Creating your Own Vacancy

April 30, 2008

What do you see for your future?  Will you be doing this same job until the grim reaper comes knocking at your door?  I have heard many stories out there of people meeting their maker shortly after retirement.  The most recent was a gentleman who had a heart attack at his work station with his co-workers taking a week to notice that he had passed.    Apparently his co-workers said that he worked long hours and it wasn’t out of the ordinary for him to be sitting there for hours on end in the same position.  Yeaks!!!  Is that you?

The late billionaire, James Goldsmith coined the phrase, “When a man marries his mistress, he immediately creates a vacancy.”  What’s true with philanderers can sometimes be true in life.  The question is, “How do you want to create your vacancy?”  I prefer to do it on my own terms.  I believe it is never too late to start thinking about what one wants to do in their later years.   Baby Boomers are redefining the term “Retirement”, with people living longer and healthier lives, the opportunities are endless. 

Take a moment to visualize what you want for yourself.  What do your “retirement or later years” look like?   As a career coach, I have worked with many people over the years that were faced with this very question and for many it was a painful process. I counseled a gentleman who was a Director of Marketing at a large high-technology firm and laid-off.  For a long time he walked around with an air of anger and resentment at his former employer.  With many months of soul searching, he came to the realization that he wanted to do something completely different from what he did in the past. He wanted to incorporate his passion which was to make sure he was the first scheduled on the green for “tee” time.  He took a position as a part-time facilities manager with afternoon hours so he could do what he loved — golf every morning. 

The point I am trying to “drive home” is to start preparing now for what is the inevitable.  Take the steps now to make sure you are “living out your dream”.   Many people are taking their hobbies and interests and turning them into their next careers.  Start preparing now so you can be agile for whatever life may send your way.  Think about what you want your “retirement” to look like.  Could it be another career?  If this is the case, then do you have the skills you need?  Do I have to go back to school or get additional training?  What do you need to do to prepare financially?  Start building the foundation for what you want.  It’s time to take charge of your own destiny and define how you are going to create your own vacancy.    

This article was written by Liane H. Gould, Manager of Career Services of the ACS Department of Career Management and Development.

 

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Remember Your 4 R’s of Interviewing

April 23, 2008

So, you got the phone call you have been waiting for and the voice on the other end says those words you are longing to hear, “We are very impressed with your resume and would like to meet with you to further discuss X position”.  You are in a state of euphoria as you schedule the appointment and thank the person for the opportunity.  You get off the phone and think “Now what”. 

 Here are some next steps to help you nail that interview of a lifetime.  Interviewing can be daunting so let’s divide the experience into four buckets — the four R’s of interviewing:

Ø Research.

Ø Rehearse.

Ø Revive Your Personal Presentation.

Ø Relevant Questions.

Research

It is a very important to do your research on the organization you will be interviewing.  Current data says that less than 10% of candidates take time to do this, so this is a great way for you to stand out. 

Start by reviewing the organization’s web site, brochures and annual reports.  Talk to current or past employees to gain an understanding of the business, its services and its competitors.  Do your homework so you can be in a knowledgeable position. Otherwise, the interview could be a truly uncomfortable experience; you run the risk of not understanding what the interviewer is talking about, possibly asking unintelligent questions.

Other ways to prepare for the interview is to sit down and think about what is going to be asked in that interview.  If you know someone within the organization, make inquiries as this can yield pertinent information.

Rehearse

You can often anticipate the kinds of questions you’ll be asked during interviews, particularly if you have done your due diligence. Once you have determined the probable questions, develop responses that showcase your personal best.  Answers should be results orientated.  Show how you have made an impact in your present position and how you are going to be a resource for your new employer.  Practice, practice, practice.  Develop and define your answers and do not forget to tell them how good you are as you are your best advocate.  It is a great idea to rehearse in front of someone or in front of the mirror.  

Revive Your Personal Presentation

You have only 10 seconds to make a first impression so dressing appropriately is very important.  Candidates have been known to show up without wearing a jacket when a suit would be more appropriate. Sometimes the suit is wrinkled or ill tailored. You need to make sure your attire is corporate savvy, well-groomed and polished.   

Remember the basics — like a solid handshake, a calm demeanor, warm smile— because they don’t see the real you if you’re uptight.  And basic eye contact; a lot of people put a lot of weight into eye contact. Maintaining that is really important.

Relevant Questions

Prepare a list of tough questions in your preparation for the close of the interview.  Employers love it when someone asks really difficult questions.  Asking well-thought-out questions shows that you know the business and are familiar with the company to some extent. It all goes back to preparation, and it tells the interviewer you thought about this interview before you walked in the door. 

To further your interviewing techniques you may want to refer to the ACS Careers Advice and Publications section of the ACS website at:  www.acs.org/careers.

This article was written by Liane H. Gould, Manager of Career Services of the ACS Department of Career Management and Development.

 


The Ego and the Interview: A Balancing Act for the Accomplished Professional

April 21, 2008

You have had a long distinguished career, having worked in a number of organizations and handled many difficult situations. You are confident in your abilities and proud of your accomplishments. You find that you are longing to explore new opportunities whether it is an increase in job responsibility, a lateral move or a move that allows for an increased work/life balance. Whatever the reason, the best time to prepare is before you start the interviewing process. Your first step should be to list your transferrable skills, accomplishments, published work, awards and any career milestone. Craft a story of your work history.

There are many resources on interviewing and skills assessment but one subject that is least addressed is “The Ego”. This alone can make you or break you. The American Heritage Dictionary defines “The Ego” as:

The self, especially as distinct from the world and other selves; In psychoanalysis, the division of the psyche that is conscious, most immediately controls thought and behavior, and is most in touch with external reality; An exaggerated sense of self-importance; conceit; or Appropriate pride in oneself; self-esteem.

After you sit down and start listing your life’s accomplishments, you need to think about how you want to present yourself to others. Walking around with an air of self-importance will only turn interviewees away.

Hiring managers are looking for candidates that they feel are the “Right Fit” in their organization. Most hiring decisions are made on personality and this is where you can really stand out from other candidates. Don’t let your “Ego” stand in the way to getting what you want. Whatever way you look at it interviewing is an art form which must be carefully crafted. One of the most common mistakes jobseekers make is portraying oneself as “Overbearing” or “Un-Manageable”. Is this the impression you want to make? Don’t let you’re “Ego” steal the show!!

Let’s do a little paradigm shift — think of yourself as a product — if you were looking to purchase, what would you want in that product. Hiring managers are looking for candidates that can be a resource, help reach their strategic objectives, and will get along with their co-workers. You may have lots of wins under your belt but use them strategically in the interview. Your experiences are your arsenal, so don’t fire off as you are standing in a firing range discharging at point blank range. That approach will only blow the interviewee away and they will send you packing. Use them with care during your interview, selecting each experience that best enhances your ability and make you the most desirable candidate.

Design your answers as if you were telling a short story with a beginning, middle and end. Talk about how you handled or overcame difficult situations, outcomes, cost saving initiatives, impacted the organization, increased sales, customer satisfaction, follow-ups or anything that puts you in good standing. Discuss how you are an asset to any organization. It’s great that you have this arsenal of skills, accomplishments and experiences. Use them to your advantage, you worked hard to get where you are and interviewees will also recognize a good thing when they see it. Be yourself, tell your story and tell it with pride.

This article was written by Liane H. Gould, Manager of Career Services of the ACS Department of Career Management and Development.