Are looking for a job? What is the very first thing you must do to be successful in landing that perfect position? Is your answer one of the following?

  • Get your resume up-to-date.
  • List all the companies you find of interest within a 50 mile radius of your home.
  • List the Fortune 1000 companies that are within commuting distance.
  • Compile your contact “network list”.
  • Join a local peer or user group.
  • Go on the internet and surf websites looking for your next position.
  • Button down your references.
  • Compile a list of executive search and recruiting firms. 

If your answer was one of the above or something similar, then you are NOT READY to land that next position! And I don’t care if you are looking at an executive, middle management or entry level opportunity, you are still not ready. Let us help you get ready for the career opportunity which will challenge and reward you, whether you are a seasoned veteran or if you are seeking your very first job, whatever the case may be, the “first step” is the same for both.

The very first thing you must do in order to be successful
I have been an executive search consultant for over 25 years, and I have coached individuals from all walks of life and in various stages of their careers and have come to find out what makes one person successful while others flounder.  The answer is so simple it is staring you right in the face yet you can not see it. In every instance, when one of my candidates listen to what I am about ready to spell out for you in detail, they are ahead of their competition and ultimately will land that offer.

So lets get started. Each and every time I ask this very simple question with those I coach; the majority will respond with one of the aforementioned bullet points. Yes, all are important ingredients when pursing that next position, yet all are meaningless until you realize the obvious. That’s right, the first thing you must do to be successful in landing that next position is to work on that person who is looking at you in the mirror. It is that simple, but hardly anyone gets it. 

Now let me tell you why this very first step beats any bullet point listed above, or any that you may come up with other than that which I am about ready to give you. A good interviewer is like a shark that smells blood a mile away. That’s right, I can see right through you. I speak and meet with individuals all day long who believe they deserve that next job based on their credentials alone. I label this person as the “entitled one” and if you think for just one minute, you all know someone like this. 

But here is the “kicker." When I drill down, and I mean really drill down as to what makes them tick, or phrased another way – what are their wins and what are their losses, I encounter a person who is really a stranger unto themselves – they fumble with a meaningless response and it is immediately apparent they lack meaningful substance which differentiates them from the masses.

What they lack and what they have forgotten is that very first step each and everyone must take – we call it “self inventory." It is this process of conducting a “self inventory” that jump starts your engine and gives you the confidence to climb the highest mountain, or phrased another way, it gives you the confidence to go after that dream job and ultimately land that offer.  Yes, it is that easy but for many they have difficulty understanding what they truly have to offer. Once you know, you will be able to clearly answer those tough questions with confidence and the astute interviewer will see just that. A confident person who is not defeated.

That is the big difference between those who have a choice and those that will never land the dream job.  They have not taken a “self inventory”; they have not taken the time to really know who they are and what they have to offer, they have not taken the time to understand their unique assets and how to articulate those assets so they come off as highly confident versus arrogant; they will come across as a team player, not someone who I term as being “entitled”.  Listen, competition is rough in today’s market and either you get your house in order (meaning your head) or frankly your competition will eat your lunch. 

Now is there great revelation here? The majority of you will see this as a wake up call – you will finally understand what that first step must be – you will understand that this first step may only take an hour or two (a very small price to pay) yet the rewards will be forthcoming; believe me if you go through the check list that I have compiled when you take your “self inventory," you will win more times than not.  

Now there are those of you who will read the above and walk away saying they knew the answer all along. Well I can guarantee you they did not know the answer and frankly they still don’t get it because they will not admit it to themselves.  As a professional interviewer, the shark in me smells this arrogance factor; it senses an individual who believes they are “entitled” (all of us have met this type at one time or another).  What that person has failed to realize is that the “self inventory” process is never ending and is based on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution; we assess what works, keep those elements and get rid of those which don’t. 

Think about this for one minute, are you the same person you were in your early teen’s? Have you changed when you graduated from your teens to your “twenties’ and then to your thirties and beyond?  Are you getting it? Who you are today is different than yesterday, and each and every day thereafter.   You never stop growing inside, and each and every day you need to take inventory and be prepared to distinguish yourself from the masses in a highly self confident way without being arrogant. 

