Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Know Before You Go—Mastering Your Elevator Pitch

By Jodi Glickman, Founder, Great on the Job Jodi Glickman Brown

Mastering your elevator pitch is essential, especially in the job search process, both as you network and interview for your next role.  Your personal 30-second spiel about who you are, how you’re different, and why you’re memorable is going to be invaluable to you as you move through the steps of landing your dream job…

Here are three important ideas to think through as you craft your pitch:

1.     Why do you want the job?  Do you love the company; are you an avid fan of their products and services?  Have you been dying to break into the entertainment industry ever since a young age?  What is really driving you?

2.     How are you uniquely qualified? Understand the position and be able to answer the question “why are you a great candidate for this company?”

3.     What ties together your past and current experiences?  Be ready to communicate your story in a way that is compelling and makes sense — what is the glue that holds it all together?

Your elevator pitch is your opportunity to communicate these critical pieces of information to someone in a crisp but casual way — without even being asked.  As you answer the why, how, and what, keep these three pointers in mind:

1.     Think relevant, not recent. There’s no rule that says you must talk about your resume in reverse chronological order.   It’s more important to include the relevant parts of your background than include everything you’ve ever done since high school.  Pick and choose what will resonate with a recruiter or interviewer based on the position at hand. 

2.     Focus on skills-based versus industry-based qualifications.  Think of how your skills are transferrable to your target industry.  Alex, a recent MBA, was a chemist and researcher before school who wanted to work in corporate finance.  When pressed to explain why she chose finance, Alex exclaimed, “That’s the way my brain works.” As a scientist, her thinking was methodical, mathematical and formulaic — all of which translated to someone who would be a natural fit within a corporate finance department,

3.     Connect the dots — what ties it all together? I personally had a significant hurdle to clear as a former Peace Corps volunteer interviewing with investment banks. I explained away the transition by emphasizing that I was a big picture thinker by nature and a numbers person by training.  Banking was a perfect combination of the two— I liked looking at client’s challenges and issues from 30,000 feet and then digging down into the details to come up with creative financing solutions.

Ask yourself these questions as your craft your personal pitch and you’ll be able to use your story to impress others from the get-go and land that dream job!

Jodi Glickman is an expert in training young people how to be Great on the Job. Jodi is an entrepreneur, author, public speaker, consultant and regular blogger for Harvard Business Review. She is a contributor to Fortune.Com and Business Insider and her book: Great on the Job, What to Say, How to Say It, The Secrets of Getting Ahead (St. Martin's Press, May 2011) is a veritable master class in workplace success. Jodi has trained some of the best and brightest young minds in business—her clients include Harvard Business School, Wharton, NYU Stern School of Business, Kellogg School of Management, BofA/Merrill, Citigroup, Baird & Co., The Forte Foundation, and 85 Broads, among others. Jodi is a former Peace Corps volunteer (Southern Chile) turned investment banker (Goldman Sachs) turned communication expert. She received her MBA from the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It is not about Passion, but about Purpose

By Sonita Lontoh, Executive, Trilliant
Some students in business schools know exactly what they want to do for their careers and go after them with conviction. Others are not quite sure and may follow the consulting and banking route to see whether they like it and build the skills and network for their next jobs. Still others are wondering whether they should just follow their passion in order to be happy.
Problem is, sometimes it is not clear whether what one thinks as a passion is actually just a hobby. As I was pondering my own career decision after business school, I had a guiding principle that I wanted to work in an arena where I was contributing something greater to society rather than just selling a product. I also wanted to work in a career where technology, business and policy intersect. On a more personal note, I also knew I had to go back to San Francisco as my husband was living there and we had been living in separate cities while I was pursuing my graduate degrees. I worked on a career plan on finding a purpose where my passion and skills could be put to use to help solve a problem in this world. At the time, I had the choice to go to green technology, biotechnology or high-tech sectors. After thoughtful consideration, I decided to pursue a career in green technology.
People are often mistaken to believe that in order to be happy, they need to pursue their "passion." This belief is further reinforced by the millennial generations entering the workforce today, who proselytize to pursue their passion. There also seems to be a clear distinction between what constitute "non-passionate" careers – businessmen, lawyers, bankers, and "passionate" careers – teachers, writers, artists. Although this line of thinking affects both men and women, there seems to be a belief that women are more likely to be in a position to pursue their passion for a “full-time career” because they are not usually the main breadwinner in the family. This somewhat also implies that passionate careerists oftentimes cannot make a good enough living to be the main breadwinner. After all, how many writers become Pulitzer-winning or best-selling authors? Is following your passion worth it?
I believe this type of thinking is flawed because time and again, it has been shown that in order to be happy, both men and women need to have a purpose in life. There is a difference between having a purpose and a passion or hobby. For example, just because someone likes fashion as a hobby, it does not necessarily mean he/she will make a successful career as a fashion designer. Instead of confusing passion, hobby and a career, I suggest people focus on finding a purpose -- finding ways on how you can leverage your passion and skills to solve important problems in the world. Finding a solution to climate change is one example of how one can help solve one of the world’s biggest problems.
People who are working hard in solving the biggest problems are often compensated in the biggest ways, not just in financial terms, but also in human satisfaction terms. Solving problems shift the focus from you to others. It shifts the conversation from what you like to do (having a passion or hobby) to how you can be a valuable contributor in helping society solves its problems (having a purpose). This paradigm shift in thinking is quite empowering as it shifts the frame of reference from the self to how we can help others. People become less self-absorbed and ironically, more likely to be genuinely happy. Don’t you sometimes find that you’re happiest when you don’t think too much about how to become happy?
The good news is that there are a lot of big problems in this world to solve. Each of us has the unique skills to solve some of these biggest problems. Which ones resonate with you?
There are a few things you can do to try to figure this out. Broaden your horizon and network with others who may be working to solve big problems. Look to solve problems for which you can personally identify with. Develop emotional maturity to realize that the world does not revolve around you.

