Monday, August 31, 2015

8 Things I Learned from my Beach Walks


  • It's interesting to look at the tracks in the sand, but, inevitably, you make your own
  • Low tide creates an opportunity to walk where you've never walked before.
  • The water is smooth as glass on some days, quite choppy on others, but it's always beautiful.
  • Sometimes you can see clear across to the other side. Sometimes you can't even see 100 yards from shore.
  • If  you don't stay present, you'll miss cool things like a turtle laying eggs.
  • Some people greet you, some don't. It's all good.
  • The consistent movement of water is what enables it to wear down rocks and sculpt the shoreline.
  • "I'm so sorry I took a walk on the beach this morning," said no one ever.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

How to Ace Your Interview

After sending out dozens of resumes, you know how important it is to ace the interview when you finally get a call. Here's a refresher on how to ace the interview:

Think of the interviewer as your advocate in convincing the company to hire you. Your goal is to get the interviewer excited about representing you.

·         Interviewers want candidates to be likable - warm and friendly, yet professional and not too informal. If the interviewer finds you likable, he/she can recommend you for a job confident that the next interviewer will like you, too.
·         Interviewers often begin an interview with: Tell me about yourself. This question is not about sharing personal/biographical information. They are looking for a summary of your qualifications and experience and anything else work-related you’d like to share. This is your opportunity to highlight the things about your professional self you absolutely want them to know.
·         Another common question is What is your greatest weakness? Stay away from answer like I‘m a perfectionist, or, I care too much. Tell about a genuine weakness that won’t adversely affect your ability to do the job, and that you are working on like: I tend to get nervous if I have to speak in front of large groups, so I’ve joined a local Toastmaster’s group to get support in this area.
·         Interviewers want candidates to be uniquely qualified. Think about the question: Of all the candidates applying for this position, why should a company hire you? What is it about your skills and experience that makes you stand out? Be prepared to communicate your qualifications, both personal and technical, in a succinct way.
·         Interviewers are interested in hearing about proven results: be prepared to discuss successful projects you’ve played a key part in.
·         Interviewers want to know how you respond under pressure: be prepared to discuss a time when impressive problem-solving skills, or exceptional people skills, helped you overcome a challenge on the job.
·         Interviewers want candidates to be flexible. Be prepared to discuss how you will contribute to the solution, rather than the problem, when unexpected obstacles present themselves.

Here are some additional tips that may seem to be no-brainers, but bear a mention:
·         Be punctual. (Read to the end of this one.)Being late is considered disrespectful of the interviewer’s time. However, if the interviewer is late, do not show any impatience. Chances are he/she has a full slate of meetings for the day, and may be running a bit late.
·         Be sure your cell phone is on silent. Vibrate is a sound.
·         Be prepared to ask relevant questions. Not doing so can make you appear to be unprepared or disinterested.
·         Send a thank you email within 24 hours. Make sure you get the correct email address and spelling of the interviewer’s name. A simple way is to ask for the interviewer’s business card if he/she hasn’t given you one.
·         Be sure you are clear about next steps before you leave.

·         Your interview begins the second you walk into the building, so carry yourself with a friendly kind of confidence.  You never know if the people you meet in the security area, reception area, or the elevator, are people who will be influential in landing the job. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How to, Finally, Stop Self-sabotage


I have a friend who is bright, funny, kind, independent, hard-working, attractive.  She is also over-weight and that really bothers her. She says it causes negative self-talk, mean thoughts about others, and self-loathing. Over the years she has tried many, many different diet and exercise programs – and succeeded - for a time. Just when she’s thrilled with the way she looks and feels, she stops working out, starts overeating, and the cycle begins all over again.

I was concerned about my friend’s struggle, so I did some research about self-sabotage. Here’s what I learned:

People fail when they set long-term goals because, deep inside, they know reaching the goal is not going to make them happy. There is something else going on: the REAL problem.

Some people hate their jobs, some are lonely, some have deep, unresolved issues from the past. They think losing weight, getting that degree, completing that marathon, or buying that house will make them happy. They set goals, make an action plan, and go full steam ahead. At some point, the realization comes, often sub-consciously: reaching this goal is not going to make me happy. After remaining unhappy for a time, they set another goal and the cycle begins again.

