Tag: Nashville career coach


Modern Interview Advice to Make You Stand Out From The Competition (Re-Post)

Many of my clients come to me facing the daunting task of conducting a job search for the first time in 10 to 20 years and a lot has changed in that time. They are unaware of the modern interview advice available to them.

This is because most of the interview advice floating around the Internet is extremely outdated.

Not Your Grandma’s (Or Even Your Mama’s) Interview Advice

In fact, while recently helping a friend with her upcoming job search, I gave her some modern interview advice. She said she’d never heard of it before, and was shocked to learn it was something she could try.

“Do you mean I can actually do that for a job interview?” she exclaimed.

“Yes!” I said.

Modern Interview Advice

The advice I gave my friend was the same advice I had posted when answering the following question on Quora:  “What are some smart interview answers?”

Smart interview answers are ones that show you have the company’s best interests at heart. (And if you don’t really care about the company, you probably shouldn’t be interviewing for a job there.)

You should always make your answers about them, not about you (until it’s time to negotiate an offer, at which point you need to make it a win-win situation).

Steps to Smart Interview Answers

1. Find out the most immediate need.

Find out what the company’s most immediate need is they’re hoping the person in this position can fulfill.

Most candidates will ask this question during the job interview, but by then it’s too late! You must determine this before the interview!

You can do this in a couple of ways:

  1. Do your research on the company (which should be a given…always do your research before going into any interview!).
  2. And ask the person with whom you’ll be interviewing what their most immediate need is (prior to the interview!)

You do this as soon as the interview has been scheduled by HR. Simply email the person who will be interviewing you and let him or her know you’re looking forward to the interview. Then ask the following question,

“What is the main thing you hope the next person in this position will accomplish or help solve?”

(You’ll probably be the only candidate who does this, which will make you stand out in a good way.)


2. Brainstorm a solution.

Use the answer to this question as your foundation for preparing for the interview.

Brainstorm one or two possible ways you can use your strengths to help get the desired result.

Also, think of examples of times you’ve achieved similar results.


3. Create a proposal.

Summarize your ideas and your past examples in a one-page proposal.

You don’t have to have all the details of a full proposal. Just an outline of what you’re thinking will work.

If you don’t have enough information to come up with a solution to the company’s problem, you can at least create a one-page case study of a time where you previously solved a similar issue.

Indicate the challenge you were facing, the action you took, and your accomplishment or the results of your solution.


4. Show and tell.

Bring hard copies of this proposal or case study to the interview with you so you have something tangible to show.

Make sure to bring enough copies for each person with whom you’ll be interviewing.

Introduce it at any of the following points in your interview that feel right:

  • At the end of your answer to the question, “Tell us about yourself.” After you’ve described your skills, experience, and interest in the job, you can say you’ve given a lot of thought to the information the interviewer gave in your recent correspondence and you’ve put together some ideas of how your skills and experience can meet their specific needs. Let them know you’d be happy to share it with them. If they invite you to share it then, do so. If not, wait.
  • At any point in the conversation where the door clearly opens for you to share your proposal. For instance, if they ask how you would handle the problem or issue, then answer that question with your proposal by walking them through your handout.
  • If they ask, “Why should we hire you?” This question usually comes toward the end of an interview, so if you haven’t had the opportunity to introduce your proposal or case study yet, now’s your chance. You can summarize the strengths you have to offer and then say you’ve already given great thought to their most immediate needs and have drafted something you’d like to have the opportunity to implement if hired. Then walk them through your handout.
  • If at the end of the interview you still haven’t had the opportunity, when they ask if you have any questions for them, use this time to remind them of the question you asked prior to the interview. Then show them how you’ve given it thought by giving them your handout and asking if it is something they could benefit from.

Make sure you pay attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues on how receptive they are to learning more about your proposal. Only bring it out if they express an interest in hearing more about it.

I guarantee you’ll likely be the only candidate who shows up to the interview with an idea or solution in hand.


Taking the time and effort to speak to the company’s most immediate need shows you really care about working for that company, which will make you stand out from today’s competition in a big way!

