Probing for Pain Points in an Interview

Probing for Pain Points?

Probing for Pain PointsProbing for pain points should be one of your first steps in an interview. Every business has problems. Your first job is to ask probing questions to uncover those pain points.

Initial Phone Screen

Most of the time in the interview process, there will be an initial phone screen with either a recruiter or HR professional. Your first questions should include:

  • Is this a newly created position?
  • What are the responsibilities of the position?
  • Are these responsibilities new to the department, organization, or company?
  • What are the new business requirements that are causing you to fill this position?

What you are looking for is insight into whether this is a newly created position and whether these are new responsibilities. If it is new, then they are likely working on solving an existing problem. If it an existing position, why is the position currently vacant?

You want to be a detective. Ask probing questions to look for problems. You are looking for problems that you know how to solve!

Post Phone Screen

Now you need to do your research. Check on LinkedIn to see who currently or in the near past had the title for this job. Did this person leave the company or move to a different department? Connect with this person on LinkedIn and ask for 15 minutes on the phone to ask for AIR,  advice, insights and recommendations.

If they left the company, ask them why. You may find that you do not want to work there!

If they moved to a new department, ask them whether it was a lateral move or a promotion. If it was a promotion, make sure to congratulate them. If it was a lateral move, ask about the business reasons for the move.

Carefully read anything and everything about the company, looking for pain points. It may be that the company is growing fast or moving into new markets, or that sales have stalled. What are the potential problems?

Interview Questions

Bring a minimum of five pain point questions with you to the interview. They should be open-ended questions to uncover problems that you have already thought about—know how you would solve them!

  • Are you satisfied with current growth of the business?
  • Are you meeting service level agreement targets with all of you important clients?
  • What are the areas where you are having problems meeting deadlines?

Notice that all of these are open-ended questions. Your goal is to get the interviewer to give you insight into the pain points that you know how to solve.

Pain Points Uncovered

Once the pain points have been uncovered, you can explain how you have solved these problems in the past.

The best way to do this is to tell stories how you previously solved the same or similar problems for your employer.

Let me tell you about the time when I encountered …..

This demonstrates that you have the skills to do the job.

So plan on being a detective. By asking good probing questions looking for pain points shows that you have done your homework about their business. The more you uncover the better you can demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the job!

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

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Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

When Your Ethical Boundaries are Crossed

Ethical Boundaries

Ethical BoundariesWe all have ethical boundaries. We know what we think is ethical behavior at work, but what do you do when your ethical boundaries are crossed?

Have you really thought what you would do if asked to do something that you considered unethical?

Have you considered what you would do if your boss or others in corporate management did something that you considered unethical?

Until a little over four years ago, I had never really thought about it. That was, until my last employer was acquired. I started to see changes in behavior in the senior management that concerned me.

We were also in the middle of the great recession. We were hiring when many other companies were laying staff off.

It started with a director who tried to hire a close relative. The relative interviewed for a lower level position and was about to get an offer when this individual’s background check did not pass corporate guidelines.

There was a sigh of relief that could be felt throughout the office.

This was not in my management chain, but it was a warning—and I ignored it. It was 2010, and the economy still was in the tank.

Pushing Against My Ethical Boundaries

Several months later, I received a resume from a senior executive. It was the resume of a close relative that the senior executive wanted me to consider for an open position.

The problem was that this individual was not even vaguely qualified.

I was then pressured by my boss to interview this individual. I should have started to make plans to leave!

It was a phone interview, and I explained that he was not qualified for the current position. I also offered advice on where he might want to look for employment in the city where his qualifications would be valued.

To make a long story short, I was pressured to interview this individual in person. I did so against my better judgement.

I refused to hire the individual.

My boss then created a position working for him directly and hired the relative. I found this out through indirect channels.

What to do next?

I had not created a Plan B. I knew it was coming, but I ignored the possibility.

I confronted my boss and was told it was a done deal.  There was nothing I could do about it. I was even expected to train the individual for the newly created position. My ethical boundaries were crossed!

I strategically did the following:

  • Kept my mouth shut. I mentioned that my ethical boundaries had been crossed to my HR representative, but when asked whether to carry this up the management chain, I said no. I trusted no one!
  • Consulted my financial adviser. It was comforting talking to someone about the financial risk and having it confirmed that I was making a rational financial decision.
  • Finished the legal paper work to create my business. My business plans were already in the works. I accelerated everything by 9-12 months.
  • Calculated to the day when I would give two weeks notice and get the greatest financial benefit. This included getting my quarterly bonus, getting within 14 days of my next options vesting, and having the company pay for health insurance for the rest of the month.

It was three months from the time I confronted my boss to when I turned in my resignation. This was a miserable three months.

I wish I had spent time formulating a Plan B when I got the first indication of bad ethical behavior. My mistake!

