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7 November, 2011 Posted by John G. Self
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1 April, 2020 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Interviewing Skills, Job Search, Strategic Networking
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As Company’s Announce Layoffs, Furloughs Time to Prepare for Recovery Is Now

Posted April 1st, 2020 | Author: John G. Self

The furloughs and layoffs have begun.

Retail is leading the way as neighborhood shops and department stores across much of the country are shutting down either in abundance of caution or governmental order.  The unemployment numbers are staggering.  Not in modern history has  the US economy, and most of the rest of the world, shut down so quickly.  Last week’s unemployment numbers, 3.25 million claims filed, exceeded expectations.   The latest numbers, scheduled to be announced Thursday morning, could top 4.25 million, some analysts caution.

Now the rolling impact has hit healthcare providers.  Hospitals have been canceling elective surgeries and other profitable ambulatory services to prepare for the surge in patients with the coronavirus.  Reports began to trickle in on Monday and Tuesday of furloughs and impending layoffs, primarily on the East Coast and in the Midwest. The reductions in force of non-essential personnel will probably migrate west as the virus takes hold across the rest of the country.

There are two important questions, one you have some control over, the other you do not.  First, the question over which you have no control – How long will this all last?  The short answer, no one knows.  The hopeful one, not long.  The shorter the slide the quicker we can recover.  A prolonged deep recession or, God forbid, a depression, will probably take years for the economy to bounce back.  Ten years after the Great Recession of 2009, America’s economy was still on the rebound. 

Now the question you can control:  How are you going to respond to this crisis?  What  steps are you going to take to prepare your career for today and the future?

The personnel most likely to be furloughed or laid off are new hires, middle managers whose responsibilities are similar to others in the organization and those whose performance has been lackluster. However, executives are not immune.  The longer the virus maintains its grip, the longer the slide, the deeper these cuts will be.  

Just as waiting too long to implement social distancing mandates has produced dire consequences, so, too, can delaying to plan your career response strategy.

Just as waiting too long to implement social distancing mandates has produced dire consequences, so, too, can delaying to plan your career response strategy.

Strategy:  Carpe Diem.  Seize the day.

Five Tactics:  

  1. Revise your resume to reflect your value brand statement.  Updating the older “tried and tested” version is a waste of your time.  ATS and employer expectations have dramatically changed the role of the resume.
  2. Develop and execute a strategic networking plan.  The best jobs are rarely posted.  Recruiters handle only a small portion of the executive searches.  In other words, a job search is now a contact sport. Sitting back, waiting for someone to call, will dramatically lengthen your job search.
  3. Perfect your story.  Many applicants do a very so-so job in answering some of the best questions for selling themselves.  Understand what your brand stands for and how you can explain it in a compelling way.
  4. Prepare for interviews.  There are two types of interview questions, Core and Categorical.  Core questions are those that allow you to sell your value.  Categorical questions are those aimed at your past performance and usually require relevant quantifiable metrics to answer successfully. You can never successfully anticipate every question that you will be asked but thinking about these two categories will dramatically improve your confidence and performance.
  5. Master the art of video interviews. Corporate recruiters and search firm consultants all say that this candidate screen ing medium will become an essential tool. Just showing up and answering questions will not get you the job, In fact, it could get you eliminated. You must master to dos and don’ts of this medium.

Just as waiting too long to implement social distancing mandates has produced dire consequences, so, too, can delaying to plan your career response strategy.

If you are laid off or terminated, sitting back waiting for the economy to improve is not an option.  Whenever that happens, sooner or later, there will be a logjam of applicants seeking to re-enter the workforce.  If you are not prepared to compete against dozens upon dozens of applicants for every job you seek out, your career recovery time will be prolonged as well. 

It is time to seize the day. remember, you are the CEO of a one-person company. It is up to you.

© 2020 John Gregory Self

31 March, 2020 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Coaching, Career Transition/Outplacement, Interviewing Skills, Job Search
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‘Deck Is Stacked,’ Frustrated Job Applicants Believe

Posted March 31st, 2020 | Author: John G. Self

The deck is stacked against me.

That is what many job applicants think as they submit their resumes to company web sites and, to a lesser degree, search firms. Frequently their interest in a job, as well as the time and effort to make the submission, is met with “radio silence.”

I cannot tell you how many times I have submitted my resume for a job that I was qualified for and I heard nothing, not even an acknowledgement that they received my resume,” one executive recently complained. “It is just a black hole.”

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They call it the black hole. “I cannot tell you how many times I have submitted my resume for a job that I was qualified for and I heard nothing, not even an acknowledgement that they received my resume,” one executive recently complained. “It is just a black hole.” His comments have been echoed time and again from other executives across multiple industries. After repeated failure they begin to believe that the deck is stacked against them.

And it is if you do not understand how the 2020 version of the job search process works. It is hard to win a game, even if you are a consummate professional, when you do not understand the rules for success.

