Monthly Archives: May 2013

Who do you consult for job/career coaching advice?

I’m often asked to sit in on panel dicussions at conferences with professional recruiters, executive coaches, and human resource professionals to answer a variety of questions about the job market, résumés, cover letters, interviews, job and career strategies, and so on. But a recent experience revealed that not all career professionals are created equal.

This panel consisted of a seasoned HR professional, two professional recruiters, an executive coach, a “certified life coach,” and myself.  The session was moderated and questions for the panel were submitted prior to the actual meeting. Each person on the panel responded to the same question read by the moderator. About halfway through the audience Q&A session, an individual stood up and asked, “How many of you have direct responsibility for hiring people?”

The HR person and I raised our hands.

Her next question was, “How many of you have directly hired other people? I don’t mean you were involved in the hiring proces–I mean actually offered a job to someone?”

The HR person’s hand went up and so did mine.

Her last question was, “Which of you have actually managed the people you hired?”

This time, only my hand went up.

There was an audible mumbling in the audience after that, and some of panelists now seemed abit uncomfortable in front of the group. While everyone offered helpful and unique perspectives on career strategies and job searches, it became clear to the audience (about 120 people) that some advice and suggestions had more value than others. After the panel discussion session concluded, I was approached by about a dozen members of the audience who had more questions (the HR representative had a gathering as well as did one recruiter; the other recruiter, the life coach, and executive coach left the room when no one showed an interest in followup with them).

I didn’t know much about life/career/executive coaches so I did a little digging. According to one coaching website: “Many coaches evolved from the consulting, training or therapy industries, but a coach is different from a therapist, consultant, trainer or mentor.” There’s a type of “certified” coaching program for just about any kind of field or topic.

From my research, most of the certifications require online webinars and reading material and so many hours of experience coaching others in a variety of disciplines as shown in the table below:

Types of coaching

Types of coaching

Some certifications offer “Certified Professional Coach” and “Certified Master Coach” accreditation (depending on how many hours of experience you earn).  The point is: none of these types of coaches is directly involved with hiring others. They appear to help others improve various individual soft skillsets using a predefined menu of approaches; however, they don’t seem to respond to questions and concerns people have about making the connection with the people who do the actual hiring and managing. No doubt, coaching in confidence, motivation, peak performance, interpersonal skills, and so on can help people prepare those facets for career or job change, but the missing knowledge is on the other side of the equation with knowing how to respond to the needs and requirements of the people making the hiring decisions.

Just last week, I came across a message on LinkedIn from someone who’s a member of a LinkedIn special interest group to which I belong. She joyously proclaimed her recent move to the area and that she’s a “Certified Dream Coach.”

Welcome to my nightmare!

scream

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The Strategy of Staging the Release of Information for Getting Hired

Time and time again, I see so many candidates sabotage their chances of getting a job interview or even a job offer by failing to understand that the entire hiring process is one that best responds to the staged release of information over time. The process leading up to a job interview or a job offer is not an opportunity for a data dump on the hiring manager. The problem seems to be one that is more common with non-native English speakers (NNES as they are called) or people who seek employment in the U.S. from overseas. They often treat the hiring process as a single event, wanting to accompany cover letter and résumé with other documentation that explains their particular circumstances, whether it be H1B visa issues, relocation challenges, or physical disabilities. That’s a sure way to guarantee being dropped from further consideration.

The initial strategy is to first be a likable person. Human nature dictates that we all want to work with people we like (except maybe the people on the TV show Hardcore Pawn), so that obstacle must first be cleared before you can be considered for your expertise (your skills, knowledge, experience, and accomplishments–not necessarily in that order). How that expertise addresses the needs of the hiring manager is equally as important. It is much easier for a hiring manager or Human Resources professional to address any mitigating circumstances surrounding your being offered a position after your expertise has been deemed valuable and needed by the organization.

Your cover letter should speak to how your expertise and accomplishments (hiring managers want problem solvers, game changers, and solutions providers–not just another employee with “duties and responsibilities”) address what the hiring manager needs and the position requires–all without summarizing the same information that’s on your résumé. You have 5 to 7 seconds to grab that hiring manager’s attention, so be sure your first sentence doesn’t begin with: “I have enclosed my résumé for consideration for the such-and-such position” because that sort of drivel means you likely won’t get called for an interview.  The cover letter is not the place (or the time) to mention anything other than your being the hiring manager’s candidate of choice based on what you’ve done, not what you were “responsible for.”

The purpose of the cover letter is to get the hiring manager’s interest so he or she will look at your résumé; the purpose of your résumé is to generate sufficient interest so that you are called in for an interview. The purpose of the interview is to assess: (1) you (likability factor), (2) your skillset, and (3) your accomplishments so that the hiring manager can predict (with very limited data) the probability of your on-the-job success. Don’t eliminate yourself from further consideration by providing ancillary information that has no immediate bearing on these three key factors.

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