Monthly Archives: January 2016

How Selling a House is Like Writing a Great Résumé

rundown house

Part of my investment portfolio includes rental properties in and around the Greater Austin Texas area. While “location, location, location” are the top three things to consider for buying a property, other criteria are that the numbers have to “work” and the property also has be pleasing to the eye and inviting for the prospective buyer (investor or occupant) to: (1) develop an interest, and (2) take a closer look by visiting the property. The smart seller does all he or she can to attract potential buyers by staging the property in such a way that the potential buyer can envision living there with their own possessions. However, as is evidenced by the daily listings I receive from my agent, 90% of occupied homes for sale completely miss the point.

The online MLS listings are full of property photos that reveal room after room of clutter – from too much furniture and nik-naks or pink and purple walls and toys everywhere in kids’ rooms, to overcrowded garages (borderline hoarders) and front and back yards that have been ignored for months if not years. Such property conditions usually prevent prospective buyers from being interested further.

I see many parallels in home buying with writing a winning résumé. The top three things to consider for writing a winning résumé are “accomplishment, accomplishment, accomplishment.” For a résumé to invite the interest of hiring managers, it also has to be free of distracting clutter, such as:

  • Objective statements
  • Excessive verbosity
  • Lists of duties and responsibilities that aren’t tied to the higher strategic objectives of the organization
  • Lists of coursework that didn’t lead to certification, license, or degree

Such résumés reveal to me and most hiring managers a lack of attention to what will draw my attention to that person’s skills, knowledge, and experience. That candidate just won’t get a second look.

Properties for sale that have neutral colors on the walls (including the kids’ rooms), no clutter, one or more of these upgrades: appliances/flooring/countertops, and a decent-looking yard in a great neighborhood will always get my interest. If after working the numbers I can hit or exceed my threshhold for a positive cash flow, I will then visit the property in person to get a closer look. At that time, I  will determine whether to make an offer, if there aren’t any other qualified properties I am considering.

Attention-getting résumés are like these properties. They have:

  • A Professional Summary statement
  • Highlighted accomplishments (quantified, if possible, and in bold font)
  • Bullet lists in the order of importance to the hiring manager
  • A length that doesn’t exceed two pages
  • As many words as necessary and not more
  • An approach that positions the candidate as a problem solver

A candidate résumé such as this gets a second look. And if after more scrutiny, the candidate still looks good, an invitation for an interview is extended. A positive interview many times will lead to a job offer – if there aren’t any other qualified candidates I am considering.

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER







Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie.

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Your Most Valuable Career Strategy Component

compass

Yesterday I listened to a webinar with Joe Pulizzi on developing content-first marketing, and one thing that stuck out from that webinar was Joe’s comment about “not building your content house on rented land.” In other words, if you focus your content exclusively on social media apps, that content is at the mercy of changes to “rules and regulations” of the platform.

We’ve seen such actions (such as unannounced algorithm changes, privacy statement changes) and how they affect the intent of our participation on those social media sites. Joe emphasized that of all the channels available for distributing content, an email subscriber list is the most effective and valuable because you’re not building that content on rented land. You own it. And in the world of content marketing, you must “create value before you extract value,” in Joe’s words.

I immediately saw the parallels with looking for a job or changing careers. The most valuable component of your career strategy is your network list. These people may be your first-level contacts in LinkedIn, the business cards you have collected, or names in your contact database. Your network list is your goldmine especially when you consider most hires come from referrals.

“Creating value before extracting value” for your network means serving as a resource to others first before asking favors of them. As motivational speaker and author Zig Ziglar wrote: “Help enough people get what they want and you’ll automatically get what you want.”

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER







Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. Military Veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie.

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Looking for a Job? Why You Need to Come to Austin, TX

Austin_MuralI moved to Austin from Houston back in 1988 when the Texas capital city was still more of a sleepy college town with high-tech companies moving in quickly. And since then, I’ve been associated with technology companies in different capacities for truly rewarding opportunities.

A new study (“2016’s Best and Worst Cities to Find a Job” at www.wallethub.com) places Austin in the top 3 cities for looking for a new job. The same website ranked Austin at the No. 3 spot in its 2015 study of “The Best and Worst Cities to Start a Career.”

When considering other cities for job opportunities, look at key indicators such as business expansion and job growth. These would include total office spaced leased in relation to supply (Austin ranked 2nd in the country) and total new square footage of office space (Austin ranked 3rd in the country). Professional and business services have seen the largest job increase for the Texas economy followed by lesisure and hospitality.

