Jumpstart Your Job
Vol. 1, No. 4
August 2, 2010
to believe it's August already. It
seems like I was celebrating Memorial Day just a few weeks ago.
it may be tempting to slack off from your job search and kick back
during these last few weeks of summer, this is actually the best time
to ramp up your efforts. Read our bonus article, "Three Reasons
Why Summer is a Great Time to Look for a Job", to find
Things eHarmony Can Teach You About Your
Job Search (Part III)
Looking for a life mate is a great
metaphor for job hunting. And just like the world of dating has
been changed forever by the use of technology, so has the process of
looking for a job. This final installment of our three
part series reminds us to limit our reliance on technology and pay
attention to the human interactions inherent in a successful job
Click to read
Part I: Just because a computer says you
are (or aren't) a match doesn't mean you really are (or aren't)
Part II: Looking good on paper isn't
Never Underestimate the Importance of Chemistry
Bob is browsing an online dating site and comes across Susie's
profile. He's intrigued - she is his ideal physical type, they
have many interests and goals in common, she's in the right age range
. . . in short, she seems perfect. Bob and Susie exchange an
email or two, and then have a few delightful phone
conversations. Susie is just as great on the phone as she
looked on the dating site.
Bob and Susie meet for the first time. Susie is as lovely as
her picture. The conversation is interesting and flows
easily. Everything should be fine, but Bob just isn't sensing a
spark. Still, Susie seems like everything he wants so he
decides to give it another chance. Bob and Susie go on a second
date, but again there are no fireworks. Bob and Susie part
A few weeks later some friend set Bob up on a blind date. Based
on his conversations with his friends, he suspects Jenny is not going
to be a match. She doesn't fit any of his criteria.
But as a courtesy to his friends he agrees to meet her.
Bob reluctantly meets Jenny over a cup of coffee and, BANG, they are
instantly smitten with each other and become inseparable. Susie
may have been perfect on paper, but Bob and Jenny had that nebulous
thing we call "chemistry".
How Chemistry Impacts Your Job Search
You'll rarely hear the word "chemistry" used to describe
the interaction between a candidate and hiring company.
Instead, you may hear terms like "cultural fit" or
"compatible work style". But just like you shouldn't
ignore the importance of chemistry in a romantic relationship, you
also can't afford to ignore the significance of "cultural
fit" during your job search.
Your relationships with your boss, direct reports and colleagues are
as crucial to your success as your skill set. In my experience
as a recruiter, I have found that "cultural fit" often
becomes a more important factor in the hiring decision than a
I was once conducting reference checks on a candidate for a management
position. I had the opportunity to talk to a few people who had
reported to the candidate over the years and they gave some of the
most glowing references I have ever heard. The next time I
spoke with the candidate, I asked her about her secret to building
such a strong, cohesive team. She told me that she only hired
people who could pass the "Milwaukee Test".
When I asked her to explain she said, "Of course I look for
technical competence in my team, but once someone's competence has
been established, I ask myself, 'If I were stranded on a business
trip in the Milwaukee airport
with this person, would I have a good time with him/her?' I
never hire anyone unless the answer is yes." Now that's
someone who truly grasps the importance of chemistry.
Just as the
hiring company is evaluating you for "cultural fit", you
should be equally diligent in assessing whether the company is a good
fit for your interpersonal and work styles. In order to do
this, you should go through the following steps:
Evaluate your work style
Jot down your work-related personality traits and how you best relate
to bosses, employees and co-workers. Here are a few
examples to get your thought process going:
you prefer to work individually or as part of a team?
you like autonomy, or do you require a lot of input from your
you like making decisions on your own, or do you prefer building
consensus with others?
you methodical and detail oriented, or are you a visionary who
leaves the details to someone else?
you "all business", or do you like to interact with
your colleagues on a social level as well?
If you find this process difficult, enlist the help of
current or former co-workers. Ask them to share their
observations about how they have seen you interacting with others in
the workplace. You can also look over previous performance
reviews for areas of interpersonal strength or weakness. Or you
might consider taking one or more personality inventories, like the
Myers-Briggs, to gain insight into your unique personality traits and
how they impact your interpersonal relationships.
Note what is important to
Based on your evaluation of your work style,
make a prioritized list of the traits of your ideal work
environment. Remember, knowing what you want is the first
step toward getting it.
