Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Partnering With A Professional Career Consultant

When I first moved into a career consulting role, my friends and business contacts would ask me… “what do you do as a career consultant and coach?”; “why do people want to work with a career consultant, especially if they’re already relatively established within their industry?”; “what’s the value in engaging a career consultant?”, and many other related questions…

Considering I am in Asia where the concepts of career consulting and career coaching are not as wide-spread in this part of the world, as compared to North America or Europe, their queries and skeptism are of no surprise to me.

Today, I shall attempt to answer some of their queries here. Off course, portions of the information here were obtained through other sources and not all are entirely my origination.

Understanding Career Consultants and Their Work

Why Professional Career Consultants?

While many people today are happy to manage their career progression themselves, on some occasions the most effective way of reaching your goals is to call in some professional help. Professional career consultants can help you determine what kind of career you should be in, set career goals for yourself, and prepare for a job or promotion campaign.

To find the right career consultant for you, be sure to do your homework. Not all career consultants are created equal, and not all will be the right fit for your situation and personality. Not only will you want someone with good credentials, you will also want someone with whom you feel a sense of compatibility and trust. And considering that they are not inexpensive, you want to make sure that you get the most for your money.

Key considerations as we set out to work with a career consultant?

Prior to working with a career consultant, you should answer the following questions:

  • What is your goal in working with a professional career consultant?
  • What are some of the services typically offered by career consultants?
  • How do you find the right person?
  • How do you manage the relationship effectively?
  • How do you know when your goal has been achieved?

When is a professional career consultant most useful?

Career consultants are most commonly called up on when someone is looking for a new position or considering changing careers. However, career consultants can also prove useful for anyone seeking advice about their current role, and they can be an objective and impartial sounding board. And some people use career consultants once or twice a year for career “tune-ups.”

Is there a typical fee for a professional career consultant?

Obviously, when we engage professionals, there will be some form of monetary investments required. Some career consultants charge by the hour, and their fees generally range from a low of US$70 to a high of US$400 per hour (I have heard of some consultants charging over US$500 per hour), whilst others may charge according to programs, and cost of each program varies according their intensity, coverage and duration, from US$ 1,500 to US$ 12,000. Off course, do bear in mind that the amounts here are to be taken as a general reference only.

Generally speaking, career consultants can offer you a battery of tests to help you understand your skills and your personality style. They may also conduct a self-assessment that can guide you in deciding what kind of career you will be successful in. Such extensive testing will not be right or necessary for everyone, but in cases where a person is really floundering in his or her career, it may prove helpful.

What is the best way of finding a career consultant?

Personal referral is by far the best method of finding a career consultant. If you know someone who has successfully used a career consultant, you can ask them to give you the person’s name and number. Without a personal referral, you will have to do the research on your own. Use the Internet or your telephone directory to search for career consultants (also called career coaches or career counselors). Ask the consultant about his or her background, methods, fees and references to be sure you find the right person for you.


Set Some Goals

To get the best from working with a career consultant, you need to have some concrete goals to work toward. Define these in results-oriented language, being as specific as possible so that you will know when you've reached your target. For example, you might want to:

  • To find a new job;
  • To obtain a promotion and a raise;
  • To change careers to something more fulfilling.

Be Skeptical about Big Promises

Career issues are complex and often take time to work through. Be skeptical of career consultants who promise a quick fix, easy money, résumés that get speedy results, or other come-ons.

Create a List of Potential Career Consultants, Research Their Qualifications, and Make a Choice from Your List

Using the Internet or your telephone directory, make a list of career consultants in your area. Some career consultants work with clients outside their physical location. You may want to check them out too.

Once you have developed a list of candidates, it is time to narrow that list down to the one career consultant best for you. Begin by conducting a telephone interview with each person on your list. Introduce yourself and explain your goal to them. Ask them about their methodology, what their costs are, and how their background will help them to help you.

In addition to the qualifications and methodology of your career consultant, you will want to pay attention to your comfort level with each person and to what your instincts or intuition tells you. You want to select someone that you can trust and who will challenge you to reach your full potential.

