Career Coaching : The Trap Door Question:

On an initial interview the interviewers questions often begin with:  “Tell me about yourself”

This is one of the most common interview questions.


(We;d cover this kind of topic and others in the Career Coaching Service )

You need to have your answer formulated.

The questions to ask yourself is Where to start, where to end and what to focus on!

Prepare well for this question and you can use it as a great opportunity to sell yourself.
Prepare it badly and it can be a trap-door question.
That’s where the interviewer is reaching for the “End the interview trap-door” lever.

You will need to frame your answer to highlight how your skills, knowledge and experience relate to the job and the company profile.
The interviewer wants to know if you will fit in with the rest of the team, their department and the company.

The interviewer is also trying to find out what motivates you and whether it is consistent with what the job and the company offer.

If you are still talking 10 minutes later about where you were born and grew up, or what pets you have, or how much your enjoy contemporary music then the probability is the trap door is opening. These kind of statements are not likely to show the interviewer why you are a good candidate for the job opportunity.
Make your interview answer relevant to the job role, the company and it’s style.
For this question all of that needs to take around 2 to 3 minutes maximum.

You can practice this on your partner, on a parent, on a peer, on a colleague and with your coach if you have one.

It should not be the same every time because every job role every company will be different however there should be a few common elements.

Keep the trap-door firmly shut by practicing answering this question.

Business Development Training: Avoiding The Trap-Door Question

So what’s a trap door question, you’re asking yourself.

This occurs at the start of a meeting with a new person in a new client.

They may well be a little uncomfortable and unsure as to how to start the meeting.

They say something like …

“Tell us a bit about yourselves”

or  “Tell us about your company and what it does”

or they  may say “Could you give us an overview of your company and it’s services” .

Warning ! Warning! Sounds of Claxons … Lights Flashing …
You are standing on the trap door!!

(we’d cover this and other topics as part of our Business Development Training Workshops)

There are four things you can say in reply to this question.

Tactics 1 and  2 : Open the trap door (and you fall down the hole)

Tactics 3 and 4 : Nail it shut

Tactics 1 and 2

Tactic 1.

This is where you crack your knuckles ,which may have been dragging on the floor, rotate your head on your neck to prepare.  Then you deliver a blistering 30 minute corporate pitch that your colleagues and peers would stand on chairs to applaud.
To be greeted in this case with silence and sounds of shuffling feet and papers.
You may even detect tumbleweed and a chill wind blowing through the room

Tactic 2.

This is where your days of preparation are about to pay off.
You deliver a pitch that absolutely nails exactly what you and your consultants think the clients need in terms of services and products.
You have prepared well and decided exactly what they need and now is the time to tell them.
They gave you a chance and you took it….
Just so you know …   in our training we rather unflatteringly call this the “product vomit”

From the bottom of the pit of despond a few days later when you are not chosen to take part in further discussions…  You may realise at  the time that either of the above answers were WRONG.
They were not wrong from a factual or presentation style or demonstrating that the client was important enough for you to prepare.  They are just WRONG from a timing point of view.
The client is looking for someone who listens to their needs and understands their goals.
Someone who develops rapport with them. Someone to trust.
Not some crazed salesperson who just wants to sell them something after just walking through the door.

When you stare up from the bottom of the pit of despond you can reassure yourself in one way…  As you look around the walls of the pit you’ll see ALL of our initials there.  We’ve all been there , done it and lived to regret it .

Tactics 3 & 4.

Tactic 3. Your elevator Pitch

This is where you have really prepared…
Woodrow Wilson was famously quoted as saying
” If I am to speak for 10 minutes I need a week of preparation.
If it’s 15 minutes I need 3 days
If it’s an hour I’m ready now”

What you need in your repertoire is what lots of people call their “Elevator pitch”.  
The idea is that it last as long as an elevator takes from the ground floor to the penthouse.
In it you say who you work with , what things you do for / with them and have an example of the benefits you deliver, that are relevant to the client in front of you.
It should take you no more than 2 minutes… It will probably take you a few days to craft one if you haven’t done one before.


Tactic 4. Asking a Power Question:

The final recommendation is that you ask a question rather than answer the one asked of you.

Try this one.   ” What would you like to know about us?”  And now shut up.

If the answer that comes back is still a little general then probe again.

” Just so I really understand it , I wonder if you could say a little more about why you’re interested in hearing about that”.
Keep going until you’ve got a really good idea as what your new client really wants to hear about.

