It’s time to “turn the tables” so to speak and take control of the job interview process — there is so much advice out there regarding how to handle interviews and most of the job interview tips, from my perspective, simply put the candidate in an almost submissive position.
It’s time to take full control over your career and that means changing your mindset and approaching the search for a new opportunity in a very different way.
You have to stop thinking of yourself as a candidate.
And it is time to view yourself as a powerful corporation in your own right, where you are in full control.
You are the CEO of “you.”
As such, you have a tremendous amount of value to offer any employer, whether you believe it or not and you simply have to have the confidence to articulate that value.
There is a huge amount of uncovered, untapped value lying within us all and it is just a matter of uncovering and channelling it.
Now the dreaded job interview — interviews can be intimidating and for some, it can be an extremely daunting process and there are others, like myself, who thoroughly enjoy the process and let me tell you that in my case, it wasn’t always that way as I felt so nervous at my first ever interview, that I felt sick and could barely speak!
In this article, I am going to share with you my job interview tips to give you the best chance of getting hired.
As an entrepreneur, businessman, and former CEO of a multi-million dollar international staffing agency, I and my company have placed thousands of people in jobs all over the world, plus as a CEO, I have sat on the “other side of the fence” and interviewed thousands of candidates.
The best people that always landed the jobs in my company were the ones who were the best prepared…and it felt like they were actually interviewing me to decide if I was the right company for them and it’s amazing the feeling you have when a candidate thanks you for their time and then tells you that they are interviewing with three of your competitors before making a decision, which they will make within a period and then “get back to me!”
When the above scenario is performed in the right way, you cannot help but admire the approach from the candidate and in my case, it was bound to happen to me, simply because that is how I coached candidates as part of my overall process to help them land their next or in many cases, their dream jobs.
So I would like to share the process with you, but before I delve deeper into the process there are a couple of key points to make and the first one is to change your mindset as I have mentioned and stop thinking of yourself as just a “candidate.”
You are a corporation in your own right, so start to think and act in a corporate manner…you will then start to display a very valuable quality — commercial awareness.
The second key point is that you must ensure or propel yourself into the top 20% of the global talent pool.
Take a look at this article — “How to become a linchpin at work and be the best employee,” where I go much deeper into the above.
Although we are primarily focussing on the interview in this article, there are a lot of other factors that surround the interview stage and it is important for me to outline the entire process, so you can see how your confidence will be built to handle any interview situation.
There is a lot of hard work involved…but the dividend pay-off is huge, so let’s get started!
Define the overall interview objectives.
The ideal interview would be one where a potential employer has found and approached you, either through a network, a referral, or online.
On the subject of being online, most candidates have a Linkedin profile and are on other forms of social media, so you would think that the process would be easy.
As with any online platform, there is going to be two main issues:
- Trust — is the platform trusted as a source of information?
- Control — do you, the owner of the information have total control over the process and your information?
Some of the platforms are trusted more than others and take Linkedin as an example, it is now a well-known and established tool for the job industry…but for some, there are still some reservations.
I have read many profiles that bear no resemblance to the skills that are portrayed and I say this because of personal experience and when it comes to controlling…you have none, as the platform can be changed, like any other platform because the owners deem it fit.
The only way to really have control of what you put online is to own your own platform and here is where I recommend that you start a blog.
Starting a blog can be the foundation of your online “home” and it is your chance to showcase yourself to the world.
Interviewers will always google someone (or they should) before they interview them and that is where you can get ahead of the game.
A blog will have your resume/CV on it — it will talk about what you do and more importantly, give the reader an insight into both what you know and who you are.
If you want to start blogging, then take a look at the person who inspired me to start this blog, Fernando Raymond and he has so much information available through his online education academy and he can also host your website through his hosting company SeekaHost.
While we are talking about being online, I want to talk to you about your social media profile if you have one — and please make sure that you are happy with all of the content as it is now almost routine for potential employers to look at social media profiles.
OK, so if you have taken my advice at this point, you will at the very least have an online resume, which when you link it to your Linkedin profile, you will think you are merely duplicating it…so now you need to distinguish it and start writing some blog posts to give your views and opinions about your industry…get started and who knows, you may even be asked to join a company because of the knowledge and opinions that have been found!
Maybe you find this unlikely…but I started my blog just a year ago and you found me, so there you go — but start ASAP because the longer you leave it, the longer it will take to get your blog posts seen unless you want to buy some traffic and Fernando will happily guide you through that process as well.
