my favorite coffee shop or my back porch where I can access or craft a creative environment for myself. My husband, who is a stand-up comedian and professional stage performer, always begins his idea-generating sessions with mindmaps. I know folks who use mindmapping software to do the same thing.
Here is a quick round-up of different creativity tools and techniques to consider if you don’t already have good habits in place:
- Use mindmapping software such as iMindmap or Mindjet MindManager
- Complete one or more lateral thinking exercises
- Journal with creativity prompts
- Turn the TV off, watch less, or get rid of yours altogether
- Listen to more music (and a wider variety of musical genres)
- Stimulate your senses
- Surround yourself with inspiring images and art
- Spend more time in nature
- Go for a walk
- Hang out with your pets
- Create a collage
- Turn off your computer and use paper/pen or pencil instead
- Practice serenity, silence, and/or meditation
- Learn a new language
- Read poetry out loud
- Free yourself from perfectionism
- Build creative time into your daily schedule
- Reward yourself daily with play
- Act like or play with a child (on their terms)
- Try list-writing
- Invest in a nice journal and writing instrument and keep all of your career-related ideas in one place
- Change your perspective
- Play an instrument
- Read as much as you can about every topic under the sun
- Take frequent breaks while you’re working
- Shift mental gears
- Exercise the right side of your brain
- Take a 10 to 15-minute nap
Here’s my New Year’s challenge to you: Try one of these techniques daily for 15 minutes for a week. I predict you’ll begin to see a rise in your creativity, even if just a modest gain. Any gain whatsoever can enhance your creativity and your efficiency, which is turn can help shorten your career search. Now wouldn’t that be a grand way to launch into 2013?
Here’s to your creative New Year!
The always on-the-ball Jason Alba, author of I’m On LinkedIn – Now What???, offered an insightful perspective on the big, big changes at LinkedIn this week. As LinkedIn continues to roll out their new profile look, they’re also overhauling their app system – those handy software widgets that allow us to attach documents, media, and slideshows to our profiles.
More than a few folks panicked when they received notification that the apps were disappearing, since it wasn’t immediately obvious that LinkedIn has a better solution in hand. The good news, though, is that, as Jason observed, “Adding this rich media feature makes a LinkedIn Profile an amazing opportunity to share a lot of stuff… this might really become people’s homepage (aka personal website) a lot more than what it has been for the last nine years.”
The new rich media feature allows you to add a wealth of content with a dazzling array of providers, including:
- Images –13 providers, including Pinterest and Twitter
- Videos – 70 providers, including The Daily Show, major media outlets, Vimeo, and YouTube
- Audio – 13 providers, including SoundCloud and Spotify
- Presentations & Documents – Google Docs, Prezi, Scribd, and SlideShare
There are even more options, including Behance, Kickstarter, and Quantcast, to name but a few.
Whether you devise your own LinkedIn strategy or engage a professional to craft it for you, be careful with this freedom to add content to your profile. Some of the new options include content types that could push your profile toward annoying. Random comedy additions, for example, may not add value for most career professionals. Tons of news updates wouldn’t seem valuable either. Be judicious. Consider the long-term consequences of any addition. Imagine yourself in an interview with the perfect company – what would turn them off? Leave such content to others and keep yours clean, professional, and elegant. You can’t go wrong with clean, professional, and elegant.
The bottom line is that LinkedIn has given you a whole range of fun options to leverage in building your online profile into a content portfolio of Brand YOU™ material. Take advantage of the opportunities this gives you to enrich your profile with additional documents. Doing so gives your profile “stickiness” and invites readers to hang around and take their knowledge of you to a deeper level.
And if you’re savvy about what that looks like, it’ll be a very, very good thing!
Here’s to your new LinkedIn look!
Do you have an executive bio? And do you know how best to use one? Bios have been around for decades and are often used by senior executives. In fact, recruiters and employers tend to assume that if you are a senior executive, you already have one.
Useful for reminding your network what you bring to the table and introducing your background to prospective contacts, your bio also presents key details about you to recruiters, targeted employers, and hiring managers. Most importantly, executive biographies provide a big picture perspective of your candidacy in cases where a resume is inappropriate, premature, or too much detail.
Let’s say you come across an employer that appears to be a potential match for your interests. You check their job board but find no current openings relative to your skills. Is that the end of the matter? Not if you’re smart.
