Interviewing by Storytelling

How can you be comfortable in an interview and show the best picture of you?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

I struggle when interviewing as I am not comfortable in this setting. How can I be more effective in my responses?

GD
Short Hills

 

Interviewing can be stressful if you are not prepared. Although you cannot prepare for every question or situation encountered, practice can reduce the anxiety you may feel going into an interview setting.

A certain amount of stress or anxiety can serve to elevate your performance during the interview. If the stress or anxiety is too much, then it can have a negative impact on your presentation.

The key during an interview is to shift ever so gently the interview from a question grilling situation into a conversation. You can achieve this by answering the questions concisely and asking clarifying questions as you close your response. For example, for the “tell me about yourself” you can say “based on my understanding of the position, I have the knowledge to help the company leverage itself in this new market with experience in…” Then close your answer with “please share with me what some of the initial projects you see this role taking on.” Closing in this manner will allow you to gain insight for the questions that follow and you are gently shifting the interview into a conversation style.

The key is to know the job, the company and potential issues the company is facing—compliance, regulatory, globalization, environmental and social concerns prior to your interview meeting. If you can gain intelligence on the individuals you will be meeting with is very important as well. Ask about their process, next steps and when you can connect with them to follow up.

Learn yoga breathing so you can calm yourself prior to interviewing. Clear your mind and focus to get the conversation flowing. Wrap your answers in stories after you provide a concise technical answer by saying, “May I elaborate by sharing a work situation?” It allows the interviewer to respond and then you are able to engage in a story. Keep the story brief, emphasizing the point you want to make and do not go off on a tangent. It’s a powerful way of sharing your strengths while weaving a story.

Remember it is your responsibility to tell an accurate story about yourself, stressing your strengths and abilities. If you are scheduled for an interview, then you have passed the initial match or competency screen. Now it is up to you to show your personality. People like to hire individuals that they like and get along with, so chemistry is important. Watch for work style, approach and engage so you can begin to build a relationship. Typically the hiring manager selects the candidate they believe will perform well and that feels comfortable within the company culture and department’s style.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice.  

How Do I Stop Self Doubting?

How to gain more confidence on the job.

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

I have been working for 6 months as a RN (Registered Nurse). I am always asking questions when I am not sure how to do something. Why do so many more experienced RNs doubt me by telling me how to do something even if I know how to perform the procedure? What should I do?

Thanks,
L.G., Millburn

 

You are in a field that has potentially life-threatening consequences if done wrong. The fact that you are aware enough to ask when unsure is a good thing. The biggest challenge for many new hires is knowing when to proceed and when to ask for help. In nursing school, there was probably a lot of instructional guidance given. It sounds like you are taking your work very seriously.

By asking repeatedly about a procedure, you may be undermining the staff’s confidence in you. Are you truly unsure or just not feeling confident enough to proceed? If you have done a procedure before successfully, ask yourself, “do I need to review the protocol?” If you are unsure, you may want to ask an experienced colleague to stand by if possible, while you perform the procedure. It will demonstrate your abilities and confirm your knowledge. If you are unable to complete the procedure, your experienced colleague will be there for assistance.

Respect your colleague’s time. When working in a team, understand that your co-workers have other responsibilities they are juggling. If you are asking for help, figure out how to return the favor by helping them in an area you are strong in.

Another option may be to create a study group with other RNs to practice procedures, review protocols and share best practices. Consider asking some of the more experienced RNs to honor this group by offering their expertise and mentoring. You may consider creating a social club for RNs, such as a book or movie discussion group that can meet in person or over a social media site. You may consider joining some professional associations for gaining additional knowledge and best practices.

Connecting with colleagues is important when building trust within relationships. Creating genuine caring relationships with your team members while balancing the workload is important. Self-awareness of one’s behavior is the key. The faster you can build the emotional intelligence through raising their self-awareness, the faster your team will integrate and the happier they will be to work together. A team consists of multiple styles and various experience levels. Respect for one another, understanding each other’s strengths and how to support one another is very important. New talent is important and necessary and the blend of wisdom gained from experience with new creative ideas usually yields the best and brightest options.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice. 

How Do I Reinvent Myself?

What’s the best way to change your work life to fit with your current personal life?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

I am trying to reinvent myself so that I don’t have to work the long hours and can spend more time with my family. My question is about how to really go about doing this—what are my options? What fields could I transition into? I really feel that I am having a mid-life crisis and could use direction but I am not so sure where to turn or which way to go. And I am sure that I am not alone in this and that there are many women returning to the work force with similar concerns to mine.

Thanks, J.T. Millburn

 

Take time to reflect on your education, your work and life experience. How do these blend with your current interests? The key here is to leverage your past experiences with your future interests and passions. Evaluate your skills and abilities and think about what you do best. What do you enjoy doing? What do others tell you that you do well? This will give you a sense of your strengths to build on as you identify new possibilities.

Identify contacts within your network who can help introduce you to others in your target area of interest. Begin by networking within the industry you have identified.
Consider the following:

  • Attend seminars, webinars, and other related events to build up your knowledge of the industry “speak.” It will help you when speaking with hiring managers.
  • Network at related professional association meetings.
  • Join LinkedIn Groups and read the discussions to better understand what current trends, interests and priorities are in the new targeted industry.
  • Volunteer to learn new skills and expand your network.
  • Return to work through a staffing agency on a temporary basis. This will allow you to try a new work environment so you can determine the fit. As a company gets to know you, the better your chances are of negotiating a creative alternative work arrangement.