But I am talking about the natural or organic route as it is termed.
Assuming you haven’t been found in the ways I mentioned above, then you will have applied for positions you are interested in either directly, or possibly through a recruiter.
Either way, here are the objectives as I see them and they are to:
- Be “interview ready” at all times.
- Confidently be able to present your own, unique value proposition to any potential employer.
- Create a list of companies that you would love to work for and why.
- Handle the toughest interviews and overcome those annoying, but challenging questions.
- Totally differentiate yourself from other candidates.
- Handle all employment negotiations effectively and with the best outcomes.
- Stay marketable in an uncertain and volatile economy.
So let’s work through each of those in detail.
Be job “interview ready” at all times.
You have to be in a constant state of “readiness” when it comes to your career — you never know who you might meet and at a moment’s notice and that is what I mean by being “interview ready.”
There is so much advice available concerning how to prepare for an interview, but the truth of the matter is that you should always be prepared — you shouldn’t have to worry about whether you are able to recite your career history in a way that engages the recipient or should you worry about answering tough questions.
You must be able to do this and a whole lot more, without a second thought.
You are the CEO of “you.”
Let’s go back to the idea of thinking and acting like a corporation:
A company adds value to its customers and it is the collective value of all of its employees that provides the overall value.
Successful companies are always on top of their game — they are constantly evaluating themselves and ensuring they create the best image, best products and services, the best customer support and they innovate.
You should do the same.
I have spent all of my working life in sales and when I ran my companies I was a sales focussed CEO and I always made sure I was in the front line, constantly engaging with existing and potential customers as many times as I could.
I was always ready to do so at a moment’s notice and that meant I had to be on top of my game and specifically:
- I had to know the dynamics of the industry I operated in — who were the key players, what were their strengths over their competitors, and what was their vision for the future.
- I needed to define my company’s mission — and articulate what our objectives and values were.
- I had to define the message I would deliver to the market — how would I help customers and why should they use us.
- I had to ensure that I had the optimum service delivery model — I needed to make sure the company was agile enough to pivot in a heartbeat if required and that I would always deliver quality.
- I had to ensure that I could monetize — in today’s hyper-competitive world, pricing is critical.
- I had to measure everything — feedback is essential and it is the only way to be able to optimize everything.
Now take all of the above and apply it to you — and you will very quickly see how you can create a serious edge over other candidates when it comes down to interviewing and this is simply because you are making yourself far more commercially aware.
By thinking like a company or international corporation, you are automatically and effectively demonstrating your commercial awareness which is one of the most important qualities of any job role, regardless of that role.
Putting the above into context:
- Understand your industry and the dynamics of it — this requires conducting research of your industry, knowing the dynamics, the key companies, and what differentiates them from your competitors.
- Define your career mission — what are your career objectives and why? How are you going to those objectives?
- Create the message you would like to send to the market and what you offer potential employers, (this is the key point) — how are you going to help future employers and make sure you can identify the outcomes of your work. If you are a cleaner for example, then you must be the best cleaner with the objective of ensuring a happy and more productive workforce…and a clean environment is a more productive one.
- Define your salary expectations — know the salary ranges and if you are the top of the range, make sure you can articulate why.
- Measure and track everything regarding your job search — each step of the process has to be measured.
So switch your thinking from being a candidate to thinking commercially and putting a commercial value to everything that you do.
More importantly, “readiness” is a state of mind — that beautiful sleeping tiger is in a state of relaxation…but when lunch is needed…it is there!
Present your own interview value proposition.
Here is where, as an individual, you have a slight advantage over a corporation and this is because most companies, don’t really have a unique value proposition unless they have truly reinvented the wheel!
I used to explain to my customers that the only unique value we had as a company, was the value of our people.
It is their thinking, creativity, tenacity, commercial awareness, willingness to be the best they can be, plus of course, their individual skill sets that really differentiate.
Now you can see where I am going with this and I cover this in more detail in the linchpin article so please take a look if you haven’t already.
Value comes in two distinct forms from your perspective:
- What you know.
- Who you are.
The “what you know” aspects are tangible and the “who you are” part is not so tangible…unless you make it.
And that is the goal.
You hire people for what they know and fire them for who they are.
You are trying to let your interviewer know exactly who you are at the interview in order that they can determine whether you would fit their culture and if you have done your research correctly, you will have an understanding of their culture and if you follow my process, they will be on your target list of companies you wish to work for before you have ever approached them, or had someone approach them on your behalf.
