Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Notes from 1/15/10 OCA Meeting

Welcome to several new OCA members:
- Bill Munroe, high tech marketing strategist, who was most recently with Microscan as Vice President, Marketing & Corporate Development.
- Robert Lani, most recently a real estate professional, is looking to get back into marketing.
- Carol Tompkins, graphic designer, who was with the Seattle Art Museum before enrolling in a Web Design certification program.

Huge thank you to Matt Youngquist, our guest speaker at last week's OCA meeting. Matt, a career coach who has helped thousands of people in the Puget Sound area, met with the group and answered all sorts of job search questions.

Q) How should we handle being labeled as "over-qualified"?
A) 1st, examine the reasons for the label: you can be considered a flight risk, more expensive than other candidates, and as a possible threat to the hiring manager - if they are insecure at all and worried that you could do or take their job.
How to overcome ... Anticipate the objection, and address up front during the interview. Get the discussion going, and be able to answer this question, "Why would your additional experience be considered valuable?"

Q) Should we "dumb down" our resumes?
A) Matt doesn't recommend it. It's extremely easy to vet candidates through sources like LinkedIn. You may want to modify some things, but you don't want to necessarily hide experience.

Q) Thoughts on cover letters?
A) Recommend a 'cover note.' Text only e-mail, with which you attach your resume, in the following format:
- I'm applying for the role of ___ that I saw posted on ___.
- Briefly discuss the single most relevant point, what you bring. Say something they haven't heard before or say it in a way they haven't heard before.
- Thank you very much. I look forward to hearing from you...

Q) How to handle a negative work history (ex. company went out of business)?
A) Frame around business circumstances, external factors. Never blame anyone.

Q) What trends are you seeing?
A) The market has picked up, and there's been a more positive vibe. More people are getting offers.

Q) Should we expect to lower our salary expectations? How to handle the salary question during interviews?
A) There's been a market adjustment, so be prepared to be flexible. Matt suggests the "RFP formula." R - give them a Range. Under $50k, provide a $10k range. $50-$100k, give a $20k range. $100k plus, $30k range. F - be Flexible. P - Probe back, ask their range.

Q) Phone interview advice?
A) Talk 1/2 as much - on the phone it will seem like double. Modulate your voice - you don't have the non-verbal cues to rely on. Have your notes with you - it's an open book quiz.

Q) Advice on the "greatest weakness" question?
A) Avoid the cliches. Now that job descriptions tend to contain everything and the kitchen sink, isolate something from the list that you don't have the amount of experience they're looking for. Make it something that's not a deal killer.

Q) Thank You notes.
A) Best is a handwritten note, e-mail at a minimum. Do NOT not follow up. Keep it short and sweet. If you feel you're an underdog or need to address something that could have gone better during an interview, it's OK to address a perceived weakness.

Q) Networking advice?
A) Don't make the mistake of only networking within your industry. Make a list of everyone you know. Send a note - you'll be surprised with who responds. Most people aren't truly networking. Don't just let people know you're looking for work. Ask for help: "Who do you know at Company X?"
Market yourself: 1)Message - develop a sticky, clever elevator pitch. 2)Reach - how many people are you talking to? 3)Frequency - continue to contact people on your list.

Q) What is the #1 thing that Matt says employers and recruiters tell him:
A) They are surprised at how candidates are not prepared. Spend hours preparing for interviews.

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