When you have narrowed your list to two or three potential career consultants, make a face-to-face appointment with each in order to make your final decision. Most professional career consultants will not charge you for an exploratory meeting.

Clarify Your Goals and Expectations

Explain your goals to your career consultant, and make your expectations clear right from the start. Your career consultant will also explain what is expected of you, for example, what you are to do between sessions.

Be sure you understand the payment schedule and amounts. Will you pay by session, or will you be billed at the end of each month, for example? Most career consultants expect you to pay something before the sessions commence as a sign of your commitment, and many will ask you to sign a contract. Only sign the contract if you are completely comfortable with all elements of it, though, and be sure to question any items that you do not understand or like.

Think About How Your Professional Engagement Will End

Because you set a list of clear and specific goals when you started working with your career consultant, it should be pretty clear when your work has been completed. If, however, new goals arise as you work through that “To Do” list, you may want to sign up for a new contract. Or you may decide that you want to meet maybe twice a year or on an “as needed” basis.

Because the relationship with a professional career consultant can be very personal and rewarding, it’s always nice to end with a little celebration or with a small gift to mark your appreciation.


Not Setting Specific Goals

Some people go into this relationship because they have been laid off or dismissed and the company pays for a career consultant as part of the severance package. The result can be that you meet with your consultant regularly but without any direction, and nothing gets done.

A good career consultant should guide you into setting goals right at the beginning. If you find yourself meeting for over a month without seeing any progress, it’s probably time to move on and find someone else who can help you more effectively.

Can't Let Go

If the relationship has been really successful, you will have developed a powerful bond with your career consultant, and it may be difficult to terminate the relationship when your goal is met. But it is important to recognize when it is time to move on and to begin to apply what you have learned.

Having a celebration dinner is a nice way to symbolize the ending of your working together, and you can always schedule career “tune-ups” if you need them.

Not Committed to Making Progress

You meet weekly with your consultant and you agree to take certain actions such as working on your résumé or making five phone calls. But the following week when you meet again you have not done the things that you promised you would do. If this happens regularly, you must take a serious look at your goal. You may have set a goal that is not realistic or is not really what you want to do. If you feel this is the case, when you next meet your consultant, ask him or her to advise you on how best to re-evaluate what you are doing and how appropriate your efforts are.

Working with a career consultant can help you go a long way in your personal and career development. But whilst the benefits of this partnership are significant, you need to do your homework on choosing the most suitable consultant for you and you must also be committed to invest time and effort into the partnership

I hope the above will prove useful to those of you considering a career consultant.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What Makes You Happy At Work?

Finally, I manage to log back on to my blogger… after 4 days of continuous no-success, and I had to get a few people involved before the access problem got resolved … Modern technology – you can’t live with it and you can’t live without it. Hah, what an irony!

Nonetheless, I’m back online again and this posting is to continue building upon where I left off on my previous article “What Career Is Right for Me?” As I have previously mentioned, there's nothing more challenging (or emotionally tearing) than changing careers half way through your life. Oftentimes, we find ourselves in a situation where we thought the job we chose was something we really wanted in our overall career roadmap, but as time goes by day by day, we find ourselves becoming more and more unhappy.

If we are unhappy, we know we’ve made a wrong choice. Now, the question is – how do we work out what we really want and what is that ideal job that goes with that territory? Here're some suggested ways and means to start formulating an answer to the above question (extracted in part from CareerExec International's Career Transition Program).

Ways & Means Number One: Understand why you are unhappy in your job

Good information comes out of understanding why you are currently unhappy in your job, and in my experience there tend to be six reasons why this is so. Which ones are relevant to you?

Your job is boring and unchallenging

This is often the case when people have been doing the same job for a long period of time, and colleagues and bosses can quickly forget that you have more to offer.

Dealing with difficult people

Often it’s not the specific tasks of a job that are stressful it’s the people you have to deal with that make life so difficult. Colleagues, bosses, clients and suppliers can all be difficult to get along with or be unreasonable in their demands.

Too much politics

It’s hard enough dealing with difficult people directly without having to deal with underhand politics as well. Even though it would be nice if everyone just got on with each other and did their jobs, the bad news is that politics will always happen.

