When the Employer Invites You to Sell Yourself

Employers often ask questions early in the interview process that opens the door to a selling opportunity.

The interviewer’s motivation in many cases is to decide whether to move you forward in the interview process; some of these questions are designed to screen you out if you don’t fit the criteria for the responses the employer seeks.

Another motivation is to break the ice, put you at ease (that’s the theory, though questions like “Tell me about yourself” can be nerve-wracking), and help the interviewer learn more about you. These questions also challenge you to explain why you are here – why are you interviewing for this job. That challenge is an opportunity to sell yourself.

Strategy for response

Because questions in the sell-yourself category can cover a wide territory. Here’s a strategy that fits virtually all of these questions:

  • Identify one to three top selling points that you would like to communicate to the interviewer with each response. Be sure these selling points are relevant to the position you’re interviewing for (you’ll know because of the research you’ve done).
  • Relate each response specifically to the organization at which you’re interviewing and the position you’re interviewing for. For example, the desired response to the request “describe your ideal job” is that your ideal job is the job you’re interviewing for. Describe the elements of the organization and position that perfectly fit your qualifications and attributes. Similarly, the best way to answer the question “What are your strengths?” is to list strengths relevant to the employer and the position.
  • Quantify whenever possible. In your “tell me about yourself” response, for example, use metrics such as percentage by which you’ve increased revenue or reduced costs, number of projects you’ve brought in on time and under budget,

Sample questions in this subject area:

  • Tell me about yourself/How would you describe yourself?
  • Describe your ideal job.
  • What do you want in your next job?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What separates you from your colleagues?
  • Why do you believe you are the best candidate for this position?
  • How will we know we’ve made the right decision by hiring you?
  • What personal weakness has caused you the greatest difficulty on the job?
  • Why shouldn’t we hire you?
  • What one area do you really need to work on in your career to become more effective on a day-to-day basis?
  • If you could change something about your [life] [career], what would it be?
  • Do you have a geographic preference?
  • Would it be a problem for you to relocate?
  • How much travel are you willing to do for the job?
  • What two or three things are most important to you in your job?
  • What are your strengths?
  • Tell me about your greatest strength, and why it will benefit our company.

Sample response for this subject area:

Question: Why should we hire you?

Response: My abilities in so many areas – sales, marketing, promotions, and management – will be invaluable for your company, including my experience working with people with diverse backgrounds and at different levels, my background working with various clients, my work overseeing sales teams, my eye for detail, the fact that I strive to do the best job possible at all times. I’m also reliable, loyal, and trustworthy … and if you hire me, you will have a team player who will add to the integrity and quality of your sales force for years to come. As an example of the kind of results I get that would justify your hiring me: Sales were down in the electronics department of the retail store at which I worked as an assistant manager. The perception was that our products were inferior to a competitor. I took the initiative to create excitement at the store level to increase sales. I attained buy-in from my manager so that I could run a contest. I collected sales data from the store on our products and used that information to back the need for this contest. My manager loved the idea. He thought it was exciting and loved the fact that I provided him with details on how I planned to track the sales process. In the end, I increased sales for that month by 110 percent, which was phenomenal.

If you need help in responding to these questions, schedule a call using this link http://www.harveycareers.com/discussion to discuss our coaching programs or give us a call at 386-749-3111.

Developing a Targeted Mailing List

Focus bullseyeThere are two basic schools of thought on direct mail aimed at locating a new position, commonly referred to as mass mailings and targeted direct mailings. The former relies on the premise that if enough letters and résumés are mailed, something will inevitably get attention, and that will result in an interview, or hopefully, multiple interviews, at different companies. Targeted mailings, on the other hand, are smaller mailings focused on a select audience, the market most likely to be seeking a candidate with your qualifications. The numbers may be smaller, but the results have proven to be more effective.

Opting to use this strategy requires research and strategy. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time, money, and effort on a campaign that lacks focus – and results. This is why it is vital that your targeted search involves the following:

  • Defining your ideal company
  • Creating a list of potential target companies
  • Prioritizing your list of target companies
  • Researching the companies thoroughly using Hoover’s database or other business resources
  • Networking with the decision makers
  • Presenting yourself as a solution to a major problem the interviewing company is having

Finding the right database targeted to companies and industries of your choosing will help you create your target company list. On average, direct mail campaigns get better results if the database mailing list is carefully selected using NAICS, SIC, or Hoovers codes, company size (revenues, employees), and geographic location.

