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A Wikimania 2010 presenter

A Wikimania 2010 presenter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Presentations in Interview- Can you talk the talk?

 

In my time as a senior recruiter I have sat through no small number of presentations. Many of them left me cold. I wondered if the people giving them really understood the purpose of the exercise i.e. to test in this way is the candidate’s ability to represent and sell an organisation, (and in the process themselves). To test their ability to inspire an audience with confidence. To test  an ability to  persuade and to demonstrate the ability to marshal thoughts and structure something that sounds really impressive. Showcasing. Convincing. Persuading. Getting the message across.  So sitting, as some candidates I have listened to, in front of a flip chart with some very small handwriting, wiggling across a single piece of paper does not really do a great deal to impress. Mumbling in a down beat fashion or shuffling pages of A4 on the desk really does not cut it.

Interestingly I have heard some pretty low quality presentations from some quite influential people. I don’t quite understand that. I was stunned at how poor the man from the World Bank was when I sat through a 30 minute lecture. I don’t think he even realised that we were English, his vocabulary was still addressing a transatlantic audience. (we don’t say effectuate do we?) How is it that people who have climbed to positions of power, expertise and authority just don’t know how to present? I wonder if some of it is that they just don’t really have to. When I think about how people in the workplace actually present ideas, they rarely do so ‘cold’. Usually they have prepared the ground. Often they will have prepared a report, circulated before the meeting. Commonly they will sit in the meeting and assume that the audience has read and understood the report, so their comments will be to ‘speak to a report’ rather than present an idea, persuade people, or demonstrate an ability to enthuse an audience.

I also wonder if few people attend any training on presentations or public speaking. Speaking to an audience is one of the most common phobias there is. Why would you volunteer to go on a course to do something that literally frightens you? Sufferers feel that all eyes are upon them – “the spotlight effect” – their acute self-awareness makes it very difficult for them to focus on what is going on around them, to remember their speech, or to read from notes.  Their mind goes blank or foggy. Their distress is further fuelled by their efforts to hide or mask their discomfort which may become apparent through blushing, facial immobility, sweating, shaking, twitching, or an inability to speak normally or coherently. And in an interview situation where getting the job depends on success it is all much worse.

So what should the candidates have to do when faced with the task…. ‘you have ten minutes to give us a presentation on…’?

  1. An understanding of the audience, what they already know, what language they speak and what they want to hear about. I guess the man from the World Bank had never met a social housing tenant, I think he was an academic. His presentation, although very important, did not set the room alight. Effective presenters know who their audience are and how the message needs to be delivered.
  2. Effective presenters stand and command the room. Presenting is a display activity. Standing indicates confidence and control. It enables a small amount of movement, a little pacing, wider hand gestures; a greater ability to get up close to the audience. Standing enables you to inject more energy into your presentation. If you think of some of the great orators that you have heard, they did not sit behind a desk and mutter.
  3. Clear diction and adequate volume. One of the great bonuses of standing is the way that it will enable you to breathe deeply and speak on the outbreath. This will give your voice depth and volume. (but if you have a microphone you need to be careful not to over project)
  4. Measured delivery, presenters need to relax, speak slowly and use all the techniques of pace and rhythm to ensure that there is clarity and emphasis. Presenters need to recognise the ability of the audience to absorb and give them appropriate time to do so.
  5. Good visual aids, if you have to make your presentation ‘on the day’, and are given a flip chart, tuck a ruler and pencil in your pocket. Make your visual aids, helpful, clean and neat. Use them for the emphasis, they should give not for the narrative. If you are given a topic in advance and are using PowerPoint, use it sensibly, again it is not the narrative it is the emphasis.
  6. Structure, a presentation needs a clear beginning, middle and end. It needs an overview and a conclusion. And keep to time, nothing annoys a panel more and tells them that you have not planned and rehearsed.
  7. Message, if a presentation is testing oral persuasiveness then there needs to be a very clear message or argument with facts and evidence to support it. Ask yourself, what is the thing that I want my audience to walk away remembering? You also need great content. You need content tailored to the audience and answering the questions they want answering.  Speak with conviction, if you don’t believe your message, who else will?
  8. A smile, a sign that you are pleased to be there. Sometimes a touch of humour can help you build rapport with the audience,  but how much you can use this will depend on the situation. But your smile needs to be on the mouth and in your eyes and your eyes need to meet theirs.