Leverage the networking power of LinkedIn to source the name and contact information of the highest level executive in your prospective department. If your experience and career target are senior enough, this may even be a C-level person. Send that person your bio along with a quick email about your candidacy, then follow-up within a couple of weeks. You’d be surprised how many times this approach opens doors.
But there are many more strategic ways to leverage an executive biography, especially once you grasp the fact that a bio, although generally a page long, can be strategically excerpted and shortened. Armed with bio lengths ranging from 25 to 50, 100, 500, and a full-page, you’re ready to take fuller advantage of a bio’s strengths. Here are my personal Top 10 ways to do so:
- Send your executive bio to your network: Too many job seekers just send a note to their network saying, “Hey, I’m looking for X – let me know if you hear of anything.” That’s not networking, because it doesn’t engage anyone beyond your contact. Instead, send your bio to give your networking contacts more information about your background without overwhelming them with details (which is what your resume will do), then ask them to send it to their contacts, and for those contacts to pass it on. Now this is networking.
- Introduce yourself to recruiters: Let’s say you network with your contacts to source the names of recruiters they know. What do you do with that list? It would be premature to send these folks your full resume, so just send them your executive bio, along with a short note about your candidacy. If they like what they read, they’ll be calling you or emailing you for a copy of your resume.
- Submit to a hiring manager ahead of your interview: Once you have an interview scheduled, you can presume the hiring manager will receive a copy of your resume. I would suggest sending them a PDF version prior to your interview, along with a copy of your bio. The bio, like your LinkedIn profile, offers different insights into your background than a resume does. By sharing more of your relevant skills with a hiring manager, you’ve claimed an advantage over your fellow candidates.
- Attach to your LI profile: Many job seekers overlook the fact that LinkedIn is essentially an online portfolio, which means it’s a great place to attach and store documents and media relevant to your candidacy – like your executive biography.
- Introduce yourself in LI Group discussions: Use a short excerpt of your executive bio to introduce yourself periodically in all the LinkedIn groups you belong to. I recommend you join 25 to 30 minimum, and if you introduce yourself weekly to each of them, you’ll be spreading bio love to hundreds, if not thousands of folks (including many recruiters and hiring managers if you’ve joined the right groups) throughout your search.
- When replying in the LI Answers section: If you’re LinkedIn-savvy, you’re using LinkedIn Answers aggressively. And when you do, a short bio excerpt is a perfect addition at the end of your answer. It will combine with your tagline to strategically position you to attract the attention you want from recruiters and hiring managers.
- Introduce yourself in LI invites and replies: The same strategy applies when you introduce yourself or reply to LinkedIn invitations to connect. Keep a short executive bio excerpt in a text or Word file and quickly copy/paste it into your invitation or reply. This will double your branding impact one email at a time.
- Incorporate into your email signature: Do the same thing with your email signature and you’ll multiply your branding impact with many more people. Most major email clients allow you to automate insertion of an email signature, so it’s a simple matter to add your bio excerpt to yours.
- Showcase your brand on the back of a business card: If you’re doing any face-to-face networking (which you should be doing throughout the holidays), then why not shorten your bio and insert it on the back of your business card?
- Use Resuminime to create a mini-resume: Save yourself a few bucks and use code PITON80 for immediate savings. Then hand out your mini-resume to everyone you come in contact with. Always share at least 2 cards with each person – one to keep and one to pass on to someone else.
As I hope you can see, there’s a lot more to an executive bio than most executives recognize. While not all of these suggestions will resonate with you, several will, which will hopefully give you more networking reach throughout your career search.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Executive Resume Rescue crafts exceptional executive bios and bio suites in varied lengths. I’d be happy to help you package your experience in a different way than your resume can achieve.
Here’s your executive bio success!
Career Directors International (@careerhero) is launching a new series of career search tips from member career experts today. Tune in every hour on the hour starting at 10 am for the latest wisdom, or follow yours truly (a member and one of the tip contributors) for my retweets.
CDI’s career search tweet series runs through November, 2012, and promises to showcase best-in-class career search tips encompassing a range of topics:
- career search strategies
- personal/career branding
- career assessments
- informational interviewing
- social career search
- finding jobs and careers
- penetrating the Hidden Job Market
- online identity management
- business directories
- social networking/LinkedIn
- job board tools
- sourcing industry trends
- subject matter expertise-building
- direct sourcing by employers & recruiters
- and much, much more!