Look at the words that are in the picture of this section and see how many of them you can provide tangible evidence that the word applies to you.
So take the word “integrity” — can you demonstrate real-life examples of where you have shown the quality?
Do the same with “leadership” and all of the words that apply to you.
Many candidates brandish these words around but offer little evidence of how they apply to them personally.
The words “emotional intelligence” and “self-awareness” are the new buzzwords of the job world today…but can you give simple, tangible examples of how those terms apply to you…and you must if you want to stack the odds in your favor during the hiring process.
I talked earlier about how I had to keep on top of my game and also how it translates into the career world and you must do the same — this alone can mean the difference between a good interview and a fantastic one.
Work through your value proposition until it creates a “no-brainer” feeling and that means companies absolutely must hire you…or risk losing you to their competitors.
Make sure your resume/CV is appropriate for the job interview.
The resume is still an important part of the interview process…unfortunately!
I say this because I have seen so many that bear little resemblance to the person concerned and their abilities, but for most companies, you have to provide the CV as a formality.
Many people use the same resume/CV format for every interview they attend and it is imperative that you tailor yours to the opportunity in question.
I am a big fan of creating a “master resume/CV” which is basically a mini-version of your life story.
You can go right back through your life and back to your school days, where you may have been the captain of your sports team, or won a cookery competition because these achievements, no matter how small, are differentiators if it really comes down to a choice between two candidates for example.
However, this is just a process and it serves more as a reminder of exactly what you have done with your life and it will list your achievements, no matter how old you are.
From your “master” resume, you can tailor a version that is specifically tailored to the job you are applying for and this does not mean you alter the document in any way, just that you target your knowledge to the job in question.
Let’s say that you are looking for a total change of career and you have no direct qualifications to enter your new career in any other capacity as a junior/trainee.
Your research has identified ten companies that you would like to work for and you have a good understanding of the differences between each company and the type of working environment that exists.
You have further delved deeper into the culture by actually calling some of the companies to get a feel for what they are like to work for and also you have looked at employee reviews online.
So you have written a nice letter to the assistant to the CEO expressing your interest in working for the company (this is a good step as you are not bothering the CEO directly, but indirectly you are going to the top).
Now you have secured an interview because the assistant to the CEO, has put you in touch with the head of the department concerned.
In your preparation, you have clearly identified that your current knowledge and experience would be beneficial to the company and the role in question for 5 key reasons and you have articulated this on a one-page document to accompany your resume and also prepared a 3-slide, printed PowerPoint presentation to go just a little deeper.
Your resume has also highlighted the examples in real employment, that you have highlighted in your presentation and cover letter, so the three documents are all interlinked perfectly.
The above scenario actually happened and I had coached this person through the entire process and they ended up getting hired — there was no “vacancy” and they handled the entire process from start to finish on their own, with my guidance.
Sadly, the person didn’t enjoy the new role, but only after giving it a fair chance…but the process was effective.
Make sure you can recite your value proposition and resume clearly and comfortably.
We will get to the questions section later, but you know that there is one question that is almost certain to be asked and that will be something along the lines of…”tell me about yourself.”
This is your cue to shine.
Normally people will start with a shortened version of their life-story, or they will go through a canned presentation and that is not a bad thing in its own right as at least you have consistency…but you want to be the best and that means giving your best performance.
When I was presenting my company to the world, I would have a presentation that was consistent with the industry at the time — it was extremely short and to the point…but my “story” or how I framed the presentation would change depending on the audience.
You have a consistent value proposition and that can then be framed in the same way.
Now I am a big proponent of training — I have taken the discipline of my martial arts and weightlifting training and competing and applied that discipline to business.
The way you train is the way you react
You need to train your presentation!
Here are some tips for you:
- Learn a 30-second elevator pitch — this is the hardest, but if you stick to the hard facts it is easily doable. I can’t tell you word for word what to say, but begin with your name and then state what you do –BUT…concentrate on the outcome of what you do.
- Video yourself with a full value pitch of say, 5 minutes — it’s hard to look at yourself on camera I know…but that is how any interviewer will see you. Do this and play it back to your family and friends…5 minutes is a lot of camera time when you are talking about yourself, but do the exercise and don’t cut it short. Then analyze it critically and we are all extremely critical of our own performances…it’s natural.
