by Glenn Jackson
Everyone, at some stage, should be seeking the parallel career step. If you aren’t actively managing your career, then you might be doing yourself a disservice. The Minerva Network is all about encouraging (perhaps provoking!) some serious thinking around careers.
If you are at that stage where you are seeking the parallel career step, or indeed interviewing for a new role, there is some real methodology that you can apply to ensure you bring your ‘A Game’ to the process.
No doubt when you are in your Zone as an Athlete you bring your ‘A Game’. Your thinking is calm, your confidence is high, your attitude is positive. This is the same with going for that great new role.
There are some key focus areas that I would like to share with you.
Preparation is Key
In today’s world research is done on you. Google searches on you and the examination of your LinkedIn profile are just standard by a prospective employer. So, take the time to ensure your profile is accurate and up to date. With your CV – make sure it is easy to read and brings your skills and experiences to the fore.
As a proven Athlete, there are some key characteristics and attributes that transfer to the workplace. Here are just a few: discipline, teamwork, resilience, reliability, learning. With your CV, please ensure you spend the time to highlight these critical areas. In my experience, technical skills are easily taught to someone willing to learn. The non-technical skills that revolve around Character are not so easy.
Maybe it is just me, but I will not wade through a 10-page CV. If I can’t get a real sense of a profile within a couple of pages, then I move on. My advice is no more than 5 pages.
Also, have your referees all ready to go. They are a very important source of follow up and validation.
It is surprising to me the number of people that I interview who have not researched the company they are hoping to join. Take the time to read what is available about the organisation: annual reports, press articles, LinkedIn posts etc. There is so much accessible information out there.
Key questions I always ask are:
· Tell me what you know about us?
· From the outside in, how is our reputation?
· From this, why would we be a match for what you are looking for?
I am always looking for depth and a point of view.
Key questions I want to be asked are:
· What is it really like to work here?
· How is performance outlook for the coming year?
· In 12 months’ time, what would success look like for the person in this role?
Cultural Alignment is Critical
You can be super successful if the cultural characteristics of an organisation bring out your best. It can also be the total opposite. Employers will always assess technical fit for a role, but really good employers also test for cultural fit. It is often the aspect that can be differentiator – both on the positive and on the negative.
Be ready to focus on Cultural Alignment as this as it is important for you to be sure that you can be successful, as it is for a prospective employer.
Key questions I always ask:
· What type of culture brings out your best?
· Have you ever worked (or trained) in an environment where you felt you couldn’t be successful? Why was that?
· If I was to ask a colleague of yours to describe you as a teammate, what would they say?
Key questions I want to be asked:
· In my research it describes your cultural values as……How does these come to life in practice?
· How strong is the leadership capability within your organisation?
Build on these with your opinion. One I particularly like is… ’I enjoy working in a culture where I feel empowered and trusted but know I can ask the dumb questions.’
Be Confident, Not Arrogant.
When seeking your next step you have to back your own abilities, but do so with a healthy dose of humility.
An approach I like is…’ I have been lucky enough to acquire the skills and experiences that I think would make me successful in this role. If given the opportunity, I would certainly make the most of it’.
Most people will be nervous when being interviewed. The best advice I can give is take a deep breath and be warm and friendly.
When wrapping up take the time to say thanks. Statements I like (and only say them if they are true …) are something like: ‘Thanks for taking the time to meet with me today, I really enjoyed learning more about the organisation and this specific role’. Also, follow up with a nice email.
The Minerva Network is here to help. Take the time to reach out if you are preparing for a job interview or are compiling together an application. The Minerva Mentors are such a great source of experience and wisdom – please just step in.
Here is a summary check list:
1. Be well prepared – have that CV in great shape
2. Ensure you have identified your key strengths
3. Technical fit is really important, but so too is cultural alignment (from both perspectives)
4. Have some good questions ready
5. Be warm and friendly.
Good luck when it is your time to seek your next great opportunity. Be ready to bring that ‘A Game’ to the process.