Want More Modern Interview Advice?

For more modern interview advice, check out the paNASH on-demand program The 3 Super Powers of Successful Job Seekers. It includes proven job search strategies that blow all the cookie-cutter strategies out of the water!

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What You Need to Know About Job Interviews of The Modern Era

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Is There Such a Thing As the Perfect Job? No (and Yes)!

I was listening to the radio while getting ready yesterday morning. The DJ started talking about how there’s no such thing as a “dream job.” How you can’t expect a job to be without challenges and struggles. And how it’s the struggles that grow us and make us better. There’s a lot of truth in what he said. However, I think he was confusing “dream job” with the “perfect job.”

There’s no such thing as the “perfect job,” just like there’s no such thing as the perfect person, perfect relationship, perfect life, etc. But there is such a thing as a “dream job.”

Granted, the majority of people are not in their dream job (yet!). But there are a lot of people who are. Probably even more so today than in years past due to the changing world of work. Many people now can create their own opportunities through entrepreneurship, “solopreneurship,” freelancing, and the gig economy. Others can now work from home or be digital nomads through remote opportunities.

A Perfect Job Would Be Boring

I feel like I’m working in my dream job. I get to do what I love and use my skills, experience, and gifting doing it. Also, I get to encourage others and see them succeed which is extremely rewarding. And I get to make my own schedule and don’t have to answer to a boss.

But I would not say my job is perfect. There are many challenges and struggles that come with running my own business. And I’ve definitely grown and learned from those struggles. I don’t think it would be my “dream job” if I didn’t have to face any challenges at all. Instead, I think I’d be totally bored.

The 60% Rule

I always tell my clients:

“You can’t expect to love 100% of your job 100% of the time. But if you love at least 60% of your job, you’re in a much better place than most people who are settling for just a paycheck.”

I try to live by my own advice.

And I’m sharing this advice with you today as well. For you, finding this 60% “sweet spot” may mean trying to find ways to be happier in your current job.

Or it may mean looking for a new job, changing careers, or starting your own thing.

Realistic vs. Unrealistic Expectations

The key is to have realistic expectations.

I remember when I was working as a college career adviser. I had a student who was a sociology major who never took the advice on how to gain experience while still in college. However he did register for the career development course I was teaching, but then dropped it two weeks in.

Later, in his last semester on the verge of graduating with a sociology degree and no internship experience, he came to me and said the following (with a serious face):

“I’d like to get a job in advertising in Hawaii. I don’t expect to be making $125K my first year, but do expect to do so by my second year.”

(Feel free to stop and chuckle before reading further.)

I had to bite my tongue to keep from telling this student that even my magic wand has limits.

And trust me, if such a job existed for someone without any advertising experience whatsoever, I would be the first one to apply for it. I could totally live in Hawaii.

Needless to say, this student had unrealistic expectations.

What Do You Value Most?

There’s nothing wrong with having a dream to do work you love. But there is something wrong with expecting everything (including perfection) for nothing. You’ll be continually disappointed if you expect perfection.

Instead, you should expect there to be some things you’ll have to compromise on. You may have to work more hours if you want to make more money. Or you may have to give up some money to have more work/life balance.

You have to decide for yourself what you value most.

You can start by making a list of your “must have” items, a list of the things you’re willing to compromise on, and a list of “icing on the cake” items (things you’d love to have but don’t expect to have). Then be open to opportunities that fulfill at least 60% of your lists.

Need Some Help Discovering Your Dream Job?

Are you in search of your “dream job” but are mistaking it for “the perfect job”? Are your expectations realistic when it comes to finding your dream job?

Remember, there’s no such thing as the perfect job but there can be such a thing as a dream job if you earnestly seek it. The pursuit is a little easier when done with the help of a career coach.

If you’d like some help in this area or would just like to schedule a complimentary initial consultation, please click here and take a few minutes to complete the paNASH intake form.

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How to Know What Resume Format You Should Use

When it comes to writing resumes, choosing the right resume format can be confusing. There are a few different formats to choose from. But format really depends on what your career goals are and what industry you’re in.