- Now make it more professional — create a video with a slide presentation of your value and talk over it. Again, think and act like a corporation.
- Put yourself in the position of the interviewer — record interview questions relating to your presentation and be harsh on yourself! Here you are acting the part of the interviewer and I bet you will be tougher and more searching than any interviewer.
- Finally, record your answers to the questions — this may seem strange but trust me, when you see yourself on camera and hear your voice, you will be ultra-critical of your performance and it will motivate you to give the right answers.
Try the above and you will actually enjoy it after a few attempts and be critical of yourself — very critical as after all, that is what the interviewer would do.
Create a list of companies you would like to interview with.
When I started my technology staffing company I did not have a huge database of candidates to work with and therefore could not compete with my competitors who had thousands.
This is where I started to shape the process that I am sharing with you now and I simply worked very hard to understand the people that were on my database.
After working through the resumes and helping to create the value propositions, I then asked each person to come up with a list of companies they would love to work for and conversely, those they would never work for…and why!
From here it was a simple process — I had researched many of the companies that came up and some I had not, so the research continued…but the result was that I phoned those companies directly and with a pitch that was on the lines of:
“Hi, my name is Neil Franklin and I am representing xxx, who does xxx and we have researched and created a list of companies that we believe would be the best fit for his/her skills…and you are on the list.”
That was the gist of the approach and it rarely failed — in fact, many people were impressed and started talking about what research we had conducted and why we had chosen their company.
It is something you can easily do in your quest for a new job, or tell your recruiter to do…but in an interview situation, you can use the same strategy providing of course, that you actually would work for the company in question.
In any event, it will show the interviewer that you have put a good amount of research into the job finding process.
You should continually evaluate companies that you would like to work for and the main reason for this, aside from the obvious is that it keeps you in touch with what is going on in the industry as a whole, plus the dynamics of the key players within the industry.
But more importantly, it forces you to continually evaluate your value proposition accordingly…which is what all of the great corporations do.
I would defy any CEO to not talk to anyone who approaches them with the statement ‘I would love to work for your company and here’s why’
The exercise itself will give you confidence and the fact that you have decided that you would like to work for a company is a very powerful statement.
It is real and it can be substantiated simply because you have thought the process through logically and you have no inner conflict compared to the many “affirmations” these self-help guru’s talk about in order to keep your thinking “positive.”
When you research and evaluate the companies (yes, you should evaluate companies just as they evaluate you), you will then be able to see how your own value proposition can fit into theirs.
This becomes 100% believable.
I am a realist and I live in the real world that balances positivity with negativity and I urge you to do the same.
It’s all about having the correct mindset and I delve deep into the topic in this article:
Please take a look!
And finally…be ambitious with your list — pick the best!
Job interview questions.
Let me state right from the start, that as you are acting and thinking like a corporation, you should answer questions in the same manner as a corporation!
This is the key and it again, puts you on an equal footing to your interviewer, plus it demonstrates commercial awareness.
There are so many annoying interview questions that make you want to jump out of your seat and go home, but you are there for the interview and you might as well answer the questions and at least get an offer for the job!
If you have followed what I am saying so far, then you will be able to answer most questions logically and in relation to the hard work and effort you have already put in…but there are some questions that don’t seem at all logical.
As an entrepreneur, I have been in business since I was nineteen and am now fifty-six, plus I have had only a few and short-lived jobs.
I have been asked all of the questions below over the years and in many different circumstances, some by clients who were interested as to how I would answer certain questions, but in any event, my answers would always be pretty much the same.
And please…forget the stock answers such as to the question as to how do you handle stress with the answer, “stress motivates me and I handle situations rather than stress.”
Nobody really believes them and you need to frank and honest with your response.
These questions are totally random and in no order:
- Tell me about yourself — this is an easy one as all you have to do is focus on your value proposition and articulate it.
- Why should we hire you? — My immediate answer to this is always “you shouldn’t” and at least until you have understood exactly what value I can bring to your company and let me explain…”
- What are your greatest strengths? — I always answer this with…” my ability to understand and work on my weaknesses.”
- What are your greatest weaknesses? — Again, I have a standard answer and that is…”probably the same as yours and every other member of the human race…emotions. I am always striving to maintain a balance between logic and emotion.” Everyone has weaknesses and I refuse to play the game where when you admit one, it is turned against you. I live in the real world, with real events, real emotions, and real outcomes. I always strive to create a balance.