The Austin economy isn’t as dependent on the oil economy like Houston or banking/commerce-heavy Dallas.  Tech is still the strongest employer in Austin (lots of financing options for startups) along with traditionally stable areas of government and education.

The Austin downtown skyline has changed quite a lot…the construction crame being the state bird. And traffic is, well, ….that’s for another post.

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER







Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. Military Veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie.

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Is There Too Much Career Advice?

people-talking

I was asked recently during a roundtable discussion with a group of job seekers if I thought there was too much career advice floating around the internet. The question was one that demanded careful forethought, but just as I was about to speak my opinion, I thought I’d turn the (round)tables on them and ask: “It’s not important what I think…what do you think? Are you having to wade through too many or not enough tweets, blog posts, and LinkedIn articles or discussion groups about jobs and careers? Are you getting the specific information you need to move forward with your career, or is it too generic for your purposes?”

As expected, the responses varied according to where individuals were in their job and career progress, but there was agreement among the participants on the following three points:

  • Because people are all across the spectrum of career and job status, too much information is better than not enough.
  • Many are using Twitter to filter the job/career information they receive, and once they identify individuals or companies who provide information of value, they latch on to them in other social media (blogs, websites, LinkedIn, discussion groups, etc.) and media outlets (books, webinars, podcasts, seminars, and so on). No one mentioned Facebook as a regular search vehicle for job or career opportunities.
  • Many of the larger job bank sites provide articles that are often too shallow or basic in their career advice; people stated they would rather read articles written by career experts rather than those penned by staff writers.

The group did press me for some parting advice on working the job market, so I relayed some information from the Harvard Business Review on three inter-related factors that influence the transformation of the job market (the graphic below captures how these factors are changing the nature of work. Source: www.2020workforce.com):

  • Evolving workforce demographics (influence of workforce participation rates, baby boomer retirements, automation, skill/education level of workforce)
  • Increasing influence of globalization (markets have long escaped geographic barriers, such as oceans or mountains; advances in technology; English as “universal” language)
  • Refilling the leaking leadership bucket (as more experienced leaders and skilled workers exit the job market, how will that expertise/leadership void be replaced or refilled?)

workforce demographics

These and other influences suggest that employers are and will increasingly be looking for self-motivated candidates with a high degree of commitment to excellence in the pursuit of the greater good for the organization and the people in it. These candidates will possess a selfless servant attitude (and the other 5 success qualities) that I have written about in Chapter 16 of Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0.

It’s a whole lot bigger than simply using the proper résumé typeface sizes or not using “Objective” statements…

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER







Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. Military Veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? My 2016 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact me directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on my blog posts…follow me now on Twitter @donnlevie

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Overcoming the Imbalance of Power in Job Interviews

imbalance of powerPerceiving others accurately is fraught with obstacles and difficulty. We each have our own perception filters  that visual signals must first pass through. This initial assessment is typically immediate and doesn’t allow for more in-depth evaluation in the moment, which is something likely borne out of biological necessity: Friend or foe? Fight or flight?

For a hiring manager meeting a candidate for the first time, the instantaneous assessment may include such questions as: Trustful or deceitful? Cooperative or hindering? Facilitator or obstructor? Achiever or just another employee? These are the types of “running the gauntlet” instantaneous appraisals candidates are subjected to before the verbal exchange of information begins. Once an individual passes that initial assessment, a more conscious effort kicks in to determine a clearer perception as provided through words and behaviors.

Your career strategy will benefit from the understanding that the candidate-hiring manager relationship is one characterized by an imbalance of power, whereby the hiring manager (with the power)  is assessing your ability to function as an agent for his or her organizational/business goals. You may have the skills, knowledge, and experience chops for the position, but if you don’t come across as someone who can further the efforts of the hiring manager, you may be perceived as an obstacle to those efforts. That means you’ve gone as far as you’re going to go in the hiring process.

You have to be able to demonstrate your utility for helping achieve those goals through:

  • Being genuinely likeable
  • Promoting the future benefits of your expertise
  • Serving as a facilitator for the hiring manager’s success
  • Affirming the positive contributions of others
  • Making yourself necessary by serving as a problem solver, game changer, solutions provider

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER







Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. Military Veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? My 2016 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact me directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on my blog posts…follow me now on Twitter @donnlevie.

