Kathy: Leenie, as a former recruiter, you have a great insight into how people need to present themselves in their job search. What’s your core piece of advice for people who want to put their best foot forward in their search?
Leenie: Preparation is the key. Your 90-second intro, resume, cover letter, phone screen and interview all have to have a consistent message. The first step is to focus your search and identify your ideal direction. This requires analyzing the top requirements of the job and matching your skills/strengths to these. Focus all of your messaging on your future employer and how you can help them accomplish their goals and the impact you can make on their organization.
Identify what makes you stand out. In what ways you are most effective? What’s the best contribution you can make to move their company forward? Once you have a focus, then you can craft the marketing message which will be part of all written and verbal communication. After that you can apply, apply, apply some more….don’t slow down…don’t wait for a particular opportunity to come through….keep going at all times.
Most important… practice: your phone screen answers, practice interviewing, practice following up, negotiating, accepting, resigning from your old job. You should be very prepared for every step. Taking short cuts will cost you interviews…offers….and compensation.
Kathy: What strategies do people need to do to succeed in their job search, especially if they haven’t done a job search in the last 5 years?
Leenie: Make it easy for a company/hiring manager to hire you. Lead with the strengths and skills that are most important to them. (Don’t save the best for last….give the good stuff first). Be responsive, make yourself available, make the interview and process your first priority.
Show that you are interested in the job. Communicate back to them quickly with thank you notes, email replies, etc. Don’t play hard to get; don’t make them wait for you to get back to them; don’t delay the process; don’t talk about anything personal. Let every communication demonstrate your professionalism. If you do not hear from them, then absolutely you can follow up, don’t wait.. use it as an opportunity to demonstrate your follow up skills.
Kathy: You’re really good at helping people network more effectively. What are some tips and strategies for people who need to reach out to their network for their job search?
Leenie: Help your network to help you. Let your network know the strengths you are promoting and the type of job you are looking for. Let them know that it helps for them to present your resume, but also to introduce you to other people who are good to know. When it comes to networking, when possible, I believe face to face is best, next is a telephone conversation, and lastly is email.
Kathy: You’re also one of my favorite coaches for resume writing; what goes into a great resume that makes it stand out?
Leenie: You have to keep your resume very focused. The process includes first identifying what companies are looking for and then matching to the strengths and skills to their requirements. The resume should focus only on the relevant skills and strengths that you are promoting. A resume is NOT your life story…it should highlight the impact you have made, the job you can do and should be very streamlined and focused. Anything other than what they are looking for is distracting.
Kathy: Working with people on their career narratives, how do you get to the heart of what’s unique and compelling about their skills?
Leenie: We drill deep into their unique combination of skills, strengths, experience and impact…that happens to also match a need in the marketplace.
Kathy: Any job search advice for people who want to get to the next level in their careers but haven’t yet held the title they want, yet?