career tips

8.5 “Must Know” Career Tips & Tricks (v.Done)

I have been an entrepreneur and in business – nonstop – since 1985.  And over the course of those 30-plus years, I have gained a lot of experience.  But as the saying goes; “Experience is the most difficult teacher, she gives the test first and teaches the lesson after.”  So I can say, with some degree of certainty, that I have made every mistake a business person could make.  Sometimes, I would repeat the mistake just to be certain.

Fortunately, I always realized that what I did not know was a lot.  And I never hesitated to seek guidance if I was unsure or simply did not know.  And even more fortunate, several people came across my path who became invaluable mentors to me.  Although I need them less than I did in the past, they still make themselves available – especially as sounding boards upon whom I can rely to give me unfiltered guidance.

Over the course of time, I have become a mentor myself.  It is one of the very best ways of which I can think to “give back”, or even “pay it forward”.  I especially enjoy offering young people who are fresh from school mentorship as they embark upon their careers.  And it is usually this time of year – when students are recently graduated and looking for that first entry-level job in their chosen profession where I get the most requests for guidance.

Career Tips

I have since expanded these opportunities to offer guidance and now also coach and mentor professionals that are well on their career path or looking to change their path (especially those who have caught the entrepreneurial bug and want to venture off on their personal path).

I have written several versions of this particular article over the years.  But this will be my final version of this article and will pull together all of my thoughts from the previous articles (see below) and add some final thoughts.  And although not exhaustive, I hope you find the information useful.

The conversations usually follow a typical pattern; there is the initial contact followed by an inquiry into a position with my firm, a discussion of their intended career path, and a review of their CV/Resume followed by pointed guidance.  As is the nature of my firm, we only hire experienced and exquisite “Subject Matter Experts” – those usually with a minimum of ten (10) years of experience in a specific industry, with a “can-do/is-done” attitude and with outstanding leadership, communication, and analytical capabilities.  The very first thing I usually must do is to gently disappoint with respect to a position at my firm – while at the same time building their optimism for a position elsewhere and to offer encouragement and guidance for the successful launch of their careers.

So, I thought it might be appropriate to share some of my core-beliefs and the advice I give.  In addition to the very young in their careers, I believe the advice is also relevant to those who are already on their career path as an opportunity to perform a “self-assessment”.

Best part is; the advice is solid – regardless of the formal education you have received.

But beware; although I consider myself an empathetic person, I am also a person who does not easily tolerate a “can’t” attitude – so some of this advice might be considered a bit harsh.  But we all have faced obstacles and will face more in the future, some are daunting and some are seemingly insurmountable.  I have faced a great many such obstacles myself over my life-time – but I never settled for “can’t”.  It’s not in my nature.

For some insights into why I am the way I am, I will share the following;

I was watching the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness”, starring Will Smith.  The movie is the story of Christopher “Chris” Gardner who struggled to win a job as a broker at Dean Witter Reynolds while being homeless and taking care of his son.  It is the story of determination, struggle, being the under-dog – looking into the abyss and being absolved. A real-life story of adversity, determination, and the will to better their circumstances.

So, I believe that is the point I want to stress – don’t let your fears hold you back.  But be pragmatic.  For instance, does it really make sense to accumulate $100,000-plus of student debt to get a degree in Art History (just to pick one) where the jobs are few, the competition fierce, and the expected salary is approximately $45,000 – with even those being found in high cost of living locations?

But whatever your career; once in, be all in.  A personal mantra of mine, one by which I consistently live is; “De l’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace” – George Danton

“Audacity, more audacity, always audacity”, paraphrased and made famous by George C Scott in the movie “Patton”, this has long been one of my favorite life’s mantras.  I guess it comes down to a predisposition and outlook I have; when most people are asking “why?” – I ask “why not?”  When many people might question what “right” they have to belong, or to be hired, or whatever; I never have such thoughts cross my mind.  My tendency would be to challenge why I don’t, rather than why I do.

One tale to tell that demonstrates this inherent “audacity” that is my nature was early in the history of my first company, XONITEK.

It was 1989 and my then-recently founded company was struggling like most young companies.  All of my bank accounts had only cobwebs in them – and all of my credit-cards were limited-out.  I barely had any money at all, anywhere.  Certainly I did not even have enough to call it “capital” – most people would just call it “loose change”.

I received an opportunity via a technology provider-partner to pitch their accounting system to a company in Philadelphia called Philadelphia Reinsurance – a major player in the reinsurance marketplace at the time.  That I had the opportunity was somewhat remarkable as I did not have any footprint or efforts in the Philadelphia region nor did I have “industry expertise”.  The thought of why a big insurance company would buy an accounting system from a guy that didn’t have a pot to piss in didn’t cross my mind – what did cross my mind was how we are going to win this deal.

I did my homework.  I researched and found out as much as I could about the company, which was not easy (this, being in the days before the internet and google existed).  I conducted several telephone interviews with the key persons involved in the use of the system to get a good understanding of what the operational and functional needs were – as well as to know who were involved in the decision-making process for the final selection of the system.  Together with some colleagues and our technology provider-partner, we developed the tactics for winning the opportunity.

Come the day of the presentation, a colleague and I prepared to go to Philadelphia to present our offerings and make our pitch.  But as I mentioned earlier; money was virtually non-existent to the point where we were calculating the amount of money it would take to put fuel in the car to get us there and back, and tolls for the highway (both ways).  This we had.

What we didn’t count on was that parking the car in Philadelphia was going to cost money – eighteen dollars that we did not have.  But we parked the car anyway and decided to figure that problem out later.

The morning sessions of the presentation were going well.  Everyone was smiling.  We were having a good time.  All the users seemed pleased; as were the decision makers.

Then it was lunch-time…  And it was decided that about ten of us would go out for Chinese.

Neither my colleague nor I had the money to treat everyone.  Nor did we have any room on our credit cards available to pay for lunch.  So, we offered to work right through lunch – but the good folks at Philadelphia Reinsurance insisted we all go.  But then, miracle of miracles, they offered to buy.  Whew…

Lunch was a real pleasure with everyone getting along extremely well.  At the end of lunch, I gave my credit cards and all of my PIN’s to my colleague and told him to find a cash machine and a card that would dispense the last few dollars from some account (perhaps a check didn’t clear yet) – and off he went on the scavenger hunt (I just offered some lame excuse for his absence to the others that he was working with another client – a white lie).

The afternoon session went equally well, with the conversation drifting to deployment details and how we would be doing business together.  And to top it all off, my colleague found $30 in one of my accounts, so it looked as though we were going to be able to get our car out of the parking garage and head on home.

On the return trip, we calculated that we could stop at a McDonald’s on the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and buy one cheeseburger and small soft-drink each in celebration of a day well spent and a presentation well done.

In the week after our presentation and adventure, we won the deal.  And it was a transformational deal in that it saved my fledgling company and provided us with enough money (but still not enough to call it “capital”) to go after the next opportunity, and the next, and then the next.

Never underestimate yourself.  Be pragmatic in your self-assessment.  Know your weaknesses as much as your strengths.  But never be afraid of the stretch-goals and never hold yourself back from some misguided sense that you are not good enough, don’t belong, or not otherwise entitled to be there.

If you are not good enough, you will soon find-out; then you can deal with it.

1) If You Love What You Do, You Will Never Work a Day in Your Life.

This is the most important piece of advice I can give anyone regarding their career, but it is also the most difficult to determine.  If you do not love (or at least enjoy a great deal) what it is that you do for a living, you will never be happy – it’s just not possible.  Imagine there are approximately 112 waking hours in a week.  If we consider that we work 40 hours per week, that’s roughly 1/3rd of our lives.  I can’t imagine a person is able to be happy if they spend so much time doing something they do not enjoy.

Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers right now.  Your interests will probably change over time, and so will your career desires – this is natural.  What is important is that you recognize when you are feeling dissatisfied with your career and have the intestinal fortitude to change it.

I understand that sometimes we will need to take a job to survive – especially during challenging economic times.  However, all too often I see people take such a “stop-gap” job and then lose their ambition, their dreams, and finally themselves.  Someday, just like the sad case that Bruce Springsteen sings about in “The River”, there will be a day of self-reckoning;

“…Now those memories come back to haunt me, they haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true
Or is it something worse…”

Bruce Springsteen – The River

Be mindful of the choices you make today – the consequences may last you a lifetime.  And remember; only you can make your dreams and aspirations come true.  Don’t give yourself the chance to let your memories come back to haunt you.

2) “The Millionaire Next Door” and living a sustainable lifestyle.

There are some people who believe that “the person who dies with the most toys wins” – to that, I say “bullshit”.  I worked with, and knew, many people in New York City who worked in the financial industry when the financial crisis hit.  I never knew there were so many “poor rich people” until then.  They were living paycheck to paycheck, leveraged to the hilt to support all the “things” that bought (but not owned), just like many others whose paychecks had fewer “zeros” in it.  We read about such occurrences all the time; the movie star or athlete who had millions of dollars and went bankrupt.  How does this occur?  They take out loans and surround themselves with “things” – and for what?

Mostly, I believe people are drawn to engage in a perverse competition with their family, friends and colleagues of acquiring “things” as some superficial substitute for a void that runs much deeper.  It is a game that has been played since ancient times and one that has no winners – where the biggest loser is those who play.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Exodus 20:17

I encourage everyone to purchase and read “The Millionaire Next Door” and to integrate the teachings into their lives.  Whether you are a professional, a laborer, or even selling “Dream Catchers” in Sedona; you can live a very fulfilling and joyful life.  Remember; money does not buy happiness.  But if you live a properly balanced lifestyle, you will obtain a level of freedom – and freedom gets you happiness.

Most importantly, remember that your Grandkids won’t want to hear about the stuff you owned, but the life you lived and the experiences you had.  They won’t ever ask you about the “Porsche” or the house in the Hamptons you owned – or about your stock portfolio or that “killer trade”.  They will ask you time and again to tell the stories about your travels, or school, or the “crazy things” you did when you were younger – and the lessons learned.

So always live below your means (but not one of miserly frugality).  This will allow for a cushion for when times get tough, and at the same time deliver a level of freedom, work/life balance, and happiness.

While #1 and #2 above are intended to properly orient you so that you might embark upon a career that is personally rewarding and can bring pleasure to your life, the following are how to go about pursuing and obtaining the career of your dreams.

3) Go Where the Jobs Are

None of us enjoys changing where we live.  It’s a big deal and a lot of work throughout the entire process; from planning and preparation, through the actual move, to “finally” settling into your new home.  The power of nostalgia is especially strong when it comes to your hometown where you spent most of your youth.  However, you can’t be afraid to go to where the jobs are in general, and where there is a concentration of jobs and industry that are of desire to you in particular.  If you live in a dead-end geography for your industry – eject, Eject, EJECT.

Willie Sutton, a prolific criminal and chronic guest of the prison system was asked why he robbed banks.  His response was, “Because that’s where the money is.”

Where I grew up in Endicott, New York – a part of “Greater Binghamton” – there are very few “major employers” (this was not always the case).  This is a challenge for a few reasons.  Besides the obvious, (there are limited jobs at major employers when there are few major employers ) – the lack of a major employer means there will be a lack of the feeder-stream of suppliers than normally cluster around major employers.

For private industry, there is Lockheed Martin in nearby Owego, New York and BAE Systems (a smallish operation of a much larger company).  And although IBM was founded in Endicott, it is just a mere wisp of its former self – employing only a few hundred (or less) from its heyday of around 25,000.

The largest employer is Binghamton University.  It is always a highly-ranked university in the States (from a variety of sources) and has very robust and respected programs.  Although Binghamton University graduates approximately 4,000 students per year, the challenge is that excellent positions in the region, not to mention careers, are scarce.  And with so few major employers, the “downward pressure” on compensation is significant.  It is far better to relocate where there is a concentration of industries related to your field of expertise, as there will be more “upward pressure” on compensation as companies vie for your capabilities.

When mentoring, I often hear people complaining about “no opportunities here”, yet they are too afraid to venture out into the world to improve their chances and circumstances.  The result is that bitterness and cynicism becomes an ever-increasing part of their lives.

“Go where the money is.”  Better yet; “Go where the opportunity – and a chance at a future – is greater.”

4) Network, Network, Network

The time to build your professional network is before you need it.  And building a quality professional network takes a lot of time and effort.  So, if you haven’t started building yours yet, or have only made half an effort, make sure it’s the first thing you start doing as soon as you have finished reading the rest of this article.

And I am not talking about Facebook “Friends” or LinkedIn “Connections”, where you become part of each other’s ecosystem by happenstance or some loose affiliation – you might not even know one another, but rather just know of one another.  Rather, when I speak of “connections”, I am actually referring to the earliest stage of a relationship – people who you have actually met; perhaps shared some personal or professional moment or event together, established a knowing and awareness of one another, and there exists an initial level of trust (even if yet to be tested).

Out of every 10 people you meet, maybe one will have the potential to be a long-term connection.  Out of every 100 people you meet, you can expect just a few will become long-term connections – and then long-term only if you do the maintenance work.  Even fewer will develop into real relationships.

Maintenance is easy, but it does require time, consistency, and sincerity – an almost karmic approach where you give and the “get” happens in time and under circumstances largely unplanned.

Introverts are at a disadvantage when it comes to finding a job and furthering their careers because most people will get hired through referral.  To maximize your career potential, you must get out and network – preferably in person.  So, if you are an introvert, you really need to work on your people-facing abilities including; speaking, writing, an awareness of current events (for conversation), etiquette, and dining skills.

One of the most important things to remember here is that; “God gave you two ears and one mouth, so you can listen twice as much as you talk.”  And if that is too nuanced for you, a simpler form is; “If someone else is speaking – you don’t.”

Since I read a lot, part of my approach to maintenance involves relaying articles that I read to those I know would be interested in the subject matter.  For instance, I know one person who loves watches.  Whenever I see an interesting article on watches (usually on Bloomberg), I send him the link and a note (a simple, “I read this article and thought you might be interested…”).  Another person has business interests in a country and I sent a review from The Economist to him.  No expectation of a return, if they want to start a dialog, they will respond.  And don’t suggest a “catch-up call” unless there is really something to catch-up.  Nobody has time for idle chit-chat nowadays.  My sending articles is one way of maintaining my network – but you need to discover what works for you and your personality (and the personalities of your connections).

Make sure you stay in their “feeds”.  Post some snippets of information or news about yourself and your goings on (for instance; a job change, move, or promotion) – but don’t try to sell anything or be a braggart.  Everything you do should drive value to them, not try to engage for personal gain.  They know you and what you do, they will call if they need something they believe you can deliver – your driving value to their feeds is reminder enough of that.

And since maintenance takes time, you want to weed-out the “net-takers”.  These are people who are always calling upon you for help (which you gladly give), but are impossible to find when you need something.  Such people are not connections, they are leeches – learn to recognize them and scrape them off before they suck too much of your life-blood.

At a minimum, maintaining your network and keeping it fresh will precipitate out referrals – where someone hears of a need and simply passes that opportunity on to you without any strings (or few strings) attached.  Alternatively, an opportunity might be identified and you and your network facilitates the organizing of a team of experts to formulate a response.  In either case a properly functioning network will create a “pull” (where the opportunity drives the resource allocation across a network) versus a “push” (where you are just trying to sell what’s on the truck).

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”  More true words have never been spoken when it comes to getting a job.  This is something tangible for you to consider; there are only a hand-full of people who have worked for me over the almost 30 years I have been in business that were not either previously known to me (direct networking) or introduced to me by someone I knew (indirect networking) –and those who were not a result of my network were always (with a single exception) for “entry-level” administrative and clerical positions.  Furthermore, and based on my experience with companies, this is almost always the case – everywhere.

If you are new to networking, start with something simple within your local community; getting involved with your neighborhood, your school, your hobbies, or your place of worship.  Starting with familiar surroundings is relatively safe and a great place to hone your skills.

If you are a more experienced networker, or an extrovert, get more deeply involved in your networks in your industry or related to your industry.  Sometimes, the best results can be obtained by networking peripherally.  For example:  Years ago, I was heavily involved in the technology sector (specifically in the Enterprise Resource Planning, or “ERP”, industry).  As a matter of course, I went to the trade shows and networking events connected with the ERP and technology industry and with the solutions I represented.   However, these efforts were a waste of my time as I kept on meeting the same people – and most of them had resumes at the ready.  I re-assessed and started going to networking and trade events that my customers attended – and this made all the difference.

Building a network is part of your professional responsibility to yourself – it is an investment in you.

I have been visiting Monterrey, Mexico, for several years – the first visit being over ten years ago – mostly as a keynote speaker at Industrial Congresses hosted by Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) and Universidad de Monterrey (UdeM).  During these visits, I made sure to connect with the students and the professionals who also wanted to connect with me – and then I made sure to “do the work” necessary to nurture these connections such that they became relationships.

There was no real “plan” for turning these relationships into business relationships.  I always figure that the business opportunities will present themselves in due time, and nothing I can do (other than maintaining the relationships) will accelerate the discovery of opportunity.  I never called upon these people and asked, “What can we do together?”  Such calls are rarely fruitful because it takes too much imagination and work to try to conjure up a business opportunity from scratch – and both parties quickly lose interest in the pursuit.

A couple of years ago, I received a call from an affiliate of a publicly-traded company based in the United State that wanted to expand internationally.

The initial discussions involved Poland due to the family connections of one of the principles.  But that proved to be a bridge too far – baby steps.

Since the affiliate was headquartered in Arizona, it was decided that expansion into Mexico would make the most sense – a greater opportunity that was close enough to exercise more control more quickly if needed.

We targeted MonterreyMexico as the most attractive location – and a simple phone call to the first relationship that came to mind set us on our way.  Together and in short order, we were able to assemble a cadre of professionals; legal, accounting, finance, banking, real estate, and construction to interview.  We were able to assemble and determine the Mexican form of business and operations and integrate them to their domestic (USA) counter-parts so that the business structures worked in an optimal fashion together – especially in the areas of taxation, regulations, and compliance.

At the conclusion of this first phase of the engagement – two days where the vetted candidates from the various disciplines were able to present their offerings – the client was gobsmacked; “There is no way we could have done this without you guys.”

And there is no way I could have done this as quickly, as efficiently, and as effectively as I did without the professional network and relationships I have built over the last twenty-five years.

Trust me when I say, “You limit your opportunities if you don’t put yourself out there”.

5) Social Media

If leveraged properly and consistently, Social Media can be an incredibly powerful tool for developing and furthering your career – and this is especially true if you offer services.  But like any form of networking, you need to begin building your presence (your brand) well in advance of your needing it – because it takes time and effort to create and maintain.

For instance, I have been building my “Operational Excellence” brand since June of 2008 – and it was not until 2010 that my “brand” started to gain real traction.  That’s two years of diligent effort before it began to yield results.  Rule: Networking and Social Media Branding require a long runway.

For careers and career building, I would suggest you use LinkedIn (  Make sure to build-out your profile as completely as possible.  Join groups that are relevant to the profession and industry in which you are interested – and make sure to engage the membership by adding thoughtful discussions and comments (not to mention, mining the “Jobs” board).  Get “connected” to those who you know or engage on the site.  Above all, get “Recommendations” from your connections; especially those with whom you have engaged professionally, and not just friends and family.

Above all else, keep your engagement in LinkedIn professional at all times.  Do not confuse LinkedIn with Facebook.  Don’t post or get involved in politics, religion, or other incendiary or divisive topics.  And don’t speak ill of anyone or any company.  Engage respectfully and in a collegiate fashion.  I have seen too many career train-wrecks from people who have not heeded this guidance.  Follow it.

As for Facebook, it might be a great avenue for promotion of your locally-oriented “service or entertainment business” – or if you are a musician promoting your band or an artist.  But it is not a very powerful platform for developing your professional career.  And please be very careful with what you post (and what you allow your friends to post) as Facebook tends to attract a lot of “graffiti” which your customers might not appreciate.  Similarly, Twitter and other lesser outlets are not particularly effective for professional networking.

Remember, engaging in social media takes time.  If your social media engagement is not planned and monitored, it can become giant time-sucks with little production.  Make sure you use your time wisely and engage and invest where you are going to get the most traction.