Did you get that? There is a fine line between being highly self-confident versus someone who is arrogant---and many times it is in the eyes of the beholder.  As you continue moving forward with us, I will teach you how to answer a question that will speak to whom you are but will never be seen as an arrogant response.  For now, your first mission is one of “self inventory” which you want to capture quickly so you can move forward and find that next job. 

Also, understand one final thing as we move on together... f you are looking for a textbook approach – that is not my style. I have seen people travel down that path; they go buy a “how to book” and after taking days and in some cases weeks to get through all this information, they are no better off and they have wasted a week of valuable time, and frankly someone probably already beat them to one of jobs they had targeted.  Always remember to find a job is your job, so let’s not waste time. Everything I will be sharing with you, you should be able to read in 5 minutes – that’s right, just 5 minutes – anything longer you will not remember so let’s keep things short and to the point. Remember that phrase because you will see it time and time again as we move forward together –keep things short and to the point.

Okay, my approach will be one of “gorilla warfare” – that’s right it is a war out there and the sooner you realize it the better so what we will be doing is hitting and running – hitting on those jobs we want – being prepared every single step of the way and your mission will be to land that offer. Yes it is that simple, and let’s keep it that simple. 

Your mission is to be in the drivers seat, so here is another secret. Remember the only time you are in the drivers seat is when you get that offer – no longer is the employer in the driver seat – it is all yours now and guess what – you now are the decision maker. Yes you can take it or leave it. Isn’t that the mission at hand?   

So, step one very simply put – It is right in front of you – it is all about you and knowing who you are and what differentiates you from the masses. How will you do this? It is time to take that “self inventory." And now one final point, when you are done you will write down that ‘self inventory” on a 3x5 index card and you will keep it in your pocket, or your briefcase or whatever you will have on you when you head out on your interview.

Then, 5 minutes before you walk in to shake the interviewers hand you will pull out that 3x5 index card and prepare yourself for what is about to happen. Now you are ready, you know who you are and you know how to sell yourself – lets move on. By the way, did it take you less than 5 minutes to read this, and did you remember what you read – keep things short and to the point– you will continue to see this phrase and it will be for a good reason as you will come to find out.

the day of reckoning has arrived. the face-to-face interview.
Okay you are now gearing up for that face-to-face interview and you want to be firing on all cylinders. So there are a few points to make before we get into “The Top 10 Generic Most Stupid and Not So Stupid Questions That Will Be Asked During Most Interviews Whether You Are Making $50,000 or $550,000."

First things first. Did you review your 3x5 index card 5 minutes before walking into your interview? Your answer better be YES – or you are not ready. Assuming you are a good listener and you reviewed your 3x5, what is the first thing you do once you come face to face with your interviewer?

Okay most everyone gets this wrong – no it is not shaking hands although that is important (no one wants the cold fish hand shake – you are doomed before you start). So what is the very first thing you must do?  The first thing you do is the very first thing the interviewer is doing! Did you get that – the first thing you will be doing is exactly what the interviewer is doing – and that first thing, even before the handshake is DIRECT EYE CONTACT. This is when the “sizing up” process begins – even before you open your mouth, you will be doing the exact same thing – sizing up your interviewer.   

Think about this for one minute – the first thing you do is the very first thing the interviewer is doing!How easy is that to remember? Okay, here comes the shark who can smell blood a mile away and what will this shark be doing? He or she should be looking directly in your eyes while extending their hand and they are getting ready to make that first decision – Is this person self-confident or is there a lack of confidence? Can you believe that, the interviewer is already in the decision process before you open your mouth – you better believe it, because it is actually happening. It has been said that the eyes are the key to the soul – a lot of truth here when you think about it and the astute interviewer has already checked the box – confident or lacks confidence. 

Now why is this important to you as well? You should be sizing up each person you will be sitting across from (just like a professional boxer sizes up his foe) and in doing so you are mentally preparing yourself (just like that boxer) to come out swinging with your answers to the Top 10. 

Now one final point – and this is a tid-bit worth writing down on your 3x5 card because this is an absolute fact even though interviewers probably will never admit  it – get this down – An interviewer, whether professional or not, typically makes up their mind in the first 10 minutes of an interview. That’s right, and it happens every day. Does this mean that someone can not change their mind? No, but you will be fighting an up-hill battle so when your “behind” meets the interview seat, get ready to come out swinging and to do this, know your answers to the Top 10 (This should have taken less than 5 minutes to read – that is our mission – remember short and to the point.)