Below are descriptions of resume formats to help you determine which format will work best for your unique situation.

Chronological Resume Format

If you want to advance in the same field you’re currently in, you’d want to use the chronological format.

The majority of recruiters and hiring managers prefer this format.

When I say “chronological,” I mean reverse chronological order, with your most recent info listed first. Make sure you list each and every section of your resume in reverse chronological order. (I.e. in your “Experience” section, your current or most recent job is listed first; in your “Education” section, your most recent degree/schooling is listed first.)

Skills/Functional Resume Format

However, if you’re trying to make a career change to something different, you’ll need to highlight how your skills transfer over to a new field.

It’s at this point you’ll want to consider a skills format (also known as a “functional” format). This format is the preferred format for some industries such as the legal field.

A skills resume is also a good option if you’re trying to downplay any gaps in your work history. But beware! Recruiters know people use this format for this reason.

On a skills resume, instead of having a section called “Experience,” you’d have sections named after the top three skills they’re seeking and you possess. Those skills will be your headings for those sections (i.e. “Marketing Experience” or “Event Planning Experience”).

Underneath each heading, you’ll list job duties from past jobs that demonstrate your ability to perform said skill. (Use bullets to list these items.)

Don’t worry about listing job titles or companies yet. You’ll do this in a separate section called “Employment History.”

After you’ve completed the above with a few different skills, you’ll begin a new section called “Employment History”. Here you’ll simply include a list of your current and past jobs to show when you worked. List each job on one line with the following info: job title, company name, city, state, dates of employment.

That’s it. No need to include bulleted job duties because you should’ve already listed them above in the appropriate skills sections.

Hybrid Resume Format

There may be cases where it makes sense to use a hybrid resume format. This format combines elements of both the chronological and functional formats.

This is especially helpful if you’re moving to a field different from your current work, but you have relevant experience from further back in your past.

In this situation, you always want the most relevant experience higher up in the resume while still keeping your resume in reverse chronological order.

How do you do this?

By simply breaking your “Experience” section down into two different sections. One with a heading called “Relevant Experience” and one with a heading called “Additional Experience”.

Put the “Relevant Experience” section first, and include your past jobs most relevant to the position for which you’re applying. Give details on your duties and accomplishments in these jobs with bulleted statements outlining the results of your work.

Then, after this section you’ll insert your “Additional Experience” section and include your current job (to show you’re still working) and any other unrelated jobs you may have had. Here, you don’t have to include bulleted details if you don’t have the space to do so. Instead just include the job title, company name, city, state, and dates of employment.

Make sure you list all your jobs in reverse chronological order within each section. Organizing your resume this way lets you move the most relevant info higher up in the resume while still keeping each section in reverse chronological order.

I have samples of these different resume formats in my on-demand program Resumes That Get You the Interview: Surprising Secrets to Getting Your Resume Noticed.

Master Resume

In addition to the various formats listed above, I always recommend having what I call a “master resume.”

This resume is for your eyes only. It includes everything you’ve ever done (work, volunteer experience, projects, professional association memberships, etc.). Therefore, it can be as long as you’d like since you won’t send it out to anyone.

Instead, what you’ll use it for will be to create targeted resumes (see below).

Always try to update your master resume every six months, even when you’re not looking for a job.

Targeted Resume

You’ll create your targeted resume (using one of the formats listed above) by pulling any items from your master resume that are relevant to the job you’re currently targeting.

Simply copy and paste those relevant items from the master resume into the targeted resume. This saves you time in the future when having to send out resumes for multiple jobs.

More Resume Tips:

For more tips on resume writing, check out:

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How to Write Networking Emails That Will Get Responses

I recently had a client who said she wasn’t getting the response to her networking emails she’d hoped for.

She asked me if there was anything she could do to increase her response rate.

I went back and looked at some of the previous emails she’d sent me to see if I noticed any patterns possibly interfering with her networking efforts. In doing so, it was immediately clear how she could improve her response rate.

If you’re also not having as much success in getting responses to your own networking emails as you’d like, check out these tips I shared with her, plus some bonus tips!