All of these options allow you to develop new relationships, learn and update your skills. To further evaluate your skills, you may consider working with a certified career coach to complete a formal skills assessment and help guide you in new career directions specific to your strengths.

A study about work-family issues conducted by the Pew Research Center and reported by Reuters, indicated “most people thought women should work, with 75 percent rejecting the idea that a woman’s place is in the home. Although women account for nearly half of the U.S. workforce, many feel conflicted about the competing roles at work and at home, feeling guilt about how they are balancing work and children. But despite these pressures and conflicts, working moms, overall, are as likely as at-home moms and working dads to say they’re happy with their lives,” the researchers said in a statement. They found “36 percent of working mothers were very happy with their lives—the same as at-home mothers.”

Success is individually defined based on your own value system and needs. Most working moms juggle their priorities and are constantly rebalancing to make it work!

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice. 

Networking is a skill that needs to mastered, but always tactfully

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in The Star Ledger Guest Column “Hire Me” (www.nj.com)

 

As you know, I believe networking is a year-round activity. We are always networking — formally or informally — and I often reference two types of networks, the “cultivated” and the “fly by” network contact.

When you think of an insect that flies around your head or buzzes in your ear, it is annoying. This flying insect is one that you tend to swat away. When you encounter an individual who is not respectful of your personal space or in your face too soon, then this individual is more annoying than valuable. This networker for the receiver is a “fly by” contact that is not typically maintained.

On the other hand, the cultivated networker understands that relationships take time to develop. They will engage someone and continue to bring a value proposition to the table.

There is typically a value exchange between the networker and the receiver. There is a solid reason to come back together and reconnect over and over again.

Why bother networking? In this tight job market, your reputation will precede you if you have worked in an industry or field for some time. So think about your reputation — who are you, what consistencies does your story have, how do people perceive you based on your history of interactions with them?
[Read more…]

How Do I Network?

The advice is to network to get a new job, but how do you do that?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

Everyone says I need to network to find a job. As a recent graduate, I am applying to multiple jobs online and not getting responses. How do I network?

MP
Short Hills

 

Job hunting takes persistence and resilience. In the past, job hunting consisted of submitting resumes along with a cover letter either by mail, fax, email or online. Some job seekers like to post their resumes on selected job search sites for employers to view.

In the last few years, many job seekers are using social media tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and job sites where the site is doing the preliminary matching for you. Many of these matching sites request a membership fee. Since there are so many free job site resources available, I am not a proponent of online job sites that require payment for memberships.

The Warren Township Library and I conduct quarterly workshops (for free) on the tools available through your public library and how to work with these tools to develop your job search strategy.

One approach is to set up job alerts by selecting key words that solicit job matches from numerous job boards. Selecting the job sites you want to search will take a bit of research once you refine what you are looking for. Once you determine certain areas of interests, then determine the best key words to target your job search criteria. Determining the key words may take a few trails but is worth the time to get it to your liking.

Ryan Derousseau of Mediabistro explains in “Can You Reach the Right People While Schmoozing on LinkedIn?,” “online schmoozing has become the norm… but are you really reaching the people that will help your career while networking online?… The answer is yes. Hubspot confirms that 28 percent of LinkedIn users are senior executives… and of all the users, 67 percent are between the ages of 25 and 54… 80 percent of recruiters say they use the site to find applicants.”

So, how does one network in today’s market? In person, through social and professional meetings, through meetup.com, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. However, your ability to generate conversation is essential to turn your online relationship into a cultivated longer term relationship that will last beyond this job search period.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice. 

Getting Noticed

How to differentiate yourself from the other candidates who submit their resume.

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

How do you get your resume noticed? I have sent out many resumes after graduating from school last May and have not gotten many interviews yet.

S.S.
Short Hills

 

This is a great follow up question to last week’s column on Getting Your Resume through the Door. Although technology has played a significant role in changing how applicants are selected, the key to getting noticed is to networking your way into an organization.

Applying for a position online is not enough. You need to determine if you know anyone at the company or if someone you know knows someone in the organization. With all of the online tools, the ability to search for connections is at our fingertips.

The key is how you introduce yourself to a new connection and then how you develop this network connection. There is protocol to requesting a connection pass on LinkedIn. You write a note to your direct connection asking them to connect you to their connection. The in-mail should clearly explain the value of connecting you with their contact. When you do this, you want to think about how to engage this once removed connection further to cultivate a new relationship. You also want to keep your initial direct connection informed of your activity on this matter.

Think of social media as one conduit to connecting but the real connection comes in the relationship that is established over time. Think of your personal relationships. You speak with your friends and family often. You will need to engage with your business contacts that have common interests or where you can complement each other on a steady basis. It helps to build the relationship and create a value proposition between you.

There will be times when you are asking and there should be times when you are giving. It will not always be an even exchange depending on what projects and learning stages you and your contact are in. Asking your connections their opinion is great way to obtain some guidance and also provide them with an unspoken message that you value their thoughts.

Getting your resume introduced to the company’s recruiter or hiring manager is incredibly helpful to getting noticed. Let others in your network know what you are looking for and know what they are seeking. If they are working, offer to help them with some research possibly for a project they are working on. This will build your knowledge and you will be adding value to your connection. Get noticed by engaging others in building relationships over time.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice.