Archive for June, 2013

How to Talk in Metrics that Matter to Recruiters

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

man_looking_at_dataBig Data is the new comfort zone for decision-makers who fear taking action or making a choice without justifiable cause. The decision might be wrong, but if they’ve made it based on an assemblage of data points: there’s some cover and conversation rather than more draconian measures, like getting fired.

Data matters so much to so many that The McKinsey Global Institute predicts the US will need nearly two million data savvy analysts and managers in the next eight years. Now you might not want to go quant for a career; however, you do want to be numbers oriented when it comes to making the case for getting hired. And, it’s the numbers that measure your achievements, ambition, plans and activities that matter to recruiters.

It all goes back to the prescient comment by Edward Deming in the 1950s. The quality guru famously propounded: you cannot manage what you can’t measure. That’s because incremental and continuous process improvement needed something to hang onto. How would you know if the plant was getting better, more productive, faster, more effective or cost efficient with less defects if you didn’t have a baseline? And, then you’d logically want regular snapshots or updated data to see if your changes were helping you make progress.

It’s like weighing yourself everyday or at some regular interval. The scale has the answer. It’s a number that objectively demonstrates that the dry cleaner did not shrink your jeans. The extra ten pounds you’re ignoring until your waistband is screaming shows up when you look down and what you weigh cannot be denied.

A recruiter is like every other person in business whose job it is to gather information, do a comparative analysis and make recommendations. Collecting data on you is the simplest and safest way to sort through the wildly positive recommendations everyone collects on LinkedIn and reconcile that with the limited experience you have or the skills you might be lacking, but could learn. After all, very few people hired for a job actually fit all the job requirements. That’s why knowing someone is still the best way to get a job. Better to have someone vouch for your character and recommend you for your sunny nature than reach into the grab bag of resumes to pick a mystery candidate.

You should be supplying data on yourself. This is your way of proving you can be managed (or that you can manage) because you understand the importance of measurement. Plus, you should be your own best recommendation, with real facts and measurements about what you have achieved rather than the vague props that appear on your LinkedIn love line.

Data is critically important if you don’t have the experience or skill set a recruiter has been set out to locate. Obviously, it won’t be data on what you haven’t done that they are looking for. It will be data on what you have done that helps them predict you are a good investment.

The best data is what I call “startling statistics.” These are facts that surprise us to the point we are startled. That means we stop and listen (or read) so we can regain our balance. You’ve seen this startle response if you go to the theatre, especially the philharmonic or opera. Someone in your row begins to nod off and then snore, until their head drops and the pull on their neck startles them awake. Or their spouse elbows them.

You want to startle recruiters with data about your life and times. For example, one of the most impressive sets of statistics I have ever heard from a job candidate was about something he did in elementary school. As a nine year old, he got a hand-me-down lawn mower and started cutting neighbors’ lawns for five dollars a week in summer. He shoveled the snow off their driveways in winter at five bucks a pop, and tripled his income because he lived in New Jersey and shoveling was practically a full time job before he left for school on snowy mornings. He persevered until he saved enough money to buy a ski jacket, equipment and boots when he entered junior high. Years later he made the ski team in high school. The data proved that early in life he had amazing initiative, plus the ability to do really hard work and the self-control to save up for a long-term goal. Hired!

What startling statistics could you compile about what you have done? What startling statistics about your life – where you have traveled, what you have done for a social cause, or how many hard jobs you’ve held – would give us the data we need to hire you based on your character and the qualities that are part of your personal brand?

Of course, if you can startle us about what you have accomplished that directly speaks to the job that’s open: great. But if not: reflect back on your life and calculate the many numbers that allow us to meaningfully measure what matters about you. Perhaps it’s your compassion, poise, motivation, congeniality, logic or patience?

I have worksheet on how to create startling statistics about your personal history and personal brand. If you would like it, email me at [email protected]. Subject line: Startling Statistics.

