Students and clients come in and out of my office with the common agenda: the intent to talk about career transition. These transition goals can take many shapes, such as moving from a generalist role to an analyst role, moving from a specialist to a manager, and often segueing out of one function and into another (think finance to marketing).
Regardless of the type of change they are looking to make, my advice is always the same: Get Your Story Straight.
When you are seeking to drastically alter your job responsibilities and are hoping someone will have enough faith in you to know that you can successfully make that leap (on their dime) you better have a compelling story.
Your pitch should outline three major points:
Why you want to make the change.
I often liken a great positioning statement to a funnel. This is your story, but not your story as told to a new acquaintance at an office party. It is your story extremely focused on how it relates to the position you are seeking. Every sentence you share should have a purpose in that it moves you towards the end goal of X position or Y company. Irrelevant information (undergrad major if completely different than goal, a timeline of every job you have had and all major responsibilities, where you lived for a brief stint) have no place in this statement. Instead share bits of information that help the listener understand more about why you want this role and why that is interesting. For example:
Having grown up in rural Minnesota, the farming industry was a key economic force in my town and I have had a keen interest in this area since I drove my first tractor on my uncle’s farm. After graduating with my MBA I plan to take this interest and passion to the grain industry in a finance role where I can utilize my previous analyst experience in a strategy role to impact the growth of an industry so rooted in small town America.
Proven success in core competencies of this new role
Pepper your positioning statement with ke
y achievements that showcase the skills necessary for success in the desired role. Instead of saying you want a role in consumer insights because you are data driven, prove it by stating “I quickly learned my knack for analysis after spearheading a project where we analyzed seasonal purchasing data to better understand consumer trends when planning our customer incentive programs for the winter holidays.”
Conversation points to show you have researched the company:
The theme of your story should consistently display your knowledge and understanding of your desired company, industry, or function. A former financial analyst who is looking for a business development role at an interactive marketing company should make sure the story shared includes a passion for the impacts social media is making on business, an interest in marketing analytics and an appreciation for a start-up culture.
Networking and interviewing is all about relationship building and successful story sharing. When in a job function transition it is imperative that you have a story that weaves together past experience and education in a way that explains why you are looking for a different role and more importantly why you are qualified for this new opportunity. Finally, don't be afraid to own your story. I have found that those that can successfully combine honesty and relavancy often are the most likely to land the best positions for their skill sets and in the long run are the most satisfied employees.
About the author: Maggie Tomas works at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota as Associate Director and Career Coach in the Graduate Business Career Services office. Her background includes teaching and career counseling at the college level, namely at the University of St. Thomas, University of California Santa Barbara, and Brooks Institute, where she served as Director of Career and Student Services. She is a contributing writer to several blogs and publications including Opus Magnum, Women of HR, and Job Dig.
I always used to struggle with awful nerves particularly before and during interviews and it meant I was missing out on many opportunities. I had to train myself to control these nerves to stop them from taking over. This took a while to do but here are a few of the things that I learned along the way.
Preparation is one of the best things for reducing nerves before and during an interview. Ensuring that I was fully prepared for questions and scenarios that may arise helped in a massive way. There are a few key things that I think are the most important things to prepare for:
- Researching the company, the job and the market – there is no point in applying for a job that you know nothing or very little about and turning up to the interview with a small amount of information. Visiting the company website, reading any relevant publications and generally keeping a look and listen out for things that can help you is the best start. Turning up unprepared will just make your nerves worse.
- Finding what format the interview will be in can help you to prepare for that type of questioning. I once turned up to an interview and was required to do a presentation that I was not at all prepared for. Needless to say my nerves got the better of me and I didn’t do well at all.
- Find out what you will need to bring to the interview. Often a portfolio of previous work will be required. Turning up without this could make nerves worse and generally looks bad on you.
- Double checking the time and date to ensure you have them right is highly important, it’s difficult for anyone to keep calm when they’ve got the time wrong. Calling the day befo
re to confirm the interview can ensure no-one’s time is wasted. Allow yourself plenty of time to arrive at the interview early and you can make a good first impression. Running late for an interview always caused me even more stress and made me more nervous than usual.
Panicking on the morning of your interview about what to wear does nothing to help nerves. Pick an appropriate outfit in advance of the interview. Try it on, ensure it is comfortable and fits well. Clothing should be smart, it is always better to be over dressed than under dressed in an interview situation. Ensure tops are not too low, skirts are not too short and clothing is not too tight, otherwise you run the risk of being dressed inappropriately.
Think about what the worst that can happen would be. The probability of that happening is likely to be low and even if something does happen no-one is perfect and the interviewer is human. Compose yourself and continue. If you don’t get the job you can learn from what happened and avoid it the next time.
If your nerves are really difficult and these techniques do not help then it may be worth visiting your health care provider who could suggest an appropriate course of action.
Most important of all relax and be yourself! Do you have any tips for keeping calm for interviews?
Photo credit: iStockphoto
Good morning and welcome to “Inside the Actor's Studio.” I'm your host, James Lipton… nah, not really. I couldn't help myself though.