The key is to identify the REAL problem. If I train hard for the marathon, but the real problem is I feel stuck in a job I hate because I need to support the family, training is just a temporary distraction. If I feel stuck in a loveless marriage, buying a new house won’t help. If I reach that goal weight, but am desperately lonely, I’ll soon find a way to fill the emptiness again.

Identifying the real problem requires, well, getting real with yourself. It requires shutting off devices, investing in some quiet time, and listening to the sound of your inner voice. Martha Beck suggests making a list of all the activities you do on a given day and asking yourself:

·         In a perfect world, would I do this at all?
·         What can I change to make it more enjoyable?
·         What would I rather do?

Having an honest conversation with a trusted mentor, coach, or mental health professional can be helpful.

An exercise I do with my own clients is creating a vision. I ask them not to hold back. Create a vision of the life you'd most like to live. Put everything on the table including the perfect job, partner, home, leisure, health/fitness level, etc. Very often, in doing this exercise, the real problem, is revealed. Rarely is there an easy fix, but at least we now know what we’re dealing with. We pull back and see what we can tweak in their current lives to create, baby-step by baby-step, something closer to their heart’s desire.


If you get real with yourself, keep making small adjustments, and working your way toward a life that is more enjoyable and in keeping with your deepest desires, you can finally put an end to self-sabotage.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Five Tips on Negotiating Salary

You've got this. You're well prepared for the interview. You researched the company. You have an idea about what questions they might ask and have practiced your answers. You have a list of powerful questions to ask when it's your turn. You're fairly certain an offer will be made. When you think about negotiating salary, however, your stomach still gets queasy. You don't want to be greedy, but you also don't want to leave any money on the table. Here are five tips on how to ace the negotiations:



·         Never bring up salary at the first interview - You need to know more about the scope of the job and if it’s a good fit for you. The hiring manager needs to figure out if your education, experience, skill set, and future value matches the company’s needs. Until that is determined there is no point in discussing compensation.

·         However, if the hiring manager mentions salary, you need to be prepared – Do your homework. Find out how much the company typically pays for this role. Sites like Salary.com, PayScale.com, and CareerJournal.com can help you determine fair market value for the position. Have a $10,000 range in mind. (For jobs paying $50,000 or less, a $5,000 range is sufficient.)

·         What if they ask about salary history? – What you made at your previous job may not be relevant. Your experience, accomplishments, and what peers in similar roles are currently making is. If asked to disclose your salary history, simply say, “I’ve researched the fair market value for this job, and, at the appropriate time, I’m confident that we’ll be able to come to an agreement.”

·         Don’t accept the first offer – If the offer is made just at or below market value, don’t say anything more than Hmmm. Then wait a good thirty seconds. That will give both you and the hiring manager time to think. It’s extremely unlikely they’ll withdraw the offer if you ask for more money.  They may, however, state there’s no room for negotiation and you just need to decide yes or no. If it’s within fair market value, you can still choose to accept.


·         What about money for relocating? – If the company you are going to work for does not have a policy for providing money for relocation, or, if the location of the company is technically within commuting distance, but you just want to live closer to reduce time spent commuting, try to negotiate a sign-on bonus to cover the costs of relocating. Be sure to tell them your goal is to spend more time/energy working, and less time/energy commuting.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Five Tips for Landing the Job Even if You Aren’t a Perfect Fit


Once you get clear about what kind of job would be in alignment with your passions and abilities, don’t be afraid to apply for jobs that aren’t a perfect match for your education and skill set. Identify a list of ten companies you’d like to work for. Research them thoroughly. Then use these tips to attract the right kind of attention:

It’s tough to stand out using just a resume. Use your LinkedIn profile to express who you really are and what you’re looking for. Here are some examples:

·         Retail manager with passion for luxury goods seeking an entry level position in advertising
·         Operations manager with a passion for engineering looking for an opportunity in the fields of energy or defense
·         Financial adviser with a passion for environmental protection looking for a position in sustainable investing

Use a skills-based resume

·         Create a powerful profile statement of no more than two lines describing the experience, skills, and proven achievements that make you a great candidate.
·         Follow that with a bullet list of  your transferable skills
·         Include interesting jobs/experiences you’ve had on the resume. Recently, a graduate with a finance degree landed a job as a rep with a major financial services company. He beat his competitors, many with higher GPA's from more prestigious schools, because the hiring manager was impressed after discussing his experience as a waiter: it spoke to his ability to produce a great customer experience, essential for this entry level role.