You’re doing the wrong job for your personality

Imagine someone who likes working with details, such as an accountant or an engineer, suddenly being asked to take on a role in sales or a people management role with no additional training or support. You may feel that you just don’t “fit” into a role and that extra training just isn’t the answer.

A sign of other issues

If you’re unhappy in your job, it could be a sign of unhappiness or stress in other areas of life leading to a reduced ability to deal with what could be normal levels of pressure at work. Issues such as strained or failing relationships, poor health or money worries can all have a huge impact on your feelings of satisfaction with work.

Your work is just not your passion

It could be that although you are doing well in the eyes of other people, your work just isn’t what you are passionate about. Lots of people have a dream to do something that is really meaningful to them, but they are too scared to take a first small step to achieving that dream, or just don’t know how to start.

Ways & Means Number Two: Understanding yourself
To understand what work would be ideal for you, you really do have to understand yourself first, and in four key areas – your work interests, work motivators, your personality preferences and your personal and professional values.

Your work interests

These are the things that interest you in the world of work. Do you enjoy adventurous and risk taking activities or are you more interested in things like science and technology? Do your interests lie more in finance and administration or in working with words and being creative? Do you enjoy managing, organizing and getting results through others or do you have an interest in caring activities?

Your work motivators

These are the things that really drive you at work. For example how driven are you for recognition at work, or the need for responsibility, having control over your own work and being accountable for your actions? How much do you need variety and change in your work, or are you motivated more by stability and security? Are you driven by the need to excel in what you do and to find new challenges to overcome or do you prefer to have friendly colleagues at work? How motivated are you by your interest in the work that you do, or is pay and other material rewards a key motivator?

Your personality preferences

These will impact on how you prefer to work, and therefore your choice of ideal job. For example, are you good with people and do you gain energy by being with them, or are you good with ideas, precision and complexity and prefer to think carefully before acting? Do you prefer to deal with facts and reality; are you objective and analytical in your decision-making and do you find it hard to relax until your work is completed? Or are you imaginative and sensitive to the needs and motivations of other people, and flexible, adaptable, research-oriented and tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty well?

Your personal and work values

A personal value is a belief, a mission, or a philosophy that is really meaningful to you. When you are engaged in activities that support your values, you will feel most like yourself. If your job does not allow you to do this, the outcome for you will be significant stress and frustration. In addition, studies of successful individuals have found that there tends to be one or two professional values that guide their career and job choices, and make working an enjoyable and ultimately successful experience.

Ways & Means Number Three: Your ideal work/life balance
Work is of course only one aspect of your life, but there is often confusion when mentioning work/life balance. People seem to think it means there should be an equal balance between the two. This is not necessarily the case – having an effective work/life balance is about what works for you, perhaps there will be periods of time where your focus will be more on work than on your personal life, and vice versa.

This is why you need to know how your ideal job will fit in with your other priorities in life. You need to be clear on what else you want to focus on in your life, and what financial and time commitment you are prepared to give to them. Whatever is important to you, for example your health, family, friends, personal relationships or hobbies, your ideal job will need to take these factors into account.

Ways & Means Number Four: Understand your options

Knowing what you need from a job to make it ideal is only one half of the answer. The other half involves understanding what, realistically, your job options are.

Transferable skills

You must identify the skills and experiences you have that potential future employers will be prepared to pay you for. After all, they will only hire you if they have a need for the skills you can bring to them. These aren’t only the jobs that you have done, but are the activities and behaviors that you demonstrated to make you successful in your previous roles.

Strategic career choices

Rather than just look in the newspaper or online to see what jobs are available, it is useful to think strategically about your career options. Inevitably, your ideal job will entail making use of your existing or newly developed skills within existing or new industry sectors.

For example, you could continue with a career within your existing areas of knowledge and competence, stay where you are in terms of industry sector and organization and look for a shift in the type of job that you do, carry on with the job you do in a different sector or environment or throw caution to the wind and follow a long-held dream or passion!

Ways & Means Number Five: Find that Ideal Job

Once you have done all the above, you now need to distill the information into a great CV. A CV that crisply and concisely articulates your skills and experiences to your future employers in a way that demonstrates that you understand the job that needs to be done, that you fit in with their company culture and that you have the experience and the skills to succeed in the new role.

