Interviewing Skills: Telling your “career story” confidently

As I’ve recently blogged I believe that you are the story-teller of your own career
and if you’re a freelancer then a story-teller of your capabilities.

People can only judge you based on what you’re telling them.
If you tell people only that you have been made redundant people may see you
as someone who may not be valuable in their workplace.

Compare that with sending a strong, clear message that you’re a key contributor , whose had big successes.
People may be more likely to give you job leads, offers and career opportunities.

Here are a few tips to help you frame your “career story”…

1. Keep humility in it’s place.

Yes, it’s a nice quality to have, but if you never talk about some of the successes
you’ve had with your professional network, then your career may not move along.
How would anyone know to hire you if you don’t tell your story?

2. Talking about your accomplishments builds your credibility.

It lets people know what you’re good at, what you can accomplish, and what you have to offer.
It makes you stand out from the crowd.
If you want to get noticed, then learn how to talk about your achievements.
Not in an arrogant way, in an “I’m a key contributor who gets big results” way.

3. Write down 2-3 of your biggest achievements over the past three years.

Say out loud (not on a train! ? ) in a sentence or two how you contributed to those successes
Add in what the impact was to the organisation.
Use S.T.A.R.
Here was the Situation, This was the Task, Here was my Action and then add in Results
“The company needed to save money. I led the technical team to introduce a new internal tool that was launched.
The tool is now saving the company £100,000 a year.”

“I was the Director on the marketing campaign for the xyz product which helped the company gain 3% more market share.”

One key to getting more job offers, leads and opportunities is learning how to talk about your successes.
Nobody knows what you’ve accomplished unless you tell them.

4. Frame your story positively.

How do you frame your story to hiring managers if your position has been made redundant?
They will create their perception of you based on what you tell them.
If you talk about your career in a positive, confident way
– then they are going to think of you as a positive and confident employee.
Everyone has setbacks in their career.

5. Don’t give up because you fluffed one interview.

It happens to all of us. Sometime we just freeze.
Whether it’s a job interview, a big presentation or the perfect networking opportunity
The key is not to beat yourself up.
Don’t shy away from future opportunities learn from the situation and then do better next time.

Continue looking for opportunities to step into the spotlight and tell your story again and again.
Don’t let one a negative experience stop you from moving your career forward.
Get out there.
Find your voice and share your career story with confidence.
Your next career opportunity is out there – you just have to go find it!

Career Coaching: When the only way isn’t UP

Gone are the days when the only way for a career was directly up.

I suggest that thinking differently might keep your career moving quicker and longer.

Here are three tips for thinking differently about your next career move if “UP” isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

  1. Think and Look laterally.

Don’t think of job descriptions as much as job families, or groups of jobs that have competencies in common.
For example if you are a financial analyst, consider other analyst positions in your company.
Perhaps in market research or sales.
It’s easier to move within a company where you are known.
Horizontal experience can also broaden your skills, which improves your chances of moving up.

2. Prove you can handle a promotion.

Volunteer to help your manager with her job.
Learn to do them well.
Offer to help interview job candidates, train and coach new people, and give them performance feedback.
Your progress should automatically make you a candidate for the next manager job.

3. Grow your skills to grow your job.

Seek out and take advantage of opportunities when they appear, and actively exceed expectations.
For example, I had a PA, who was given the task of  scheduling training of people for a new system.
It proved  impossible to schedule.
She learned the new system and decided to train the sales team one-on-one.
It wasn’t long before she was asked if she wanted to be a trainer by IT department.

What’s your next career move? Where will you look? What can you volunteer for?
Are there similar job roles to yours with overlapping skills required?
Go and be curious about how the people succeed and what they do

Performance Management Training: 10 tips for systems to recognise employees

We feel that in any organisation, employees need to feel that their contributions are recognised.
Often it’s managers who design and implement recognition strategies for employees.
However you may wish to consider some other ideas for developing recognition systems.

Here are a few ideas , (We cover lots in our Performance Management Training Workshops)related to developing and using recognition systems.

1) Design and implement your recognition initiatives with the idea that the employees are the “customers” of the program.
We think that you’ll agree that they must have a hand in specifying the system.

2) A recognition system must fit into your culture and climate.
You may need to get the basics in place.
Job descriptions and Appraisal Skills Training may be a good place to start.
If there’s a climate where distrust of management is high, it makes introducing recognition systems difficult.

3) Your recognition system should take account that workplaces require a high level of teamwork with other employees.
Most individual contribution will have been helped along directly or indirectly by coworkers.
Your Stars need recognition, but please remember the contributing team members.

