What They Did Right BEFORE the Interview

June 22, 2012

Five minutes into an interview, I can easily tell how well a person has prepared for our meeting.

Some individuals like to interview so they can practice talking about themselves.

The real winners, though, are those who focus on helping me connect the dots between my needs (first priority) and their qualifications (secondary priority). An interviewee can connect those dots only if he or she has thoroughly prepared ahead of time.

Two weeks ago I interviewed several stellar applicants for a key communications job. I observed certain characteristics among those who interviewed well, and it became obvious that prior to our meeting they had done the following:

  1. They studied the organization to learn about our strengths and weaknesses. They came into the meeting with a basic understanding of the opportunities and threats we faced. They had done their due diligence.
  2. From their research, they saw opportunities where they could make a difference. They envisioned the unique impact they could have. Prior to coming into the meeting with me, they had already connected the dots in their own mind.
  3. They anticipated that I might invite them to, “Tell me about yourself.” They rehearsed their response so it was not a redundant, verbal summary of what I’d already seen on their resume. Instead, they customized their “positioning statements” so they could describe themselves in a differentiated way. Read the rest of this entry »
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A Hiring Manager’s Reflections on a Successful Recruiting Process

June 20, 2012

This week I’ll wrap up the recruitment and selection of my new communications manager. As I look back on the six-week process, three thoughts resonate in my mind:

  1. The number of applicants was overwhelming. Though I’m confident I selected the right person, I feel sad knowing that the orchard was so full of low-hanging fruit that I was unable to connect with many, many qualified candidates.
  2. Too many really good people do a really bad job of branding themselves. They look the same, they use the same worn cliches and therefore they blend into a seamless stretch of beige. Only a few differentiated themselves.
  3. The tools for conducting a successful job search have changed. Five years ago a resume was much more important than it is today. Too many people waste time obsessing on their resume when they should be using other methods to differentiate themselves.

Among equally-qualified candidates, differentiation comes from being findable online. Differentiation comes from swimming in the deeper end of the social media pool. Differentiation comes with having writing samples, blog posts and other content show up when someone Googles your name.

From the overwhelming number of applicants, I selected a core group of impressive, highly-qualified individuals to interview in person. They had successfully differentiated themselves. They showed up in a Google search. They made it easy for me to learn more about them before I even called to schedule an interview.

The finalists I personally interviewed did certain things I wish every candidate would do. In the next three blog posts I will share 1) what they did right before the interview, 2) how they handled themselves during the interview and 3) what impressed me with their follow through after the interview.


To Be Findable, Share Your Content Online

February 2, 2012

To a great extent, you can control what people see when they Google your name. You can proactively create the content that fills your digital footprint.

I suggest you create content that reflects the three dimensions of what your brand represents. Those categories are:

  1. Who you are professionally. LinkedIn is the basic platform for sharing this information. You may also decide to use other websites—perhaps even your own url—where you can showcase your portfolio, resume and other relevant information.
  2. Who you are personally. I recommend using Facebook for this purpose. If, however, you prefer not to use Facebook as a branding tool, then I suggest your work very hard to find another online presence where people can see you as a real person.
  3. How you view the world. A blog is an excellent way to share your ideas and your perspective. I recommend that your first blog posts provide information that you hope your next employer will ask you in an interview.

Creating and sharing content will make you more finadable online. This will help you build your personal brand and will increase your chances of being interviewed and ultimately hired.

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These ideas on personal branding were originally presented during two workshops I conducted for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. The sessions were attended by current and aspiring nonprofit leaders who came from across the nation for the annual Alliance Management/Leadership Institute, the nation’s largest leadership development and networking symposium for students, faculty and nonprofit professionals. —DH


To Be Findable, Expand Your Digital Footprint

February 1, 2012

Google your name. The search results represent your digital footprint.

Do you like what you see?

Does your online presence help someone understand 1) who you are professionally, 2) who you are personally and 3) how you see the world around you? Does your digital footprint contain enough information for a prospective employer to “know” you before he or she calls you for a first interview?

When you look at your digital footprint, ask yourself how much of it you actually created? How much it was created by others? Do you have control over your personal brand?

You can expand your digital footprint and actually shape your online image by being findable on at least three social media platforms. I recommend LinkedIn, Facebook and a blog as the basics for building your online image. You can then connect your social media platforms by linking them together. For example, you can put a link in your Twitter profile directing people to your blog. Then, in the “About Me” tab of your blog, you can include links to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

To be findable in a competitive job market, deliberately look for ways to expand your online presence. You really can create and control the size and shape of your digital footprint, so make it impressive.

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These ideas on personal branding were originally presented during two workshops I conducted for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. The sessions were attended by current and aspiring nonprofit leaders who came from across the nation for the annual Alliance Management/Leadership Institute, the nation’s largest leadership development and networking symposium for students, faculty and nonprofit professionals. —DH


To Be Findable, You Must Want to Be Found

January 31, 2012

When looking for a job, the first step in being found is actually wanting to be found.

