Category

Confidence

How to deal with job-hunting rejection

By | Career, Confidence, Recruitment

job rejectionLast week my article “3 ways to nail a job interview” was published by Women’s Agenda.

24 hours later I received an email from a frustrated job seeker who after being made redundant is struggling with the rejection of job seeking.  She is finding it increasingly difficult to stay confident and positive.

She writes:

“It’s starting to get pretty tough to persevere. I’m confident in my ability, I know why my skills outweigh my limitations and I bring personality in spades, but the reality is that job hunting is darn hard work and rejection is difficult to endure. Let’s talk about that.”

I have no doubt that “Samantha” isn’t alone. Finding a new job, let alone your perfect job, is hard. It is a full time commitment that requires research, preparation, networking, building relationships, investment, time and fortitude. It also often means rejection, frustration and disappointment.

When you are struggling to stay positive, how do you keep on going?

  1. Focus – do you have a clear career plan? Make sure you reflect on what you enjoy doing, what you are good at as well as aspects of previous jobs and cultures you haven’t enjoyed. Getting clear on your desire and creating a vision of where you ultimately want to be in your career will keep you focused and inspired when the going gets tough. Look at all your options realistically, what’s required and what action you can take right now to get one step closer.
  2. Optimism – the proverb ‘this too shall pass’ might sound flippant right now when you are constantly receiving “thanks, but no thanks” letters.  However, this is a moment in time that you can find positives in.  Who have you met on this journey? What extra time has this created in your schedule to do the things you love, that when working a 5 day week you couldn’t seem to fit in? There are always silver linings – you just need to be looking for them.
  3. Get comfortable being uncomfortable – this is one of the biggest discoveries that set successful people apart.  When you are uncomfortable you are learning and doing something different is more likely to generate a different result. If you keep doing what you have always done you will always get what you have always got. Try different things! If you are just applying for jobs on Seek, try something else – update your LinkedIn profile, connect with new people or ask someone who is doing the job you want out for a coffee.
  4. Feedback – gaining real and honest feedback about why you didn’t win a job is extremely helpful.  Most of the time you are simply told, “there was a more experienced candidate” or “we went with someone else” – nothing that is going to help your interview performance next time around that’s for sure. Asking for feedback is tricky. It requires you to be gracious and open to constructive criticism. The golden rule is never get defensive. This will ensure an automatic shut down from the other person and there goes your chances of finding out honest and real information that will help next time around. Be courageous, ask the question and make the other person feel comfortable and safe to give you this information honestly.
  5. Call in an expert – still getting nowhere? Just like professional athletes have coaches to help achieve their ultimate goals, consider paying an expert to help achieve yours. An expert in this area can assess your resume, critique your cover letter or role-play an interview with you. When you are paying someone for a service you can expect to get the honest answers you are seeking.
  6. Persistence – the ability to press on when you feel like quitting will set you apart in a competitive market. You could be just one more application away from winning your next job. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. Getting the result you are after means taking action. More action. Consistently. If you don’t – nothing will change. Keep your focus on the overall plan and what you want – this will help keep you on track.

Finding a new job can be “terrifying” and sometimes all the research, preparation plus your new outfit and positive attitude still won’t get you across the line. Try not to take it personally and don’t let rejection get the better of you. Keep going! See the opportunity to practice, learn and improve. The right opportunity is out there for you. Keep focused on your ultimate goal and remember these experiences build character!

“Let’s connect” – the new way to network

By | Communication, Confidence

Last week I spoke at the UNSW (The University of New South Wales) AGSM (Australian Graduate School of Management) MBA networking evening “Let’s Connect” on the importance of networking.  I don’t know about you… but surely this topic has been done to death? We all know how to work a room and meet new people don’t we? Hmmm….apparently not and it’s clear that professionals still want to know how to do it effectively.

Networking is becoming a redundant term in this modern era of social media where “connecting” is the buzzword.  Every time I open my email there is a new invitation to connect with someone on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google + etc. Never before have we had so many channels and forums to meet new people, discover new opportunities, join groups and discuss and debate with other like-minded individuals.

This connecting is really at the heart of what life is all about. Regardless of whether we are in business, sport, families, friends or community groups, our experiences are enhanced when meeting new people and forming new relationships.  This in essence is what connecting is all about.