Tips to Increase Responses to Your Networking Emails

Always include an appropriate subject line.

Emails without an appropriate subject line are often viewed as suspicious.

But sometimes it’s hard to know what the subject line should say to get the recipient to open the message.

One subject line that tends to work well is one including a mutual contact’s name. If someone referred you to the person you’re emailing, include a subject line like, “Referral from [mutual contact’s name].” The reader will immediately know the message isn’t spam or junk mail.

Avoid any spelling errors in the subject line. Misspellings often send the signal the message could be spam or phishing.

Copy your mutual contact.

If you’re emailing someone you’ve been referred to by another contact, copy your mutual contact on your initial message. This adds validity to the relationship and your claim of the referral.

Better yet, ask the person referring you to do an introduction email with all of you copied on it. Or ask them to send their friend an email giving them a heads-up that you’ll soon be reaching out.

Your potential contact is more likely to open an email from their friend they already know than from someone they’ve never heard of.

Keep it cheerful, yet professional.

Avoid writing networking emails when you’re in a bad mood. Sometimes it can come across in your wording, and the tone may be easily misconstrued. It could also make you sound or seem entitled. You definitely won’t get a response then.

And while you always want to be concise, you can also come across as abrupt if you don’t include a friendly greeting or any context as to why you’re emailing the contact.

Frame your message with a friendly opening and closing, but be professional! This means not using any emoticons or exclamation points. In fact, an email with too many exclamation points will usually end up in the recipient’s spam folder.

Be clear but concise.

Make your reason for emailing clear from the start.

If you need to give an explanation for your request, do so as concisely as possible. Avoid anything too lengthy, including background info the reader doesn’t need to know just yet. Save this for when you set up a meeting to connect in person.

People are busy, so make your message easy for them to read quickly. They’ll appreciate you being mindful of their time.

Do NOT use the phrase, “Can I Pick Your Brain?”

Don’t. Ever. Say. This.

Just don’t!

Not ever.

I previously wrote an entire blog post explaining why you should never use the phrase “Can I pick your brain?” If you’re wondering why, stop reading this post right now and go read “Why ‘Can I Pick Your Brain?’ Is the Wrong Approach“!

If it is information you’re wanting from your networking contact, find a better way to phrase your request than, “Can I pick your brain?”

Say thanks, but don’t be too presumptuous.

In your closing, thank the recipient in advance for their time and consideration.

I’ve read studies that claim email response rates increase if you include the simple phrase, “Thanks in advance.” I’ve personally found this to be true on most occasions.

However, you don’t want to sound presumptuous. So to counter-balance this phrase, indicate you’re willingness to follow the recipient’s lead on the next steps.

For instance, you might say, “I’m happy to meet at a mutually convenient time,” or “I can meet you at a location that works best for you.”

You must be flexible since you’re asking for someone’s time.

Give your recipient an out.

I once had someone I’d never met email me wanting to get together for lunch so he could ask me some questions. He said, “Let me know what time next week works best for you.” (He also asked, “Can I pick your brain?”)

I wanted to respond with, “Well, if next week is my only option, the answer is ‘no’.”

Why did he assume I was even able to meet the following week? I immediately felt like he was trying to control the situation for his preference and convenience. Had he just left out the words “next week” (and “Can I pick your brain?”), he would have left a better impression on me.

If you’re asking someone for their time to help you out, don’t be picky with time or location. And don’t try to put constraints on them or try to force them into a “yes” they may not be able to give. Craft your message so it gives the recipient some options, including the option to say “no” if they need to.

Follow up.

It’s okay to follow up with someone if you don’t get a response the first time. Sometimes your message gets lost in their inbox or they forget to respond.

I’ve had situations where I followed up with someone after a few weeks and they actually thanked me for doing so! They simply forgot and were glad I spared them from the embarrassment of never having responded.

The appropriate amount of time to wait before you follow up is one to two weeks. If it happens to be more urgent (which it most likely isn’t), at least give people 24-48 hours to respond.

And when they do, make sure you show the same courtesy by responding within 24 hours to all networking emails.