That sounds simple enough, but too many job seekers have anxiety about what a prospective employer might find when Googling their names, even when they have nothing to hide.

Many well-intentioned (and misguided) individuals try to instill in us a fear that social media is a window where people on the other side are voyeurs. That advice seems to fit with warnings we’ve received since childhood about “stranger danger.”

Consequently, too many job seekers overreact when trying to protect their privacy. Somehow they have been programmed to think that having their personal information “out there on the Internet” is bad. That mindset does not work in today’s competitive job market.

Even if you are inherently shy and guard your privacy, you must recognize that being too secretive will work against your best interests. Being too cautious and private only erodes your efforts to brand yourself and to find your ideal job.

The best job seekers want to be found. They want to be discovered. Therefore, they deliberately leave “bread crumbs” along the pathway that will lead a prospective employer to find them. They create a presence on numerous online platforms, knowing that each platform gives a different perspective of their multifaceted brands.

In a job search, transparency should be your mantra. You cannot simultaneously hide your brand and look for a job. You want to be seen. You want to be findable. You actually want people—even strangers—to Google your name.

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These ideas on personal branding were originally presented during two workshops I conducted for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. The sessions were attended by current and aspiring nonprofit leaders who came from across the nation for the annual Alliance Management/Leadership Institute, the nation’s largest leadership development and networking symposium for students, faculty and nonprofit professionals. —DH


How to be Findable in a Competitive Job Market

January 30, 2012

If you are not findable during a job search, then you do not exist.

If I were hiring, I would not schedule even a first interview with anyone who did not have an impressive digital footprint. My philosophy is pretty straightforward:  If you are a job seeker and you are not findable online, then you are invisible. If you do not have an impressive presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, a blog or other online platforms, then you do not exist!

In today’s crowded, competitive job market, you must always position yourself to be found. You should expect—and even want—for a potential employer to Google your name.

Three ways to make yourself more findable online are:

  1. Want to be found. A first step for many job seekers will be overcoming a misguided mindset about their online information. They mistakenly believe that having their information “out there on the Internet” is inherently a bad thing.
  2. Expand your digital footprint. Be visible online. Create a digital presence on enough social media platforms so that you and your brand are easily findable.
  3. Share your content online. The good news is that you can control much of what your next employer will find from a Google search. Blogging provides an excellent platform to showcase your passions, your commitment and your career potential.

You are destined to make a meaningful impact in the world, but first you must be found. Do everything you can to be findable.

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These ideas on personal branding were originally presented during two workshops I conducted for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. The sessions were attended by current and aspiring nonprofit leaders who came from across the nation for the annual Alliance Management/Leadership Institute, the nation’s largest leadership development and networking symposium for students, faculty and nonprofit professionals. —DH

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To Be Differentiated, Blend Personal and Professional

January 26, 2012

Many job seekers—your competitors—have been advised by friends or career counselors to hide the personal dimensions of their personal brands.

Job seekers are admonished to set their Facebook settings high so others cannot look over the wall. Some Twitter newbies protect their tweets so strangers cannot follow them. Too many job seekers have been programmed to fear the unknown evil lurking in the shadows of the Internet.

Here’s your opportunity to differentiate yourself! The more your competitors hide themselves, the greater advantage you have to establish your brand. By being transparent and open, you can stand out from the herd.

For any job opening, you’ll likely compete with dozens (or perhaps hundreds) of people who have work histories, job titles and career accomplishments very similar to yours. From the vantage point of a prospective employer, it looks as if everyone was shaped by the same cookie cutter.

How can you stand out from those who naively believe they can effectively sell themselves in a one-dimensional way? One effective method is to be real. Show others that you are a real, multifaceted person. Show others the splendor of your multidimensional brand.

If you present only your professional persona—as impressive as it might be—you are branding yourself too shallowly. Our 2.0 world requires authenticity and transparency. Being authentic and transparent will definitely help you differentiate yourself and your brand.

People like doing business with people they know, or at least with people who present themselves as real-life human beings. A resume or even a LinkedIn profile is usually a sterile, sanitized description of one facet of your brand. Seldom does a resume portray you as a real, multidimensional person.

You need every available tool—including social media—to differentiate yourself in a crowded job market. Others may be afraid of using social media to reveal who they are personally. Their trepidation can work to your advantage. Their timidity gives you a great branding opportunity.

You can differentiate yourself by presenting yourself as a real person, not just a professional silhouette. You can differentiate yourself by opening up, by being real and by being transparent.

Deliberately look for opportunities to blur the lines that separate the personal and professional compartments of your life.

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These ideas on personal branding were originally presented during two workshops I conducted for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. The sessions were attended by current and aspiring nonprofit leaders who came from across the nation for the annual Alliance Management/Leadership Institute, the nation’s largest leadership development and networking symposium for students, faculty and nonprofit professionals. —DH


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