The rules cover three basic areas:

  1. Clarify and simplify your story. To do this you must understand your real value. Surprisingly, most executives struggle with this concept.
  2. Develop a resume that speaks to a specific employer’s needs. If you are using an older version with updates, or a new shiny one created by a resume service, and it does not speak specifically to the needs of a given employer, you are wasting your time.
  3. Master the art of storytelling for you job interview, from the telephone interview all the way to the face-to-face meeting with the decision maker. The best qualified candidates get the job less than 25 percent of the time. The winners are those who did the best job telling their story, communicating their value in a way that connects directly with the prospective employer’s needs.

Executives must pay special attention to the rules of a successful video interview if they hope to succeed since more and more of the search process is being shifted to video platforms.

Executives must pay special attention to the rules of a successful video interview if they hope to succeed since more and more of the search process is being shifted to video platforms. Most of the video interviews I conducted during my 25-year career as a search consultant were mediocre at best, including the one with an executive who had set up a makeshift home office in her laundry room while contractors remodeled her study. The clothesline in the background added a degree of color to our conversation I did not dare mention.

© 2020 John Gregory Self

27 March, 2020 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Coaching, Career Transition/Outplacement, Interviewing Skills, Video Interviewing
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WEEKEND READ: It’s Critical to Master the Rules for Video Job Interviews

Posted March 27th, 2020 | Author: John G. Self

“TV is the thing this year.  Radio is great but it is outta of date.  TV is the thing this year.”

A song written in 1953 by jazz musician Bill Sanford and orchestra leader Phil Medley who also co-wrote “Twist and Shout”


TV/Video is indeed the thing this year.  For job interviews.  

Job applicants who do not pay attention, who do not take this medium seriously, could limit their prospects.  Recruiters across the country, especially in this time of limited travel and social distancing, say they are relying more and more on this medium to conduct critical screening interviews.  

Poor Lighting Can Harm Your Chances

Executives who do not master the dos and don’ts of the video interview will hurt their chances of landing the job. Yet many do not seem to understand the importance of looking their best in the video screening interview.  Employers are interested in what you say, but they also very keen on how you look – how well you present.  Bad lighting, bad camera angles or poor sound can all add up to an unfortunate conclusion:  you don’t get it, you are not up to date with technology.

Not only is TV/Video playing an increasingly important function in recruiting, but organizations now see the power of video to enhance communications with their workforce and customers.  If you do not look good on video/TV, or if you look uncomfortable, this could, and probably will, hurt your chances. 

A few recruiters provide their applicants with a “Tip Sheet” to help them prepare for the video session.  Applicants would be well advised to follow those suggestions without fail.  However, most employers and recruiters do not provide this type of information so here are the key 5 takeaways from what we teach our clients for video interviews:

  • The camera must be at eye level.  Most executives now rely on a laptop.   While some of the newer laptops have cameras that are right above the keyboard (questionable design), most are at the top of the screen.  The vast majority of people set their computer on a desk and then tilt the screen to capture their face.  This is a cardinal sin.  First, this is the least flattering video angle imaginable. Moreover, recruiters do not want to see the water spots on your ceiling, watch your fan spin or look up your nose.  Think about it… 
Camera Must Be Even With Your Eyes

The fix:  Place your laptop on a stack of books.  Be sure it is stable and will not fall during the interview.  Sit up straight. If you are using an office chair, do NOT lean back or rock side to side or back and forth.  Sit forward in the chair.

  • Do Not Sit In Front of a Window or a Bright Lamp.  This will provide what is known as backlighting.  If the back light is bright enough, the recruiter will not be able to see your facial features.  
  • The Background Is Important.  This is the video equivalent of being self- aware.  Do not sit in front of open closet doors, make-shift clothes lines, or cluttered shelves or counters.  A plain background or in front of a nice piece of artwork is fine but you do not want any distractions.  In my 25 plus years of working with video interviews, I have seen some laugh-out-loud major faux pas.  

The Fix: Prepare in advance. Set up your computer in advance so that you can check the background and lighting.  If you are relying on a wireless connection, test that as well.  Recruiters will understand internet failures or power outages, but your failure to prepare in advance is a serious sin.

  • Arrange for appropriate lighting.   Bad lighting can you make you look terrible on camera. You want the lighting to highlight your face evenly.  You should avoid “hot spots” where you can actually see light beam on your face. Bright glares can produce negative results and impressions.  

The Fix:  Buy a couple of inexpensive desk lamps.  There are also lights made specifically for video conferencing.  They use bulbs that soften the glare.   One model also includes a holder for your cell phone in case that will be your “computer” for the interview.  It retails for less than $50.

  • Do Not Wait Until the Last Minute to Connect:  The law of unintended consequences applies. Put another way, stuff happens when you can least afford it.  Waiting until the last minute to discover that your camera is not working or that your computer’s audio settings are messed up, is a major no-no.  It speaks to your inability to pay attention to the details.  

The Fix:  Test your video and audio connection.  If you are using SKYPE, check to ensure that you have the latest version of the program on your computer.  Note:  SKYPE is now owned by Microsoft which has built a reputation around constantly updating software to correct programming flaws and security defects.  If your audio is not good, consider buying an inexpensive headset or use your cell phone ear buds.  

© 2020 John Gregory Self

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