Proper Preparation is Key in the Job Search Process

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

You must be prepared if you are going to be successful in securing a new job.  This preparation pertains to all five stages of the job search process – Assessment Stage, Preparation Stage, Connection Stage, Interview Stage and Follow-up Stage.  Each stage is extremely important and if you aren’t prepared in one or more of these stages, you aren’t as prepared as many of the candidates who are interviewing for the same position.

In the Assessment Stage you are discovering what type of position you want to pursue for your career, and you will uncover your strengths, weakness, skills, and abilities.  If you aren’t 100% certain what type of job you want, you aren’t prepared.  You need to spend some time in the assessment stage and figure it out.  If you know what type of job you want, but don’t know your strengths, skills, and abilities, you aren’t prepared.  Knowing these attributes is necessary as you enter the other stages. They will be used in your cover letter, your sales pitch, to answer interview questions, and to follow-up after the interview.  It is critical that you know these attributes and you can sell them to a potential employer.  If you’re unsure what your attributes are, you’re not prepared.

During the Preparation Stage, you need to be prepared by having a quality cover letter, resume, sales pitch, and references.  Most people aren’t as prepared in this area as they think they are or should be.  What are the basics of the cover letter?  What should go into the opening paragraph, the body of the letter, and how do you effectively close the letter?  What are the three sections of the sales pitch?  Why do you have the references you have?  Do you know what each of them will say about you?  If you’re not 100% sure on any of these questions, you’re not as prepared as your competition.

In the Connection Stage, you need to identify the target market you want to pursue for a career, be active in networking into that market, make contact with others in the profession, and promote yourself for jobs.  You should have a marketing plan for promoting yourself.  This includes identifying what promotional techniques and strategies you will use to promote yourself.  Are you using direct contact to network?  Are you attending conventions and conferences to learn about the profession and to get to know others within the profession?  What are your strategies and techniques within your self-marketing plan?  This marketing plan will help you to be prepared for the connection stage of the job search process.

During the Interview Stage you should be preparing for both pre-interview strategies and interview strategies.  In your pre-interview process, are you gathering information about the organization you will be interviewing with?  Do you know who the other interviewees are (or at least how many other interviewees)?   Do you know when the best time to interview is?  Are you practicing your answers to potential interview questions?  You should be.  If not, your competitors will have the upper hand.  During the interview, do you have an Interview Preparation Form that outlines your sales pitch, stories you will tell, your answers to potential questions, questions you will ask, and the process for closing the interview.  To be properly prepared you will need all of this. 

After the interview you will want to implement a strategic follow-up.  This stage is probably the most often overlooked of the five.  That’s because most people are satisfied with completing their interview.  However, did you know that your competition is still working hard to land the job?  Have you strategically attempted to influence the decision of the search committee?   Your opponents are.  If you haven’t, you’re not as organized as you need to be.

Being organized in your job search is one of the most important keys to being successful in landing a new position.  If you aren’t as prepared as you should be, you need to learn the basic skills that successful job seekers use, and then apply these principles.  If you know the techniques and strategies for all five stages of the job search process, you will be landing a new job soon.  Congratulations!  Being prepared and executing the basic fundamental skills is necessary for success.  Just remember, in everything you do, you will want to Execute for Success.

 

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.SportsCareersInstitute.com or his new book, Execute for Success, at www.execute4success.com.

 

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Proper Strategy is Key After the Interview

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Editor’s Note:  The Coffee House Mentor is a series of 10 topics that discuss all aspects of the job search process. This is the last article in the series.  To review any of the previous articles, go to our Home Page at http://www.SportsCareersInstitute.com.

This past week both Cece and Steve got new jobs.  Cece was hired as an assistant marketing director for a department store in Seattle and Steve’s new position is in operations at a financial firm in Tacoma.  Of the five mentees, three now have new jobs and two others have interviews coming up soon.

Rob is happy for his mentees and the progress they have made.  Since this is the final session for this group, Rob will take two weeks off and then begin with another group of job seekers.   The two mentees who have upcoming interviews really need this week’s session.  This week’s topic is on understanding the various strategies and techniques a person can utilize in following-up after the interview.