 

Yes, I have sat through many hours of very poor presentations and many other hours of very good ones. To be memorable you need, great, relevant content delivered with conviction and style.

English: A flip chart in a conference room. Sv...

English: A flip chart in a conference room. Svenska: Ett blädderblock i ett konferensrum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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First Impressions? is what you see what you get? 

elephant cartoon

How many legs does this elephant have? Hard to tell and sometimes you really do need to look twice or three times to see the person behind the tattoo or the lion in the sheep’s skin. It takes just one-tenth of a second for us to judge someone and make our first impression, and our confidence in impression formation increases with the time taken to form the impression. Not only do we take milliseconds to work out what something is when we first see it, we also decide whether or not we like it!
Two things reminded me of the power of initial impressions,  a recent poll on Linked In suggested that 25% people make a decision in an interview in the first few minutes of the interview.  Then a candidate who planned to call the Chief Executive of an organisation he was applying to  was taken aback when I said ‘you never get a second one chance to make a first impression routine’. He was really amazed. It had not occurred to him  that this casual conversation could have a decisive effect on his career.

Given that people are forming impressions of us all the time, not just in interviews but in meetings, in the corridor, when we meet a new colleague, manager of partner; we need to be aware of the fact that our Linked In profile, our telephone call or our Cv all project an image of what we are like.    ‘Your reputation goes before you is another truth’ we should not ignore.

Many of us are acutely aware of the fact that our audiences do form first impressions and there is a mass of advice out there about smiling, firm handshakes and shiny shoes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolkinseygoman/2011/02/13/seven-seconds-to-make-a-first-impression/

There is much less advice on how to improve our own ability to make those snap judgements successfully and accurately. Gladwell in his book ‘Blink’ says that these primitive (and very useful) abilities to size up a person (enemy or friend) very quickly can be both educated and controlled and that when they go awry they go wrong for a specific and consistent set of reasons . We can start to identify what those reasons are by understanding our own prejudices, to challenge in the moment our own thought processes. We can train ourselves to suspend judgement , not to label or categorise in those first 7 seconds. We can train ourselves to really listen to the person we are meeting, to see the world from their shoes, to find common ground and to build empathy. We can objectively try to compare the data  with our real experience. Consider the person in a different light ‘if this person was smaller what would I be thinking? If this person did not have tattoos, what would I be thinking? If this person was already my employee what would I be thinking…’

To take action and make un examined decisions on those first impressions maybe to dismiss someone who can have real value in your life, to  attach to someone who quickly turns out to be able to bring less value than you initially thought, or even worse who has a destructive and negative impact on you.  Keep learning and keep challenging yourself  to overcome your preconceptions and prejudices. And  keep perfecting those smiles and shiny shoes… they may count for more than you think!

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Why you might need some  conscious competence!

recording deskI was doing my stint on the local ‘talking newspaper’ where I am a sound engineer the other night. What a difference a year (or two) makes! My first few recordings were fraught with anxiety and littered with mistakes; I dreaded the phone going on Saturday mornings with the  ‘hello its Ken here, buy information pills just thought you should know……’  Now I multi task and could not tell you what I do, shop it ‘just happens’ and seems to take no time at all.

At the start of my work with them, I was in a state of unconscious incompetence; I did not know what I did not know. Very soon I moved to a state of conscious incompetence! We use 3 different computer programs to record and there is a lengthy instruction manual and it seemed to take ages to fiddle and twiddle all those knows and dials. I lived in constant fear that I would delete the recording (I did once.. we had to sit down and re read). It all felt bewildering with labyrinthine instructions, illogical instructions and references to techie words I’d not met before.