Once the tweet series wraps up this Autumn, a free eBook containing all the tips showcased on Twitter will be available through CDI and all participating members – make sure you grab your copy when this rich resource becomes available.
Because this tweet series encompasses tips relevant to a wide array of job seekers, and I specialize in serving mid-career to senior executives, I’ll be sifting through each day’s tweets to find the nuggets most relevant to my client’s needs and retweeting those. So if you’d like to follow the series in its entirety, follow @careerhero. If you prefer to just follow the executive-relevant tweets in the series, follow@brandyoucoach.
But whatever you do, don’t miss out on this incredible collection of career search wisdom!
Here’s to your executive career search success!
During a job search coaching session today, my client noted that he always thought LinkedIn was just a way to connect online with people he already knew. He had no idea LinkedIn has so many rich tools to offer job seekers. Let’s take a look at 10 of the most critical ways LinkedIn can benefit your executive job search (in no particular order):
Boost Your Brand’s Visibility:
- Optimize your profile: Job search success via LinkedIn begins – but doesn’t end – with your profile. Make sure it’s complete, make sure it’s key-word-rich, and make sure it targets the right audience(s). To complete your profile in LinkedIn’s eyes, you need  to complete all primary sections;  add a photo;  add a tagline/title;  join 2-3 groups minimum; and solicit at least 2 testimonials. In addition, benchmark your profile’s key words against others with similar backgrounds and position yourself to attract the types of audiences you are seeking to interest.
- Add extras to your profile: Think of LinkedIn not just as an online profile, but also as a mini portfolio. Use LinkedIn’s built-in apps to expand your profile’s content to include documents (white pages, case studies, resumes), media (video or audio interviews), and presentations (a slideshow detailing your achievements or leadership approach). These extras are particularly helpful in cases where you are trying to pursue multiple job search targets at the same time – include content that profiles your candidacy in multiple types of roles or industries.
- Create a LinkedIn signature: Every time you use LinkedIn’s communication system or InMail process, make sure you add a signature at the bottom. Unfortunately, LinkedIn doesn’t make this easy (i.e., they don’t automate the process for you). But don’t let that stop you. Create your preferred signature line content (full name, custom LinkedIn profile address, target market(s), signature skills) in Notepad or Wordpad, and save the file to your hard drive. Keep the file open when responding to LinkedIn communications and copy/paste your signature into the text box. No formatting options are available, but at least you’ll be making every possible use of your brand content.
- Blog & Twitter Feeds: If you do blog or tweet, and you focus on brand-related, career-appropriate topics, then by all means import your relevant feeds into your LinkedIn profile. This not only adds more Brand You(TM) content to your profile – it also updates it. Why does this matter? Databases time-stamp the information they contain (and LinkedIn is a database, after all) so they can preferentially focus on fresh data. Hence, updating your profile at least weekly, whether manually or automagically, will drive your profile closer to the top of the search results.
- Get linked in with Groups: LinkedIn allows anyone to start their own group, and many individuals, organizations, companies, and associations do so. Each group features a discussion board for members; many also include a listing of relevant job postings. Because executive recruiters join industry-specific groups as a way of sourcing new candidates, you should consider not only joining a few, but becoming an active contributor. I suggest joining a mix of 25 to 30 groups and posting a discussion or comment to each at least 1 to 3 times weekly. Group memberships are one of the best ways to quickly expand your network reach and gain access to contacts you otherwise might not be able to connect with.
- Get seen on LinkedIn Answers: Answers is LinkedIn’s career-driven FAQ system. Members ask all kinds of questions of other members on a wide range of career topics, and LinkedIn categorizes the questions. Sift through the categories to find several you have experience in, and answer questions when you have something relevant to say. Always stay on brand, because your answer is linked back to your profile (and your profile is linked to your answer). Aim to answer or ask a question once to twice weekly, thereby making yourself visible to the executive recruiters who sift through Answers looking for subject matter experts.
- Get found on Signal: Your LinkedIn profile includes a small update text box underneath your photo on your Edit Profile page. This little gem allows you to add short bursts of content to your profile on a periodic basis. This function is a bit like Twitter, but specific to LinkedIn only. It also allows slightly more content than Twitter does, including the ability to embed links. Link to an article you found online, comment on it (insightfully, of course), and post this to your status update. Your comments and article posting will be cited in LinkedIn Today – a roundup of content by industry topic – and Signal – a Twitter-like trending stream of industry themes – thereby gaining you visibility among one of your probable target audiences: executive recruiters.