Ask questions that will
shed light on the company and/or team's work style
Don't be fooled by slick mission statements or flowery website
content touting how great it is to work for a particular
company. While these things are often indicative of the
personality of an organization, there are occasions where what
happens on a day to day basis is not in line with the company's
mission. Asking the right questions and listening carefully to
the answers can shed a great deal of light on the dynamics of a
company or a team. For example:
the internal recruiter, HR person or hiring manager about how
the department or position is perceived in the company.
the hiring manager about his/her management style or about the
personality traits that the most productive team members
to meet some of the people you will be working with and/or
managing, and then ask them about their experiences working with
the company, the hiring manager or the team.
- If you're being
interviewed by a group of people, watch their interactions
closely and observe how they relate to each other.
Finally, trust your gut
Getting the "right" answers to your questions doesn't
guarantee that the job will be a good match for your style.
Just like individuals sometimes lack awareness of their personalities
and how they are perceived, organizations can be equally blind to
their foibles. The employees may talk a good game, but the
reality could be very different.
Chances are if something doesn't feel right to you, then it isn't
going to be a good fit in the long run. When in doubt,
put the hiring manager and team members through your own
"Milwaukee Test". You might be surprised at the
you know what you
really want in your next job and how to get it?
you comfortable asking
questions to determine if a job is a good match
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 610-581-7884 to find
out how we can help.
Job Search Q&A
Q: How can I make my
resume stand out in the crowd? (H.R., Washington)
A: There have been books
devoted to this subject, and entire companies built on writing
resumes for job seekers, so it's not possible to cover
every aspect of resume writing here. I would, however, like to
touch on some of the most important tips I give my coaching
- Check your
formatting - You want your
resume to be easy to read and formatted in such a way that
information is easy to find. Use clear section headings
and steer clear of small fonts and/or narrow margins that can make
your resume look crowded and overwhelming.
- Avoid writing in
prose - Long paragraphs
are unwieldy and may mask your skills and accomplishments.
Brief paragraphs are fine in your professional summary or as an
overview of each position, but the rest of the content
should be organized in bullet points.
- Include accomplishments - Too many resumes read like job
descriptions. Employers are most interested in what value
you can add to their company or department, so be sure to
include brief, concrete examples of your past
achievements. Whenever possible, quantify those
accomplishments. For example:
- Instead of "Provided
administrative support to the accounting department",
"Provided administrative support to the Chief Financial
Officer, two Finance Directors and a department of 35
- Rather than "Managed software
implementation project for a major client",
"Managed a team of 15 on a $10M software implementation
project for a Fortune 500 company. Project was delivered
on time and under budget, resulting in a $5M/month savings to
- Customize your
resume - When applying for
a specific position, review the job description carefully and
identify the key skills required for the job. Look for
ways to make those skills more prominent on your resume - i.e.
reorder your bullet points or change the wording of your resume
to mirror the language of the position description.
you're looking for a job in the non-profit sector (or would like to
research a charity before making a contribution), GuideStar.org is a
great resource. You can
research a single organization using their basic search tool. The advanced search tool allows you
to refine your search by geographic location and/or key words. With a free registration you can
gather financial information, names of key contacts, addresses and
phone numbers. More detailed
information is available with a premium subscription.
feedback is valued and appreciated. Do you have a comment,
suggestion for a topic you would like to see covered in a future
article, or a question for our Job Search Q&A?
Please email me at email@example.com.
know others who are in career transition, please use
the "Forward email" link below my signature to send them a
copy of this newsletter.
in your transition,
Higher Ground Associates
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Has your job search stalled?
Has it never gotten off the ground?
Are you frustrated, overwhelmed or confused
about where to start or what to do next?
is on the way with the
Job Search™ Webcast Series
Our next series of small group coaching
sessions begins August 11, 2010.
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job market today is one of the most competitive in U.S. history.
search techniques that
worked just a few years ago no longer yield consistent results.
If you're relying mostly on internet job postings, newspaper
ads and job fairs to land your next job you're making a huge mistake.)
Do you know how to market your skills in this competitive
Can you effectively bypass computerized applicant tracking
systems and get your credentials in front of an actual human being?
Do you have the
skills to ace interviews with grace, ease
These are just three of dozens skills you will master
Job Search™ Webcast Series
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Catherine Palma. All rights reserved.
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