Mighty Forces

Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.

Adjectives vs. Verbs

When writing cover letters and resumes, words mean things.

Diligent. Trustworthy. Reliable. Dynamic. Enterprising. Professional. Detail-oriented. Organized. Enthusiastic. Passionate. Creative.

Recognize these words, or words like them, from your resume or the resume of others?

I have some simple and direct advice about including these words in your job-hunting materials: Stop it. Stop it now. I’m serious.

Riding your bike to work

Just a quick story for today. A friend of mine told me about when he was on the interview panel for a job in his division of the company. One of the interview subjects, a guy who seemed eminently qualified on paper, was quite distracted during the interview. He kept looking out the office window; my friend wasn’t sure why.

“This job would be perfect for me,” the candidate said after he finally finished rubbernecking out the window. “I would be able to ride my bike to work!”

Not once did the man mention why and how he could solve the employer’s problems. He even brought up the “riding his bike to work” concept again at the end of the interview.


It probably doesn’t need to be said, but he didn’t get the job.

Please remember and never forget: It’s not about you.

Information interviews

I’d like to talk about a job-hunting technique that can bring tremendous results, but one that very few people actually take advantage of: information interviews.

Unlike traditional job interviews, information interviews aren’t the usual headache-inducing, clammy-handed stress tests. Because the difference here is, you’re the one doing the interviewing! You’re in control, not them. Sound good?

The personal touch

Want to know a simple, inexpensive way to increase your chances of getting hired?

Go to a bookstore or museum gift shop and buy a box of small note cards with matching envelopes. Don’t forget stamps, in case you don’t have any of those around the house.

Now, after you have an interview, instead of sending out thank-you emails to the people you met, sit down with a real pen and write a short note to each person. The same rules apply: make it short and to the point, but always include something unique to that person so they know it’s not a canned response.

It’s best if you do this the day of your interview, so the note(s) can go out in that day’s or at the most, the next day’s mail.

I think you’ll be amazed at the impact a real snail mail note can have. Think about the last time you received a personal note or letter in the mail. See what I mean?

This technique works for lots of situations, not just after job interviews. Send notes to contacts you met for coffee, past employers, freelance clients you haven’t worked with in a while…this real-life communication has tremendous positive impact. You’ve shown that person a level of personal engagement and regard that’s quite rare these days.

Just try it a few times – magic can happen.

Objectives and goals, oh my!

Recently a friend asked me for advice about her resume.

“In my “Objectives” section, should I say I want to ‘acquire’ a position or ‘obtain’ a position?”

Neither, I thought. (I’m difficult like that sometimes.)

Interview secrets – Part Deux

Last time, we dealt a little bit with the psychological side of job interviews. But I left out what I think is the most important thing to elevate your performance from good to great:
Do the job in the interview.

What does that mean, exactly? It means several things.

First, it means that before the interview (really, before you sent in an application for the job) you were convinced that you could kick ass in this job. Not “yeah I could probably do that,” or “I guess I could manage to work there for a while.” It means after looking at the job description, and doing your research on the job and the company, you’ve come to the conclusion that if they don’t hire you personally, they will regret it for the rest of their miserable lives.

My interview secret(s)

Job hunting books and websites are packed with checklists that are supposed to help you succeed at interviews.

Maintain a firm handshake! Be on time! Be positive! Don’t answer your cell phone during the interview! Dress appropriately!

Thanks – how helpful! You left out how I shouldn’t wear nothing but a shaving cream bikini to that interview for the bank manager job.

The fact is that job interviews are largely horrible, tremor-inducing affairs that rank right up there with visits to the dentist on the “stuff I want to be doing right now” meter. They are the gauntlet of the job interview game. And no simplistic checklist is going to really help you get through it.

No carpet bombing

How many times have you heard someone (or yourself) say, “I don’t understand it. I must have sent out 100 resumes in the last few weeks, and no one has responded.”

The problem in that sentence is the “100.” Sending out tens or hundreds of resumes or applications means you sent out the same boilerplate information to all those people, maybe fancying it up with a mail merge so the cover letter reads “Dear Mr. Thomas” rather than “To Whom It May Concern.”

That’s a recipe for failure – mainly because a boilerplate resume and cover letter aren’t going to convince your audience to hire you. But also because it gives you a false sense of accomplishment – “I did all this work sending all that stuff out!” – and it takes away time from productive job searching.

‘Not eligible’

Just a quick little story today.

A while ago I applied for a job in the state system. I filled out the online application, which basically involved restating my resume in prose form by filling out a series of online form boxes. It was a job that I was extremely qualified for, and my background exactly matched what they said they were looking for.

Well, man plans, God laughs, as they say.

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