To do this you will also create a personal positioning statement. This is, in effect, a personal "elevator pitch" in which you can start to tell your friends, your network, recruiters and potential employers exactly what job you're looking for, give them a relevant overview of your skills & experiences and tell them why you want to do the job you're looking for. The secret here is to create several different CVs and personal positioning statements, each one consistent with what would be an ideal job for you, but each one subtly different in its job focus.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What Career is Right For Me?

More often than not, I have heard this question being asked repeatedly. And many people who asked this are not your young fresh-out-of-university graduates but professionals who have been working for a good number of years. Recently, one of my clients approached me and asked me what he should be doing differently in his current career in order to advance to the next level, and amidst our conversation, the same question popped up – “What career is right for me?”

I have noticed for a while now that there are quite a lot of people out there who are confused about which career path they want or should follow, even though they have been on the same path since day one. They are always wondering if their current career the right one for them, and yet do nothing to find out the answer to that question.

Deciding which career (or the jobs within your career big picture) to plan for is almost about as important as a degree itself. There's really no point planning for a career in the wrong field, after all, this can decide your self-fulfillment, personal esteem, income level and overall success.

One suggestion I always make is that people (you) should literally make a chart when trying to figure out what career to plan for, and include the following topics into that chart –

  1. Your personal values
  2. Your unique qualities and talents
  3. Your strengths & weaknesses
  4. Your goals regarding money, time and quality of life (in 1 year, 5 years and 10 years)
  5. What you enjoy and don’t enjoy doing,
  6. The primary driver (or motivator) in your life and relate this to the work you like doing; and
  7. Where you are at right now, and how does your responses to the above topics align with the current situation

After you have put these topics down on your own personalized “career planning chart”, you should start thinking good and hard about your responses to these topics. One small tip prior to the thinking process – make sure that you are in a “good place”, meaning that the environment should be quiet and peaceful, and you should be in a focused, clear state of mind, and able to go “deep inside” and access your true thoughts and feelings. You will be amazed at the type of insight you will gain after doing this exercise.

For those who are interested in finding out more about this exercise, do give me a buzz. My current company has a dedicated career program which contains a more comprehensive suite of introspective exercises to help individuals map out their career path.

If you’re still mystified about exactly what careers you may be suited for, even after completing the “career planning chart”, and think you would benefit from some help from a third party to gain clarify on your career roadmap, then you might want to think about talking to a career consultant or coach.

Career consultants offer a range of services, from assisting in an individual’s job search or career transition, to helping to identify suitable career paths, often through the use of some kind of psychometric instrument to pinpoint skills, abilities and preferred working styles. Some may offer CV assessment and CV writing as part of their services. There are many commercial career consultants operating, but also local government- or university-funded careers advice centers where you can meet career advisors and access their career resources.

One important note here though, career consultants should not be confused with recruitment consultants, who find suitable candidates to fill their clients’ vacancies. You will not receive objective career advice from a recruitment consultant – it is simply NOT their job, however sympathetic they may be towards you. Some unethical recruiters might even push you into a job you never wanted in the first place.

Talking to a career consultant can be valuable if you want someone who can facilitate your search for a new career, who you can bounce ideas off and help you focus your ideas with the benefit of their expert advice. But to get the most out of seeing a career consultant, you must have realistic expectations – he or she will not punch your details into a computer and tell you what your ideal career is; you must be prepared to provide input too, and work collaboratively with your career consultant to assess your opportunities.


Regardless of what career you're planning for, I will always strongly recommend doing your homework thoroughly before jumping into it head first. There's nothing more challenging (or emotionally tearing) than changing careers half way through your life. Try to get it right from the beginning and the ride will be much easier.

If you happen to be those who are going to change career midway, it’s not the end of the world yet. All you need to do is to be level-headed, do that self-reflective exercise I suggested to develop a perspective, consult your family, friends or a professional career consultant or coach and then make the best most informed decision.

At the end of the day this should not be a difficult decision to make. It might be a difficult task to accomplish but definitely it should not be a difficult decision to make. And this decision should be made by no one but you.

Why do I say this?

