Welcome to SixFigureStart®

Career Coaching by Former Fortune 500 Recruiters

Career Success Requires Quantity, As Well As Quality

Recently, I heard from someone who was frustrated that, despite following all of the recommended career advancement strategies (networking, following up, working on her pitch), she was not moving forward. As an example, she referenced a few leads that had grown cold. What is the problem?

Now it could very well be that she is not networking, following up, or positioning herself as well as she says. But even if she is doing all of the steps right, and the quality of activity is there, a handful of leads not working out is not surprising. You also need quantity of activity in your job search and career plans.

Any one lead may not work out regardless of anything you do. There may be no promotion budget any longer. The management opportunity changes in a restructuring. Your company gets bought, and all of your allies and stakeholders get tossed when new management steps in.

Just like your financial investments should be diversified, so should your career investments.

Network inside and outside the company, at different levels, in different industries and functional areas. Follow up is not just about networking contacts but also about following up on different opportunities. Are you considering lateral moves, entrepreneurship (or employee status if you’re an entrepreneur), consulting v. in-house, nascent industries you may not know much about yet? When you position yourself, is it just to a small group of insiders who already know you? Are you blogging, speaking at conferences, getting quoted or publishing?

It is very easy to get swept up in the day-to-day of your job, especially in these times where resources are already stretched thin. But if you focus exclusively on quality of work and don’t expand your reach to a wide enough quantity of audience, you are leaving your career vulnerable. Get yourself out there and not just at the margins but with 100+ networking contacts. If you are in active job search mode, aim for 10+ target companies in play at any one time. If you are in career development mode, have several possibilities outside of your current company that you can move on at all times. Focus on quality, of course, but quantity also matters.

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How To Answer Negative Interview Questions

There are certain interview questions that invite jobseekers to get negative: Why did you leave this company (especially if your tenure was short or if you were laid off)? Tell me about a difficult boss/ client/ work situation. What are your weaknesses?

Read my advice on how to handle these in my latest post for CNBC.com Executive Careers:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/32644139/site/14081545

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Best Advice for a Job Search: Be Yourself

I recently led a group coaching class where some folks were very talkative and outgoing and others quite shy and reserved and they asked which was better for a job search.  My answer:  be yourself and never try to adopt a new persona.  A recruiter can and will pick that up in a split second and it will not help your cause.  Introverts will probably need to pay special attention when networking and interviewing to ensure they use strategies that will get them the contacts they need … but other than being aware of this and ensuring they work their plan, no one need worry.

A well thought out, well planned and well executed job search will work for extroverts, introverts and everyone in between.   It’s in the thoughtful planning and fine tuned execution that will get results.  We coach our clients through a six step job search process that works if you work it:

Step #1:  Know your target:  know the industry, function and geography that you are most interested in

Step #2:  Create a powerful and compelling marketing campaign:  this includes a well written resume, cover letter, on-line profile and networking pitch

Step #3:  Research:  use technology to drive information about your targets directly to your email address.  Use your network to find out everything you can about opportunities and companies

Step #4:  Networking and Interviewing:  Networking is the buzz word for the 21st century yet few do it effectively.  Networking leads to interviewing and there are many types of interviews and many types of interviewers.  You need to know how to master each to ensure the most positive outcome possible.

Step #5:  Staying Motivated, Organized and Troubleshooting Your Job Search:  Job searches have tremendous highs and impactful lows so it’s vital to reach that middleground which keeps you moving forward, no matter what.  And after every interaction, you must assess what went well and what did not.  Strengthen what didn’t work well and replicate your successes.

Step 6:  Negotiation and Closing the Offer:  Negotiate for the best possible compensation by doing your research well in advance.  And keep that energy up until that offer is in your hands because it could easily slip away in the last moment.

So the process works for anyone who wants to work it:  those that are extroverts and those that are introverts.  As long as you make a plan and work that plan, the results will come, and you’ll be the better for it!

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SixFigureStart on JobRadio.FM

Job Radio FM rebroadcast our one hour teleseminar on Advanced Interviewing Techniques.  We answered reader questions on many of areas of the job search but particularly around the interview:

http://jobradio.fm/2009/08/05/advanced-interview-techniques-part-1/

http://jobradio.fm/2009/08/06/advanced-interview-techniques-part-2/

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A Job Seeker is Only as Good as Their Tools….

Bob Villa, step aside.  Job seekers need tools just as much as handyman or workmen building a house.  Here are some tools that  jobseekers simply cannot do without:

1) Interviewing skills:  “you don’t know what you don’t know” applies here.  Some people think they have effective interviewing skills, and they just don’t.  Why not audit your interview skills with a coach who knows how to assess your skills.  So many of my clients think they are decent interviewers and they simply are not.  So many of my other clients know they have issues and they ask how to improve, they practice and they do better because of it!

2) A well written resume:  this is critical.  A resume represents you when you are not there so make sure it is extremely well written and that it quantifies accomplishments that include a beginning, a middle and an end.  There are many online tools for resume writing, but again, checking it with someone who knows what it should include is very important.

3) A professional voicemail and a commitment to getting back quickly to whoever contacts you.  This is a no-brainer and people fall short.  And, should someone call when you don’t recognize the number, don’t pick it up unless you are in a quiet place.  It can make for an awkward first conversation with a recruiter … something you want to avoid.

4) Networking group:  you can’t find out everything regarding a job search, so seek out a group that you can meet with once a week to help move your search along.  Perhaps they come across a contact that they are not interested in, but you would be interested in.  Make sure this group is set up so you can capture those valuable contacts before they disappear.

Bob Villa has his tool belt on when he walks into a home needed repair, and he knows he can assess and handle any issue before him.  You need to do the same regarding your job search.  Repair that resume, strengthen and support your interview skills, and create a system that works effortlessly for you and you will nail that job to the wall.

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You Are Not Doomed At Birth Conclusion: A Client’s Interview Success

In two recent blogs (Nov 19 and Nov 21) I talked about how good job search skills are learned, not inborn.  So you do not have to worry if you feel like your current skills are not where you want them to be.  If you are willing to do the work. if you are open to feedback on what you can improve and what techniques to try, then you too can find success in the job search.

This was borne out by a recent client success story:  a shy candidate who found herself tongue-tied in past interviews but worked with us on her interview technique and landed her dream job with a Big Four audit firm.  We outlined the likely questions, and she practiced her responses.  We role-played with mock interviews — changed up the questions, challenged her prepared answers, threw in some curveballs (even if it meant getting a little tough).  Most importantly, we stopped coaching technique at least a day before the big interview, and instead focused on encouraging, keeping the client refreshed, and otherwise taking the pressure off this particular situation.

This is exactly what proactive jobseekers need to do in this competitive environment:  prepare; practice; stay relaxed.  Most importantly, stay optimistic.  Yes, this is a tough market but people are getting hired, and they are getting their dream jobs.  Yes, it is harder for candidates when the market is competitive, but with practice and coaching you can overcome your current blocks.  You are not doomed at birth — job search problems are fixable, and success awaits.

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