Should you choose to conduct your own direct mail campaign, there are many sources aimed at locating recruiters and companies.

Putting Together Your Mailing List

There are a number of resources available to help you build a personalized list based on your target job search such as Hoovers, ReferenceUSA.com, and InfoUSA. These fee-based services are quite popular among executive job seekers. However, if you are on a tight budget, you may want to consider free options. Visiting websites like www.forbes.com/lists and Inc. Magazine provide insight into Fortune 500 companies, top performing companies, and the most profitable companies in all industries. Job seekers willing to take the time to dig a little deeper and conduct thorough research will find that creating a mailing list isn’t as daunting a task as it may seem.

This brief article is an excerpt from, Landing An Executive Position.

For further help:
Give Beverly Harvey a call at 386-749-3111
Send us an email at beverly@harveycareers.com
Schedule a call with Beverly at www.harveycareers.com/schedule

How to Leverage Blogs in Your Job Search

Image converted using ifftoany
Image converted using ifftoany

One of the more productive tools to make high-level executive contacts has turned out to be blogging. Many savvy job seekers are now including blogs as part of their research and networking strategy to find executive positions. Likewise, recruiters are using blogs to network with candidates and build a talent pipeline, while executive search firms are using blogs to identify and research candidates. Blogging has many useful applications that enable executive job seekers to:

  • Research a company and determine the corporate culture.
  • Network and make contact with a blogger in your target company.
  • Research a company’s services and products and technological developments to assess how solid your target company is in the marketplace and how well positioned it is for growth.
  • Increase your visibility on headhunters’ radar screens by keeping your credentials fresh in the minds of search professionals who are searching for talented executives.
  • Build a personal online brand and become a high-profile performer in your industry.
  • Position yourself as a valuable resource with a record of solid, provable accomplishments that attract career-building opportunities.

Blogging is particularly attractive to executive job seekers who have few top-level contacts with whom they can network, affording them an opportunity to open conversations with decision makers in target companies.

Establishing a blog is a relatively straightforward process that even non-technical professionals will find manageable. As a job seeker, you can approach blogging from one of the following two perspectives:

  1. Post comments on established blogs.
  2. Create your own blog that offers valuable information to your target audience, thereby establishing you as a thought leader.

Either approach will promote your brand and position you as a thought leader in your field.

This brief article is an excerpt from, Landing An Executive Position.

*This article may be republished with written permission. If you are interested in posting this article on your blog, please email me at Beverly@HarveyCareers.com. I will respond within 2 business days with my required signature and credits.

What’s Driving Your Career?

Is it your personal vision, passions, and innate talents … or is it uncertainty, confusion or even desperation? Are you clear about the type of position that would be intrinsically fulfilling … or are you willing to accept whatever you can get?

When you hear the words personal vision, passion, drive, and innate talents what emotions do you feel? Energy, excitement, enthusiasm, curiosity, hope? Do you feel like you want to get to know more about this person?

Alternatively, when you hear the words uncertainty, confusion, and desperation, what emotions come to mind? Lethargy, pessimism, despair, or lifelessness?

Before you launch your next job search, identify what you are passionate about, what energizes you, and what drives you. Passion is unique, it’s what sets you apart, it’s a precious treasure, and it’s impossible to authentically reproduce.

Focus your job search on your areas of passion, drive, and innate talents. These qualities are contagious and attract the right opportunities. You’ll interview better and capture the interest of the recruiter. While they may not have the perfect position for you at the moment, you will be remembered because of the emotional charge you brought to the meeting.

Communicating verbally and in writing from a place of vision, passion, drive, enthusiasm, and expertise is one of the hallmarks of your brand. It will set you apart from peers who have seemingly similar qualifications. Consider this: If you were interviewing two candidates for a position and both met all of the position requirements, had the same skill sets, appeared to be a good fit in your organization, but one was passionate, appeared to have a lot of drive, and was enthusiastic, who would you choose?