Somehow with some practice and analysis of the process, some putting down the  manual and figuring it out for myself I learned to make the recordings. I  got myself to a state of conscious competence. I amended the process to suit my brain and I  was flying, sometimes I ‘d finished without using the manual or even thinking about it. I have reached the state of unconscious competence.

Things that we do a lot and that we are competent at become automatic. We don’t think about them (I am better at guessing a mental arithmetic sum than trying to do it purposely- my subconscious is better than my conscious), we just do them.   Being able to just do something is great as it frees our conscious brain up to do other things. When James Martin is doing his live cookery show he only thinks about the interviews he is doing not the cooking. Cooking is ‘in the muscle’ so he does not need to think about it.   However there are some dangers in being in unconscious competence:

You may slip into bad habits and find that you are not as competent as you think you are or should be. Driving is a classic, we get to drive without thinking about it but there are real dangers in not giving the road and other users one’s full attention. One of these days my shortcuts could mean a major recording error.

You can’t train someone else to do something if you don’t know how you  do it. Each of us needs to develop our staff and share our skills, that is not going to happen if we can’t explain how we make things happen, how we understand our budgets or build relationships. These things may be ‘in the muscle’ but to train you need to make them explicit.

In interviews you can’t convince someone that you can think strategically, motivate staff  or deliver a project by saying ‘I just do’. You need to work at unpicking what it is that you do and then be ready to describe it. Increasingly organisations want people who are self aware and self managing.. so ‘I just do’ is not going to wash. Get some conscious competence!

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The Joy of Introversion

Published on September 17, 2013 by in Uncategorized

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Susan Cain’s book ‘Quiet’ Has been described as ‘an extraordinary book that will change for ever the way society views introverts’, and it has certainly made me stop and think about a couple of issues. And my greater understanding is changing the way I act.

The introversion/extroversion spectrum is not just about whether people love parties and make a noise, sildenafil it is actually about how people relate to the world and the amount of stimulation that they desire.  Introverts are very sensitive, they startle more easily, empathise more readily, they are more easily overwhelmed by noise, emotions and others.  They are reflective, thoughtful and highly conscientious. The opposite end of the spectrum is the place inhabited by the stimulus hungry extrovert, who craves more noise, adventure, parties and thrives in the midst of the storm. Introverts focus on the meaning they make of events whilst extroverts plunge into them to inhabit the moment.   I have long been aware of the limitations of those who inhabit either end of the spectrum: the extrovert under performs in school – too busy enjoying the now to focus on the solitary pursuit of study. The introvert may fail to form a broad array of relationships  with people in the workplace (preferring a few intimate relationships to a wide range of  casual acquaintanceships with colleagues), they may be seen as aloof and distant.

But what are the key messages of Cain’s book that could and should colour our thinking and behaviour?

Leadership

We know that the average manager is more extrovert that then average person and I have engaged in many discussions about why that might be. Cain suggests that since the 1920s Western culture has come to value the expressive qualities of the extrovert more than the  godliness, humility, dutiful values that our Victorian forebears prized above all others.  Dale Carnegie et al have indeed taken over the world,  promoting people who can communicate, charm and  amuse.  People who are social able are valued more than those who contemplative.  Talkative people are rated as smarter, better looking , more interesting and more desirable as friends.  Harvard Business School, which has been so influential in defining what leadership is, requires group work and constant social activities of its students.  However, Cain argues that the cult of the charismatic extrovert leader means that our organisations are promoting those who take risks easily, who enjoy variety for its own sake and who may not be attuned to the feelings of those around them. They enjoy the ‘thrill of the chase’ of  money and status, making fast decisions, they may add life and energy to a gathering whilst exhibiting  all the  classic leadership traits but they may not have a rounded view of success and may ignore risks.