Penetrate the Hidden Job Market:
- Find new recruiters: Need to source more recruiters? Who doesn’t? LinkedIn can help! Ask your contacts for suggestions, join some of the LinkedIn groups executive recruiters hang out in, and conduct people or company searches for them via the search box on the upper right of any page. Remember to specifically seek out retained recruiters in particular, and to broaden your recruiter search geographically. Focus instead on their industry specialties.
- Find new potential contacts: Many job seekers actually over-focus on this piece, but since your LinkedIn search results depend in part on the size of your network, it is important to connect with at least 50-100 people at first and to nurture the growth of your network to several hundred over time. Don’t just look for recruiters, though – also seek out hiring managers. Let’s say you’re a national sales manager. Conduct a search for VPs of Sales in your target industry and/or geography. LinkedIn will suggest people for you to consider, and will also tell you how you are already connected with someone you may not actually know. Don’t get caught up in those deadly applicant tracking systems – network your way around them (you may still get caught up in the ATS, but that’s another post).
- Find new companies: Most job seekers focus on looking for jobs rather than employers, but the company search function of LinkedIn is one of its best features. Search for companies based on your industry focus or preferred geographic location and examine their profile for rich business intelligence: who’s just been hired; who used to work there; job openings; and company news. LinkedIn will tell you if you already have any connections to the organization and if so, via whom. This is invaluable insight that will likely go unnoticed otherwise. Don’t forget to “follow” target companies to stay on top of their news. And check their company profile regularly for new connections – LinkedIn is growing exponentially fast and you don’t want to miss possible new contacts.
As you can probably see, all this takes time, so if you’re not already hanging out on LinkedIn, you should. In fact, I suggest 2-3+ hours weekly for passive or employed job seekers and 3-4+ hours daily for active or unemployed job seekers.
Here’s to linking in to your next challenging role!
Here’s a questions I get asked at least once a week: What’s the best way to get hired at XYZ company if they have multiple open positions that match my skills and experience?
Today the question came from a man in Colorado who’s targeting a state-level department. The department in question has multiple openings, however the positions most relevant to his skills vary quite a bit in their salaries. If he applies for several of these, he’ll unquestionably be compromising his salary negotiations. Who would opt to pay him $100K if he demonstrates a willingness to work for $50K?
The real problem is bigger than this salary issue, though. The real problem is brand burn-out.
Applying for multiple positions in the same organization used to be a viable way to get hired. But since the advent of applicant tracking systems which store one version of your submitted resumes, it’s much, much harder to weave key words into your resume for subsequent positions. Even if this is permitted, however, you still run the risk that multiple people in the company will be exposed to multiple versions of your resume, given the use of cross-functional teams for hiring purposes.
How will a hiring manager perceive you if you first apply for a lower-level role, then later apply for a much more senior role? No matter how relevant your skills, your brand will have suffered a probably fatal impact.
May I suggest a different approach? Leverage LinkedIn and offline networking to build non-HR contacts within the target organization:
- Identify one or more hiring managers who oversee departments you would be a great match for.
- Develop at least 1+ LinkedIn connections to each manager.
- Query these connections to learn more about the organization and deepen your insight into their challenges.
- Customize your cover letter and resume to match the functions of each department.
- Prepare a brief 30-second “pitch” of your strengths.
- Call the hiring manager(s) and deliver the pitch in a voice mail or live. Ask for permission to send your CL/resume as a follow-up.
- Send your resume/CL.
- Follow up every 3-4 weeks. Always be prepared to share a 30-second success story in your phone call, VM, or email. Alternate email with phone follow-up.
- Also make sure you are “following” the department on LinkedIn, Twitter, FB, and Google+. Read any blogs/media they disseminate and comment when appropriate on whatever social media the organization is using.
This approach is more cohesive and on-brand because it enables you to consistently focus on your unique strengths and achievements. Applying online for multiple positions at the same company, on the other hand, is increasingly dangerous to your brand.
Avoid brand burn-out and the perception that you are desperate (read: unemployable) by leveraging online and offline networking to slip past gatekeepers and engage target companies in vibrant discussions about how you can help them solve the challenges they face.
Here’s to a thriving Brand You[TM]!
After writing a resume for an executive sales manager today, I checked my email and found The Oatmeal’s latest newsletter in my inbox. I laughed my way through several Twitter-related drawings before stumbling on this Twitter Spelling Test. Couldn’t resist!
