John is an executive recruiter & speaker sharing his thoughts on healthcare, recruiting, digital technology, career management & leadership. 

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7 November, 2011 Posted by John G. Self
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Interview Strategy:  Answering the Questions Is Not Enough

Posted October 23rd, 2016 | Author: John G. Self

Quote of the Day:

“If your resume does not impress the recruiter, the cover letter is not going to save you.”

We all smile when a politician spins his or her answer to a question, or pivots and then offers an answer that is only vaguely linked to the question.

The latter is evasive, the former is an interview strategy designed to enhance their message. It is what they do. 

Job candidates would do well to take a page from the political messaging playbook and learn how to enhance their message in job interviews.

interview-shutterstock_401975209Being satisfied to just answer an interviewer’s question is not enough.  They are asking questions to get information they think is critical to making the right candidate selection.  Candidates who lack an interview strategy usually miss the opportunity to enhance their message or to emphasize their value.  They assume that the person who is conducting the interview will understand their value proposition based on a reading of their resume and what they say in their answers to the questions.  Now that is a huge leap of faith. 

By the time a candidate is selected for a face-to-face interview, either with the search firm consultant or the potential employer, they should have a good feel for what they are looking for in terms of academic preparation, years, types of experience and scope of responsibility.  The candidate should also have a sense of specific performance expectations.  This knowledge and practice of delivering responses specifically addressing those key issues should serve as a base-line in the interview preparation.  It is what you add to the mix that could very well determine whether you advance.  You must have a strategy regarding the messages/themes you want to reaffirm and define who you are.

For those executives who rarely, if ever, prepare for an interview beyond rereading the Position Prospectus or position summary, here is a cautionary observation: it usually shows.  You only have to look at the recent Presidential debates to see how preparation can seemingly alter the arc of public (or employer) opinion.  The job market has changed and in-depth preparation based on a strategy is not just critical, it is essential.

Candidates who take the time to work on responses to anticipated questions with answers that provide a bigger window into their competences, particularly those that the employer will value — incorporating quantifiable examples of previous accomplishments/successes — will pave the way for a much better chance of advancing.

Recruiters and employers love qualified and well prepared candidates.

Photo Credit:  Shutterstock

© 2016 John Gregory Self

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20 October, 2016 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Military career transition, Millennials, Recruiting
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Blind Squirrels and the Job Search Reality for Baby Boomers

Posted October 20th, 2016 | Author: John G. Self

Even a blind squirrel can find an acorn.

This is an old saying — an cliche originated in the United States that my mother frequently used as a gentle admonishment when she sensed  that my ego was beginning to cloud my judgment and perspective, that I was not as smart or clever as I thought I was.   Also known as a momism or dadism,  depending on which parent was doling out the advice, this saying means that even if people are misguided or ineffective, sometimes they can be correct  just be being lucky.

This cliche applies to our careers as well.

The whole construct for executive career management and actively looking for, or being recruited to, a new job has changed dramatically over the last 10 years, with significant senior-candidateshutterstock_249027661changes occurring during the last three years.  For some executives and managers who are in their mid to late 50s, these changes (the role that social media plays in the process and the not so subtle shift in what recruiters are looking for in an interview) the effort that it takes to remain market competitive are seen as just too much of a hassle.  They hunker down and try to persevere to age  65.  If they have been good little savers, some executives are retiring early.  For them, the hassle of finding a job is no longer worth what they may make. They are now applying their leadership skills on the golf course, with their grandchildren, or any number of volunteer activities.

But if you have not been as diligent in setting enough money aside for a rainy day or an early retirement, you cannot afford to ignore the new rules of the road.  Being a blind squirrel in search of an acorn is not a  career strategy that will consistently pay the bills.

Here are some concepts that I believe you should embrace if you want to extend your career and you find yourself back in the job market.

  1. Social media is here to stay. Most of the younger recruiters are Millennials.  They have not known a life without technology, Facebook, Twitter  and LinkedIn.  It does not matter if you are uncomfortable with the technology, or that you have a deep-seated aversion to LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat etc.  The people who are doing the actual searching and screening for candidates are relying more and more on those applications and other social media tools to identify candidates.   Learn the ropes or go home.
  1. The I’ve always done it this way zone of comfort mindset is akin to whistling past the graveyard on a moonless night.  In other words, people who brandish this excuse with gusto are just trying to be cheerful in what is, or will become, a dire situation.  They want to play in a 21st century job market with a 30-year-old set of career beliefs that are outdated. When you are interviewing with younger recruiters, this is the last place you want to be.  If you are lucky enough to find the acorn — another job — this mindset can also be the reason you do not stay around too long.  The way you search for a job has changed, but the way you execute the work that you do, is also changing.
  1. Personal Health and Fitness is critical. Even if you have taken care of mastering social media and you have managed to overcome your  outdated 30-year-old career comfort zone, you have another challenge:  taking care of yourself.  You have to be and look healthy or you will find yet another barricade that you must overcome.   I cannot tell you how many times I hear words like “energy”, “stamina”,  “passion” or “commitment” in candidate interview evaluations.  If an individual is not appropriately groomed, or if they are significantly overweight, the barriers just get higher.  Yes, there are laws against discrimination but the best defense is to work on being physically fit because being healthy typically means (to the employer) that you will have more energy. And suing a potential employer for employment discrimination is not going to endear yourself to the job search process. 
  1. If you are a Millennial, take note. Do not be smug like so many Baby Boomers who are now in a career no-man’s zone.  These are probably the same types of issues you will be forced to address as you approach the last quarter of your career.  The only way you can avoid this detour is to commit to continuous education and change, always embracing new technology, new workplace work structures, and staying fit.
  1. Lose the excuses and the dangerous ego mindset that somehow you are different and none of this applies.

It is time to breakout, change  if you want to extend your career.

Photo credit:  Shutterstock

© 2016 John Gregory Self

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19 October, 2016 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Military career transition
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Changing Jobs? Be Careful, Failure Could Be Lurking Right Around the Corner

Posted October 19th, 2016 | Author: John G. Self

When executives and managers change jobs, they frequently ignore important cultural and style markers. They trust their instincts and the formula that helped them succeed in the past.  But our research over the past 20 years shows that an executive’s reliance on their tried and true formula for achieving success will not work in every organization. In this podcast John offers executives taking a new job  some advice on how to adapt and avoid some nasty pitfalls. 


Listen here or subscribe and listen on iTunes.


© 2016 John Gregory Self

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