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Creating the Most Important Brand: Brand YOU

June 21st, 2013

By: Karen Colligan

Creating YouIn my last blog I talked about STEP 1 in your search for a new opportunity: Taking Inventory. Now that you’ve done that (and I hope you have…if not, what are you waiting for??) let’s talk about how to use that information to create the YOU that’s going to attract a new and wonderful opportunity.
STEP 2 in your search involves transforming what you learned about yourself in the Inventory step into a distinct vision and compelling messaging that clearly articulates your unique value.

There are four sub-steps to Creating You:
1. Define your vision. What do you want to be doing 1 year from now, 3 years from now, 7 years from now? Put yourself in an imaginary time machine to some point in the future. Where are you living? What sort of work do you do? What are you known for? What challenges have you overcome to get where you are? Putting yourself there and “looking back” will help you create your journey.
2. Identify your objectives. Both long term and short term. What are the work experiences you need in order to achieve your vision? What are the opportunities right now that you can pursue? Do some research and write down 3-5 opportunities that align with your skills, values, interests and experience, and that map to your vision.
3. Develop a communication strategy. Your communication strategy defines how you are going to position yourself in networking conversations, informational interviews and job interviews. It’s your “elevator pitch.” It needs to be concise and compelling. It needs to tell the listener, very quickly and very succinctly, who you are and what you are looking for. Your elevator pitch might change based on your audience, so practice multiple ways of presenting “who you are.”
4. Build a resume that reflects your unique talents. Your resume may be one of the most important documents you ever put together. If done effectively, it can attract an interview opportunity that may launch you on the path to your dream job. If not, it may end up in the proverbial “round file.” Make sure that your resume stands out from the rest by ensuring that it is focused, attractive, correct (no spelling or grammar errors), concise and achievement-oriented. Remember that it should be forward-looking, highlighting skills and accomplishments that demonstrate your ability to perform your target position.
You can find more information and helpful worksheets for your job search in The Get Real Guide to Your Career available in both hard copy and online formats.
Isn’t it time for you to TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR CAREER?
Till next time,

Career, Career planning, Job search, The Get Real Guide to Your Career, Uncategorized

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How to Recognize and Adapt to Your Interviewer's Style

February 27th, 2013

By: Karen Colligan

Interview StyleIn my last blog - Want to Ace That Interview? Make Time to Prepare! - I gave you some tips on preparing for your interview. Now that you’ve done your research, practiced your elevator pitch, and prepared your answers and questions, it’s time to gear up for the actual “event.”  One of the keys to succeeding in that event is to develop a connection with your interviewer. This goes beyond the small talk at the beginning of the interview to build rapport. It involves recognizing their communication style, and then adapting your own style so they will hear you throughout the entire interview.  If you have a contact within the company, you may be able to find out a little about your interviewer’s style in advance. If not, here are some clues you can look for to help you “speed read” your interviewer and adapt accordingly.

For simplicity sake, we’ll talk about four different styles. Let’s call them A, B, C and D. Most people are a combination, but they’ll have some dominant characteristics, which are the clues below.

Style A is detailed oriented, likes structure and process, and values practical and evidence-based information.

Clues: Reserved, brief handshake, formal demeanor, measured tone, tidy and well-organized office.

How to adapt: Minimize small talk, be prepared with facts and figures to back up your achievements, highlight your credentials, present information in a logical sequence.

Style B engages on a personal level, is a good listener, prefers a harmonious environment.

Clues: Makes good eye contact, warm and welcoming, soft-spoken, family pictures / plants in office.

How to adapt: Engage in some introductory small talk, use a softer tone, connect through sincere eye contact, discuss how your values align with those of the company.

Style C is creative and energetic, sociable, and prefers big-picture thinking over too many details.

Clues: Warm handshake, animated greeting, changes topics quickly, somewhat disorganized workspace.

How to adapt: Convey energy, provide context when discussing your achievements, focus on presenting big-picture results versus every detail, keep responses brief and be prepared to switch topics quickly.

Style D is confident, decisive and focused on results. They are brief and purposeful in communication.

Clues: Firm handshake, good posture, confident demeanor, functional, uncluttered workspace.

How to adapt: Answer each question fully but briefly, don’t waffle, convey confidence, make direct eye contact, be prepared to be challenged.