- Why do you want to leave your current job? — This depends on the reason and I am completely happy to trash an incompetent boss if necessary, providing it is the truth. I may not name the person directly, but elude to the situation and if I believe the company leadership is weak, then I will do the same — be truthful and never be afraid to admit it.
- Why do you want this job? — This depends on how you have arrived at the interview point and once when I was recommended for a role, I replied with…”I don’t particularly, now tell me why I should consider working for you.” Not always a good answer, but you should be honest and explain that through your research, you have identified a target list of companies you would like to work for and their company is on the list, so you are exploring the opportunity.
- How do you handle stress and pressure? — My answer to this question is simple…”I give it!” That is my stock answer, but it usually invokes a little humor so I then tell the interviewer that I have learned from many people in high-stress situations such as doctors, financial traders, special forces operatives…and others. And they all tell me that all you can really do is to focus on the task in front of you and control your emotions. I strive to do the same and stress does not intimidate or motivate me, it is simply an obstacle in the way of the mission.
- Where do you see yourself in five years? — I have always regarded this question as ludicrous and my answer is always and without question, “hopefully alive.” This usually gives a “nod” and then it is repeated. I continue with…” there are household name companies that will go bust in the near future, the economy is more volatile and uncertain than ever, so the answer is centered around being alive and surviving. Many people talk about being the next company CEO and this is fine, but you have to put it into perspective. Sure, talk about your ambitions in relation to your value proposition, but five years is a very long time in today’s economy.
- How do you receive criticism? — Remember, you are a corporation so answer like one, and here is my answer…”I take all criticism seriously and I will sit down with that person, discuss diligently as to why they have decided to criticize me, and then we will agree that I am right and move on.” In all seriousness, this is how I answer the question, followed by a response explaining that as long as the criticism is just, logical and fair, then I will take every step to eradicate it.
- If you were a strawberry dropped in a glass jar, then how would you get out? — I love these questions and they really bring out the “alternative thinking” in me. This was actually a real question that a client asked me over dinner and I explained to him that I would simply stay there and die! Now here comes the good part…I told him that as a young boy, I loved the song from the Beatles, “strawberry fields forever” and I always imagined myself as the head of a strawberry army, ready to take over the world. We were “strawberry motivated” and trained to the highest degree — we could cope with anything and as I ended up in a jar, it was obviously not true!
Such questions to me are pointless and here is why:
You are trying to evaluate an individual on one, or perhaps three or even more occasions and you are asking random questions to gather the answers and form an opinion.
The conditions are hardly scientific and are not conducive to gaining optimum results.
If you were to ask the same questions, in varying surroundings and under different and stressful situations, over a time period of say six months, then you may be able to achieve something.
These questions are quite frankly bullshit to me and serve no purpose — can you imagine two corporations entering into a supplier agreement with one asking “if you were a spice, then what spice would you be?”
Not in a million years and if that question was asked of me or my company…I would find another company.
I am all in favor of psychology and science…but it must be relevant to the real world in order for me to take an interest.
How to differentiate yourself from other candidates at the interview.
The work you have done so far will differentiate you from most and it is now a matter of making sure that you convince whoever interviews you.
As I said at the beginning of this article — there is so much information out there that almost puts you into a submissive position and you have to take control, you have to “turn the tables” so to speak.
Preparation is the key and if you have taken my advice so far, you will be more than capable of holding your own in any situation…but let’s no make sure you don’t “fall over” at what should be a formality.
Years ago, I was working with a large insurance company in the City of London and I had introduced an IT specialist to the company, in the manner that I have described here who was “in the bag,” or as we Brits like to say…a “dead cert.”
I had done most of the work over the phone and the interview was a mere formality…or so I thought.
It was the “formality” part that let me down and that involved a simple human resources interview to simply cross the “T’s” and dot the proverbial “I’s.”
The person was rejected simply because he wore white socks with a business suit — in the City of London!
Knowing what I know now, I am sure that I could have talked the relevant parties around and on the rationale that it is easier to teach a person what socks to wear, who is totally suitable for the job role, rather than it is to find another person for the role which was desperately overdue to be filled!
Still, I learned a valuable lesson.
Be prepared as they say in the scouts!
