Back in late 2014, one of my co-workers shared with me that she had been applying for internal jobs in our organization, hoping to move from the ranks of permanent part-time to permanent full-time. This week she shared with me the news that she has successfully landed a full-time position, and how she went about it might provide you with an example if you are in a similar position.
When I first heard she was looking for employment, I asked her how things were going in order to get an idea of whether or not an offer of help would be appropriate or not from me personally. As it turns out, she mentioned that while she was getting some interviews, she would invariably not do well in the interviews themselves; sometimes wondering if she was saying too much, perhaps not really answering the question, and her anxiety coming through. Bazinga! A specific area I could help with.
So I made an offer to look over her resume and cover letter, help with a mock interview, whatever she wanted and felt she would benefit from. Now here’s the first sign of a successful person; she welcomed the offer of help. Within a 24 hour period, she provided me with her resume and cover letter, plus the job posting they corresponded to. Following through and delivering what she had been asked to provide me with was the second sign of a successful person. You see too many people nod their head and say, “Yeah I’ll get it to you”, but they don’t.
After I edited both resume and cover letter, we set up a time to get together. Working only part-time, she made the effort to meet after her own shift was done, and she followed through – another successful step. When I was going through her resume revisions, she leaned in, looked interested, listened, clarified what she initially didn’t understand, and was genuinely interested in understanding where it was weak and why, and how it was strengthened in replying directly to the employers stated needs. Again, the sign of a successful person.
The cover letter review was much the same. In overhauling what she initially gave me and comparing the before and after versions, she saw the difference. Was she ticked off, affronted, defensive? Absolutely not. In fact, she was appreciative, thankful and open to change. You guessed it; yet another sign of a successful person. The bottom line is get interviews and job offers, not protect her ego. And guess what? The more she was open to ideas for improvement, the more she received.
Now to the mock interview process. She mentioned that applying for these full-time jobs was very stressful. Each application meant undergoing a test of competency and face-to-face interviews. Working for a large Municipality, she was going to various departments for these jobs; Water Treatment, Works, Social Services etc. Similar office administration positions but in completely different sectors. She’d get excited and nervous, talk quickly and lose focus.
We first went over the non-verbal areas; posture, first visual impression, eye contact, smiling, hand gestures, etc. This woman is actually very good at being engaged in conversations, makes solid eye contact, has a beautiful smile naturally and her non-verbal body language is pretty good to start with – just a few small suggestions.
As I asked her my questions in our mock interview, I made notes as fast as I could jotting down exactly what she said without paraphrasing. After the last question and answer, we went over the questions I’d asked and her answers. Now, whether she gave me a good answer or a poor one, during all of my feedback, she sat there intent on learning, being open to the feedback, taking it all in. Yes another sign of a successful person.
Constructive feedback can mean what you hear isn’t all flattering. It should be honest, helpful, instructive and delivered as straight-forward as the person receiving it is capable of taking it in. It should never be delivered with an intent to ridicule, embarrass or demean. As we talked, she was so receptive to getting better, I had the green light to keep it coming and I got more invested in the process. A huge sign of a successful person.
All of this I am thrilled to say, changed the way she viewed the interview. Seeing it as a conversation; an exchange of information centered around both an employers and applicants needs, she improved. Her answers became stronger, the framework for delivering those answers tightened up her nervous babble, and using specific examples to prove her skills validated her as authentic and believable.
You know why I’m really excited for her? She’s a mid-twenties homeowner who now has a better income, benefits, vacation time, and a brighter future. She’s also done for the time being with the distraction and stress of job applications, tests and interviews. I’m going to miss her very much actually because she’s incredibly positive, helpful and genuinely helpful. A sign of a successful person. Our loss is someone else’s gain.
Take advantage of offers of help. Be receptive not defensive. Implement ideas for improvement with enthusiasm and be hungry to improve.
Finally, she did one last thing that marks her as a successful person. Though not required, she said thanks with a token of her appreciation. A beautiful compass with the inscription, “Life is about the journey not the destination”. For a guy who helps provide people with direction, it’s perfect and now treasured.