These relationships, the connections, the networks you have created and built over your lifetime give you access to information and knowledge that we need to generate business deals, job opportunities, new relationships and long-term success.  It is also these connections in your direct network that have a direct influence and impact on your life.  In fact, master wealth creator Jim Rohn discovered that your “income is generally the average of the 7 people you spend most time with”. Time to change friends perhaps!?!

Let me give you an example, at my daughter’s school I met two parents who have immigrated from the UK and they have been on the verge of being deported as they have been unable to gain employment and therefore the right visas. They have strong knowledge, skills and experience in their relevant fields, both present well, have great communication skills…yet going through the normal channels of finding a job, they couldn’t even snag an interview.  But they’re determined and have been great at connecting! Through the school network, they have been to the school ballet concert, art show, every child’s birthday party, school assembly, drop off and pick up – and instead of standing in the corner, they have taken every opportunity to meet other parents, ask questions and show an interest in getting to know new people.  It’s paid off – they both have new jobs and here’s the thing – it wasn’t through a Recruiter (sadly for me) or a job ad, or via the Internets thousand of vacancies – no it was through good old fashion networking.

Quick tips for effective ‘connecting’: 

1)    Be interested and curious in people – don’t be like the Adelaide businesswoman I met years ago that was looking straight past me when I was talking to her to see who else was more important in the room.

2)    Don’t focus on what somebody’s position, title or label is – people’s influence goes way beyond what’s on their business card.

3)    Describe what you do, don’t just hand over a business card – it opens up the conversation and gets the dialogue moving 

4)    Have something interesting to say – not the weather please! 

5)    Don’t expect an instant return every time real connecting is about building long term relationships, not about an immediate sale or what can this person help me achieve right now?

6)    Follow up on social mediaafter the AGSM event, nearly everyone I met that night has been followed up on LinkedIn or Twitter to stay connected

I think overall the best advice is to think about networking strategically. That is, not what’s in it for me today, but having an open mind of whom can I meet and what can I learn?

Being open to the results is essential, after all this could be a new client, a new job, a new friend or perhaps a new relationship! Connecting is at the heart of what we do – it’s a life skill. Approach networking as an opportunity to learn and meet new people without expectations – you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.

 The most valuable asset of any business is your relationships. Without them, you have nothing. See people you meet today as relationships you can build on as these are the most valuable things you have”

John McGrath

 

 

How to get the X factor of presence

By | Confidence, Success

At the end of last term, it was my daughter’s turn to be the VIP for the week in her reception class.  This is a confidence building strategy which involves the girls being interviewed by the Principal at the front of the class being asked about her family, favorite things, hobbies etc. Parents are invited along, the session is completely documented and then a full wall display including photos and quotes from the VIP is put up in the classroom.  It is truly impressive.

There were two things that really stood out for me.  The first was the process, where everyone, (her teacher, classmates, Principal and us as parents) was asked to contribute by saying what they admire about Charlie.  It was amazing to hear the perceptive things girls at the age of five were contributing. Quite frankly, it floored me. I can only imagine what this does for their self-esteem and confidence. The second thing was what the Principal said about Charlie …… she has presence.  Of all the beautiful things she said, she mentioned ‘presence’ three or four times.  She said that every time she sees or interacts with her, she is struck by the mere presence that she commands in a room or situation.

It got me thinking about this intangible presence and how to get it.

I like to think of it as charisma, the x factor, that something you can’t quite put your finger on.  That feeling when someone who has presence walks into a room and you feel their energy. Put simply, it is that unknown factor or the unexplainable thing, which adds a certain value to that person where you are drawn to listen to what they have to say.

I believe having this presence goes a long way to making a successful Recruiter.  I have seen those who ‘have it’ and those who have had to develop it and the difference in their success can be significant.

When trying to define it with Consultants in the past we have discussed public speakers, sales people, celebrities and people in our own lives to help us get clear on what this presence is and how to develop it.  I think some people are just born with it – and maybe this is already Charlie (think of me when she’s about 15!) and others can develop it and fine-tune it to assist in business meetings, presentations and winning new work.  There is just something about it that makes us want to be around these people and hear what they have to offer.