Introverts, enjoy the opportunity to think the, the world slowly and deliberately, they like to focus on one task at a time- concentration is great. Introverts are not necessarily shy, nor are they incapable of forming strong relationships, who would not love a friend or partner whose strengths are listening and focusing on one individual at a time? People  who are introverted do  have the talent and skills to be successful , it has certainly not hampered Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Brenda Barnes or Charles Schwab.  Cain suggests that generally we overestimate how outgoing our leaders need to be.

The challenge for the introvert is to get through the selection process which may favour the loud and articulate rather than the slower paced, contemplative  less charismatic introvert. When a recruiter says ‘I couldn’t see them in charge’ what traits did they think were missing.

Creativity and innovation

Cain is very clear that many of the greatest discoveries of our time have come not from the highly collaborative social environments that seek to stimulate creativity but from individuals who have worked alone to develop and perfect the ideas. Steve Wozniak invented the pc in his garage not in an open plan office. Darwin, Einstein, Newton,  Curie were all solitary loners; introverts.  Cain suggests that the fashionable ‘collaborative’  environments actually inhibit creativity because of the degree of ‘group think’ that comes to dominate such groups, the way teamwork is the zeitgeist of the workplace.

There are many who will disagree with Cain’s thesis that it is introverts, working alone, engaging in   reflection, and deliberate practice to perfect something, producing numerous iterations of an idea  or product, who are the real engine house of innovation. But if you think of the traits of the engineer,  the artist, the writer and the poet, these are people who need and thrive in  deep concentration and the silence of contemplation.

So when we are looking for innovators, perhaps we should give them more space and demand less team work whilst they are in the ideating stage.

Sociability and open plan offices

Given the introverts propensity to be overwhelmed by too much stimulus – noise, activity, emotion, pressure it comes as no surprise that Cain is no fan of open plan offices.  Open plan environments have been found to reduce productivity and impair memory. hey are associated with high staff turnover, make people sick, hostile, unmotivated and insecure. There is better communication but also more arguments and fewer close comradeships. So whilst companies save money by treating staff as battery hens, these environments are costing in other ways. And the extrovert  fairs better than the introvert for whom such environments  are overwhelming  and toxic. So for those who are excellent at tasks requiring deep concentration and thoughtfulness the environment of open plan is really unhealthy.

The solutions are to allow more working at home, to ensure people can escape either to quiet spaces, ‘no talk days’ or to wear headphones. Even someone as far along the extrovert end of the continuum as I am,  used to wear headphones to that I could  screen out the activity in the office around me.

Equalities

One of the key themes  of the book is that the cult of the extrovert leaders is a western concept and embodies western values. What Cain discovers is that not only are there many Americans who are introverted and don’t enjoy all this noise and sociable activity but that the  Asian Americans she talked to found it a total anathema. Culturally Asian communities value very different things from their Western counterparts. So if we recruit for sociable, outgoing, ‘high energy’ leaders we may well be indirectly discriminating against the team work those of Asian cultures where the individual subordinates their own desires to the group’s interests.

Neither one nor the other but some of both…

My own understanding of introversion came form sharing my home with a young man (our au pair) who was a typical introvert, exhausted by a few hours with my son, able to sit alone and practise his guitar, his maths and his English for hours. Someone who seemed not to need friends or a social life but who charmed the Grandmas and would argue the toss with the husband (he had a real stubborn streak). Watching these traits at close quarters was fascinating. But rather than hinder him, these traits have been the key to his success in achieving his career goals. Many years on, he designs motorbikes for Triumph – a boyhood dream.

Most people are not completely introverted or complete extroverts, we lie somewhere along that continuum.  Introverts are often good at turning on the charm, forcing themselves to appear more gregarious than they feel  and disguising their need for ‘quiet’, (but it drains them to do so). Depending on what study you read somewhere between half and third of us are introverts, and to ignore or under value that talent pool and the very particular talents that they have certainly appears to be folly.  Cain describes introverts as having ‘soft power’ and suggests that in the way we organise our lives and businesses we need the skills of both extroverts and introverts and that to organise our business to foster that extrovert ideal alone is at our peril.