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When is a “Hot Job” Not a Hot Job?

hot jobs

There are so many “hot jobs for 2016” lists around it can make your head spin. Some of these so-called hot jobs surveys are specific to a particular industry while others have a broader job market bent (called workforce segmentation). Be sure to read the linked article as it has several key graphics that illustrate the four major workforce segments and the associated components that comprise any organization.

But what most hot-job advocates fail to recognize is that a hot job is increasingly becoming a relative term of varying significance among employers within the same industry. Human resource professionals and hiring managers are working more closely together to identify and separate the hot jobs critical to the organization versus the broader array of hot jobs in the marketplace that actually may be of lesser importance. In fact, a “critical workforce segment” within an organization has two components: It is a specific position or group of positions that: (1) disproportionately create or deliver value, and (2) are difficult to fill because the people who can fulfill (1) are scarce in the job market, according to the October 2015 issue of Workspan.

While the interesting subject of critical workforce segments is more aligned with the HR universe and structuring hot-job compensation models, it does emphasize the importance of becoming and being a recognized problem solver, solutions provider, and game changer within your profession and industry (something you’ve been hearing about for years in this blog, in my books, and in my seminars) as demonstrated through your professional brand.

Said differently, a problem solver, solutions provider, and game changer offers quantifiable (where possible) accomplishments above and beyond daily job duties that contribute to the higher strategic objectives (profitability, market share, visibility, etc.) of the organization, and promotes the future benefits of that expertise to hiring managers.

One reason such critical workforce segment jobs are difficult to fill is because, well, those people are few in number in the job market. But another reason is that many people who are truly qualified unwittingly disguise their “disproportionate value creation” as “duties and responsibilities” on résumés.  Whenever a client résumé is loaded with duties and responsibilities, I ask them after each bullet list item, “…and this task led to what higher strategic result?” All too often, the actual higher value contribution is found in the answer to that question. Try it out on your own résumé and see what a difference it makes.

Who knows…calling yourself a “disproportionate value creator” in a job interview  might just propel you to the top of the hiring manager’s short list – if you have the résumé chops to back it up!

Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. Military Veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? My 2016 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact me directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on my blog posts…follow me now on Twitter @donnlevie.

 

 

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Panel Discussions: How to Score BIG with Audiences

panel discussion 2

I enjoy participating on career panels at conferences; panel discussions allow attendees to hear a variety of perspectives from experts on topics and questions of interest to them. But panels can prove to be a challenge because as a panel participant, you don’t control the flow of content – you more or less go with the flow set by the moderator (with audience input, perhaps). And you don’t have as much time to present your ideas as you would in a breakout session.

If you’re invited to participate on a panel, accept the invitation because it’s a win-win scenario: you impart your wisdom and knowledge to an audience with a need for that information, and you enhance your professional brand as an expert.

Here are a few suggestions that will help you score big with the audience.

  • Provide a very brief (3 to 5 sentences) bio/introduction to the moderator and ask the moderator to read it. Long bios will never get read and you leave it up to the moderator to select the important content.
  • If the panel is mic’d up, the microphone should be one to one-and-one- half inches away. If you’re a soft-spoken person or too far from the microphone, the audience in the back may have trouble hearing you. When that happens, one of two situations may occur: someone working the mixer will turn up the volume, likely resulting in feedback through the sound system (avoid that at all cost); or someone in the back yells out “Can’t hear you…” I’ve been on a few panels where someone asked a panelist to speak louder and all the panelist did was repeat her response without speaking louder. The audience member interrupted her with, “Excuse me…I didn’t ask you to repeat yourself…I asked you speak louder.” Ouch. Not good for the professional brand.
  • Be honest with every response; audiences can sniff out fabrication and that will affect credibility. Being honest with tough questions scores points with the audience.
  • Respond to the question posed by the moderator. Once you do that, you can always steer the direction of the remainder of your response to something YOU want the audience to walk away remembering.
  • Keep responses direct, brief, and simple. Remember, the audience is looking for information that they can use immediately, so no long-winded or complex diatribes because you will lose the audience quickly. Some moderators may interrupt if you drone on too long and that doesn’t polish your brand. You can always elaborate on a response with audience members after the panel discussion is over.
  • Watch your facial expressions when other panelists are responding to questions. Don’t be like Donald Trump who makes funny and inappropriate faces when others are speaking. Disguise your disagreement or impatience with merchants of obfuscation when they are speaking.
  • Your audience is the audience, not the moderator. Be sure you are addressing the audience with your response.
  • There’s no such thing as a one-word response in a panel discussion. Responses of “Yes”, “No”, “I agree” to a statement read by a moderator don’t add value for the audience. Score big by saying something different.
  • Make yourself available to the audience immediately after the panel discussion. You can elaborate on responses to questions at this time. Bring plenty of business cards with you.