Here are my tips and outside of the fact that you should have conducted all of your research and you know as much as you can about the company, the reason why you want to work for them, and can clearly articulate your value proposition, etc:
- Dress appropriately — I have seen so many people interview with me, looking like they should be in a fashion parade. Think about it — do you want to distract your interviewer with the clothes, make-up, perfume, or cologne from what you can really offer. I used to spend layover time at airports working out the nationalities of people from the way they dress. Learn to dress “internationally” and that means you will never look out of place in any country. Use simple colors such as blue and gray, with plain and simple accessories — you want to be remembered for who you are and what you know, rather than what color shirt you were wearing. Remember also that you can never over-dress in this manner.
- Never, ever be late — punctuality is the key and it shows that you respect the most valuable commodity of all…time! Be at least a half an hour early for your appointment.
- Have copies of your resume to hand — always take some extra copies of your resume with you as you never know who else you might meet and you can also make sure the interviewer has the right copy of your resume if you have been introduced through a recruiter, for example — some unscrupulous recruiters do not use original copies and “adjust” them!
- Be nice and conversational with the receptionist — or whoever greets you. I used to always ask the opinion of the people who greeted the interviewee and it may make all the difference.
- Greet the interviewer in a natural way — nobody likes the “power handshake” or any other assertive measures. It shows a desire to gain the upper hand in what should be a neutral discussion. Just be yourself.
- Never engage emotionally — interviews are sometimes like interrogations and the interviewer will sometimes create a scenario where they are looking for a reaction. Don’t engage and remain emotionally detached. Remember the “corporation concept” and simply conduct yourself in a friendly, business-like manner.
- Answer questions honestly — you have seen some of my answers to common questions, but create your own. Always keep the answers open and honest.
- Ask questions — this is self-explanatory and if you have conducted your research correctly, then you will certainly have questions…but think like a corporation.
- Never commit to any financial negotiation at the interview stage — I will cover this in the next section, but always take your time and “but time” to think things over.
- Be prepared to enter a social situation — I used to take people I would hire for senior roles out to a social setting to see how they behaved and many times, I found out there were two (or more) sides to the person concerned. Learn about the correct dining etiquette for example, as you may find yourself having dinner with the “big boss” before a decision is made. I have seen deals won and lost over the dining table!
- If you are genuinely interested in the position, let the interviewer know — always do this and in a simple manner, but in my process, you will be seeing a number of companies in your chosen list, so think back to what I said at the beginning of the article when I interviewed people that impressed me!
- Qualify and confirm — you must always qualify and confirm what is said and this doesn’t necessarily fall at the end of the interview. Some interviews can last a long time, so don’t be afraid to take out your notebook and qualify and confirm the key points of the discussions between you.
Finally…be prepared for the unexpected as it can happen!
How to handle negotiations at the interview stage.
If you have done your homework (research) and you know the value that you will offer a potential employer, then this is easy…except your interviewer is out to get the best deal for their company and you for yourself.
So what do you do?
Unfortunately, a lot of the advice out there is simple BS.
It is a commercial discussion and I refuse to play the negotiation games in my world because I have done my homework and I know the market prices (higher and lower) for my services and of course, the value I provide.
Equally, your interviewer knows the same.
So do you want to “play the game” and go through completely useless steps that will take you into a negotiation battle or do you want to explain something like the following:
“I, like yourself, know my market implicitly and I have explained to you the value of what I do and in relation to your bottom line, therefore I am at the higher/middle/lower end of the salary bands and I feel that my remuneration is fully justified.
If you feel that it’s not, then no problem and as I have explained, you are on a list of hand-picked companies that I would love to work for, so it is up to you.”
This is an example of course…but you get my drift.
With my own company, I would frequently sell services that would be re-sold to other companies, and my initial reaction, when I found this out, was to go directly to the end-user company in an attempt to get more cash.
But in reality, this didn’t really work out as I thought and that was because the initial client, who was re-selling the services, would, on many occasions, package those services into a services “bundle” and that would also involve financial guarantees, among others, that I could never offer.
I would benefit more from the re-selling companies because I could do a greater volume of business and you must look deeper into the opportunities to progress salary and benefits wise, before making any decision.
You need to forget the word “negotiation” and simply follow a fact-based, value-oriented business discussion and do not get emotionally involved!
Too much is written about the subject of negotiation and because it is seen as the route to making money.
It is a natural process.
How to stay marketable in the job world.
I cannot stress enough that we are in very uncertain, volatile, and hyper-competitive terms and one that will see a huge increase in automation.
If you have stayed with me so far, then you already know how you can protect yourself and look for careers that require the key skills of emotional intelligence and commercial awareness.