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When it comes to applying for jobs and making your application a winning missive – one size definitely does not fit all! When I am recruiting and screening a significant pile of CVs and applications there is nothing more despair inducing than realising that I am reading a batch of CVs, erectile most of which have been sent out a significant number of times before.

Sometimes it is really obvious that this is a standard issue application.. sometimes the writer has not even checked to make sure that they have referred to  the correct organisation. “I am really excited about the opportunity to work for NASA and fly to the moon”  says the applicant to the local bank.  “I would really enjoy the opportunity to contribute to the space program”. Well I am sure you would but that is probably not going to happen at the local shoe shop. The person reading the application deserves the courtesy  of getting their name correct (and their gender) and the role and organisation you are applying for correct too. But a good application goes further: it demonstrates an understanding of the skills and challenges of this job. It is tailored to the specific job you are applying for.

So one of the very first rules of making a job application is that you have to tailor your application to the job you are applying for. But this is a concept that many people struggle with; so just how does one tailor an application?

Firstly look at your Cv, medications For too long people have thought the CV is a standard document with every detail of their past in it when it needs to be a breathing and alive and tailored pitch for a particular role.  Have you expressed a career objective in your CV? Is this job (that you are applying for ) actually in line with that objective? Have you given your self a profile statement? Is that profile a description of the person they are looking for? (and if you are not what they are looking for, prescription just why are you applying?) You can’t change where you have worked or what jobs you have done, the tailor can make many different garments with the same cloth.  But look at your achievements – do they demonstrate that you have achieved the things they need you to achieve? Are you speaking their language? Are you showcasing the skills they are looking for? You will have undertaken a number of tasks in your last role, have you thought about the order that you mention them in? Have you used great adverbs and adjectives to show that you accomplished those achievements in the way they want you to work?

I recently looked at a Cv of someone whose greatest highlight was playing a key role in saving lives in crash whilst waiting for an air ambulance. I am not for one moment suggesting that he is not a hero…. But the job was not looking for daring do or for feats of bravery. So think ‘what do I want the reader to see and be attracted to?’ What have I done and achieved that is of most interest to my reader? ‘ Think about changing the order of your achievements to highlight your most relevant skills. Is your Cv a job description with no qualitative statements that show you were successful? Think about which achievements you include.  Really demonstrate that you have the right experience for the new job. Delete points that suggest your interests or skills lie elsewhere. Just as a tailor clips and shapes each suit to fit the size and shape of the wearer, clip and shape your application.

Secondly, think about your supporting documents, whether it is a cover letter, a supporting statement or both.  These documents are your opportunity to demonstrate how you deliver the role achievements and a showcase for your skills. In your covering letter, show tat you really have done your work on that organisation and know why it is attractive. Tell, that organisation why you are specifically drawn to it and that role. And if you are doing a  supporting statement  choose great examples of having cracked the problems they are facing. Make sure you tell them about the end results of what you have done (or contributed towards) so that you show you understand their mission and purpose. My administrator may have spent most of the day photocopying and fixing interviews but what she contributed to was client retention and candidate satisfaction. It’s great to see that someone understands why they do the day to day tasks in their job.

And finally, what is really sad when there is so much free help and advice on the web (and my site included) that someone has not bothered to look at it. So their submission is outdated and outmoded. And yet they are still surprised that they don’t get an interview.

One size does not fit all and an application needs to be thought through so that you really communicate with the reader and tell them the very relevant information in as succinct a way as possible. Good luck with your tailored applications.. and don’t forget a tailor needs their scissors as well as their other tools.

pinking shears
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Overcoming Procrastination

Published on July 9, 2013 by in Uncategorized

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The Round Tuit – Overcoming Procrastination..