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Don’t Hate Me Because I’m a Personal Brand

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

happy_businessmanYou’re probably not old enough to remember the 1980’s Pantene shampoo commercial. This lovely young woman with long, thick, shiny hair looks you in the eye, and with abundant self-esteem few will ever enjoy, she purrs: “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”

She then tells the truth about her hair. It’s dry with split ends and apparently, until Pantene she never had a good hair day in her life. So don’t hate her. It’s this miracle shampoo that’s made her beautiful. Just go get some for yourself.

If I could look you in the eye today, I might say something similar about last week. Don’t hate me because I had a fabulous week in business and I am about to have my best year ever.

Here’s what happened. I got an offer to lead a project that I’ve been dreaming about for the last three years. An offer I wanted when I first heard the CEO of the company on a radio interview, the day the venture was launched. And, among the things that have fed my fever on it, a gaggle of A-list actors are featured on TV commercials that promote this outrageously great organization.

It has it all. Great people. Great big brand. Great opportunity to do what might be my favorite thing: product development. Great money. Plus international recognition. Plus an assistant to coordinate everything. Oh, plus a new computer.

The truth is: I never told anyone I wanted to do the project.

My personal brand did the work that was necessary to win it.

I do nothing wowie-zowie, presto-chango amazing with my personal brand. I just do what we are supposed to do. I post updates on social networks about my work, interests, point of view on important issues of the day, (and photos of my dogs). I post announcements about world news because it’s sometimes hard to find that in US media. I don’t post photos, comments or anything that I wouldn’t want my late mother to see. I never use profanity.

In twenty minutes each day, I’m online to read and respond to my tribes’ posts, because that’s your work as a personal brand. I reach out to other people when something good happens to congratulate them, via their feeds. I put in an encouraging word when other people are struggling, via their feeds. I post answers on posted questions, sometimes just to jump start the thread, because no one else has answered yet.  I argue reasonably and sometimes with humor on threads. I allow myself to be strident – not crazy, just strident on two issues that are outside of my work: equal rights and access for everyone, and safety for children and animals.

In other words, it’s not hard to be a personal brand. It’s just a little harder than being beautiful with just one luxurious Pantene lather (or maybe she rinsed and repeated) a day.

Last week, I got the phone call that I fantasized about for the last three years. I got the call because I am visible online. If you see me online and that’s a lot of places, you see what you are going to get. And, last week: I saw proof again that nothing works like personal branding, when it comes to attracting what you want.

You can do this. You too, can get the right call. The perfect offer. Now: post!

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Why You Need a Recruiter to Feel You

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Business handshake to seal a dealYou probably don’t think of yourself as a teacher, unless you actually are one. That’s too bad, since the majority of your work in whatever occupations you choose will involve teaching other people, at least if you are going to be successful.

Successful people won’t spend the next 40 years trying to fill job descriptions written by someone who never met them. If all you can do is what a boss tells you to do, the future looks dreary and impoverished. You’ll probably be competing with robots for most of that kind of work anyway, and robots are really poorly paid. They work for chips. They live on a fuel cell.  Don’t you need more?

Recruiters have too many candidates who are like robots. They appear to be alike. Capable of doing the functions of a job. You might be slightly better or worse than your competition for a job, but frankly you all pretty much look the same to employers.

The candidates who rise to the top, that recruiters notice, are the people who make us feel something. It’s the candidates who surprise us, with their amalgam of skills, life story, or unrelated prior experience that at first glance might be seem outlandish – but on learning more: amazes and impresses us.

That’s the key. You need us to learn about you.

Therefore, you have to teach us about you.

Here’s what you may not know about teaching. There is no learning without feeling.

In her opinion piece for last Sunday’s New York Times, a middle school English teacher Claire Needell Hollander writes, “I like it when my students cry, when they read with solemnity and purpose.” What Hollander knows is that information presented in a way that evokes emotion is education, because it stays with the student. It becomes part of the student. It haunts them. Changes them. Motivates them.

