How To Interview Well

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career, Job search
Reading time: 2 min.

If we see job interviews as tests, we will be too nervous, give off a low-confidence vibe, and choke. A better way is to see them as an exploration. As we might do if we already had the job, we turn our camera away from ourselves and focus on them. We ask questions and navigate by curiosity. And we remember that we are interviewing them (“How well does this role and company fit me?”) just as much as they are interviewing us.

Questions can cover the overall context, the specific goals, and the role: What is this company up to? What are they hoping to accomplish and why? What have they already tried? What’s working? What’s not? And why? What does this interviewer see as the problem and the opportunity? What’s their personal stake? How does this role contribute to the goal(s)? How will they know this role has been done well?

Of course, we can share how we might help and we are happy to answer their (scripted or not) questions. But by turning the camera and exploring, we open the door to a more natural, professional conversation, demonstrate what it will be like to work with us, and have a much less stressful time of it.


In your corner,


PS: If you’re finding it hard to turn the camera because they keep asking you (scripted or not) questions, try interjecting something like, “I am happy to answer your questions and feel I can do a better job with a bit more information about the organization and the role. May I ask you some questions?”

PPS: Sometimes you can’t turn the camera. Interviews for public sector roles, for instance, are frequently highly scripted so that every candidate is treated exactly the same. These interviews usually include time at the end for you to ask at least a couple of questions.  Best advice: list ahead of time a few of the best questions you’d like to ask if given the opportunity. And be gracious.


Today’s photo credit:
Destructive Compliments

Our Best Start

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career, Job search, Leading, Sales and Influence
Reading time: 1

In an interview, in a sale, when working with colleagues, or when leading others, we best start by understanding what our counterparts need, want, and desire. Then we can explore with them how our talents, products, services, ideas, and requests serve those needs etc. Our first steps are to ask open-ended questions about what they want and why. Then we confirm our understanding of what we hear.

We may be tempted not to use this approach as it appears to take too long. Really, though, anything else generates resistance and lengthens the time to get hired, make the sale, come to agreement, or see proper action.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: jakeandlindsay cc

The Best Way to Land a Job These Days

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career, Job search, Sweetspot
Reading time: 2 min.

Job boards, applications, resumes. Oh. My. Stories from the front lines tell us that the traditional way of finding a job is pretty well broken.

The best way to land a job today is to a) become a “killer candidate” and b) grow our network until it includes our next employer. Growing our network is how we will find the opportunities. Read more about that here.

Becoming a killer candidate is not about ticking boxes. It is not a form of beauty pageant; it is not about becoming someone we are not.

It is about clarity.

It is being clear about who we are and what we offer. I suggest people figure out their SweetSpot and use it to target appealing industries and companies and to hone their personal marketing content (elevator speech, resume, cover letter).

It is also about clear conversations with potential employers.  We do not start off talking about our qualifications nor do we jump through hoops in some attempt to match what we think they want from us. Instead, our conversations focus on understanding what the hiring manager is trying to accomplish overall. We explore next how this role–if it is done well–would contribute to that hiring manager’s and the overall company’s desired results. Only then do we talk about us. Only then do we tell stories that demonstrate how our talents, passions, perspectives, and experience line up to (help) deliver those results.


In your corner,


PS: None of this is difficult. It is just different.


Today’s photo credit: Canadian West Coast Fishing via photopin (license)

Nice Beats Experience

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career, Hiring, Job search, Leading
Reading time: 1

We can waste a lot of time struggling with people who are smart, hard working, experienced, connected, and/or driven but who are not the good, nice people we want to work with.

Hire first for attitude and values. Then for smarts and relationships. And train the rest.


In your corner,


PS: Leaders who have made the mistake of hiring the smart-or-experienced-or-driven-etc-but-not-nice know they will never, ever do it again.

PPS: Employees who have made the mistake of working for the smart-or-experienced-etc-but-not-nice bosses also know they will never, ever do it again.


Today’s photo credit: happymillerman cc


Cast A Narrow Net

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Hiring, Job search, Leading, Sales and Influence
Reading time: 1

We may think that casting a wide net is best. That is, we look for jobs, clients, employees, markets, and other opportunities in as many places and industries as possible. “The more places I look, the better chance I have of finding something,” we say.

