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Tom Denham: April 2012 Archives

If you really want to find a job, then double your networking efforts. It's the best job search technique. Networking is an art and science that anyone can learn. To be successful in your search, I strongly suggest a strategy that maximizes your networking efforts. Here are 50 pitfalls to avoid when you are either at a networking event or having individual networking meetings. I have highlighted my pet peeves.

1. Being unprepared or unfocused with your networking objectives
2. Overlooking possible networking connections
3. Overextending with too many targets
4. Being reactive or passive instead of proactive
5. Lacking a name tag
6. Sitting down too early during a networking function or sitting next to people you already know
7. Failing to approach people you don't know at an event
8. Appearing nervous when approaching a potential contact
9. Sending a negative non-verbal message (i.e., arms crossed, poor posture, dressing unprofessionally, wandering eyes, etc.)
10. Giving a weak sound bite or elevator pitch
11. Requesting help with too many things too quickly or strongly
12. Asking for a business card too early
13. Forgetting your business cards!!!
14. Dominating the conversation by talking, talking, talking
15. Listening selectively and then turning the conversation back to you
16. Sharing your life story
17. Asking questions about areas that seem confidential or controversial
18. Monopolizing other people's time
19. Coming across as shallow
20. Latching onto others or clinging to people you already know
21. Acting desperate
22. Asking too many or too few questions
23. Exaggerating or misrepresenting yourself
24. Thinking networking is only about you
25. Failing to find common denominators with others
26. Coming across as inarticulate
27. Selling instead of being a resource to others
28. Being pushy, argumentative, unfriendly or negative
29. Looking distracted or not fully present
30. Taking, taking, taking
31. Coming across as incompetent or disorganized
32. Showing disinterest
33. Looking like you don't know your stuff
34. Bragging
35. Interrupting
36. Being impulsive
37. Neglecting to reciprocate
38. Failing to deliver on what you promise
39. Forgetting to request a business card!!!
40. Focusing on quantity, not quality
41. Over-circulating and trying to talk to everyone
42. Lacking follow-up in a timely manner
43. Expecting immediate payoffs or instant answers
44. Lacking patience in building relationships
45. Forgetting to add new connections to LinkedIn
46. Keeping your network referrers in the dark about your progress
47. Neglecting to nurture your network
48. Turning networking into an afterthought instead of a core priority
49. Failing to reassessing the effectiveness of your networking strategy
50. Giving up!!!

Copyright 2012, Dr. Thomas J. Denham, Careers In Transition LLC - Published, Friday, April 13, 2012

The interview is the final stage before a job offer is made, so you must give an absolute command performance. Success means getting a perfect A+. Anything less and you come in second place. There is often a question behind the question, so answer their underlining concern. Here is my tough questions list. Study them carefully and develop your own tailored responses using examples.

1. Tell me about yourself. - This is the most common first question and it is open-ended which forces you to make a concise well organized and compelling argument about your candidacy. I suggest giving an overview of your education, experience and accomplishments and how it is a fit for this position and the company. Avoid too much personal information. It is your job to spark further interest in you. You'll need to prove early on that you have what the employer needs.

2. Why do you want to work here?
- First, research the organization's products, services, mission and any important details. Be sure you send the message that you are looking for a specific job there, not just any job. A sample answer could be, "I love and use your products. The management understands where the company should go, and I want to be a part of its success."

3. What interests you most about this position?
- Be truthful and prove your enthusiasm and interest in them. Talk about the fascinating details of the job and why they excite you. You might say, "There are three things that appeal to me the most about this opportunity: 1) the challenge, 2) the direction of the organization, and 3) the room to grow. Let me explain further..."

4. Why do you want to change jobs? - It is unprofessional to bad mouth a former employer or supervisor. Stay positive and say, "I've really learned a lot at XYZ, but the company is losing ground to its competitors, and I'm excited that this job will help me grow."

5. Why have you changed jobs so frequently? - Be honest, but brief, focusing on the positive. A sample response might be, "I regret leaving my last position because it was a good company, but my performance was not the issue. I had a personal and family matter that needed my full attention. This has been resolved. I also learned that it was not the direction I wanted to go in."

6. Why are there gaps on your resume? - Be prepared to explain what you were doing and any skills you developed during that time. Focus on the positive and what you accomplished. Perhaps you might say, "I used the time very constructively to gain additional skills and experience. I also reevaluated my goals and came to this conclusion..."

7. What is your greatest strength?
- Your strength should directly relate to what is required to perform the job successfully. You might say, "I am highly organized. For example, I create a To Do List of the top task that I need to accomplish that day, then I stay focused and determined to get them checked off. This approach has helped me to incrementally reach my goals."

8. What is your greatest weakness?
- First, be honest and then give specific examples on how you are working to improve them. Avoid something that would be a serious liability. Don't state, "I'm a perfectionist." It's too predictable. One idea is to say, "I have a tendency to say 'yes' to additional responsibility and then get overcommitted." Give an example of how you are working on prioritizing and setting limits. Draw the attention away from the weakness and refocus the interview on your strengths and skills.

9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? - Your goals should reflect what the company has to offer. Do you have a clear direction of where you are going professionally or will you attempt to "find yourself" on their time? Will you job hop after they have invested in you? You could say, "I've done a lot of self-assessment, and what I have learned is that I want to make a commitment to this field and I want to build it here. I am very interested in gaining knowledge and experience to become a subject matter expert."

10. What is an example of a time you failed? - State the experience, your role and then the result. Finally, explain what you learned from the experience. One answer might be, "I did not do enough research on my last employer before they hired me. I learned that it was not a good fit. I have not repeated my mistake, and I have a great deal of knowledge about this new opportunity."

11. What salary are you expecting? - Remember: the person who states the salary first is the loser. The number that is thrown out first is most always negotiated downward. The employer already has a salary range in mind, ask them to give the range then say, "I am within that range, and we can discuss it further when an offer is made." You can also say, "I have no set salary. What salary is usually offered to someone with my qualifications?"

12. Why should we hire you? - Keep your answer direct, convincing and to the point. Go back to your resume and reiterate the top three to five things that make you outstanding. These skills, education, experience and personality traits should be matched to the top needs of the job and organization. You need to show that you have a track record and are results oriented.

13. Do you have any questions?
- Demonstrate that you are prepared with three to five questions that are relevant. One answer might be, "Yes, thank you. I do have a few questions. First, your website states that you have a new CEO. What are his/her priorities?"

Copyright 2012, Dr. Thomas J. Denham, Careers In Transition LLC - Posted Friday, April 6, 2012


Dr. Thomas J. Denham

Dr. Tom Denham is the founder of Careers In Transition LLC, a private practice which focuses on career counseling for individuals and consulting services for institutional clients. Dr. Tom has over twenty years of career services experience at Siena and Union Colleges as well as Harvard, St. Lawrence and Boston Universities.

Dr. Tom founded Northeast Public Radio's award winning talk show, The Career Forum and speaks extensively on career management issues. He earned his bachelors from St. Lawrence University, his masters from Boston University and his doctorate from Nova Southeastern University.

He has climbed over 180 mountains including the Adirondack 46, Oregon's Mt. Hood and The Grand Teton. In 2009, he survived a huge crevasse fall on Mt. Rainier by ice climbing his way out. Tom lives where he grew up in Albany where he would rather be ice and rock climbing and raising his 11 year old daughter, Rachel.

Dr. Tom Denham has been a professional career counselor for over 20 years. He helps people explore their options with career testing, make job changes and write resumes and prepare for interviews.

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