Because…it's only you who knows whether you want to have a fulfilling career or just an ordinary job; it's only you who knows whether you want to work for yourself or for another person; it's only you and no one else who knows whether you want to become successful and have “arrived” or simply live and lead an ordinary mundane boring life. Nobody is responsible for our lives except us.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Importance Of Body Language During An Interview

Throughout my years in executive recruitment, I have come across a number of candidates who have impressive qualifications, are extremely intelligent and possess great management skills, and are well prepared with responses to tough interview questions. But quite often, I receive less than desirable feedback from clients who said that these individuals do not appear confident, seems uninterested, or appears to be too uptight. The worst I have heard goes “I don’t feel he is a person I can trust… eyes were darting around when I spoke to him and his handshake was so flaky…” Don’t’ laugh… it is a true encounter. Happened about three years ago to a candidate I was representing, and this individual is a senior level management type.

What happened? You might ask … yes, all of us should rightfully ask that question. I asked the same question too then. After probing into the details, I finally came to the conclusion – all the individuals who received such negative feedback had one common error, and that error comes in the form of body language they displayed during the interview.

Body language
is widely known as a form of non-verbal communication involving the use of the body, and according to some researchers, they put the “level of nonverbal communication as high as 80 percent of all communication”. Others have put it “more reasonably at around 50-65 percent”. A research done by Albert Mehrabian in 1971 noted “a 7%-38%-55% rule, denoting how much communication was conferred by words, tone, and body language”.

Given the results of the extensive research done on modes of communications, it would be correct to say that body language plays an important part in the way our messages are perceived by others. And since an interview is all about communicating, it would logically be related that body language plays an equally important part during the interviewing process.

I am not about to write on body language or on the different modes of communications, simply because it is too huge a topic and I must admit I am no expert on this subject matter. However, based on my past experience as an executive recruiter and current professional encounters as a Career Consultant, and help enlisted from my current co-workers, ex-colleagues and associates, I have compiled quite a lot of useful notes in order for me to present an article on the top 10 tips to ensure good interview body language.

Armed with these tips, I hope that all the preparation you do for a job interview isn't in vain because your body language will play a critical part to a job interview success.

Now, moving on to the juicy parts…

Breathe deeply

One of the best ways to relax before an important interview is to breathe deeply. If you breathe deeply, not only are you relaxing by slowing your rapid, nervous heartbeat, you're also ensuring that your brain has as much oxygen as possible. This means that you'll be able to think clearly at your interview and be able to respond to difficult questioning more rapidly. Breathing deeply before an interview will provide you with the effective combination of being relaxed and alert at the same time.

Try it now and see how it feels.


You need to practice a relaxed, sincere smile. A good smile has the power to say, “I'm a happy, confident person and I'd love to work here”. Try practicing smiling in a mirror. Get a family member to look at your smile and give you their feedback. How do they feel? What does your smile tell them?

Practice a smile that puts people at ease. It's just as much your responsibility to ensure that there is a relaxed atmosphere during the interview. I was told by one of my co-workers that he actually said to a client, “If you're embarrassed about your smile, see what a dentist can do about it. The dental job might not cost too much to fix your teeth, and it will save you a lot of money if you get your job!”

Eye Contact

There's nothing more disconcerting to an interviewer than the interviewee being unable to make regular, good eye contact. The interviewer may think that because you're unable to do this, you either have something to hide, lying about something or may not have the conviction of what you’re saying to him or her.

If you're struggling to concentrate when looking straight into someone else's eyes, you could try looking in-between their eyes….they won't be able to tell that you aren't looking straight into their eyes, and you'll find it easier to maintain focus. Try it with a friend first to see what I mean.

Make sure that your eyes sparkle

It's all very well having good eye contact at your interview, but if your eyes aren't looking bright and interested then you're making life difficult for yourself! Make sure that you have a good night's sleep prior to your interview. Remember this is a very important day and you need to look your best and have no bags under your eyes!

Open Body Language – positioning your arms & legs

Make sure that your legs are slightly apart if you're a gent. Place your hands apart, on your thighs is good. Open body language is even more important when the interviewer is talking. It demonstrates that you are receptive to the question and actively listening. More importantly, it tells the other party you are interested in what they’re saying.