Last week Rob spoke about how the goal of the interview is to sell yourself and also to gather information about the organization.  He made sure that the group understood that in gathering information, the group members should be interviewing like a consultant.  They should probe and uncover information about the people, structure, culture and current situation surrounding the organization.  This information will now be used in their post-interview strategies.  In other words, the information they gathered in their interviews will now be used in an attempt to influence the hiring decision of the search committee.

To influence the hiring manager and the search committee toward you, you will need to use three strategies.  One strategy includes conducting a follow-up campaign, while another strategy includes having the proper timing of your follow-up correspondence.  A final strategy is to stay positive and outlast the other candidates.

The use of a follow-up campaign will help you to think creatively and strategically about how best to follow-up with the hiring manager and others of influence.  Many people will send a letter of thank you after their interview, but most people don’t.  You, however, will conduct a follow-up campaign.  This campaign will include corresponding to everyone you met during your interview.  You will want to send a typed letter that includes thanking them for their time, touching on something that might connect the two of you (similar home town, common friends, same philosophies, etc.), and telling them what you can do for them.  This approach should be used if you are the first of 3 or 4 interviewees.

However, if their isn’t enough time to send a letter of influence, you can have note cards already addressed and a quick note of influence can be written before you leave town and put in the mail prior to leaving town or as you wait in the airport.  But, if you are last to interview, you will need to send an e-mail.  Personalize each letter, note, or e-mail.  This will be impressive and help to sway the decision of the committee.

Other items you can include in a follow-up campaign are telephone calls from colleagues who will help to sell you to the hiring manager, work samples you can provide, and maybe even a proposal that might resemble a consultants report stating what you believe the organization needs and how you can fulfill their needs.  These strategies and more are in the book the mentoring group uses entitled Getting Hired In College Sports.  The book has helped hundreds of people to get a job.  It has helped the members of Rob’s mentoring group as well.

To get hired in a new job, you will need to be prepared with the basics of the job interview process.  Remember, in all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS!

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.   Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.SportsCareersInstitute.com or his new book, Execute for Success, at www.execute4success.com.

Using Proven Strategies For Your Job Interviews

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Editor’s Note:  The Coffee House Mentor is a series of 10 topics that discuss all aspects of the job search process. This is the tenth article in the series.  To review any of the previous articles, go to our Home Page at http://www.SportsCareersInstitute.com.

Last week Rob introduced the five stages that comprise a job search campaign.  This was a long session because of the depth of the topic, and this week’s topic would be just as long.  Today they would discuss the ninth element of an effective job search, strategies for your job interviews.

When interviewing for a job, Rob believes that an interviewee needs to “interview like a consultant”.  Cece was a bit confused by this comment and asked what he meant.  Rob explained that a company hires a consultant to solve their problems.  Like a consultant, when you are interviewing, you first need to convince the hiring manager that you’re qualified to be hired and then you need to be able to solve the company’s problems.  In other words, you won’t be hired for a consulting job (or the job you’re interviewing for) if you can’t convince the manager that you are qualified for the job and that you can solve their problems.

So what does a consultant do? A consultant gathers facts, identifies an organization’s strengths and weaknesses, and analyzes their problems. He or she then communicates these strengths, weaknesses, and problems to the appropriate people within the organization. The consultant then follows this up by making recommendations for solving these problems.

Therefore, your role during the interview is to be prepared to discuss your qualifications (selling yourself), to provide a good impression, to ask quality questions so as to gather facts, to identify the problems that face the organization, to develop solutions to these problems, and to communicate these solutions to the search committee.  The preparation, fact gathering, and types of questions you’ll ask will be categorized as pre-interview research, interview strategies, and post-interview strategies.