 Many years ago my father was given a ‘round tuit’. There was a lot of ungrateful hurumphing! I don’t think my father thought he needed a round tuit… and was slightly insulted. You may not know what I’m talking about? A round tuit is a round object (plate, recipe coaster, buy coin)… often with a poem printed on it (if it’s big enough) and in case you have not guessed, treat it is a ‘cure’ for procrastination; ‘because now you don’t have to wait until you get around to it.’

 

Procrastination (from the Latin) is the tendency to put off today what can wait until tomorrow, to delay an undertaking, to find an excuse not to do something. It can be a paralysing and costly tendency, if for example you put off paying the parking ticket and are fined. But what’s behind procrastination?

 

Some people have a habitual tendency to out things off until the last minute, perhaps because they hope the task may become redundant.   They may just dislike the task, such as cleaning the guttering. They may be putting off something they feel they ought to do rather than want to do, like visiting the in-laws. There may genuinely be no urgency and it’s just easier to leave something difficult, disagreeable or unpleasant for as long as possible. Sometimes it is the sheer size of the task that puts people off starting. Procrastinators may fear the consequences of doing the thing they are putting off, either fear of failure, or fear of success, e.g. applying for that new job.

 

Is the ‘round tuit’ a cure?  Probably not, magic bullets are rare, so what is?

 

When I’m coaching I like to see if the coachee can identify why they are putting off the task. How likely is it to go away? It may be that the most useful thing is to identify the fears. What is the worst that can happen if you do it, what’s the worst that can happen if you don’t do it? What is there to be really afraid of? How could you make it safer to do this?  Procrastination is a key tool of our ‘safekeeping self’ as it maintains the status quo, so what are you getting out of not doing the task?    What would be the consequences of never doing it? What are the benefits of doing it? If it’s an unpleasant and disagreeable thing, will it grow any less so when it is accompanied by the guilt caused by delays?  Is the short term pleasure of doing something else really going to outweigh the satisfaction of accomplishing what you’re avoiding?

 

Research shows that if you start a task then you are more likely to complete it.. the brain can forget things not started but creates an anxiety about a half done task.  So work on the activity ‘for just a few minutes’, then the anxious brain will not rest until it is done.

How do you eat an elephant? In small chunks! Sometimes making a plan about how to accomplish the task can helps; a technique known as salami slicing.  By identifying small specific steps the enormous project can seem much less daunting.. sometimes we even wonder why we were worried!

And remember, life is not a rehearsal, you won’t  get this hour again.. maybe tomorrow you won’t be able to do the thing you put off today.. so ‘just do it’

 

Did my Father need a ‘round tuit’? Not really, he was always clear about what he wanted to do.  He’d worked out that if he kept putting it off, he probably didn’t really want to do it all and so he just crossed it off the To Do List!

 

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I was coaching a real ‘high flyer’ the other week and she felt that the trust between her and the owners of the business she runs here in the UK, pharm had been broken. Part of the reason is that they had not done what they said they would, patient they had not honoured their promises. But another part of it is that they don’t seem to appreciate her. She solves the problems, covers up the messes and mistakes made by the other part of the business and they never say thank you, they never apologise for putting her in the position of having to cover up to clients.. so she’s leaving.

So what do employees want to hear from their boss?

They want to feel valued. Even if they are not exceptional, or busting their gut,  people want to be recognised, in the language of TA, (transactional analysis) ‘stroked’.  Sometimes we forget that   common politeness means a lot. I was told by one person that the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ and decided them to leave  accompany was when the boss helped himself to a birthday cream cake and did not even say ‘Happy Birthday’ to the donor. Little things matter.

So what are the 7 things employees most want to hear?