Again, try practicing this with a family member or a close friend first. Remember to take a note of what to do with each part of your body. Unless you do that and remember, you're leaving it to chance that your body language come across well at your job interview.

One other major no-no during an interview is to fold your arms across your chest. I have heard (and seen) too many people doing that (consciously or unconsciously) during an interview. If you do just that, you have created an invisible barrier between yourself and the interviewer. Not a good sign.

Don't slouch

It's easy to appear as if you slouch too much. This is especially prevalent if you're asked to site in a large, soft seat. Try not to appear too relaxed. Not sitting right back in the seat is a good idea. If you sit forward, it makes you look more attentive and more interested. Some people slouch because they're not very interested. Other people slouch because they have bad body language. Either way an interviewer isn't going to be too impressed.

Try practicing in a mirror at home.

Don't be too erect (rigid)

If you're too erect (rigid) then you won't appear relaxed. If an experienced interviewer is interviewing you then they might put this down to stage fright and not confident. They might just judge you on what you're saying rather than how uptight you appear. However, if you're interviewer isn't too experienced then they might not feel relaxed either because of your posturing. They could leave the interview with a feeling that you weren't as good as the other person simply because you were too erect (rigid).

No good either way. Try to relax but not too much!

Be engaged

It's important to be subtly positive at your job interview. You need to demonstrate that you're actively taking part in the interview. When your interviewer is telling you about the job role and company, make sure that you nod subtly. This shows that you are listening and are interested in what they are saying. It shows that you are engaged in the discussion process and want to be part of the organization.

Failing to do this will hurt your chances of a next round of interview or worst, cost you that much desired job.

Accept an offer of a glass of water

You may not feel like having a glass of water, but taking a sip from a glass of water can have a calming effect on your interview performance. It can give you an opportunity to collect your thoughts while refreshing you. It will also give you a chance to get used to the surroundings while the interviewer is out of the room getting the glass of water. This will also give you're the opportunity to gather your thoughts and decide upon any amendments to your interview strategy as well as reviewing your prepared responses to questions.

Practice your handshake (VERY IMPORTANT)

So many people haven't got the right 'professional' handshake. Remember that this is part of the FIRST and LAST impression that you leave at the interview. If you have a weak, limp handshake then this tells the interviewer that you may not have the ability to deal with confrontation. On the other hand, if your handshake is too strong, then you may not be a good listener. You may be quite confident about controlling a situation, but you may be less likely to be democratic in approach. To demonstrate the happy medium, have a firm but not hard grip, make good eye contact at the same time and mirror the style of the person whose hand you are shaking.

In summary, mirroring is the key. If you're able to subtly copy the tonality of your interviewer's body language, you'll find it much easier to communicate because you'll be speaking the same silent body language. At the same time, it helps build rapport with the other person. This will put you streets ahead of the competition in the race for your dream job.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

An Introspective Exercise – Useful For Interview Preparations

Before walking into an interview, whether you are interviewing or being interviewed, the first thing to do is to be prepared for it, especially on the type of questions asked or being asked. I have compiled from various sources the following topics that will help you develop a perspective. I’d like to call it an introspective exercise.

For those of you who are not preparing for interviews, this can be also useful in doing a quick self-analysis. Who knows? The knowledge you gained from this exercise may come in useful when you’re sitting on the “hot seat”.

Just a little explanation on how to make use of those topics …

If you are a hiring manager, HR or recruiter preparing to conduct an interview, begin with a clear definition of the roles and responsibilities for the position. Develop a list of requirements, objectives and priorities associated with the position and use this as a guide to create specific questions for the topics below.

If you are on the other side of the fence and in the midst of preparing to be interviewed, research the job description and the company profile thoroughly. This information can, more often than not, be found on the company web site. Develop a list of potential responses and also create your own questions to ask about the position role and responsibilities as associated with the topics listed below.

Even if you are not preparing to conduct an interview, or to be interviewed, you can review your current career roles and responsibilities to reflect on the following topics...