I am honored though to be heading up the latest Women of HR Series wherein I get to interview some amazing women that we
think know you want to get to know better.
I've always felt that one of the true value of this site was the ability to learn from our awesome contributors and the rest of our amazing community. I hope you all feel the same.
First up, please meet Lexy Martin, Vice President, Research and Analytics for CedarCrestone. Lexy is responsible for CedarCrestone’s annual HR Systems Survey, now in its 15th year. She also provides strategy, business case, metrics and analytics services and deep dive benchmarking in all industries.Working with many of the leading HCM vendors, Lexi has helped develop their value propositions and conducted numerous surveys of their customer bases. Few researchers in HR technology can match the experience that Lexy has accumulated during her career in introducing emerging technologies.
Ok, what do you really do? I’m a wife, step-mother of two grown kids, natural grandmother, gardener, golfer, quilter, reader, lover of all things beautiful and peaceful.
So what does CedarCrestone do? CedarCrestone, headquartered in Alpharetta, GA, is an organization of 800 people focused on implementation, hosting, and management consulting around “enterprise systems.”
How did you get started? I’ve had three careers. I started as a systems developer in lots of areas including payroll, medical records, and financial systems. Using that experience, I got into consulting at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) and then tried my hand in a start-up developing some of the early employee/manager self service solutions. Picking the wrong partner (who eventually saw that self service was the wave of the future), it rolled on us and I returned to research and consulting with The Hunter Group – which has morphed into CedarCrestone. Truly, research and consulting is what I love and do best and this is what I’ve done for the past 15+ years.
So Lexy, please finish the following thoughts for me:
My best advice is … for anyone in IT or anyone in HR to partner with your counterparts. Too many HR people view IT as their nemesis when partnering might be best for them or their organization. Too many don’t partner with the business around HR technologies. I happen to think that IT people, as geeky as they are, are really great people. If HR just reached out, everyone could work for the good of the organization and themselves. And same goes for IT people – love your HR partners!
I challenge …
anyone in HR or IT to pick a technology because they like the company without doing due diligence against your business needs. Vendors are not, or should not be, cults to follow.
I encourage … Years ago, I met Claire Gianini Hoffman, the daughter of A.P. Gianini, the founder of the Bank of America. She had a luncheon for a bunch of us that were bank officers. As a programmer back in 1967, I was considered an officer of the bank. She asked each of us what we did and when I said, “I work with computers,” she said (remember this was in 1967), “I know computers are the wave of the future, but I prefer to work with people.” It changed my view of technology to the point that I emphatically understand and encourage all to remember that technology must serve people not just be implemented because it’s a cool technology.
Not every program … to introduce new technologies will succeed without change management. And deep change management that addresses the WIIFM – the what’s in it for me – of everyone to be impacted by the new technology. Change management is not just about training – technology has become too easy to use for training. It’s about helping everyone impacted to understand why the technology matters and what it’s value is to them and to the organization. It’s about communication and collaboration. I view technology as just a catalyst for change – change for the better.
People like … to have their input reflected in just about anything an organization does. So, seek out representatives from throughout the organization to get their feedback when you get ready to make a change.
One of the best resources … that I’m personally proud of is the annual CedarCrestone HR Systems Survey white paper available for free. If you are getting ready to implement any new HR technology, please take a look. The HCM Application Blueprint is something that lots of organizations use to guide their HR technology road map.
I lose it … when someone responds to a question of mine with, “I have no idea.” Sheesh. I ask you a serious question that I think you have the capacity to answer and you respond that way. Think better of yourself. If there is a thought you wished I would have included, let me know.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Women of HR? If you work in an organization of 300+ employees, please respond to the 15th annual HR Systems Survey available here.
Lexy, thank you so much for your time!
During a recent business trip, I passed five states and multiple cities between New York City and Washington, D.C. within a matter of 4 hours on Amtrak.
As my company breaks into new markets, I have expanded my recruitment portfolio along the Eastern Seaboard as well as into the Midwest.
Coming from the Midwest (Chicago, specifically), there are many things I’ve had to learn about recruitment and culture across state lines. For example, the rivalry between Cubs and White Sox fans will never amount to the hatred between Eagles and Giants fans. The appropriate toppings and bun for a hot dog vary from city to city, and residents of Virginia and Maryland in the Greater Washington, D.C. area will not visit each other for a BBQ let alone a job interview.
Food and sports aside, there are many peculiarities to each city, and understanding them is crucial to making a successful placement. When recruiting from a national pool of candidates, it is the HR professional’s responsibility to serve as the liaison between the candidate and company as well as be a representative of the state or city.
I would like to share some best practices for national recruitment that I have learned along the way.
- Know the public transportation system. Know what the public transportation system is in each city, how it works and and if it’s punctual: New York - Subway, Washington, D.C. – Metro, Chicago – L, Philadelphia – SEPTA, and Baltimore – MARC Train.
- Visit the organization or company to know where it is located as well as to assess the culture.
