10 Ideas That Really Work: Get A Sharp Edge For Your Job Interview

Where are you in your job search?

Do the two major shifts in the US economy have you concerned?

Does the single biggest shift in the global economy in the history of the world have your attention?

If you’re competing for a job give yourself a sharp edge.

1. Added Value Networking. What is it and what’s the biggest myth?
Added Value Networking is presenting yourself to those in your network and networks you build as a listener who seeks to help them. This can lead you to a very good job. Your willingness to help is the value you add.

What’s the biggest myth?

The biggest myth of Added Value Networking is that to be effective and to win you have to bring tangible value—a skill, credentials, your labor– to the other person. This is not true. You have great value by virtue of your network and other intangibles which you may be unaware of. A closely related myth is that the person you are reaching out to (especially if he or she is successful) will be too busy to help you.

The key is to establish an authentic connection with the person on the other end and then uncover what problems they are facing. The best way to do that is to reach out in sincerity and candor and ask them how they achieved the success they have achieved. Ask them to tell you their story. Here’s the trick, though—you must do this with zero expectation of return. This may seem counterintuitive but it is essential. Information travels at the speed of light but decisions travel at the speed of trust. For a great read on this, consult The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey.

Ask to hear their story. If they tell you their story you have earned the special privilege of asking a follow-on question: “What is the biggest problem or challenge you and your business are facing right now?” If you have earned their trust and they answer that question you are on very solid ground. Final step—write a hand-written note to them and put it in the mail within an hour, then keep track of that connection. Treat each connection like gold.

2. Courtesy. How is it different from being polite and does it really make a difference?

Courtesy separates you from the rest of the people others encounter. It’s true in daily interaction and it’s true in a job search.
Courtesy comes from the word courtly. It’s one word removed from “having courtly bearing or manners.” It’s personal, ladies and gentlemen. Courtesy is making someone else feel the importance and dignity of being a special human being. It is within our power to make others feel this way. If we can do this we can make authentic connections. There are ways to build authentic connection through words and phrases. Try this the next time you board an airplane. Tell the flight attendant, “Whatever they pay you, it’s not enough.” This is true, and if you speak it with conviction that flight attendant will appreciate your willingness to say it. When he or she responds pleasantly with a smile (tired or otherwise), offer to surrender your seat for anyone else on the flight that may have special needs. Make that offer and mean it. It will help that professional, it may make a big difference in another passenger’s life, it will allow you to experience humility and kindness and it will put you in a position to earn trust.

In a job interview you can demonstrate courtesy by standing when someone else enters the room. You can demonstrate it by the clothes you wear or by writing a hand-written thank you note to the secretary or anyone else in the company with whom you came into contact.

3. Humor. What’s appropriate?

Humor is powerful and, as such, should be used only with the greatest care. The most reliable care is that which we learn from experience. Remember, too, that humor (like music) circumvents reason. We may find ourselves laughing at something we should not.
The safest humor is simply to be cheerful and it will take you a long way.

So, what humor is appropriate in the job search? Any humor that is inclusive, self-deprecating or kind. These are not perfect examples but they are suggestions on how to apply a light touch with a smile to a situation that may otherwise be awkward, otherwise.
A simple example of inclusive humor: When someone jokes about or criticizes another person in an awkward situation, simply say, while smiling, “Ouch. Well, we all know how that feels.”

An example of self-deprecating humor: If someone criticizes another person, for example an NFL Quarterback after a close game, you can say, “Well, I know when I was a professional NFL Quarterback…” and you don’t even have to finish the sentence because people will finish it in their own minds for you. You can also say, “Well, being perfect myself makes that especially difficult for me to watch.”

Kind humor is simply observing, “We’ll all get there together,” to just about any exasperating situation. Of course the best humor is humor that you develop over time through your own experiences, but having a mentor or coach who is good natured and has a good sense of humor helps a lot. Find one. They’re out there.

Finally, my wife has a saying she teaches our children:
“It’s not funny unless everyone is laughing.”

We discourage cruel humor in our home, but even so it sometimes makes its way in.

4. Aggressive Listening. Can you use it to pace the conversation?
You certainly can. Bear the following in mind the next time you are sitting across from a potential employer.
Listening is a lost art and, like punctuality, it is the courtesy of kings because it is a simple and practical way of being courteous to others. Listen patiently and listen with all you have. Use your eyes to listen. Use your body language to listen. Use silence… to listen.