How did you score and which word(s) did you miss? More importantly, how many of these errors also find their way into your resume, cover letters, and job search-related emails? (You might be quite surprised!)
While I’m on the subject of good English and good grammar, here are a few reminders about common resume and cover letter errors to (please) avoid:
- If you’re even slightly dyslexic or stressed, you might find yourself writing form instead of from (or vice versa).
- Please don’t speak of yourself in the third person (excels) in your resume. Always use first-person verbs (excel). After all, you wouldn’t say “(H/She excels at forging teams, driving revenue, and creating double-digit profitability gains.” You’d say “(I) excel at forging teams, driving revenue, and creating double-digit profitability gains.”
- Don’t capitalize Words because you Think they should be Capitalized. Only proper nouns and the first word in a sentence should be capped,along with terms like Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma.
- If you use an adjective (high-potential), remember it needs a noun to modify. Perhaps high-potential leader?
- Make sure your verb tenses match in compound sentences: “listening to customer and focus(ing) on quality of delivery.”
- When you pair an adjective with a noun as a modifier and use the combination as one concept, it should be hyphenated: high-growth, not high growth; C-level, not c level; and results-driven, not results driven.
- “Dear Sir or Madam” is no longer used in letters (it went out of style decades ago). Can it already! Use the more sensible, “Dear Hiring Manager,” “Dear Recruiter,” or “Dear Human Resources Manager.”
- Remember to use your and you’re and their and there properly. Not mention that and which.
- Say you possess more than 10 years of experience, not that you possess over 10 years of experience. And if you say,10 years’ experience, be sure to include the apostrophe.
Here’s to proper English ~ may it never go the way of the Do Do bird.
[post image created by The Oatmeal]
In this blog series, we’ve talked about what emotional intelligence (EI) is, and how to demonstrate yours in your written career communications. We’ve also talked about how to improve your EI. Now it’s time to explore how to share your EI strengths via interviews.
Employers recognize that emotions in the workplace are important. They therefore use behavioral questions and additional techniques (panel interviews, multiple interviews, assessments, candidate observers) to help them discern a candidate’s EI skills.
To demonstrate yours in phone interviews, consider:
- Emotion is conveyed via speech tone that rises and falls and hastens or slows, so modulate your voice tone and pick up your verbal pace when you want to infuse your answers with more enthusiasm.
- Sales pros will tell you that they can connect with prospects more powerfully standing up, so conduct the phone interview on your feet.
- To add warmth to your conversation, add quick shots of appropriate humor (keep it neutral though, like a humorous comment on the weather, make a sympathetic observation about the interviewer (“you must be snowed under with interviews these days”), or smile (smiles impact your voice tone and speed and can be “felt” through the phone line).
- Stress communicates itself quite readily on the phone, so when you receive unexpected job-related calls, have a quiet place in the house you can quickly move to. Keep a notebook, paper, and a pen/pencil handy for notes. In your notebook, track resume submissions, keep copies of job postings you’re pursuing, and organize yourself so you can find their job posting in seconds. Have a list of questions ready that you can ask when invited for interviews (how many other candidates will be interviewed, how many interviewers will be present, may I access a copy of the job decription prior to the interview). Also have your personal commercials and “tell me about yourself” responses written down. And yes, you can do all this in your computer or a smart phone, but what will impact will it have on your stress level when one of these fails to work or is unavailable? The low-tech method may not be sexy, but it is reliable, particularly if you take your notebook with you wherever you go.
- Because you can be sure to be asked 1 or more behavioral interview questions, be prepared with 2-3 PAR/CAR stories (problem/challenge – action – results) that demonstrate times you have resolved interpersonal conflict, managed stress, marshaled the emotions of others, or overcome negativity in the workplace.
To demonstrate your emotional intelligence strengths in face-to-face interviews, consider:
- Color is a powerful way to convey emotion. Think about the impact you want to have in an interview and wear the appropriate colors to help you catalyze that impact.
- It’s tough to shake your interviewer’s hand (avoid the damp fish-shake at all costs), smile at them, look them right in the eye, and respond to their introduction without repeating yourself. So practice your handshake – smile – eye contact – response act. A lot.
- Voice tone and speed are important face-to-face, too, so modulate your voice and monitor your speed. Always make eye contact when you are making an important point.