1. Thanks for that – even if it is what they are being paid to do, without them your operation would not happen
2. How are you? – and the reply listened to, they are people not machines
3. Thanks for this- every day, notice and show gratitude for a job done and if it is, it will get done better, because they know you notice
4. Yes, I see you – because they are people and individuals and if they change their hair, their clothes or their specs they want to be noticed, if they do extra work, make a contribution, highlight a problem…
5. Yes, I know you are working hard – surprise them, research shows that unexpected rewards have more power to motivate than an expected reward (becomes a right) or the salary (it is my contract)
6. Thanks-just be polite! And mean it.
7. Yes I know you have an opinion and it does matter- when you are considering change remember they are doing the job, they are speaking to the customers. They may have ideas.  and whilst they may like the ‘way they have always done it’ you can not persuade them to change if you don’t listen to their objections.

People think work is all about earning money. It is about earning money but it is not just about earning money. And just because they are being paid does not mean they are not valuable or that they should not be recognised as such. When work becomes solely a financial transaction you have lost access to their discretionary effort. People find an identity, a social circle, intellectual challenge and a meaning in life through work. They will find more of those and be more committed and productive if they hear what they want to hear, that they are valued.

 

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It is all about the numbers!

Published on December 16, 2012 by in Uncategorized

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budget

budget (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)

Can you convince a recruiter about your ability to manage a budget?

Watching Dragons Den there are a number of points when you can see that the Dragons lose interest. One of the critical ones is when they start exploring the numbers. Sometimes the reason they don’t invest is that the numbers just don’t stack up. Another reason they don’t invest is that people don’t know the numbers. Or are confused about the numbers and what they mean.

When you think about it, adiposity that makes perfect sense, viagra 40mg the Dragons are putting their personal money into someone else’s business. If that person does not know the difference between, search turnover, profit, and margin then why would anyone have confidence in the individual’s ability to increase margin, build turnover and deliver profit? Knowing the numbers is critical to success in the Den, and critical in giving the Dragons confidence in the entrepreneur.

Can you see where I am going with this? All senior roles have budgets, some of them very big budgets; interviewers need to be sure that the candidates can handle those  budgets and that they will be good with the money. The challenge for the interviewer is how to assess that.  It is one of the most difficult areas of skill to really test. Numerical reasoning tests can test arithmetic, but that is not the whole answer. Commercial reasoning tests can test the ability of a candidate to think commercially (understand turnover, margin and profit but not deliver it). Questions in interview tend to be bland and relate to ‘how do you ensure you don’t  overspend?’, ‘how do you deliver increased productivity?’, ‘ tell us what you have done to deliver savings/reduce costs?’. Ok those questions will get you some information about whether the person understands processes.

How can you, as a candidate, give the interviewers confidence that you are good with money?

It starts in the Cv and application: if you don’t talk the language of numbers then you are missing a trick. You need to shown in your Cv that you know the cost and value of everything. You need to demonstrate that you know and understand the metrics of performance.

In your interview you should not wait for the interviewer to ask about money, budgets or revenues, you should be talking naturally about your income, your expenditure and your costs. By knowing and talking confidently about those things you are demonstrating that you think about the financial implications of all your activity. Once you do that, you give the interviewers confidence that you will pay attention to those things.

What is it that makes the difference between someone who is a good financial manager and someone who is not? Being able to see the patterns in the numbers, being able to project. to identify and spot trends all make someone good at managing the money. But, I think one of the absolute key things is that good financial managers pay close attention to the numbers.

If you talk about the money and know your numbers you can convince the interviews that you are one of those people who pay attention to money, and that you can do all those things you need to do to balance the books or turn the profit.

 

 

Dragons' Den (UK)

Dragons’ Den (UK) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mary Hope is an experienced senior recruiter and career coach.

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approved former UK PM. Fran…” src=”http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/ff/Thatcher-loc.jpg/300px-Thatcher-loc.jpg” alt=”English: Margaret Thatcher, cheap former UK PM. Fran…” width=”127″ height=”152″ /> 1975

 

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher knew it, ed she knew that in order to get to the highest echelons of any organisation you may have to change. In her case she changed her voice, she took elocution lessons. As did the Duchess of Cambridge. The people who have changed their looks to enhance their career are legion with very famous examples of Norma Jean (Marilyn Monroe) and Carmen Cansino (Rita Hayworth). In recent news they are discussing the makeover of Mr and Mrs Ed Milliband, new clothes, new ideas and confidence to appear like a leader.