But wider nets paradoxically make our job harder. Wide nets turn up far more duds to sift through. Others find it difficult to help us because “any and all would do” doesn’t paint a picture. Nothing clicks to remind them of people or situations they know that could help us.

With a narrow net–a focus on one place or industry that resonates with our interests and values–we go deeper, become experts, and build strong networks of like minded people. We know what to say. People begin to expect to see us here. And others can better help us because our specific descriptions remind them of people and situations they know.

Stick to your niching.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: UlyssesThirtyOne cc

practically infinite

Practical Infinity and New Business

Posted Posted in Career, Hiring, Job search, Leading
Reading time: 2 min.

Try this. Open up Google Earth or another favorite map and zoom in to your present location. Then slowly zoom out. Look around. Notice all the buildings on all the streets and think about the people that populate them. If we go slowly and notice, it’s hard to miss how huge this world is. And how practically limitless are our business and career opportunities.

We can have three reactions to this practical infinity: turtling, hoping, and riding the wave.

Turtling in the face of this infinity, we think that opportunity is rare and hard to find. We think people are unkind or at least uninterested. So we drain ourselves with old-school numbers games and struggle.

Hoping in the face of this infinity, we know the opportunities are great but fear they are only great for others. So we wait for new business to appear, like scraps from the table. We drain ourselves in hoping while fearing.

Riding the wave of this infinity, we understand how much opportunity is always present. We know that we are valued contributors to the party. And we excitedly engage the world outside our door. We fill ourselves while helping others as they need it.

Hang ten.


In your corner,


PS: We can ride this wave in sales, recruitment, and job search. It’s also good for finding helpful vendors, new friends, life mates, and even a really great restaurant.


Today’s photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center cc


How Would People Say They Benefit from Your Work?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Anypreneur, Career, Job search, Sales and Influence, We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 2 min.

We can best describe what we do by imagining how clients or bosses would say that they benefit from our work. Try completing this template from the perspective of your boss or client:

I call (or turn to) {your name} whenever I am {emotion} because of {situation}. I count on {your name} because we always end up {meaningful result}. I appreciate that because {reason unique to you}.

Example: “I call Wil whenever I am frustrated because of the delays that keep hitting my projects. I count on Wil because we always end up with the projects back on track and with a reinvigorated team. I appreciate that because Wil doesn’t sacrifice the people for the project nor the project for the people but still delivers again and again.”

We can turn these statements into effective elevator pitches to potential bosses or clients.

I help {the types of people who experience that emotion and situation} to {that meaningful result}. {Those people} appreciate how I {that reason}.

Example: “I help business leaders who are frustrated at yet another project delay to get the project back on track and the project team reinvigorated. These leaders appreciate how I get the job done without sacrificing the people or the project.”

Try it and compare it to the usual way of describing what you do.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: Ivan Low cc


The Networking 20-60-20

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career, Hiring, Job search, Leading, Sales and Influence
Reading time: 2 min.

Many of us fear networking. We often think people will feel put upon or even angry if we ask them for help. And that may be true for perhaps 20% of the people out there. For various reasons, they just don’t want to be bothered.

That means that about 80% of the people out there want to help you.

Around 20% of the people out there are excited to help. They are honored that you asked. They will happily introduce you to others. They may even follow up with you to check in and offer more insights or connections.

The remaining 60% are also happy to help if you make it easy for them. Here are some “make it easy” steps you can follow. Instead of asking when they are available, give them a list of specific times to choose from. Pick a location (including over the phone or video chat) that is convenient for them. Promise and follow through on your promise to keep conversations focused and brief (say, twenty minutes for a phone call, thirty minutes for a coffee, an hour for a lunch, or whatever works for them). Be prepared to go over that time if they wish. Prepare your questions prior to the meeting. Catch up with them; learn what they are focused on this quarter and this year. Offer any information or connections that they might find helpful. Be warm and friendly.

Above all, plan on most people wanting to help you.


In your corner,


PS: Because we likely can’t know whether a person is in the first 20%, the last 20%, or the middle 60%, use the “make it easy” steps for everyone.

PPS: When you bump into someone who doesn’t want to help, just graciously thank them for their time. No need to burden ourselves with judgements of them or us.


Today’s photo credit: Jun cc

Getting A Job (Sometimes) Without Experience

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career, Job search
Reading time: 4 min.