- Want to appear indifferent in an interview? Don’t pay attention to your interview, slouch in your chair, and slump your shoulders. Of course, if you want to appear interested, you’ll have to make eye contact when your interviewer is saying something important, smile and nod your head when you agree with something they say, sit up straight in your chair (Mom was right after all), and keep your shoulders back. These postural habits will help you stay focused and alert and help you avoid feeling too relaxed. The more relaxed you are in an interview, the more likely you are to make a mistake that will cost you the job.
- You will encounter a lot of behavioral interview questions in face-to-face or panel interviews, so you’ll need even more PAR/CAR stories prepared. In addition to those already mentioned, consider developing examples that prove your abilities to establish a team vision, win buy-in for a change initiative, champion achievement of a corporate goal, instill confidence in or motivate others, deal with disappointment, cultivate success out of failure, and make unpopular decisions.
- Not all interviews are one-on-one. Increasingly, employers are using group interviews (you and small group of candidates with a group of interviewers), serial interviews (you with a series of interviewers), and panel interviews (you with a group of interviewers at one time). Prepare strategies for each of these interview types.
- Group Interviews: Strive not to out-perform your peers but to build on “team” interview responses. Make sure you find ways to contribute unique-to-you content to the interview.
- Serial Interviews: Make your interview responses consistent, but do not repeat yourself in each interview – your interviewers will compare notes, so vary the examples and stories you use. Collect the contact info and full names of each person you meet; send each a personalized thank you note after the interview.
- Panel Interviews: Choose a seat that gives you equal eye contact with all interviewers. Share your eye contact with everyone at the table as you speak, and use interviewer names when possible and appropriate. Look for ways to establish a connection with each person in the group – even those who are silent observers.
- Use handouts, portfolios, or presentation tools such as PowerPoint to convey additional information about yourself: quotes about your performance, quotes that exemplify your values, case studies, charts/graphs, photos, achievements, metric performance, word cloud of your resume, reference mini-interviews, mini-bio, lists of relevant skills you possess with a ratings system, and so on.
While we’ve barely scratched the surface in this 3-part blog post on ways to demonstrate your emotional intelligence in your job search, I hope you found a few ideas you can implement immediately. I’d love to hear what you did and how it went.
Here’s to your emotionally-rich interview performance!
Well, I did it. I achieved 4 of my biggest personal and business goals this year. Only took 10 months, but I did it.
Early in 2011, I decided I wanted to achieve 4 things in my executive resume writing/career coaching business this year:
- Complete a top-notch resume writing certification. Although I possess nearly 30 years of experience, before this year I wasn’t industry-certified.
- Increase my LinkedIn knowledge. LinkedIn is the job search tool these days; I wanted to build expertise in it so I could write powerful LinkedIn profiles and provide LinkedIn coaching to my clients.
- Earn at least 1 TORI (Toast of the Resume Industry) nomination. The TORI awards are the resume writing “Oscars” – a global resume writing contest designed to identify and reward best-in-class resume writers.
- Win at least 1 TORI Award. Earning a TORI nomination is fantastic, but winning first, second, or third place in a writing category is exceptional – you wouldn’t believe the talent one has to beat even to win third-place.
So how’d I do? Check this out:
- Earned my ACRW. The most prestigious resume writing certification in my industry is the ACRW – Academy-Certified Resume Writer, meaning I was trained by resume writing gurus Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark. Even more important, though, is what happened after I completed the course – I was hand-picked by Wendy and Louise to write resumes for their personal clients and for clients of BlueSteps.com. That blew me away.
- Completed the first LinkedIn-related certification for the resume writing industry. That’s the COPNS, Certified Online Professional Networking Strategist credential, taught by LinkedIn expert Jason Alba through The Academies. This program propelled my LinkedIn knowledge to a whole new level.
- Honored with 4 TORI nominations. I entered 5 resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles for consideration; 4 were nominated as best-in-class examples of resume writing. How cool is that?
- Awarded 4 TORI awards. I was hoping for 1 award; I was blessed with 4. How awesome is that?
- Best Creative Resume: 1st Place
- Best New Graduate Resume: 1st Place
- Best Executive Resume: 3rd Place
- Best LinkedIn Profile: 3rd Place
These awards and certifications are wonderful, no doubt about that. But at the end of the day, what I am most proud of is staying focused on and achieving my goals throughout 2011. That’s the best I’ve ever done at the whole New Year’s resolution thing and I sincerely hope it bodes well for 2012.
Here’s to achieving your goals!