As you pass the Pit of Despond on your way to the Heights of Success give a thought to the people down there.
You were there once.

Good Rainmaking



Career Coaching: Is Job Hunting during the run up to Christmas a Waste of Time?

In a word, NO!

Many, if not most, job seekers seem to want take the end of the year “off” from their job hunting.
There are a lot more fun things to do than job hunt, and it just “feels like” no one is hiring in the run up to Christmas.
So,they think why not relax, and then hit the ground running on January 3rd?

Here are 2 Excellent Reasons NOT to Stop Job Hunting at Year End!

1.  Employers ARE hiring.
I  have heard from 4 candidates in the last few days that they’ve been given the nod on jobs and await the confirmation paperwork.
These jobs are permanent and serious and are not just for “Christmas and holiday jobs.”

The job stats that we see say that more people are hired in November and December than are hired in January.  Not necessarily what you would think . Interesting?

Regardless of the time of the year, employers have work that needs to be done.
Employers in retail, do need more people during the holidays, but that spike is usually covered by hiring in September and October.

Many employers want to be “ramped up” for the new year, with the staffing levels at 100%.
So hiring now enables that.   In many organizations, budgets that aren’t used before the end of the year may not be available for the new year.  Employers want to fill those jobs before the budgets evaporate.

  2.  You will have LESS competition.  

The year-end holiday period is the calm before the storm that is the January job market.
Because so many job seekers slack off during the end of the year, there are fewer job seekers going after every job. Which means less competition for most jobs.

That should translate into less competition for you and the jobs you want, even in normally highly competitive fields.

So, don’t wait for the January tsunami of job seekers to hit the job market.

Continue your job search now!

Career Coaching: Getting a job after your role is made redundant

Trouble getting your career back on track after a redundancy?

Many people are waking up and realising that they have to start taking more control of their career by becoming more proactive about managing it.

Many how to avoid the traps that many fall in this situation fall into…

One CV sprayed willy-nilly to each and every job , however much the requirements vary.

Occasionally sending cover letters, but they are all ME ME ME not YOU YOU YOU

Some we’ve worked with have learned a lot about

  1. How to build their personal brand and network after redundancy.
  2. How to customise CVs dependent on job applied to
  3. How to tell their story to hiring managers.

Below are a few suggestions for you

 1. Telling your story to hiring managers.

Talk about how previous positions were either a great company, or how much you enjoyed your role.
If the redundancy was due to company down-sizing say something like,
“Unfortunately, the company went through tough economic times and my position became redundant.  (Note it’s the job that became redundant not YOU)

You can prepare for interviews by practicing your story out loud.
Be sure to talk about what you’ve learned and how you added value to organisations.
Prepare and ask thoughtful questions to the hiring manager.
Be confident in your strengths and abilities.
Show that you’re grateful for the opportunities you’ve had in your career.

2. Customise your CV for each type of job role

You’ll need to customise your resume for every job role you go after.
Yes that’s right every job type

If you want a corporate role and have had lots of short term roles…

It may help to create a new section on your CV called, Freelance, Consulting and Short-term Positions.
Put any of your short term job stints into this section.
This way, you’re able to show that you’ve had long term employment with 3-4 companies, plus a few others.

Make your CV focused on results.
Don’t write about responsibilities.
Write about results you achieved or goals you had met or exceeded.
Express everything here in £s, numbers or percentages.
Potential employers see you’ve had a history, or pattern of achieving quantifiable results.
It also shows them your experience is right for this role.
Ask yourself were your results too big or too small for this role?

 3. Securing job opportunities, referrals and recommendations.

60+% of jobs are because the candidate knew someone inside the company.
This means you’ll need to reach out to connect with your network.
We suggest that you start by calling up past employers, managers and customers.
Catch up with them and let them know that you are ready for the next career chapter.
Get out in the world and network and socialise.
It will build your confidence, practice telling your story and find career opportunities.

Networking can happen at any time.
One of our clients entered a golf tournament and paired up with a VP of a corporation.
They both shared stories about their golf game and career.
In the “19th hole” our client handed the VP his business card.
He said, “If anything opens up in your company, let me know.
I’d love to join your team.” Four weeks later the VP hired him.

With the right stories, CV and attitude you can get hired again.
Decide how you’re going to tell your career story and tell it in the most positive way possible.
(We can show you how)

Practice saying it out loud so that you sound confident, believable and genuinely authentic during your interviews and networking opportunities.