Above all, there is one simple rule when it comes to Social Media, “Don’t ever write or post anything that you would mind anyone in the world reading.”

This is actually a good rule that can be applied to any form of communication.  It is not to say that you can’t engage in debate or discourse, nor does it mean that you should shy away from engagement or an expression of an opinion.  Just be sure to engage with a level of civility, respect, intelligence, and politeness – not necessarily “Political Correctness”, which I personally abhor, and can muddy your messaging. Keep your comments as clear and concise as possible.

Some of the things that people write and post really amaze me – especially today, since there have been countless stories and warnings regarding the perils of posting before this one.  Some things that should never be posted include (but are by no means should be considered an exhaustive list);

  • Threats of any sort against anyone, anywhere
  • Rants against your employer
  • Cursing, slurs and hate-speech
  • Bragging about sexual conquests, being drunk, or getting high (pictures are worse)
  • Being chronically pessimistic, cynical or otherwise being the “perpetual victim”
  • Personal financial, legal or health issues
linkedin career tips

Remember, the internet never forgets – and all of these are career killers.

Reference: How to Leverage Social Media

Reference:  What NOT to do in Leveraging Social Media

6) The Cover Letter and Resume/CV

Make no mistake about it.  In the absence of your being in front of the prospective employer yourself, your cover letter and resume becomes you!  Therefore, you have to prepare your Cover Letter and Resume/CV so that they are dressed for success and prepared to act the part as you.

One common mistake that most people make is that they expend a lot of effort addressing their own goals and aspirations.  As a prospective employer, I really don’t care what your goals and aspirations might be (well, maybe I do – just a tiny bit).  But I really don’t care if you want to “grow into a management position” or other such drivel.  What I want to know is; “What value will you drive to my company if I hire you.” Once in the interview, you can address your personal aspirations.

So, let’s start with the Cover Letter; it must be exquisitely well written without any spelling or grammatical errors – and without any “social media shorthand”.  Although you might have had help in writing the Cover Letter, it should be in your own words – words that you would use in the interview.  Otherwise, I will know it, and you, are fake.  You also must take the time to research my company and specifically refer to it (and me) by name.  And you better note what it is that my company does, why you are interested in a position with my company, and what value-add you expect to deliver.

Your Resume/CV should highlight the positions you held and tell a story of how you added value to your employer.   List the employer, your position and the dates you held the position.  Don’t tell me your responsibilities here – and I don’t care about your “management / leadership skills”.  I want to hear about value of your efforts realized by the company.  I want to hear of how you saved money, increased revenue, helped to create a product, or how your innovation improved your company and the circumstances of those who worked there.  Make sure to include your schooling information (not your coursework).  Although this is often frowned upon in the States, I would also recommend that you include a professional picture of yourself with your personal information at the top (it will be on your LinkedIn profile anyway – a profile you simply must have).

Keep your cover letter to a single page – I won’t ever read the second page.  The same goes with your Resume/CV – just the most recent highlights.  If you have a considerable list of noteworthy historical efforts (articles, talks, inventions, etc…), add an addendum or “bill of accomplishments”.

A friend of mine at University once told me he worked for the Syracuse Catholic Diocese and “had over a thousand people under him”.  What he didn’t tell me is that he cut the grass at the cemetery.

… I don’t care what your title is, I care about the value you will drive to me.

Reference: How to Write a Cover Letter

Reference: How to Write a Resume/CV

7) The Interview

This is where the rubber meets the road – and obviously you will either win the position or lose the position based upon how you conduct yourself and how the interview flows.  And there are many good resources available (on the internet, your local employment office, your school, etc…) to coach you and prepare you for the interview, so I won’t dwell on that in this article.

When I was 13 years old, I was earning $0.50 per week in allowance and I decided I needed more.  I asked my father (who was a manager for IBM at the time) for a “raise” to $0.75 per week.  He asked me to write a paper as to why I deserved the raise.  So, I wrote a paper and explained at-length how fifty-cents didn’t buy anything and how I needed the extra money.