If after following up you still don’t get a response, move on.

Should You Skip Networking Emails and Just Call?

You always have the option to call instead of sending an email. Keep in mind, however email is less intrusive on people’s workday. It allows people to respond at a time most convenient for them.

If your mutual contact tells you the new contact prefers phone calls, by all means call instead of emailing.

I don’t recommend texting since that’s more personal than professional.

When receiving a response, always return messages with the same method they used in reaching out to you.

Remember to always be courteous and professional in all your networking efforts. Using career etiquette will go a long way!

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How to Tell If a Company Is a Good Fit for You

You know your current job is not a good fit for you. You feel stuck, so you went looking for something else.

After sending out countless resumes and enduring grueling interviews you now have an offer on the table for a new job with a different company.

You have a pen in hand ready to sign the offer letter.

STOP!

Don’t sign it yet!

At least not until you know the company is a good fit for you. First ask yourself the following questions.

“Good Fit” Questions to Ask Yourself

Do my personal values match up with the company’s core values?

By now you’re probably already familiar with the company’s core values. Especially after having researched the company in preparation for your interview.

But are you 100% clear on your own values? If not, you’ll want to spend some time in reflection on what’s most important to you in your life.

Sub-questions of “Do my personal values match with the company’s core values?”

If you are clear on your own values, do they match up with the company’s core values?

Or are you just so ready to get out of your current job you didn’t even consider this?

Or do you think it’s not really a big deal if there’s no real alignment in values?

If you’re so ready to jump ship from you’re current job you’re willing to overlook incompatible values, you’ll likely find yourself feeling stuck in your new job. Do you really want to go through another job search again next year?

Also, what may not seem like a big deal now, will soon become a real issue. An example to illustrate this is in marriage. When you’re in love and excited about getting married, opposing mindsets on things like money and child-rearing may not seem like a real problem. But when you’re eventually and inevitably faced with a financial crisis or a disciplinary issue with a child during your marriage, real problems will arise.

If you don’t share the same mindset in values as the company making the offer, don’t sign anything! Instead, keep looking for a company whose culture is more compatible.

And this time in your interviews, don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions about a company’s culture and values. (Yes, you can and should ask questions of them since interviewing is a two-way street!). Challenge them to give examples of how they “live out” their core values.

Can I be my authentic self at this company?

This question is a good piggy-back on the previous question. If your values don’t match, then you’ll be forced to pretend to be someone you’re not. This isn’t something you can keep up for very long without feeling emotionally drained and exhausted.

Instead, you want to make sure you’re saying “yes” to an offer that supports your personal mission statement and “no” to those that don’t.

Still don’t have a personal mission statement written out? What are you waiting for? A personal mission statement is imperative in helping you make good decisions in life, like what job offers to accept.

To learn how to write your own mission statement, check out my blog post “How to Make Your Big Decisions More Simple” or purchase my latest book Personal Branding: Why You Need to Know What Makes You YOUnique and AWEthentic.

Does the company provide products or services I find meaningful?

If you don’t believe in the company’s products or services, you’ll have a difficult time in your new job. Even if you’re not in sales.

While you may have been able to feign enthusiasm for the product during the interview, you won’t be able to keep this up on a daily basis.

Your lack of enthusiasm will not only make you feel stuck in the wrong job once again. It will also become obvious to your colleagues and supervisors. When this happens, you risk being let go. Then you’ll find yourself once again in another job search.

Look for a company who provides a product or service you can get excited about!

Is the work in the role I’m best suited for meaningful to me?

Even if you’re good at a particular job, this doesn’t mean you may like it.

There are a handful of things I’m good at but hate doing.

Before accepting any offer, make sure at least 60% of the job duties are meaningful to you. This refers to not just a match with your values and skills, but also your interests.

In addition, you know a job will be meaningful if it supports your personal mission and goals. This is why I can’t stress enough the importance of having a personal mission statement.

Don’t settle!

Be honest with yourself in the questions above. In doing so, you’ll get unstuck and find a job with a company that’s a good fit for you.

Don’t settle for anything less!

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