 

But what has this to do with interviews?

When I sit in interviews I sometimes wonder if people realise that what got them there will not get them there. In other words the level of skill in being interviewed that got you, say, a team manager role or an assistant director role won’t necessarily get you a higher level role. What I say is based on my years of interviewing where I have met so many competent people who have bumbled their way through an interview because they think they know what to do. After all, if you have a job then you have succeeded in one  interview!  so you know what to do? Well not necessarily.

The more senior the role you are applying for the more sophisticated the interviewer will expect your answers to be. You can’t expect to achieve a promotion without some thought about the new activities that you will be responsible for and the different behaviours or skills that might need. The questions might be the same ones that you have met before but  it is the answers that need to be different.

Many of the questions you will be faced with will ask you about what you have done and many others will ask you ‘how would you……’. at that point you need to be able to talk about how, if you were in that more senior job you would accomplish the objectives you are being asked about. And then give a good example of something similar that you have done or delivering a part of that process. You need to have insights about really works or what makes a difference.

You need to make sure that you have thought about those parts of the job that will be new to you, you need to consider what the world looks like from that higher perspective. You need, if going to a new organisation, to know what issues and challenges you will face in that job, in that culture.

This can be challenging to do on your own. You will find it easier to develop these techniques of giving sophisticated answers if you prepare thoroughly and practice. This is part of what  career coaches do, they put you through your paces, ensure you understand how to answer those challenging questions and how best to convince the interviewers that you are capable of working at that higher level.

 

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CV – Be key word Savvy

Published on September 10, 2012 by in Job Search advice, Uncategorized

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cialis 40mg ‘sans-serif’;”>When it comes to putting together your CV, dosage you need  (as with all communication) to think about who will receive and read it. Of course in this day and  age the ‘reader’ may well be a machine!

 When you send your Cv to an agency or potential employer, they will likely put it into a database (Applicant tracking system). If you are applying for a specific role they should look at it and screen it for suitability. Then it will sit in the data base… you need your name to come up the next time there is a similar role. Your name will come up if you have the right keywords.

You need to understand which keywords are most sought by people hiring for the positions you want, ensuring that your CV uses them effectively.Think as they would think. If you were looking for someone like you, how would you search. If you have had generic job titles then this is really important.(sales director…..you would not search on that too broad)  If you are trying to get back into something you worked in a awhile back, this is really important.(when did induction become  ‘onboarding’)  If you are trying to change sectors (outturn and year end???)

Do think about the keywords and get found more easily.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Make a list of keywords that commonly appear in adverts and job descriptions for the kinds of roles you are seeking. Look beyond only roles you are actively applying for – the aim is simply to gather relevant terms.
  • Look at the websites of companies and associations related to your target industry to identify other ‘buzzwords’.
  • Identify industry experts, via professional associations for example, and check out the language they use to represent themselves in online profiles.
  • Subscribe to industry publications and find relevant recent articles online to keep up to date with what that people are talking about in your sector.
  • Keep in mind that keywords can cover many areas such as position titles, industries, skills, name-brand companies, conferences, software, certifications and training, products, technologies and affiliations.
  • Make sure you use all the relevant synonyms, people in HR can also be in personnel or people management or talent management or human capital. Try to use each one once in your CV in case the searcher does not use the same one as you.

You obviously want your CV to stand out, but it’s also important that it shows your reader how you fit in. Deploying the right keywords can allow you to do this, showing employers that you are speaking their language. 

Thanks to ‘The Ladders’ for additional info.

 

Curriculum Vitae

Curriculum Vitae (Photo credit: badjonni)


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