4) Informal recognition (e.g.. the informal pat on the back) should happen anytime.
Encourage your managers to use this recognition and to do it publicly often.
Your managers will sets the tone for informal recognition.
By publicly recognising contribution, they get the message across that “we celebrate your effort and your accomplishments”.
However, your formal system should be based on measurement of results.
Your decision to give an “award” should be based on data that illustrates that the idea brought measurable results.

5) Use an employee team to determine recognition needs.
Define with them the behaviour you want to encourage.
What do you want the employees to Do More of,  Do Less of?
Make sure that the team understands what a recognition program is to accomplish.
Then let them work out how to get the information they need.

6) Communicate the intent, purpose and process used for your recognition system.
Make the entire process as open and employee-based as possible.
When employees understand the process, they are less likely to resent recognition of others.

7) Being recognised for contribution by your Peers is often the most valuable recognition.
Think how you can encorporate that into your process

8) High rewards can create a really competitive environment.
This may not necessarily be what you want.
Think about keeping values of actual rewards low.
Do more for recognition publicity and maybe also look to team based rewards.

9) Avoid situations where people are recognised for doing something as opposed to accomplishing something.

10) Make recognition a standard and integrated part of any staff meetings.
Ask the question: “What great things have we accomplished since our last meeting?”
Encourage people to talk about their own accomplishments, and to talk about those of their coworkers.

Do let us know your thoughts.

Realise that it’s you who are giving away free consulting

How to avoid giving away free consulting.

If you are a consultant, a consultative sales person or a coach, when you meet a prospect for the first time if you are like many people you are desperately trying to bring value.
You want to show that you know your stuff .
You fall into “consulting mode” and start doing the project for free.
You notice that the client is frantically making notes.
They are asking for the things you are showing to be sent by soft copy.
Then you wake up and realise that you are giving away your precious time by delivering  unpaid consulting.

You may have just stepped over the line.
The line between doing what you need to do to sell your services and giving free consulting.

Here are a few tips to bear in mind when your keeness to impress takes over.
They may keep you on the right side of the line, allow to deliver value to your prospects and help you win the projects you want.

Tip #1 :  Watch out for the client open questions …


“What would you do if you were me?”
“What specific steps would you take in what sequence?”
“How would you suggest we overcome this?”

If you start answering those questions with details, you can find yourself  in free consulting land.
Be ready with an answer to those kind of questions … Try
“Right now I don’t know enough about your situation to answer that question…
However the first step we’d take after you decide to employ us is…”

Tip #2: Resist the urge to solve problems early

No one forces consultants to lay out solutions to a client’s problem.
However we all occasionally feel an urge to solve them.
We really enjoy it. It’s who we are and what we do.
However if we do it now …
We just lost track of the real reason for this conversation and that’s clear and simple.

Is there a here project to work on?

We think our willingness to consult will help win the deal.
We also know that whatever we say it’s premature and probably of little value.

Tip #3 Frame and Reframe the problem but don’t solve

Your client brings a tough problem to you. You have to
1. Understand the issue(s)
2. Define the scope of the effort
3. Frame and Re-frame the project to suit your approach
4. Work out with the client the value of resolving the issue.

Discuss these and you’ll demonstrate your fitness to do the work.
Plus, you’ll uncover everything you need to move the project forward to a proposal.
Do this type of project “Re-framing” at no cost.

If clients presses you for alternatives, say something like,
“I want to work with you on this issue, and I have ideas on how we can proceed.
However I don’t know enough yet to give you answers that you and I would be comfortable are the right ones.”

Frame and Re-frame a project for free.
Offer consulting services for a fee.

Tip #4 Define Boundaries and then Stick to them

Watch out for those clients who call (repeatedly) to get additional, unpaid help with a project.
Flattering isn’t it?  You take  it as a sign of trust and a strong relationship?
Easy to want to pitch in and help?
But you can easily cross that line again.

We suggest that you let your clients know they can contact you any time.
Be ready to take their calls or respond to emails.
Think about putting a time limit on “free help” ..
“30 days after we complete the project you can ask us questions for free”
Resist taking on unpaid work that requires extended effort.
You know the kind of work, editing a report or creating a new document, no matter who asks.
Let your clients know politely but firmly that you’re not able to take on such tasks without starting a paid project.

Most will understand the validity of boundaries.
Those who don’t are probably best left to someone else.

We think you can probably never really eliminate all unpaid consulting from your business.
However a good first step is to recognise what you are doing to create the situations where it thrives.

Good Rainmaking