Rob explained that during your pre-interview research you want to be extremely organized in your approach.  He passed out an example of what he called a “Pre-Interview Research Form” and stated “this form will provide you with an organized structure to follow when gathering information about the job search, the search committee, and the organization.”  You will want to uncover the strengths, weakness, and challenges that are facing the organization.  You will also want to find out who is on the search committee, and find out more about the position itself.  Once you uncover these facts, you will want to organize your findings so you can present solutions to their problems.  You will also want to do research on the members of the committee to see if you have any commonalities such as friends, hometown, same college, etc.  These commonalities can help to create a connection with the search committee and build a relationship with them.  Additional pre-interview strategies are knowing when to interview, visiting the interviewing site prior to your interview, practicing your answers to potential interview questions, and knowing the job description.

Rob continued by sharing the some of the various strategies that you should be prepared for during the interview itself.  He started by saying that first impressions are huge.   This includes arriving early to the interview, knowing what to wear (and what not to wear), being aware of your body language, knowing what to bring with you to the interview, and asking probing questions.  There was so much more to share, but time was running out for this week’s session.  Therefore, Rob provided handouts on more interviewing tips, and finished by saying “we will discuss the post-interview strategies next week”.

If you want the job it is essential that you learn the proper strategies and tactics for getting hired.  This is because the job will go to the candidate who is best prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process.  Remember, in all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS!

 

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.SportsCareersInstitute.com or his new book, Execute for Success, at www.execute4success.com.

Organizing Your Job Search Campaign

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Editor’s Note:  The Coffee House Mentor is a series of 10 topics that discuss all aspects of the job search process. This is the ninth article in the series.  To review any of the previous articles, go to our Home Page at http://www.SportsCareersInstitute.com.

As the group gathered for this week’s session, there was an odd feel in the air since Brian would no longer be in the mentoring meetings.  The group members were excited for Brian, but sad to see him go.  Rob knew how the mentees were feeling since so many of the previous coffee house mentees had moved on after successfully landing a job.

Last week’s meeting was extremely valuable for the group as they learned the various types of interview questions and how to answer them.  Today’s session would be just as important since the group would cover how to conduct a successful job search campaign.

Rob wanted to get started right away because the topic they were discussing covered so much information.  He began by sharing the importance of being organized in your job search campaign.  He defined a job search campaign as an organized method to promote yourself to the organizations within your target market.  He went on to say that an effective job search campaign has five stages that include:

  1. Identifying the objective(s) of your job search campaign
  2. Identifying the target market you are going to pursue
  3. Knowing the promotional techniques you will use
  4. Having the promotional materials you need
  5. Knowing how you will monitor and evaluate the campaign

Rob began to explain each of these fives steps or stages by stating “From the previous mentoring sessions you have already developed three of the five steps of your job search campaign. You have established the objective(s) for your campaign – to promote yourself to the organizations within your target market.  You have also identified the organizations that are in your target market.  Finally, you have created your promotional materials – your resume, your Personal Sales Pitch, the cover letter, and your list of references.”

He continued by stating “you have also prepared yourself to be able to answer interview questions, to ask questions, and to tell stories through developing your Interview Preparation Form.  Therefore, you are now ready for the fourth step, to develop the promotional strategies and techniques that will be used in your job search campaign.”  One of the most important aspects of an effective job search campaign is for you to properly promote yourself to the organizations that are in your target market.  Promoting yourself is letting people know about you, about your skills and competencies, and about your interests. There are two basic ways in which you can promote yourself – through developing your brand image, and through networking.  He continued by saying that branding and networking are such big topics, and they include several strategies within each area, that the group would need to wait and discuss these topics on another day.

The fifth and final step in the job search process is for you to monitor and evaluate your campaign.  You will want to monitor your campaign to make sure you are staying on target for implementing your job search strategies.  You will then want to evaluate the effectiveness of each strategy.  Finally, you will want to keep any strategy that works and adjust any strategy that didn’t work.  Rob wrapped things up by saying “The bottom line is you need to be prepared and organized.  Remember, the job will go to the candidate who is best prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process.”  In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS! 

 

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.SportsCareersInstitute.com or his new book, Execute for Success, at www.execute4success.com.