Write a one-page job proposal

·         Your proposal should demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the company, what you have to offer, and why you’d be a great hire.
·         Identify a current challenge the company is facing and discuss how you would use your passion, skill, and experience to address the issue.
·         Give examples of past accomplishments that prove you can deliver results.

Create a web-page that showcases special projects or displays portfolio items, or create a high-quality video resume. (Note: If you are camera-shy, or if you don’t have the resources to create a high-quality video, it’s best to skip this option).


Offer to take the job on a temp-to-permanent hire basis

Thursday, January 29, 2015

LinkedIn Matters


In case you’re still procrastinating about creating (or completing) your LinkedIn profile:

According to a recent Forbes article, being in an open network (composed of people who don’t all know one another) instead of a closed network (composed of people who all know each other) is the single best predictor of career success. No wonder LinkedIn has 332 million users in 200 countries and territories (as of Nov. 2014).

Whether you are a candidate for a new job, or perfectly happy in your current job, LinkedIn matters. According to a recent blog post by Craig Smith, 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet candidates. Recruiters also use LinkedIn to find passive candidates, candidates who are currently employed, to fill positions. In addition to recruiters and hiring managers, others who are considering doing business with you are sure to take a look at your LinkedIn profile. Lastly, as of January 2014, hiring managers recommended putting a link to your LinkedIn profile, instead of the passé references will be furnished upon request, on your resume.

Think of LinkedIn as your own web page. It’s where you get to display information about who you are and what you do as a professional so that you can grow your network. Why? Because most employment these days is “at will” meaning an employer can let you go at any time for any reason.* Also, depending on which study you look at, somewhere between 80 – 97% of jobs are landed via networking, not via job postings. Be prepared.

Some tips on how to create an attractive profile:
  • ·         Make sure your profile is complete. An incomplete profile sends a message that you don’t care. Potential employers and valuable network connections will pass you up for others with a more powerful online presence.
  • ·         Make sure you have a professional photo. According to Smith’s blog post, profiles with a photo are 11X more likely to be viewed as those without a photo. The best photos are taken by a professional photographer. They are head shots of smiling, well-dressed, warm and sincere-looking people with whom one would like to have a conversation.
  • ·         Make sure your profile summary is succinct. Potential employers and connections will probably only look at your profile for a few seconds before deciding to read more or move on. Craft your summary for maximum impact.
  • ·         Make sure you have some recommendations. Endorsements and recommendations are not the same thing. Anyone can give you an endorsement with one click. Recommendations are written by your connections in order to endorse your work. They should be brief and mention specific results.
  • ·         Don’t list more than 15 years of employment history. Unless you’re a recent graduate, it’s a mistake to go all the way back to your first job out of college. Stick to the most recent, most relevant positions.

In today’s competitive job market, LinkedIn matters.


*This varies by state and does not apply for most union workers.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Planning to Grow Your Small Business in 2015?

Mission matters: What’s your why?  Employees need to know why your company does what it does in order to engage effectively. Do you have a mission statement and do your employees know what it is? The mission should be prominently posted, (multi-lingual, if necessary), simply stated, and easy to memorize, like this one from Starbucks: 

To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
People need to feel connected to the bigger picture of why they come to work each day. They need to feel like their individual contribution matters. 

Technology matters: Don’t take things for granted. What's been working for years may not work anymore.Technology is a game-changer. If you don’t progress, you are regressing. If another company can do it better and faster for less, you will be out of business. Make sure you have the most current system you can afford.

Productivity matters: Most companies hire too quickly and fire too slowly. Which employees would you hire again today knowing what you know now? Mediocre employees make everyone else’s job more difficult and, as a result, may actually drive your top producers away. Your best employees will actually be relieved when ineffective employees are let go, and those on the borderline will take notice.


Networking matters: Networking is not like speed-dating. It's about carefully building solid relationships. Identify a half-dozen relationships you need to nurture in 2015 in order to grow your business.  The conversation should begin with what you can do for them. It can be as simple as making an introduction for them. If you take action to help someone grow their business, most likely, they will return the favor.