After reading the paper, my father denied my request – telling me; “You told me why you need it, not why you deserved it.”  Ouch…

The next day, I got off the bus early and asked Donald Ferguson at Nanticoke Gardens for a job.  He hired me for $1.85 an hour doing odd-jobs around the farm.  Next thing I knew, I was earning $50 per week and my brother was doing the chores I used to do.


  1. It does not matter what you need, it matters why you deserve it.
  2. It does not matter that you need; you must have a want.

The one point I will stress is that this is the opportunity to deliver your value-proposition in person.  Do not place the focus and emphasis on you and your needs, but rather on what you can do for the company should they hire you.  Talk about the return they will receive by their hiring you and investing in you – extrapolate from the returns realized by your previous experiences.  Make sure they know you won’t be a lone rogue, but rather that you enjoy working as part of a team and that your orientation, alignment, and commitment will be to drive value to the company.

Above all, make sure this is all true and, if not, fix yourself first before you chase your career.  To paraphrase John F Kennedy, “Ask not what your company can do for you, but what you can do for your company.”

career tips, job interview mistakes

I recently mentored a friend of mine here in Germany.  He had decided to leave his position as a consultant for a major consultancy firm and move into industry.  In a very short amount of time, he had offers from four companies (three “
Fortune 500” and one privately held company, but with revenues close to $2-billion), and several other offers pending – and he was asking me to help him decide which offer to accept by weighing the pros and cons of each offer and company.  I knew he was a bright and capable individual, but I was very impressed and queried him as to how he had so many offers in such little time.

He told me that he changed the “interview process”.  Instead of sitting down, Resume/CV in hand, and exchanging interrogatories with the interviewer, he walked the interviewer through a presentation in two parts.

The first part was an introduction of himself; his personal life, philosophies and beliefs – and some of his professional highlights.

And the second part was about the approaches and methodologies he uses so that the company can realize the value his skillset offers.

career tips

Click Here to Download Powerpoint Example/Template

The companies he solicited and with whom he had an interview fell into two camps; those who let him present himself as he wanted during the interview, and those who were only comfortable interviewing in the “traditional manner” of mutual interrogatories.  The outcome was that he only received offers from the companies who allowed him to present himself.
He then offered some additional insight to his job-seeking experience.

I was left wondering; “If you are looking for a job as a “change-agent” (as he was), is the company who refuses to change the interview process the right candidate company for you?”

The lesson learned is that you can’t be just a piece of paper – you need to stand-out from the crowd to increase your chances of winning the position.

Reference: How to Interview

8) The Follow-Through

It is polite and shows good form to send a “Thank You” note after an interview.  In the fast-paced business of today – where time and timing matters more than in the past – my recommendation is that this note should not be hand-written and mailed, but rather sent by email.  I would also strongly recommend that you keep the note short and succinct, but taking the opportunity to highlight one point from the interview which focuses attention on a particular strength you might have.  Also close by indicating when you will contact them for a follow-up (no less than one week).

Remember, there is a fine line between enthusiasm and stalking.

8.5) It’s Not Over Once You Have the Job

Once you land your job; remember that this is just a single stepping stone on your career path – it is almost certainly not your last job.  You may evolve within the company, or you may decide to change companies (or even careers).

You may even discover that, although you love the thought of the career you chose, you might not be any good at it.  For instance; I love to golf – but there is a reason I am not on the PGA Tour.

Complacency kills careers – and will erode your passion.  If you don’t stay ever-vigilant in honing your skills, re-assessing the level of pleasure your chosen career gives you (or the way your current employer delivers that pleasure), or the threats that might render your career obsolete; you risk discovering that what you came to expect as granted is, in fact, gone.

Reference: “Who Moved My Cheese”

“If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward” 

 Martin Luther King Jr

About the author

Paris is the Founder and Chairman of the XONITEK Group of Companies; an international management consultancy firm specializing in all disciplines related to Operational Excellence, the continuous and deliberate improvement of company performance AND the circumstances of those who work there – to pursue “Operational Excellence by Design” and not by coincidence.

He is also the Founder of the Operational Excellence Society, with hundreds of members and several Chapters located around the world, as well as the Owner of the Operational Excellence Group on Linked-In, with over 60,000 members. Connect with him on LinkedIn or find out more about him here:

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