After a brainstorming session with Consultants on presence and how to get it, a range of ideas came flooding forward and the five main themes included:

  1. Body language – stand tall, look confident, carry yourself in a way that attracts attention. One Consultant mentioned that image is still really important in making a great first impression.
  2. Communication – speak with conviction; be concise and sharp in delivery.  It is rare to be engaged by a waffler!
  3. Listening skills – ability to make everyone feel important and heard.  I’ll never forget my interaction with a particular speaker some years ago. After her talk I went to speak to her, and while I was talking to her, she kept looking right past me to see who was more important in the room that she could be talking to.
  4. Know what you want – be able to lead and control a conversation to stay on track and gain an outcome.  Being clear on your message and what you stand for.
  5. Demonstrate with stories and real examples – people with presence have the experience to back up the theory.  They can easily share a story or re-count examples to demonstrate their point, making it easy to connect with them.

People who have presence inspire, engage and more often than not, educate others in a way that stimulates our thinking and questions the status quo.  As a Recruiter, you need to stand out from the crowd just to be given an opportunity to deliver your presentation.  Presence can be a significant competitive advantage.

Who do you know that has presence and what advantage do you think this gives them?

 

Why is confidence still an issue for women at work?

By | Confidence, Results, Retention

Over the years I would have mentored and coached more than 100 women formally and informally in business. It still puzzles mehow many successful women still suffer from both a lack of confidence and self-belief at work.  Some of these women openly admit this is what is holding them back, while others suffer in silence and it is proven through their behaviour of self- doubting and not believing they can achieve or are worthy of success.  When they achieve a record result or win a new client, it is nearly brushed aside as no big deal or anyone could have done that.

It has been one of my biggest frustrations leading a team of all women.  These women are amazing. They inspire me on a daily basis with what they achieve in the corporate world, at home and outside of work. To be surrounded by such talent and enthusiasm makes it easy to come to work every day.

So how is it that on nearly a weekly basis, a coaching session reverts back ultimately to a lack of self-confidence around a sales pitch, negotiation, making a call to a new contact or giving professional advice? Why do they often doubt their expertise around what they know and have successfully practiced for years and years?

As a Leader, it presents a daily and immediate challenge to coach on. I find myself continually coming up with new techniques and tactics to reinforce what I already think and believe about these women, expecting that they start believing it themselves. These include:

  • Facts – giving them facts and figures about their performance that can’t be argued. For example, you have won 8 new clients this month, you have achieve $30K in revenue for the business, you won 80% of the proposals you submitted and you have a 99% retention rate on all placements you have made. Hard to argue with real data!
  • Give them something to believe in – I have found that women in particular are more effective when they are working towards a greater purpose, to achieve an ultimate goal, other than just making money.  They need to believe in something greater than their individual performance to see they are making a difference in business, themselves and ultimately in the lives of others.
  • Reward and recognition – a verbal recognition at a meeting, a group email praising their achievements or a tangible reward such as a piece of jewellery, a dinner with their partner or clothing seems to generate a greater response than an increase in salary or a  large commission cheque (although that works too!).
  • Expect confidence – treating team members as confident professional and expecting they can do the things they may hesitate to take on. You get what you expect.
  • Being uncomfortable – sometimes I have had the best success asking them to do something that they really don’t want to it and it pushes them way outside their comfort zone.  So much so, they learn the most and their confidence sky rockets.
  • Fake it until you make it – sometimes when you don’t feel 100% confident in a situation, I encourage my team to “fake it until you make it”.  This is not about lying your way through a situation, it’s about exuding confidence, remaining calm and delivering a rational response. I remember being 21 conducting a meeting with a CFO in large blue-chip organisation and being drilled about the current market conditions and salaries.  Instead of being intimidated and bumbling through answers, I was clear and confident and if I wasn’t 100% sure, I said I would find out and get back to him. It won me this client until this day purely because of my confidence.
  • Role models and inspiration – I encourage my team to read books, seek out mentors outside of our business and to learn from others’ success.  The best mentors can be those that have achieved the results you aspire to and follow their recipe for success rather than reinventing the wheel.   Surround yourself with these people and learn as much as you.

Can self-confidence be learnt or re-built? Can we coach to overcome it? In my experience the best we can do is nurture the talent that we have, believe in people and hope to inspire them to things they didn’t even think they were capable of.