Want to learn more about your style and how to recognize and adapt to others? Check out the PeopleThink assessments.

Till next time,


Career, Communication, Interviewing, Job search

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Want to Ace that Interview? Make Time to Prepare!

February 15th, 2013

By: Karen Colligan

Ace your interviewYou’ve done a lot of work to make your resume focused and compelling. You’ve networked.  You’ve found what you consider to be the perfect position and you’ve landed an interview.  But you’re not done yet!  Repeat these three little words after me: Prepare, prepare, prepare!  Here’s how.

Learn everything you can about the organization. Review their website. Read their annual report. See whether anyone in your network has information about culture or challenges.  Understand their products or service offerings. Know their competitors and core competencies. What are their goals and objectives? How could you help them achieve them? What are their pain points? How could you help? Think about how you can help your interviewer picture you as part of their team.

Create a 60-second personal infomercial. Often the first question is: “Tell me about yourself.”  This is NOT the time to launch into the highlights of “My Life So Far.” This is the time to respond with a prepared but fluent 60-second response that briefly summarizes who you are (profession), your expertise, your strengths and the scope of your experience. Make it short. Make it snappy. Make it YOU and practice, practice, practice. Prepare a basic one and then tweak it to map to the position you are interviewing for.

Leverage the Rule of 3. People have a tendency to remember things in threes.  Think about the top three accomplishments that you want your interviewer to hear – and to remember.  Be sure they relate to the position. Practice saying them to yourself (or to someone helping you prepare) so they’re at-the-ready in your brain even if you’re nervous. Write them down. Even better.  Whatever happens in the interview, if you get these three accomplishments across you will have succeeded.

Prepare answers. Think about questions that might come up in the interview and prepare answers. Think back on previous interviews and any questions that caught you off guard. Be ready this time. Prepare for behavioral questions by jotting down specific examples of how you have demonstrated your skills and competencies. Do a search online for the most commonly asked questions. Prepare an answer for: “What is your weakness?” Be prepared to say how you are addressing it. And prepare an answer to the salary question. It comes up much sooner these days. Do some research and at least be prepared to give a range.

Prepare questions. Remember, you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Ask questions that couldn’t have been answered by your research on their website.

Lock down logistics. Know where you’re going. Do a trial run, if necessary. Consider the traffic at that time of day. Plan to arrive 10 minutes early. Prepare what you’re going to wear. Know whom you’ll use as references. Make additional, clean copies of your resume. If possible, get the names and positions of all the people you’ll be interviewing with. Use LinkedIn to learn a little about them. When they become a “familiar face” you will feel more comfortable.

Interviews can be stressful no matter how many years you’ve been doing them. But the more you are prepared, the more you practice, the easier and more successful they will be.

Till next time,


Career, Career planning, Interviewing, Job search

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How Would YOU Say It in Only Six Words?

October 15th, 2012

By: Karen Colligan

What are the chances you can convey your message in 6 words?
Impossible, you say…

A few years ago SMITH Magazine published Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. The book, inspired by a six-word story said to be written by Ernest Hemingway (“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”) was a compilation of six-word memoirs submitted by SMITH readers. Since then, SMITH has come out with additional six-word books on a variety of life topics, including love, Dads and work.

So it’s gotten me thinking. What if we look a bit deeper into the work topic and talk, say, about your leadership style? Or how you communicate? Or your learning style? Or the value you bring to the organization. What would that six-word elevator pitch be? I’d love to hear it.

To give you some inspiration, here are a few examples from the original book:

Mistook streetlight for the moon. Climbed. – Zack Wentz

It was worth it, I think. – Annette Laitinen

Still lost on road less traveled. – Joe Quesada

Former band nerd dreams big dreams. – Jesse Poe

And here are a few we’ve come up with on our topics:

Leadership style:

I set the vision. They execute.

Inspire. Support. Let them surprise you.

Communication style:

Two ears. One mouth. Use proportionally.

Learning style:

I learn something new every day.


Turned team around. Now profits soaring.

OK. Now it’s your turn. Let’s hear YOUR six words on leadership, communication, learning or the value you bring.

Please share…

Till next time,


Communication, Leadership, Learning, Management, Professional and team leadership

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