What They Did Right DURING the Interview

June 25, 2012

A week after interviewing candidates for a job opening, I noticed that some individuals were more memorable. I recalled the substance of some conversations better than others.

Several candidates were able to effectively differentiate themselves because of what they did during the interview. Here are some of the ways they separated themselves from the rest of the pack:

They were appropriately REACTIVE.

The best conversations came when candidates were not focused on providing the “right answers.” Rather, they responded to my questions by providing genuine, authentic and transparent answers. They demonstrated they were reactive in the following ways:

  1. They allowed me to set the pace of the conversation. They would slow down to elaborate when I requested more information. They would also pick up the pace when they sensed they had shared adequate information.
  2. They responded to my questions without rambling with answers to questions I did not ask. They listened carefully to what I asked and then reacted by providing thoughtful, transparent answers.
  3. They reacted to my body language or looked for other clues to make sure they were getting their message across. At times, they even asked for immediate feedback to ensure that they had appropriately addressed the questions I asked. Read the rest of this entry »
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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


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


To Be Differentiated, Create a Unique Elevator Speech

January 25, 2012

Could you effectively sell yourself to a prospective employer if you were alone with him or her for 30 seconds in an elevator?

Can you talk about yourself without using the same, worn clichés used by every other job seeker? Can you say something about your brand that others cannot say about theirs?

An effective elevator pitch should be:

  1. Relevant. Talk about the impact you can have on their success.
  2. Differentiating. Don’t say things about yourself that everyone else can say about themselves.
  3. Conversational. Your message should not sound like some formal, memorized script. With practice, your elevator speech can come from the heart and roll off your tongue in a very conversational manner.

Seth Godin, one of my favorite authors and bloggers, says this about elevator speeches:

No one ever bought anything in an elevator

The purpose of an elevator pitch isn’t to close the sale.

The goal isn’t even to give a short, accurate, Wikipedia-standard description of you or your project.

And the idea of using vacuous, vague words to craft a bland mission statement is dumb.

No, the purpose of an elevator pitch is to describe a situation or solution so compelling that the person you’re with wants to hear more even after the elevator ride is over.

Spend the time necessary to prepare your own elevator speech. It will take time and practice, but you want to be ready when the elevator door closes and you have 30 seconds to say something about your unique, differentiated brand.

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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 Differentiated, Know Your Competition

January 24, 2012

If you’re looking for a job, you face strong competition from others who are also looking for jobs.

To succeed, you must stand out from the rest of the pack. You’ve got to be different. You cannot blend in and look like everyone else.

The first step in differentiating yourself is to know who your competitors are. You’ll want to learn as much as you can about others who are applying for the same jobs you are seeking. You must study your competition.

One way to to do this is look at their profiles on LinkedIn. Take the list of keywords that describe you and then search for others in LinkedIn who use those same words.

Notice which profiles pop up. Pick several individuals and observe how they describe themselves. Study their profiles—their career summaries, specialties, experience and skills. Notice which words and phrases they use to describe themselves.

Pay attention to their writing style. Do they talk in the first or third person? Do they sound conversational? Are they interesting? Look for examples of individuals who have effectively converted their features into benefits?

You can differentiate yourself from others only when you 1) know yourself and 2) know your competition. When you understand who your competitors are and how you are differentiated from them, you are ready to begin selling your brand in a competitive job market.

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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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