The Powerful Pause.

A very useful and under-used courtesy to deploy is a Powerful Pause. The next time you are talking with someone and he or she seems to have finished speaking and you are tempting to speak, wait. Pause just 2 or 3 seconds before responding. In those 2 or 3 seconds, which can seem very long indeed, the other person may say something else, they may add a thought you’d otherwise not have heard. It doesn’t hurt (physically!) to extend the silence to 5 seconds or more, but it can be excruciatingly painful in a social sense because we have become so unused to the beauty and power of silence and we rush our conversations.
Make silence your friend and learn to be comfortable in it. By slowing down the pace of your conversation you slow the pace of the other person’s as well. It relaxes the discussion. Silence is respectful.

5. The Art of Follow-up. What’s appropriate?

The follow up is powerful, as well. Some in sales have said, “The fortune is in the follow-up.” Setting up a follow up call removes anxiety and clarifies the situation. Make this process your friend.
We have many ways to follow up with each other. Today let’s discuss the two broad categories of follow-up: Hard and Soft.

A Hard Follow up is when you schedule a specific day and time at which you will call the person you have been meeting with. It may go something like this:
You: “Amanda, it’s been great talking. Let’s talk next week. When is more convenient for you, Monday or Tuesday?” (always give them two choices)
Amanda: “Tuesday.”
You: “Would you prefer we speak morning or afternoon?”
Amanda: “I’m jammed in the morning, so how about the afternoon?”
You: “Great. 1 or 3?”
Amanda: “Give me a shout at 3.”

A Soft Follow Up is similar, but essentially you can put it in place in one sentence, like this:
You: “Amanda, it’s been great talking. If I don’t hear from you by Tuesday at 10 I’ll give you a shout, OK?”
She: “Sure, sounds great.”
If Amanda says anything to delay the process you can respond with, “Fine by me, I just like to make certain things are clear as we move forward,” and then ask when you can expect to hear from Amanda or her representative.

6. Body language. Can you use it to build rapport?

Body language is a little tough to explain clearly in a short article like this, but suffice it to say that most of our communication is non-verbal. How you carry yourself and how you interact non-verbally in a close space, as are most job interview spaces, can make or break the interview. Be aware of the emotions you are experiencing and be attentive as you listen with your eyes to the other people in the room. Mirroring another person’s body language (moving as they move but only a fraction of a moment after they do) is a useful technique but use it carefully or it can backfire.

7. Get paid, but what’s the word never to use when negotiating your salary?

Salary negotiations are complicated and books have been written about them. Here are two good guidelines to start with: Whoever mentions a number first usually loses the advantage and try not to use the word salary. If you use the word compensation instead you give the future employer a lot of options and may ultimately enable them to craft a solution that is far better for you. Another very powerful tool is simply to say, “You know the market better than I. I trust you to make a reasonable offer.” Then ask about their social media strategy and where they want to be in 2 years.

8. Differentiate yourself and be memorable. How do you do it?

One of the best ways is to ask well informed questions as you get to know the company and the industry the company trades in. Research the company and research the people you’ll be meeting with, then ask questions based on what you have uncovered. Ask questions that reveal you want what is best for the person you are talking to. A bold technique is to ask the individual what his or her professional goals are. You can say it this way: “Amanda, as I learn more about this company it occurs to me you yourself may have some goals you are trying to reach. May I ask how I can help your team to get where you are trying to get them?”

9. What do my clothes say about my judgment?

The clothes you wear are one of the first most reliable indicators of your judgment. Remember that the clothes you wear indicate what you think of those around you. It has been said they are an indicator of where you think you are going in life. A very good book to read, even after all these years, is John Malloy’s “Dress For Success.” Learn how to use clothes to give you a sharp edge.

10. Social Media. Is it destroying you without your knowledge?

Social Media—and here we mean Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even, to a lesser degree, YouTube or your own website—can be as beneficial or as detrimental as you choose to make them, but by being careless they can do extreme harm to the persona, the face you present, to others around the world. They give you access to a global market but they also enable a global market access to you. Be mindful of what you post on your Facebook page and be mindful, too, of your privacy settings.
Like email and money Social Media tend to make us more of whatever it is we already are.

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