But you have to keep your finger on the pulse and not take anything for granted.
In my early business days, I would thank my lucky stars if I had survived a single 3-month period and I am deadly serious here.
That is why I adopt a mindset of never standing still, always learning and ready to adapt in a heartbeat.
As a business and career coach, I am amazed at how so many people are looking at 3 and 5-year business plans for their companies and still planning out a long career path.
I am not trying to be negative here…just real and at the time of this, we have seen the world being brought into lockdown due to a global pandemic, which has seen the shuttering of some huge companies and placed a huge stress on many other household names.
Now I have survived 3 serious recessions and a few other incidents, but I have no idea how I would have coped with this pandemic if I were still running my own companies.
Many people have also been forced to work from home and we may be seeing the start of a new trend here –who knows.
Here are a few tips to keep yourself marketable:
- Research, research, and research — you cannot conduct enough research and once you have understood what is going in both your world and the world in general, then start to try to predict what is coming next. In this way, you can form opinions, which will provide the foundation for discussion.
- Start a blog and also be active on social media — I cannot emphasize enough the importance of starting a blog. By 2030 it is estimated that ninety percent of the population will be online, so it’s time to build your online presence right now. Make sure you are also active on social media and the overall goal is to have the job market come to you. Join groups and be an active member.
- Join a professional association — this is great for networking, but don’t just be a passive member — you are acquiring knowledge and forming opinions at all times. Use them!
- Acquire new and relevant skills — in an increasing world of automation and artificial intelligence, it is critical to focus on the skill-sets that machines cannot easily perform. Take a look at this article to get some ideas.
- Do volunteer work — it shows that you are willing to “give back.” I personally do volunteer business mentoring for Business Wales and it allows me to help up and coming entrepreneurs as well as experience a wide variety of businesses and problems.
- Continue to develop your emotional intelligence and commercial awareness — these for me, are critical skills and you cannot get enough business knowledge or experience in general. Attend courses, learn from other departments in your organization, and work on your “soft” skills.
Staying marketable is going to be a challenge as the dynamics of working and employment are constantly changing…but you can stay ahead of the curve by putting in some time and effort.
The interview process needn’t be daunting or intimidating and you need to simply embrace and love the process.
The first stage is to take control of the entire process of finding a new job or even having a total change of career.
You must also stop thinking of yourself as a “candidate” and learn to think and act like a corporation in your own right and propel yourself into the top 20% of the global talent pool.
You are the CEO of “you.”
Make sure you are “interview ready” at all times and the preparation for this state of “readiness” will automatically increase your confidence and put you ahead of other job applicants.
Create your own unique interview value proposition which will be the outcome of the utilization of your skills, from a hiring company perspective — a company is a collective of individual value propositions that form the product and services of the organization. The higher your value, the more valuable you are to the collective.
Make sure you can clearly articulate this value on-demand — learn your 30-second value proposition and also your 5-minute one…and make it perfect.
Create a list of companies that you would like to interview with and work for — this is extremely powerful as you can narrow your career search and focus intently on finding opportunities within those companies and even creating new ones. This is far more effective than simply applying to endless vacancies.
Companies love to hear about people who have specifically targeted their organization as one they would like to work for.
Learn how to handle annoying and tough interview questions — don’t have canned responses and remember by thinking like a corporation, you are equal to any interviewer/hiring company. Go back through the questions I have answered and create your own, but make sure you give honest and open answers — everybody deep down appreciates the truth.
You differentiate yourself from others through -preparation and sheer hard work — don’t take this stage lightly and remember to expect the unexpected. I have personally witnessed business deals fall apart at the dining table and “in the bag” candidates lose serious opportunities in social interview settings.
When it comes down to negotiation of employment terms, do not get emotional and take a fact-based approach. Your research will have covered salary-bands for the job in question and you know your own value, so it is a matter of putting them together in through a logical and fact-based discussion. Don’t hesitate to hire a specialist employment lawyer if you fee you are getting out of your depth and finally, remember there are other companies out there!
Finally, make sure you stay marketable — start a blog today and showcase who you are to the world, be active on social media, join professional associations, keep your skills up-to-date and learn new ones — also, never forget the two, critical key areas of commercial awareness and emotional intelligence.
I hope this article has helped you to break down some of the key components that surround the job interview process and also to increase your overall confidence.
Get in touch with me if you need any further clarification of the points made here or for more specialist career coaching.
To your future career!
Last modified: July 28, 2020