We don't find true happiness by focusing on ourselves. We do by connecting with and helping others.
True happiness comes from the intersection of doing what we love, what we’re good at, and what the world needs. The easiest is to focus on the first, let’s combine it with the second and most importantly, the last.

Sonita Lontoh is an executive at Trilliant, a venture-backed Silicon Valley clean tech company. She is a clean/green technology expert recognized on Wikipedia and is a frequent speaker/contributor on energy, clean tech, and women leadership topics. She is passionate about leveraging innovation to transform our energy use to combat climate change, and to encourage more women in technology leadership positions. Sonita earned her Master of Engineering degree from MIT, where she was also cross-registered at the Harvard Business School. She holds an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a B.S. in Industrial Engineering & Operations Research from UC Berkeley. Follow Sonita on Twitter @slontoh and see her speak at the 2012 Forte MBA Women Conference.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Seat buckle fastened? Let’s finish—here are your final tips to maximize your mentoring relationship.

1.      Do the work. Come prepared to mentoring meetings. Follow through on your commitments. Stay focused on your learning goals. Continuously work at strengthening the relationship. Keep up the momentum.

2.      Make mentoring prime time. When you show up, be fully present. Don’t get distracted. Remember you are taking up valuable time in your mentor’s day. Make it value added for him/her too.

3.      Keep a journal or learning log so you can reflect on what you are learning as you are learning it, have a record of what it is you have discussed and refer to it as you evaluate your mentoring journey.

Dr. Lois Zachary is president of Leadership Development Services, LLC, a Phoenix-based consulting firm that specializes in leadership and mentoring, and is director of its Center for Mentoring ExcellenceÔ. She is an internationally recognized mentoring expert and has been cited as “one of the top minds in leadership” today. Since The Mentor’s Guide was first published in 2000, it has become a best-seller and the primary resource for organizations interested in promoting mentoring for leadership and learning, and for mentors seeking to deepen their mentoring practices. With her companion books, Creating a Mentoring Culture (2005) and The Mentee’s Guide (2009) and over 100 published articles, she has created a comprehensive set of resources for promoting the practice of individual and organizational mentoring excellence. In June 2012, Jossey-Bass will launch the publication of five mentoring pocket tools on mentoring excellence.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ready for more tips on how to be in a successful mentoring relationship? Let’s go:

1.      Prioritize your list of criteria (the attributes and characteristics). Come back to the list after you’ve identified some potential mentor candidates and weigh your decision based on your criteria. This will help you to make a decision based on learning fit and is not swayed by chemistry.

2.      Determine your personal readiness for a mentoring relationship. Mentoring is going to take time and work. Can you look yourself in the mirror and honestly say that you have the time, willingness, and commitment to engage in a mentoring relationship?

3.      Reflect on your past mentoring experiences and the people who have been there to guide and strengthen you. What lessons have you learned that will help you make your future mentoring relationships stronger and more productive? When you meet with your mentor for the first time you will want to share your experiences and ask her about hers. It will give you an opportunity to establish mutual expectations.

4.      Establish agreements to lay the groundwork for your relationship.  If you hit a glitch or stumbling block you can always refer back to your ground rules.  Simple things like agreeing that you will begin and end on time, always have a meeting date on the calendar, ending the relationship on a positive note (even if it doesn’t work out) are helpful in keeping the relationship on track. Talk about confidentiality and decide what it means to you and your mentor and discuss the boundaries and limits of the relationship.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mentoring Success: You Are in The Driver’s Seat!

Waiting for the ideal mentor to take you under her wing and ensure career success? Even if you are in a formal mentoring program and have been assigned a mentor, you are still responsible for your growth and development. And, you are going to need to have multiple mentors throughout your career if you are to be successful. So get ready. You are in the driver’s seat.

Over the next 3 days I will give you a pocket list of ten things you can do to make sure your mentoring relationship stays on course. Let’s get started:

1.      Have a conversation with yourself about why you want to have a mentor. Get clear about your purpose, objectives, and intention. These will help clarify whether you indeed could benefit from having a mentor, or whether you need a coach, training, or further education instead.

2.      Think about what you hope to gain as a result of being in a mentoring relationship. At the end of the day, or in this case, the relationship, what is it you will be able to say you have learned? What is it you want to say you can do that you couldn’t do before? What is it you will be celebrating that you have achieved?

3.      Identify the characteristics and attributes you are looking for in your mentors. Chemistry does not make a good mentor. It is nice when it exists, but what is even more important, is to find a mentor who has the experience, expertise and wisdom that you will need for your professional and career development.