The most successful job search is the one that is focused around your uniqueness. Nearly all recruiters will tell you that they’re looking for the candidate that is focused on a particular function. Trying to market a broad and diverse range of skills and expertise will only confuse the recruiter and muddy your message. While employers do want executives with diverse and broad skill sets, your job search needs to focus on one or two of your major ones. And those should be the skill sets that align most with your passions and innate talents.

The return for landing a position focused on your personal vision, passion and innate talents are many, but most importantly include intrinsic fulfillment and extrinsic reward.

*This article may be republished with written permission. If you are interested in posting this article on your blog, please email me at Beverly@HarveyCareers.com. I will respond within 2 business days with my required signature and credits.

Career Planning

Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, once said: “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan.”

Og Mandino, U.S. businessman and motivational author and lecturer said: “The victory of success is half won when one gains the habit of setting goals and achieving them. Even the most tedious chore will become endurable as you parade through each day convinced that every task, no matter how menial or boring, brings you closer to fulfilling your dreams.”

And Stephen Covey, internationally respected leadership authority and author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, said: “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

These three quotes from respected leaders may give you some inspiration regarding the importance of planning and goal setting. If you’re new to goal setting, you can read an article on my blog that I wrote: https://www.harveycareers.com/blog/how-to-ensure-you-achieve-your-new-years-resolutions-2010-goals/.

For career planning you may want to create one-, two-, five-, and ten-year goals. BlueSteps a service of the Association of Executive Search Consultants (the association for retained executive search firms) suggests that you, “set goals for yourself at each organization you join and for each position you assume, with interim objectives to provide markers to measure your progress or signal the need for change.”

Ultimately, you may want to plan your career through till your retirement. Ask yourself, “What do I want to have achieved by the time I retire?” Then, back your way into your goals. Consider where you are now and what you have to do and/or learn to reach your ultimate career goal.

While the economic environment may be causing you to accept whatever job you can get, I would caution you to consider your career goals. While you may need to take a bridge position—one that will hold you over until you can get back on track, make sure you continue to search for the opportunity that aligns with your goals. You don’t want to get stuck in a dead-end position that detracts you from your long-term goal. If you must take a bridge job, consider taking one that will help you develop a skill set or knowledge base that will strengthen your candidacy for your next step in your career.

Given that interviewers frequently ask about your career goals, having a well-thought-out response will position you as a visionary executive capable of leading an organization.

Unique Job Search Strategy for Extraordinary Times

While the job boards continue to list hundreds of job openings, responding to those positions as directed in the ad, seldom results in a response. What I suggest is that if the ad mentions the company’s name or the name of the person who posted the ad, try going to LinkedIn.com, ZoomInfo.com, or Ziggs.com and conducting a search on the company or recruiter to gather more information. Ask people in your network, “Who do you know who works in the ABC company?” or “Who do you know who might know a recruited named John Doe?” Of course, if the person you’re asking knows someone in the company or the recruiter, they will say so, but if not, these questions will trigger their brain to search its database to come up with a name. This is the open-ended question strategy that works much better than a question that will elicit a yes or no answer.

Your goal is to “network” yourself into the hiring company versus responding to the ad. Ultimately, you may still need to respond to the ad, however, if someone on the inside is on the lookout for your resume, you’ll have a much better chance of getting an interview. This strategy is working for several of my clients and they are winning interviews and getting offers.

To expand your network and gain the support you need, consider joining a job search support group. There are many job search groups supported by local churches and ministries, business and professional groups, trade groups and associations, civic organizations, universities and alumni groups, and chambers of commerce. There are also vocational services groups and government employment programs for the trade professionals and general workforce. Check your local newspapers and online websites to find networking and job support groups in your area.

To leverage your time and efforts, you will want to pick a group whose members are at an equivalent professional level as you. For example, if you’re a senior-level executive earning north of $200K, you’ll want to be in a group with similarly accomplished executives. Try to find a group with an educational component, a knowledgeable leader, professional speakers, and some type of accountability that can keep you moving forward.

In addition to a networking opportunity, these groups can boost your emotional well-being by providing a space where you can share your feelings, frustrations and experiences with other like-minded folks who understand your position, your emotions and your concerns.