Part 3 of 3 of our Career Checkup Series
Position Yourself to Get the Job
♦ To stand out in a crowded job search, you have to develop your personal brand. Answer the question for employers: “Why should we hire you?” Your personal brand must express the answer, showing you are unique and original and able to solve the company’s problem.
♦ To develop your personal positioning, answer these four questions: What is the company’s need? What are your core abilities? What are your values? What is your connection to the company’s need?
♦ Conduct a self-assessment and determine the kind of work you are willing to do, and the kind of work you’re not willing to do. Make a list of the things you like to do, and what you don’t like to do.
♦ Research your profession to identify your positioning. What skills, attributes, and experience are particularly important within your career area?
♦ If you are still having trouble deciding on your personal positioning, create a career collage — pull inspiration from magazines, newspapers, and materials you find online into a visual display.
Brag About It! Accomplishments Guide
♦ At some point, you will need to share your accomplishments — whether for an annual review, to update your résumé, or simply to remind you of your achievements. If your current boss doesn’t provide performance evaluations, track your own accomplishments.
♦ Choose a method to track your accomplishments — online using Microsoft Word, Evernote, or simply sending yourself emails — or offline in a paper file, notebook, or diary.
♦ Take time to write up your accomplishments. What was the challenge you faced? What specific actions did you take to address the challenge? What was the outcome? Document numbers, percentages, and dollar amounts to quantify the impact.
♦ When collecting accomplishments, think about the key areas of competency required for success in your role. What are the key components of your job? Then identify accomplishments directly related to this area of emphasis.
♦ Use your accomplishments for reflection. Assess your accomplishments to take a “big picture” look at your work and your career, and use that information to set future goals.
♦ Practice for phone interviews. Don’t just practice answering questions — also practice how you will sound on the phone. Conduct a mock interview with a friend and record it. (You can use a free service like Freeconferencing.com.) You may be surprised at how you come across on the phone. Identify opportunities for improvement.
♦ Be aware that not all phone interviews are scheduled in advance. If you get a call from a hiring manager or human resources staffer and it’s not a good time to talk (i.e., you’re in a noisy place), either don’t answer the call and let it go to voicemail, or ask if you can get to a quiet place and call them back in a few minutes.
♦ When scheduling a phone interview, make sure you know the exact time of the call (including any time zone clarification), who the call is with, who is calling whom (and on what phone number), and how long to expect the call to last.
♦ If you are preparing for a scheduled phone interview, create a cheat sheet of notes you can reference — for example, specific metrics related to your accomplishments, questions you want to ask, etc.
♦ Prepare for a phone interview like you would prepare for an in-person interview: Research the company and practice answering the questions you expect to be asked.
Developing a Brag Book
♦ Determine if a brag book — also called a portfolio, leave-behind, or interview presentation binder — would be useful in your job search.
♦ Decide if you want to create and maintain your brag book online or offline.
♦ Make a list of all the possible items you want to include in your brag book. Examples can include a copy of your degree and any training certificates you’ve earned, performance evaluations, work samples, sales data, awards and honors, feedback from co-workers and/or clients, letters of recommendation, etc.
♦ Create a logical order and structure for your brag book, including organizing the information into sections: Education, Work Experience, Awards/Honors, Testimonials and Endorsements, and Community or Organization Involvement.
♦ Curate your book. Choose only the best examples of your work. When it doubt, leave it out. Keep your brag book updated by re-evaluating it quarterly or annually.