Your new career is out there waiting for you…

Rainmaker Challenge # 5: Finding the time to Develop Business Revisited.

Services businesses are desperate to turn their people into Business Developers.
This sequence of blogs attempts to help with common issues

Rainmaker Challenge#5:  Finding the time to Develop Business Revisited.

This one is a really common challenge and we thought we’d take it on again.

Again we say everyone has the same 24 hours in the day…
And yet others manage to put more time into Business Development
Business Development like Sales is a numbers game
The more frogs you kiss the higher the chance of a prince or princess
Business Development will not give you opportunities unless you give it time

How can you find more time?

Try this… Sit with a consultants 4 box square on a sheet of paper

Box 1 : What can I stop doing now?

Box 2: What will I start doing now?

Box 3: What can I do less of now?

Box 4: What can I do more of?

At the same time ask yourself …

What networking events are just not working? Is it them or you?
What Business Development activities over the past 3 years have not resulted in work?

Can I combine client time and personal time? What do I and my clients like to do? Theatre, Rugby Cricket?
Do they have small kids too? Could that be something to share?
Can I convince someone to let me do my business development at fun events?

View client time a little differently.
One of our early Rainmakers told us that he viewed meeting clients as meeting new friends… ?
Why? Simply because many of his now best friends he first met as clients.

Can I combine client time and client development time?
Can I give some of my services for free to investigate an interesting and early forming opportunity for a client?
How good would it be to in early as their ideas are forming?

Are there some things that I do that do not seem to add anything to anyone?
Go ask the person why you have to do the work for them?
Is it still valuable to them?

We know one new manager who came into a department and he just asked why they produced 212 reports for people.
He got the team to follow the reports and ask the recipients if they were still needed.
Within 2 months the report load had dwindled to 20 reports.

Rainmaker Challenge # 4: I hate marketing my services

We run Business Development  Training  Coaching and Workshops for services businesses.
This sequence of blogs attempts to help with common issues

Rainmaker Challenge#4: I hate marketing my services

This usually starts with a conversation that goes like…
“I feel like I shouldn’t have to market my services”
“I loathe marketing! I enjoy my relationships with clients and I love the kind of work I do.
I would prefer to spend my time producing high-quality work for my clients and hitting my utilisation numbers
I feel like the time I spend marketing takes me away from doing that.”

Doing great work is necessary, however it is absolutely not sufficient to grow a significant funnel of business.
The days of “do good work and the clients will follow” are gone.
There are too many other companies out there doing good work AND developing business.
Let’s assume you enjoy your relationships with your clients and the work you’re doing.

Reframing Rainmaking or Business Development?

How about you try to reframe the way you regard Business Development  or Marketing?
Can you stop seeing it as taking you away from client service?
Why not see it as a way to spend more time with your clients?
More time spent understanding their goals and challenges?
How about you then view your business development efforts as educating your clients about what you can do and how you can help them achieve their goals and solve their problems?
Doing excellent work and providing excellent client service is certainly not inconsistent with business development.
However our recommendation is that you cannot leave it there.
You need to deepen the relationship on both a professional and personal level, understand their needs and wants, and stay in touch on a regular basis.

Rainmaker Challenge # 3

Services businesses are desperate to turn their people into Business Developers.
Many face common challenges. This sequence of blogs attempts to help with common issues

Rainmaker Challenge#3:
Getting in front of the people with authority to buy services.

This challenge usually starts with a conversation
“I have trouble getting meetings with the people who have the ability to hire me.
How do I get to know these people and how do I get them to know me?”

Our suggestion is that you first start with your personal network.
Who do you already know that knows those decision makers?
Can you ask for introductions at a conference you are both attending?
Can you get one of your contacts to set up a lunch for the three of you?
Can you ask for permission to use a friend’s name when you contact the person?
If there’s no one in your network who knows the target prospect, work out where the persons spends time.
Look for venues where clients, potential clients and referral sources for the type of work that you do tend to congregate.
What organisations do they belong to? What conferences do they attend?
If you have trouble identifying these types of organisations, talk to your librarian and marketing team.
Once you’ve identified these places, show up there.
However do remember, building any funnel or book of business by attending networking events takes a long time.
It is highly unlikely to produce results in the short term, so plan on investing 3-5 years in the process.
(That’s why it’s always best to start with people you already know!)