- Know your candidates. For local candidates, know where they live in relation to the organization and be able to give them directions and key landmarks. For national candidates, include a Skype interviews as a preliminary search step in order to confirm a candidate’s interest before putting them on a plane or train. Skype is an incredible tool and it’s FREE!
- Understand tenure. A government contractor’s resume from Washington, D.C. make look choppy compared to other cities where contract roles are less frequent and retention is greater. It is the responsibility of HR to debrief the Hiring Manager during their review of resumes.
- Confirm and reconfirm a company’s relocation policy. Know whether is is a partial or full relocation package and exactly what it does – and does not – include.
It’s very easy for an unemployed applicant in California to apply to a position in St. Louis, Missouri but when push comes to shove, will they relocate? As a recruiter, it is imperative not to be overeager because you found the best Marketing Director West of the Mississippi on LinkedIn. Try a Skype conversation first, and then proceed with caution. Roots are strong and they can impact a search’s success if the applicant is not committed – and fully prepared..
While I’ll never put ketchup on my hot dog, I have enjoyed some cheese wiz on a Philly cheesesteak from South Street. There is an incredible amount of talent available and very unique and interesting opportunities nationwide.
Photo credit iStockphoto
About the author: Jessica Gross serves as the Lead Recruiter for a nonprofit staffing firm in Washington, DC where she performs full-cycle recruiting for entry level to C-level management roles. Jessica provides career counseling and job readiness assistance to individuals and nonprofits in the DC-area. Connect with Jessica on Twitter as Jessicas144 and on LinkedIn.
This is the 9th post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
Go into your next interview prepared to negotiate.
One can argue that a well laid plan is never a bad idea. However, when it comes to negotiating a salary—it’s a must!
I am telling you this from experience.
When on the job search a few years ago in Denver, I accepted a really low salary because I wasn’t prepared to negotiate pay for what I thought was fair. I ended up feeling stuck in a low paying job with no chance of a near raise or bonus. So I sought the advice of a personal injury attorney, who advised me on the proper techniques for negotiating a fair salary that both myself and my employer were happy with.
Going into your next interview prepared with some rough salary calculations will keep your eye on the prize. And because salary negotiations in an interview can create a lot of anxiety—the thought of confrontation might leave you feeling nervous. Or you might end up sounding either too greedy if you ask for too much or just plain pathetic if you don’t ask for what you think you’re worth and just accept the base offer. Having a range in mind can take a lot of pressure off both you and your potential employer.
Follow these 5 steps when negotiating your next salary:
1. Settle on a suitable salary range before your interview
Going into an interview, you may be afraid of the uncomfortable point when the interviewer will ask you what your salary expectations are. You know it’s going to happen, so why not be prepared with a salary range? You can settle on a suitable salary range by researching the average salary of comparable positions in the city you work in. You will get paid more for your higher education and any special skills or qualifications you might have as well. Keep this in mind: if you ask for more than you want, the interviewer will be forced to negotiate if they really want you and you may end up with money than what the employer originally had in mind.
2. Don’t bring up salary
At some point during the meeting, the interviewer will want to talk about your salary expectations. However, that doesn’t mean you need to be the one to talk money first. I recommend letting the interviewer bring the topic up, then ask about the range they are willing to pay, before you offer up an expected amount. This way, you get the upper hand by learning what they are willing to pay first (they are probably working within a budget). After that, you can aim for the high end of the employer’s range instead of guessing in the dark.
3. Always negotiate in a range
Never state a solid number and stick to it. It’s best to give the employer a high and low end to work with. This tactic is not meant to devalue your skills or education, but stating a range rather than a firm numbers shows that you are willing to work with the employer so that everyone is happy.
4. Support your worth
Your potential employer isn’t going to just agree to pay you what you want without some sort of explanation on your part. You will be expected to provide the “why?” Meaning “why” you think you deserve this range of pay. Your calculation should be based on the skills and work experience you will bring to the table (i.e., so your education, skills, expertise, professional accolades, and your years of service).
5. Remember there are bonuses to any salary
If the job is one that you know you will really enjoy, but the employer can’t pay you the money you expect, all is not lost! Negotiations as far as things like holidays, lieu days, and health benefits are still on the table. Many start-up companies and small businesses will offer employees lower salaries, but make up for it when it comes to additional holidays or bonuses until they can afford to pay employees more in salary. Remember, bonuses and holidays can bulk up your salary by almost half if you consider lieu days, reduced hours, and the option to work from home.
Learning the proper techniques for negotiating a salary means that you won’t end up accepting the base offer or agreeing to less pay than you think you’re worth. If you do, your whole job hunt could be for nothing because you’ll be unfulfilled financially and looking for a better paying job right away.
Photo credit iStockphoto
About The Author: Colleen Harding is a staff writer for a Denver personal injury attorney and guest blogger who specializes on writing about law. Today, Colleen hopes that sharing her knowledge will make us all happy, law-abiding citizens. She is also a member of Amnesty International as well as an active volunteer in her community.