Why? Emotion is necessary to embed information in the brain. Emotion is the tripwire to our associating new information with other relevant knowledge we have stored.

The refrain in the brain of recruiters is: “I need someone who can do this!”  Their brains are full of needing and pain. They get a pile of resumes, look at a whole lot of LinkedIn profiles or take a whole lot of interviews, looking for someone who deserves the job opportunity they have.

What are they looking for? Recruiters are looking for someone who stands out from everyone else who could do the job. They are seeking someone who should get the job, because this person inspires trust, communicates a sense of willingness to take on a challenge, or telegraphs a warmth or generosity in their nature.

You know all these qualities and more as attributes of a personal brand. It is your personal brand: the true, authentic, compelling and engaging qualities about you that makes a recruiter feel you. That goes beyond scanning your resume.

You have an opportunity to help us feel your personal brand when you write your cover letter, develop your LinkedIn profile, take your interview and when you make an outreach call to a recruiter who has never met you – and especially when you get their voice mail. Learn to tell a story that communicates your personal brand and connects you with the job you want, even if you have little or no experience. Even if you appear to be an outlandish choice.

If you’d like to learn how to tell a story that teaches us about your personal brand, I have a worksheet and some examples for you. Send me an email at [email protected]. Subject line: Heroic Achievement Examples.

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How to Tell a Better Story

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

speech1Arrowsight CEO Adam Aronson is a handsome, intelligent, athletic, self-motivated and ingenious entrepreneur profiled last Sunday in the New York Times. He wrote a short autobiographical sketch of his life and career for “The Boss” column. I read this column every Sunday, because it’s an opportunity to “meet” successful CEOs from smaller or privately held companies whom I wouldn’t generally hear about.

Adam Aronson is typical of the people who tell their stories to the Times.  The linchpin of his story is that he co-founded two money management firms that trade currency – and after being wildly successful but concerned about how the financial industry was changing, he walked away to a business he invented.

He launched a new company supplying cameras, sensors and remote video software to business, inspired by a TV expose’ on a day care center he had viewed. A child care worker had been abusing drugs. This led to the Aronson’s light bulb moment. If there had been cameras installed, he thought, there would be more scrutiny and safety.

He’s gone on to expand the concept to healthcare environments, and even slaughterhouses, where he is working with an expert in humane treatment of animals. This is really heroic as well as profitable, and it’s a lesson on paying attention to popular media, because that’s where highly profitable ideas can be found.

Aronson’s personal brand seems to be heroic, as well as intelligent and determined. After all, he got funding for his start-up, even though he knew nothing about the business prior to watching the program. He has grown his business despite obstacles in selling technology where the buyers have no budget allocated for it. He clearly has the ability to learn and master new industries quickly.

But all of that impressive, valuable information about him nearly didn’t make it to me. All the admiration I feel for him, I almost never felt. Even his great advice about how to find investors and the right colleagues was nearly lost. Why?

Because he told such a sad sack story to introduce himself. He started out with: “My parents divorced when I was five.” He then goes on to some other biographical facts about moving to a rural area with his mother and a stepfather, and working a job juicing oranges in the basement of a grocery store. Then he goes on about sixth grade when he moves in with his father. This uncomfortable and confusing saga takes the first full quarter of space allotted to the column.

Do you do this? Do you start your story way too early? Way too depressing? Way too disconnected to what people should know about your personal brand?

You capture or lose our attention in the first 7 seconds of our meeting you. Make your story compelling and memorable, and get us wanting more.

In his book Happiness From the Inside Out, the author Robert Mack has a nugget. He says: tell a better story. When you get the chance to be featured or interviewed: use your time really wisely. And, no matter what happened: make sure it’s the first impression you want to embed in our brains about you.

I have a worksheet for you if you’d like a head start. Send me an email at [email protected]. Subject line: Heroic Achievement.

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