True story: I was on a career strategy panel several years ago at an international conference in Washington, DC. The moderator of the panel was someone who once worked in the U.S. Central Command with General David Petraeus. Previously, I had helped this former high-ranking officer transition his military experience for the civilian job market, which resulted in his immediate hire in a senior-level position for a large global organization.

When he was reading the bios of the panel members, he spoke off the cuff when he got to mine about how my career advice and help with his résumé and cover letter was instrumental in him obtaining this position. He went on to praise my book (Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0, while holding up a copy up to the audience) as an important tool for developing his career strategy.

I had no idea he was going to do this during the panel introduction. I was told later that day that the conference bookstore had sold out of all the copies of my book and had to distribute “rain checks” for the discounted conference price.

That’s a nice problem to have!

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER







Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of the newly released Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. Military Veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? My 2016 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact me directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

 

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Impression Management and The Science of Persuasion

persuasion graphic

I recently read an excellent article in the October 2001 issue of  Harvard Business Review by Robert Cialdini entitled, “Harnessing the Science of Persuasion.” He explains these six principles of persuasion:

  1. Liking: People like those who like them.
  2. Reciprocity: People repay in kind.
  3. Social Proof: People follow the lead of similar others.
  4. Consistency: People fulfill written, public, and voluntary commitments.
  5. Authority: People defer to experts who provide shortcuts to decisions requiring specialized information.
  6. Scarcity: People value what’s scarce.

I want to focus on No. 5 (Authority) and No. 6 (Scarcity) as they relate to managing impressions during job  interviews.

Here’s what Cialdini states (along with my take):

AUTHORITY
Example:
A single New York Times expert-opinion news story aired on TV generates a 4% shift in U.S. public opinion.

Business Application: Expose your expertise; don’t assume your expertise is self-evident. Instead, establish your expertise before doing business with new colleagues or partners.

My take: When you expose your expertise through articles in peer-reviewed journals, writing books on a subject in your profession, speaking at conferences, or teaching a college-level class, your authority builds and is promoted and polished by others. The more of these brand builders you have behind you prior to any job interview, the easier it is to continue forward through the hiring process. It’s amazing how opportunities seem to present themselves as your expertise and authority radiate outward in an increasing sphere of influence.

SCARCITY
Example:
Wholesale beef buyers’ orders jumped 600% when they alone received information on a possible beef shortage.

Business Application: Use exclusive information to persuade. Influence and rivet key players’ attention by saying, for example, “Just got this information today. It won’t be distributed until next week.”

My take: This doesn’t apply to insider trading or passing along intellectual property secrets, obviously, and Cialdini goes to some length in his article about deceiving others into compliance. That said, being in a position of authority often gives you access to information that, while not broadly available, could help promote your case, argument, or initiative to others.

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER







Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of the newly released Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. Military Veterans organizations.

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Lose the “Vocal Fry” if You Want to be Hired!

vocal fryWe’ve all heard it…that affected, grating enunciation of words, usually at the end of a sentence, that has been made popular by certain Kardashian offspring and some pop divas. It’s called a “vocal fry” and is know by such other technical terms as pulse register, laryngealisation, pulse phonation, creak, croak, popcorning, glottal fry, glottal rattle, glottal scrape, or strohbass. Whatever you call it, it’s like fingernails down the blackboard to the ears of most other people – especially hiring managers and recruiters. It is the ugly, illegitimate offspring of Valley Girl talk that nauseated us in the ’80s.

If you want to progress through the hiring process – especially past the job interview – lose the vocal fry if you have acquired it because as hiring managers are under more pressure to do a better job with candidate selection, they are looking for any excuse to say “no” to you as a candidate. And if you believe you are terminally stricken with this glottal rattle, consider hiring a vocal coach – or better yet: an exorcist.

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Want to receive a free copy of my Career Strategy Tip Sheets? You get 5 bundled tip sheets (PDF) for career strategy, cover letters, résumés, job interview, and salary negotiation. Just let me know your thoughts on this or any blog post–or let me know of a career topic you’d like me to discuss from the hiring manager’s perspective.

ALL TIP SHEET COVERS TOGETHER







Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of the newly released Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers).

 

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