After yesterday’s post about organizations not needing to hire based on experience, a reader rightly asked about being on the other side of this transaction, “How do I get a job when my experience doesn’t match what the potential employer says they need?”

Of course, many organizations still treat past experience as their major criterion for hiring. And sometimes prior relevant experience is required (see below). But sometimes, the experience and talents we already have are enough, even if we’re missing something that they say we should have. We just need an opportunity show how. In these cases, there are five things we can do.

1. Get the experience. If they say we need to get an MBA, to have been in a similar role for a certain number of years, or to update some technical skill, we can do that. Sometimes, the hiring organization is right to focus on experience. Roles heavy with safety and security needs often require proof that we have the training and have done this before. Sometimes the role needs plain old maturity and life experience. Occasionally, employers will agree to let us build the gaining of experience or training into an on-boarding plan once we are hired. Is it worth it to us to get the experience? Should we just go find another role? Tough to say for all cases. If it would feel good to do so, then go ahead and upgrade.

2. Write out your stories. Make a list of your talents and other helpful qualities. For each, find and write down a story from your past that illustrates and proves your claim. Be familiar enough with these items and stories that you can recall them as needed.

3. Retool your resume and cover letters. Should you need to send a resume and cover letter, it makes sense to build them to fit. Hiring managers don’t like when we send something generic: it shows we don’t care and we are forcing them to piece together the answer to, “Could this person do this job?” Create custom cover letters for each role you apply for. The format should be: here is the role I am applying for and what you said you needed that role to do (you can gather this info from their job postings and your networking), this is why I am qualified to do that (describing relevant talents and other qualities), and a request to meet. Let your resume read as basic proof of your talents and other qualities.

4. Get the conversation. Because it is so simple to apply for most jobs, many unqualified people do. So organizations have to filter resumes just to cut through the masses of applications. If we think we have something to offer despite lacking some experience or other trait that would normally get us filtered out, we can use our networking talents to get a conversation with the hiring manager. Asking people we know (including recruiters) for their insights and guidance to other people who may know the hiring manager is a great way to land a conversation about the role and how we might fit.

5 Turn the camera. When we get the conversation, our job is not to impress or convince. The camera should not be on us. No, indeed. It should be (mostly) on them. Our job is to listen and understand. Why does this role exist? What would you like to see happen in this role? How will we all know that the job has been done well? What is your mandate this year?  Why is this role important to that? Once we are clear about them and their needs for this role, we can shift the conversation toward us. Now we get to say how we can help, what we are good at, and how we fit. Now we get to share those stories we had gathered. If everyone agrees there’s a fit between what they need and what we offer, the job is basically ours.

In your corner,



The Simpler Way To Land A Job

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Job search
Reading time: 2 min.

Landing a job can be a hard and unrewarding endeavor. We can waste time and drain our psyches by trolling job boards, sending out résumés, attending networking events, going on dead-end interviews, and hoping.

Yet there is a simpler way to land a job. First, we become killer candidates. Second, we grow our network until it includes our next employers.

We can all become killer candidates. It is not about becoming someone we are not, gussying up our resume to fit what we think employers are looking for. It is not participating in a form of beauty pageant, looking just so, doing the right things, and putting on our best, fake behavior. It is being crystal clear about who we are, who our ideal potential employers are, what they really need, and how what we offer will help them.

You can start by figuring out your SweetSpot (and more here).  Use it to know which types of people or organizations you want to work for. Use it also to craft an elevator speech, a résumé, and a cover letter that resonate with those people and organizations.

Next have conversations (interviews) with your ideal potential employers. Focus neither on how wonderful your qualifications are nor on jumping through hoops to please. Instead, focus on understanding what the hiring manager is trying to accomplish overall and how, if this role is done well, it would contribute to that hiring manager’s and the overall company’s success. Only then can you explain how you and what you offer can help.

To have those conversations, grow your network. Read this to learn how. Start with the people you know and trust. As you proceed, pay a bit of extra attention to the people you meet who are really good at networking including the mavens and the high-integrity professional recruiters.


In your corner,


PS: Even when we do them well, job searches can have us feeling bad at times. Remember to take good care of yourself and to feel good, then act.


Today’s photo credit: Frans Zwart via photopin cc