Welcome to Change

March 16, 2010

I just spoke with a client who works for a real estate investment group as its business developer and legal counsel. With this sector’s slow recovery, he’s feeling displaced, nervous and desperate to find financial stability. At 45 with 4 children from 3 to 13, he needs to be in the prime of his earning potential. Yet, he feels like he’s got little to show for over 20 years of impressive work.

Unfortunately he’s in great company, as a vast majority of candidates we speak with are in the same position or feel anxiety about their stability. In an economy that’s shifting faster than we realize, we’re all playing musical chairs. Unless we get moving, find clarity on what we’ve accomplished and what it all means to someone who’d hire us, we will be left standing when the music stops.

Relief came as he reflected on his experience and realized that he’s “in the business of earning sizable revenue from untapped sectors of the real estate market”. Suddenly his anxiety turned to excitement and darkness turned to light. He discovered his WOW and can now articulate it to people he networks with and to potential hiring managers.

Now he has an unfair advantage in the game of musical chairs because he can better align himself to the music of the market and use his speed and agility to find his well deserved spot.

Read more tips & strategies on this and other topics  from the Get What You Set web site.

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The Art of Self-Promotion

March 2, 2010

Everyone is repulsed by braggarts – people who are shameless self promoters.

The truth is that (thankfully) these people rarely exist in the job search and career transition arena, as I can’t remember the last time I spoke with a candidate whom I felt was arrogant. Sure, people say off-color things when the stakes are high in an interview. But this doesn’t mean they are bragging. Typically, they are nervous and get caught in an awkward moment.

Here’s the formula for broadcasting your skills without being viewed as bragging. Write down and rehearse the 4-5 points that distinguish you from your peers. In other words, what home-runs have you delivered that demonstrate why you are such a strong candidate for a job. Know your messages cold so that in the heat of the moment, they are ready to be launched without a moment of consideration.

Don’t be afraid to speak matter-of-factly about your specific achievements. For example:

  • Exceeded management’s expectations by deploying a restructuring initiative that achieved…
  • Helped position my previous employer to be more market competitive and provide value-added service to its clients by…
  • Received multiple awards for generating year-over-year improvements to…
  • Worked with world-class experts in “x’, which provided me with a unique perspective to…

Be proud of who you are and what you have done and deliver your accomplishments in a direct, professional and measured way. Every action creates a reaction, and your role in selling yourself is to activate job opportunities, promotions or advancements. You’ll know if you did this well when a faint smile appears on the listeners face or you sense some other visceral reaction that captures their interest.

Read more tips & strategies on this and other topics  from the Get What You Set web site.


Lost in the Elevator

November 24, 2009

I was recently introduced to an unemployed 50 year old finance executive.  We just happened to be entering the elevator together at the same time as a key investor in a major hedge fund. While we descended to the lobby, I introduced them.  The investor asked the unemployed exec what he did for a living and his response was: I’m unemployed and I’m looking for a finance position.  Then there was dead silence for another 12 floors.  A moment later we were in the lobby and I took the exec aside and I said, “Do you realize that you blew your elevator pitch”?

I invited the exec to my office and asked him what he would have said if he were better prepared.  He simply couldn’t come up with a memorable sound bite.  He sounded tongue tied and anxious.

It’s very difficult to keep your spirits and head up high when you’ve been unemployed for 7 months and you’re in financial stress. I’m sympathetic to his position and see this every day.  The older we get the harder it becomes to succinctly summarize what we do, how well we do it and what it means to an employer.  It’s almost as if we have a very thick crust that’s been building over time and keeps our professional value from coming through.

I suggested that he could have said the following:

  • I’m in transition and I’m looking to leverage a reputation as an investment banker who has a knack for connecting people to opportunities and money in the high tech sector.
  • Would you have any interest in hearing more about what I’ve done to enhance the fortunes of companies?  Perhaps you can recommend some people I could network with?

The exec looked at me and said, “I got it.”

Here’s the lesson.  Have your message prepared.  It should be a powerful statement of who you are and what you bring to the table.  It should also include an “action item” for what you want to achieve with that person.  Then, you must practice and commit it to memory so it can be called upon as soon as any “door” opens.  Otherwise it can get lost in the elevator.

Read more tips & strategies on this and other topics  from the Get What You Set web site.


Network with Who?

October 13, 2009

NetworkIt is often said that the key to an effective job search is networking. We’re all in. But what happens when you want to work at Sony BMG and you can’t identify someone you know who remotely knows anyone there? So you bravely call the main number at Sony to uncover who the head of record sales is for the southeast region. The operator has no clue. She only has first and last names. Then you ask for human resources and she refers you to the career section of their web site.

You then decide to look on the internet. You find a ton of names and titles and even some e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Sadly, none of them are the correct titles of people that you’re seeking. Even if they were, how would you get the person’s phone number? How would you get around their secretary? And, even if you got to them, what would you say that would engage their attention and interest? Now what?

The best way to get by an administrative assistant is to have him/her collaborate with you. We call this the “best friend” approach. For example, as a recruiter, when I (Ira) reach an assistant of an executive I’m trying to contact, I say; ”Let me tell you who I am and why I’m calling. I’m an executive recruiter who is in the business of helping Fortune 500 finance clients optimize their investment in human capital. My claim to fame is filling 100% of my assignments in our industry where 70-80% fill rate is considered exceptional. I’d like to talk to (your boss) about how I can add value to his/her growth strategies.”

Most people don’t bother giving any time or courtesy to an assistant. Yet, if you convey a message that positions the assistant to be a “hero” for referring your call, then you have enlisted an enthusiastic advocate. Furthermore, you’ve involved them in the process of enhancing their own employer. How refreshing!

Using this approach almost always gets you safely to your target. When you gain the trust and confidence of the gatekeeper, you’ll gain a friend who will lend a helping hand and do some of the “work” in networking.

Read more tips & strategies on this and other topics  from the Get What You Set web site.