Telling Your Story

As Malcom Gladwell claims in his book The Tipping Point, you become an expert at anything if you do it 10,000 hours. I’ve got that in spades when it comes to listening to people’s stories. Part of my role as both a coach and a professional in the staffing industry is engaging with people daily about their life experiences – I’ve become a regular lifestory-listener over the past 25 or so years, and it never ceases to be an enjoyable experience for me.

At the end of the day, all you have is your story – or the ones that people tell about you. And in my experience of hearing dozens and dozens of personal stories, I have come to learn that how you tell your story is just as important – if not more so – than the story itself.

I have noticed that most people share their story from a not so certain frame of mind. They might start by saying,

“I know my career hasn’t followed a specific path, but ….” or,

“I have been in this role for X-number of years, and I am not quite sure how to transition to that next role, or how to help my employer know that I have what it takes to do this job ….”

More importantly, I observe quite often that people get caught up in where they have been, or where they are now, versus what they actually want to move toward. They say, “I want to leave because ….” versus, “I want to go do that because ….”

The latter sounds much more positive doesn’t it?

What you want to move toward is so important to the art of telling your story. When you look at it from that perspective, you are not stuck in the past, but you have embraced both the present and where you want to go. Your past helps you to tell your story, but ask yourself how it can help you create your future.

Case in point: a powerful story has a positive thread.

If you find yourself saying, “I don’t want to be in this role anymore,” instead of asking, “Why not?” ask yourself, “Where do I want to go now?” Instead of asking, “Why did this have to happen to me?” ask yourself, “How can this lead me to even greater things?”

At the end of the day, I know that most want to share their story in a clear, concise, positive way, but just haven’t found the right combination of words, or how to tie their story to what they want to achieve. That is alright! You can always modify and start to tell your story better by really listening to yourself. Or better yet, through telling your story to others and getting their feedback. In so doing, you will only get better at telling your life story in a more powerful, effective way.

Help people get to know you better by practicing your story with them. Ask questions of yourself, be curious, and find your positive and purposeful “what do I want to move toward” story woven throughout. Ask yourself what you really want, and how your adversities can work on your behalf. You will find yourself becoming a better storyteller – no embellishment or non-truths necessary.

In conclusion, anyone can master the art of telling their personal story! Curiosity, asking questions, and simply listening are a large part in my own success in helping people do so, and sometimes it takes listening very carefully to your own words …

So what career / family / success story do you want to share that reflects the best part of you and where you want to go? If you get stuck, let me know!

I will be happy to listen.

When Potential Outweighs Experience

Take a long shot on a candidate with little experience …

A candidate with solid experience in the field you’re hiring for may always seem like the best bet. But what happens when you have a candidate that you see so much potential in, despite his lack of experience? How do you know when it’s right to take a long shot on a candidate that has little experience, but has everything else you’re looking for? It’s not always an easy decision to make; it could backfire – but it could also be the best decision you’ve ever made for your company.

A candidate with fresh ideas is sometimes a much better candidate than one who has working in the field for such a long time that he has become set in his ways. The candidate with much more potential than experience is often open to new ideas and able to more quickly adapt to changes in the workplace. Here are a few key traits to look for in candidates with great potential:

Desire to Learn

A candidate with a strong desire to keep pushing herself and learn is often a solid choice. Does she state that she is or would like to further her education? Does he mention training courses or other training desires? Someone with a strong desire to better himself is a strong candidate because he will always keep pushing to be better.

Long-Term Potential

Decipher whether or not she has a strong desire for a career at your company and not just a temporary job. Candidates with long-term potential are problem solvers and multi-taskers; they’re up for a challenge and have great ideas – and the right personality – to do the job correctly over the duration of their career.

Ready for New Things

Does your potential candidate display a desire for fresh, new ideas? Does she have a go-to attitude and is she quick-thinking? If so, she may be the person to take your company to new heights. New ideas and a go-getter attitude are pivotal to many careers and are often traits of natural leaders.

Conclusion

This can be a tough decision and it’s not one to take lightly. A candidate with solid experience may not require as much training; a candidate with superior potential can bring new ideas to the company. This may have to be one of those times you rely on your gut instinct, but never be afraid to take a chance on a candidate whose potential is everything you’ve desired for the position.

Speak Up: Learning How to Properly Answer Interview Questions

You’ve sent in your resume and received the call scheduling your interview. Chances are, you’re pretty excited about the interview, but also nervous about the meeting. The interview is a make-or-break instance that thoroughly increases or decreases your chance of getting the job.

Not everyone is a pro at speaking during an interview or important meeting. For some, it’s difficult to even talk on the phone with a stranger. If you have issues speaking up or are nervous about the interview, don’t worry! You’re not alone.

