Tuesday, December 6, 2016

How To Effectively Answer The Single Most Difficult Interview Question

When in an interview setting, how do you answer the question, "Who are you?" Most people talk about their hobbies, some discuss their personal life, while others ask for clarification, requesting for the question to be posed differently. 

When a potential employer says, "Tell me about yourself", in essence they want to know who you are and what engages you. This question has stumped many candidates for a myriad of reasons, leaving them feeling uncomfortable, or unsure how to respond, later fretting whether they impressed the interviewer. If this question perplexes you too, then read on to find out how you can approach sharing information about you that is relevant and impactful

When you apply for a job, there are four areas that influence whether you are made an offer, starting with how employers discover you, to later learning more about "who you are" and your capabilities. These areas are not happenstance, but rather should be a strategically designed experience for the employer to have access to your resume, easily uncover pertinent information about you on relevant social platforms, gain familiarity through mutual connections, and finally come to know your professional strengths via your portfolio of work.  

So, who are you? This question is based on your professional experience, skills, education, volunteerism, and goals. Goals? Yes, having professional goals and being able to effectively articulate what they are will send a message to any employer that you are ambitious, progressive, and self-directed. This translates to an employee who will not become complacent or satisfied with the status quo. TIP: Make sure the goal(s) you share are professional and complement the employer's business. 
Showcase Who You Are Using These 4 Major Areas
Resume - Employers discover you, most times, by the resume you submit for a job. Other ways involve recruiters who source for talent, or employees who make recommendations. Make thoughtful decisions about your resume format and how you showcase your skills. Know the culture for the job you are applying and customize your resume to garner the hiring manager's attention.

Brand - You want your reputation to precede you in a good way, meaning, you must invest the time and effort so that what is said about you is positive, supportive, and indicative of who you really are. Having others make a compelling case on your behalf says that you have a balance of a great work ethic and understand the value of relationships.

Portfolio - A collection of your best work should be captured and illustrated in a way you can showcase your skills and talents to potential employers. TIP: Never show up to an interview empty handed. At a minimum, you should have a copy of  your resume and a few samples of your best work product. If your work is online, bring a laptop so you can project on a screen if necessary. 

ConnectionsHave you been growing your network or connections? Do you expect to get recommendations from those in your network? If so, it is imperative to grow and nurture your connections. Next, if you plan to request help from some of your colleagues, reciprocate the gesture by volunteering your assistance, if not now, then in the near future. Ultimately, if you ask for a recommendation, make sure you know how those you target really feel about your brand. They should be comfortable talking you up to anyone who may contact them for information.

When you receive a job offer, most times it is because you were able to effectively communicate that you have what an employer needs. Note that taking a holistic approach to the interview process starts long before you apply for the job. Resolve your job search dilemma now by using this new perspective to gain the position you want.

Check out this brief cheat sheet to get the most out of preparing for interviews. 
  • You = Your performance, image, and exposure 
  • Your Brand = The positive results of your performance, image, exposure underscored by a social media strategy 
  • Your Resume = An impressive illustration of your experience, education, credentials, and accomplishments 
  • Your Portfolio = A collection of your best work demonstrating your qualifications and potential
  • Your Connections = Your professional network who can validate your brand, performance, and character

See a real life example of why 
"who you are" matters to employers.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

How To Create Your Best Resume Now

A resume is a succinct way to illustrate your experience, credentials, and the proposed value you will bring to an employer or any opportunity utilizing your skills. People are often not sure about what they should include in a resume or how their information should be structured. While the resume process can be complicated, keep in mind that your resume is an extension of you, and how you brand yourself will determine if you get the attention of hiring managers. 

Ultimately, your resume is as unique as you are, and a tool that will evolve along with you. Determining your brand and how you present yourself for each job that you apply for is as important as the interview outfit you choose to wear. As you add new experiences and tools to your toolbox, make it a point to update your resume accordingly and assess how to best represent the information you are adding. 

Simple Do's and Don'ts For Building Your Resume:

  • Do keep a master resume containing all of your jobs, projects, accomplishments, and credentials.

  • Do understand the company's culture you are applying to and ensure your resume will "speak" to them.

  • Do engage colleagues or mentors who have professional experience in hiring to objectively review your resume.

  • Don't fabricate details or omit information, which can misrepresent who you are.

  • Don't overlook important sections like the professional summary, accomplishments, and community involvement.

  • Don't use real estate on jobs that don't align with the job you are applying for. Instead, list the company, role, and start and end date to close the gap in your timeline.

Before you can begin to use the "5 What" resume formula successfully, there are three simple questions to making the most out of any opportunity requiring a resume:

1) What does the role require? Review the advertisement and clearly outline the requirements paying particular attention to the word choices that describe the responsibilities and tasks.

2) Is your resume structured to effectively illustrate your experience and qualifications? Objectively read through your resume noting your word choice and flow. Is there an opportunity to improve based on the job description?

3) How can you go above and beyond to demonstrate your drive and passion (without overstepping boundaries)? This is the area most candidates miss because they think the goal is submitting the resume. The goal is getting the job - so what kind of prep does this entail

The "5 What" Resume Formula

The "5 What" resume formula is designed to help the job seeker take the guess work out of what information to include on a resume. If you don't have certain information for accomplishments or community involvement, then remove this area from your format and revisit at a later time when you have the specifics to include.  

1) What are you offering?
  • Professional Summary
2)  What are your skills? 
  • Business and Technical
3) What have you done?
  • Experience
  • Projects
  • Accomplishments  
4) What are your credentials?
  •  Education and Certifications
5) What is important to you?
  • Volunteer Roles and Hobbies    
Based on the job description or the opportunity you are seeking, these areas will change in order and appearance. Understanding the culture you are preparing to join and what is important to a potential employer will have an influence in how you present your information. Whenever in doubt, talk with a career coach or mentor to help you sort through the details for what will be most effective for your brand and resume structure. 

Stacey Rivers is an author, mom, wife and IT Talent Professional. Find her current book "50 Essential Tips To Getting & Keeping The Right Job" on Amazon.