A) What have you learned from your previous success?
  • Can you identify significant achievements that highlight your talents, skills and capabilities?
  • How can this knowledge and experience be leveraged to develop future success?
B) What have you learned from your mistakes?
  • Can you identify decisions or circumstances that you might change if given another opportunity?
  • How can this knowledge be applied to mitigate future risks?
C) What have you learned from your experiences and industry knowledge?
  • Can you identify personal experience and perspectives that make you unique?
  • How can unique experience or industry position be used as a strategic advantage?
D) What have you learned from other people?
  • Can you identify skills or knowledge that you have acquired from other experts, peers or mentors?
  • How willing and able are you to learn from the expertise of others?
E) What have you taught other people?
  • Can you identify specific skills, motivation or direction that you have shared for a positive influence to others?
  • How do you contribute to the community and improve your environment? How willing are you to share your knowledge?
F) What behavior did you learn as a child?
  • Can you identify specific characteristics that would best describe your behavior?
  • How would you describe your work ethic?

Every individual is different from the next one, and carries a unique blend of talent, skills and experiences. Character traits can be acquired or learned over the course of our personal as well as professional life, e.g. our childhood, our university days, our careers etc. These traits can contribute to success, reduce risk and be used to enhance the environment around us.In some cases conflicts may arise as a result of different character traits. For example, one person may have experience shaped by previous achievements or mistakes that have not been experienced by another, creating significantly different points of view. And in some cases the differences may be related to work habits or personality traits that were learned as child and not easily changed or influenced in the work environment. These conflicts can be moderated with a better understanding of the experience that shapes another's perspective (empathizing in a manner of speaking).

During the interview process it is the obligation of the interviewer and the individual being interviewed to determine how well the personal experience, knowledge and character match between the person and the position. This increases the potential for future success. And this match is commonly known as
“the FIT”.

If you reviewed the questions as a personal assessment, it can be a meaningful review to reflect on your contributions, motivation and impact to your surrounding e.g. your family, your colleagues, your business partners etc. You have the opportunity to share something of yourself with those around you. In return, you will be given a good opportunity to continually develop your personal knowledge by learning from the unique experiences of those around you. What you do with these opportunities will go a long way in helping to shape your character and your potential for the future.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Using Appropriate Words During An Interview

Ever since my last posting got published, I received comments from a number of people related to my statement on tripping “all over the place with their words …” asking me for advice on how they can avoid this during their interviews.

When answering to questions during an interview, the words use to present yourself say more about you than you think. In fact, your vocabulary and the use of appropriate words say more about you than the message you are trying convey. You will be judged by the words you use during an interview. When you are looking for a job it is not only important to use the “right” words and language - it is essential and extremely critical.

It begins with the way your resume is written and continues throughout in the way that you respond to the questions interviewers asked during the course of an interview. There are industry-specific “key words” or “lingo” for each position within that industry, and in order to be prepared it will be important for you to do research on these words and to use them as deem fit. If you do just that, you will sound more professional and knowledgeable.

After reading that last paragraph, you will be asking “How will I know which words are “key”?”

Well, the simplest way to find such “key words” is to look at job descriptions or job advertisements. For each position there are common words that describe job requirements or pre-requisites. Job advertisements contain a good list of qualities and skills employers will be looking for in a candidate – I call it their “wish list.”

For any given position you are applying for, you need to ensure that you include these key words in your cover letter and resume. Hiring managers, HR and recruiters alike will seek out these words to select the resumes as qualified for the position. If these words are missing from your resume, I can guarantee you that yours will not be amongst those in the “selected” tray. Similarly, these are also the critical words you must use during the interview so that it will give the interviewer an impression that you appear to be someone who is a good fit for the position.

When you begin to develop your resume or prepare your interview script you will find these words invaluable. Of course, bear in mind that you would never use a word just to impress your interviewer. Knowing the definition behind the word is what will convince the interviewer that you know what you are talking about. Don’t use a word for the sake of using that word; you have to know what it actually means and how your experience is tied in with that word.

The correct words used can make a huge difference in a single statement – more concise and to the point - more powerful and impressive. Finding the “key” words will make your statements more powerful. Speaking the industry lingo will help you be taken more seriously as a candidate worthy of a job offer.