Learning how to speak up and properly answer questions not only makes you look more professional, it also shows confidence and allows you to more thoroughly explain your skills and experience. Here are a couple of tips to practice for your next interview:

TIP 1: Write It All Down

There are a few standard interview questions that are almost always asked. These include questions about your strengths and weaknesses; an explanation of a time you went above and beyond for the company; and what your experiences are and what they can do for the company. Start by writing down your answers to these questions as thoroughly as possible. Get detailed. Think about the answers. Practice saying these answers over and over in your mirror, even though you may feel silly doing so. Take the paper with you to the interview if it will make you feel more comfortable; however, make sure it is a clean and presentable piece of paper with just the questions and answers on it.

TIP 2: Do Your Research

Researching the company and position you are applying for is incredibly advantageous – the hiring manager will be impressed by your detailed knowledge of how the company works, what products are offered and why you will be a great fit, as described by you. Being able to mention how you might fix something or do something better takes this even further. Take time and think about what experiences and qualities you have that will be a great benefit to the company.

Conclusion

As they say, practice makes perfect – practicing your interview answers is a simple and efficient way to help you ace your interview. When you are prepared for the questions and have thoroughly thought about your answers, and you have taken the time to evaluate your own valuable skill set, you will answer more precisely and with more confidence.

Knowing the Company You’re Applying To

How research and personal experience can help land you the job

Applying to a new company is an exciting and anxious time for many job seekers. A tough job market means the competition is hungry, too. It’s no secret that researching the company you’re applying at is a must these days, but what exactly are you supposed to research? What are you supposed to know about the company prior to the interview, and where do you find this information?

The first place to go is the company’s website. Check out the “About Us” page to find out more about the company’s history, what exactly they do, and what their core values are. Research it thoroughly and k now the information prior to your interview.

Next, check out consumer reviews of the company, particularly retail or service-oriented companies. Learning what customers have to say can also help you in your interview process – in more than one way. If customers love the company, chances are you’re applying at a worker-friendly venue with a smooth operation. However, you’re likely to find some negative reviews when researching any company. Knowing the negative reviews can give you leverage in an interview when you have effective and realistic ideas on how to fix the issues.

Next, visit the company (if it’s a public, walk-in environment like retail). Shop there or look around. Familiarize yourself with the product(s) and research them to know more about them. If it is not a public or walk-in company, check out the website again to familiarize with the products or services offered. Knowing this allows you to speak more confidently about how you are a good fit for the company and is always impressive to hiring managers.

When your interviewer asks you why you think you’re a good fit for the company (which is a standard question for in-person interviews), speak about the services or products offered, what you know about them, and which of your skills are going to be the most effective for the position. Researching the company always pays off for interviews; it also gives you a head-start on your position because you’re not going in completely blind.

One Position, Multiple Candidates

Choosing the Right Candidate

Having multiple qualified candidates for a single position are the banes of many hiring managers’ existences. It’s a tough decision to make already, but when you have two, three, or even more seemingly qualified candidates for the single open position at your company, you have to get down and dirty to unearth the qualifications of each candidate.

Start by going over all of your interactions with each candidate. Many companies start the interview/hiring process via email, then by phone, then by one or more in-person interviews. It may help to have a 1 to 10 scale system ready for “grading” each of the candidates.

Email

Go over the email correspondences you’ve had with each of the candidates. Thoroughly re-read the emails, looking for professionalism and enthusiasm for the job. Were they prompt in replying to you? Was their correspondence on par with the expectations of the position?

Phone Interviews

Grade each of the candidates’ phone interviews. Although they have obviously passed on this to be considered for the position, re-read the notes you took during the phone interview. Were they articulate? Did they show enthusiasm for the position? Did they understand the culture and values of the company?

In-Person Interviews

Review the interviews in your mind while also looking at the notes you took during each interview. Did anything stick out about any of the candidates, either positive or negative? Was their personality a good fit for the company and the current staff?

Small Tests

If you still can’t make a decision based on the interview process, you may need to give each qualified candidate some sort of small task or test to more thoroughly judge their abilities for the position. In his article “You Have Identified the Candidates. How Do You Pick the Right One? for The New York Times You’re the Boss blog, Bryan Burkhart outlines small tests he gave to qualified candidates for H.Bloom. Floral buyers were given a list of the stems for a single arrangement and asked to state how they would go about creating the arrangement, from the resources she would use to buy them to the prices she would pay for them.

It’s not easy, but someone’s got to do it (and that someone is you). Finding the correct candidate the first time around can be incredibly advantageous to the company.