I had never thought about what I would do if my ethical boundaries were crossed. I now teach in the Targeted Job Search to always be prepared to leave your current job.

You never know when you might be laid off or have your ethical boundaries crossed.

Do you have a Plan B?

Do you have a similar story to tell? What did you do?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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BoomerJobTips – Curated Content for August 16

BoomerJobTips Update

BoomerJobTipsWelcome to this weeks BoomerJobTips Update the central point to get current career information for the Baby Boomer Generation!

Check BoomerJobTips Daily for the latest curated career content. Content is curated from hundreds of the leading career websites with a focus on baby boomer career issues.

Most Popular

Job Search

Baby Boomer

Workplace

Career

Career Pivot

 

Another way to look at the same links AND MORE from BoomerJobTips.

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What is Your Current Salary?

What is your current salary?

salaryI’m sure you have been asked early in the interview process, “What is your current salary?”

If it was up to me, I would have everyone respond indignantly—None of your %^%#(& business!

However, that does not work in our current work environment.

So, how should you answer the question, “What is your current salary?”

I have a client who, just the other day, was asked this by a recruiter. It was the beginning of a series of interviews or, as I call it, she was going to run the gauntlet.

My client very politely said it was early in the process and that she would discuss salary later. It was all about total compensation, benefits, yada, yada, yada. Pretty standard response.

The recruiter persisted in wanting to know. She finally said, we need to know whether we can afford you. What is your current salary?

My client broke down and told her, but added twenty thousand. It turns out that this was in her range.

I told my client I would have turned it around.

Oh, you want to know whether you can afford me. What have you budgeted for this position and I can tell you whether you are within my range?

Make them give you a number!

What are you worth?

Recently, I wrote in a post called Managing Your Career is Like Selling a Vintage Fiat that a car is worth what someone else is willing to pay. Plus, you only need one buyer!

You are worth what a company is willing to pay you. That amount has nothing to do with your currently salary. This is particularly true if you have worked for the same company for 5 or more years.

Relocating

Salaries can vary a lot based on location. Living in Austin, Texas I have had many discussions with Californians moving to Austin. They needed to understand that, if you move from San Jose to Austin, the salaries and cost of living will both be a lot lower.

Check out sites like Glassdoor.com and Salary.com for salaries in the area where you plan to relocate.

Ask Around

In today’s work environment, it is perfectly acceptable to ask what someone makes. This is a big departure from when I started working in the 1970s where it was both taboo and could be a fire-able offense to disclose your salary. In fact, a few companies are making all of their salaries public.

Determine a fair salary range that you would be willing to accept.

Salary is not everything!

What else do you want? You will need to determine how much Paid Time Off (PTO) you want. How much are you paying for health insurance and is your spouse currently covered on your plan? He/she may not be when you change jobs. Many businesses are dumping insurance coverage for your spouse.
Read my recent post called Evaluating the Job Offer – What is Missing?

So what is your current salary?

If they insist on knowing your current salary, you can say,

“I am looking for $xxxx in salary, but I will be evaluating the entire compensation package, which includes, salary, bonus, and benefits.

Do not tell them your current salary, but what you want to be paid!

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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You can also download my latest white paperThe Multi-Generational WorkplaceMaking Generational Diversity Work

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

Retirement and Career Planning – Do You Neglect Both?

Retirement and Career Planning

PlanningYou may be wondering what retirement and career planning have in common.

For most baby boomers, we have neglected both!

My mantra is I am a baby boomer who was raised to be an employee, and I was to go to work for a father-like company who would take care of me until I retired.

Retirement planning—there was no need!

Career planning—my company was going to help and guide me with that!

(More: Baby Boomers and Retirement “Professional” Infographic

Help with Retirement Planning

I was listening to talk radio last weekend when a local financial services ad played.  The advertisement talked about a report by Harvard University professor Robert Merton that discussed the impending retirement crisis. I found the article, called The Crisis in Retirement Planning, on Audible.com and listened to it. It’s very thought provoking.

Most of us baby boomers when we started our careers were offered a defined benefit retirement plan (pension). This was professionally managed and, when we decided to retire, we would have a lifetime income in our retirement. By the late 1990s, companies were rapidly phasing out defined benefit plans.

Starting in the late 1980s, defined contribution retirement plans (IRA and 401(k)) were offered. We would contribute money each paycheck, and our employer might match a portion. We were responsible for managing the portfolio. When we retire, we need to manage how to create an income stream. Do you know how create income from your 401(k) or IRA? I don’t.

I have a unique perspective on this topic. My father was a research economist for the New York Stock Exchange for over 25 years. I grew up hearing my father talk about the financial markets. My father was an egghead intellectual.

When I graduated from college in the late 70s and started my career with IBM, I thought I could manage my own money. When I reached my 30s, I realized I did not know crap on how to manage my money, so I sought a financial adviser. I have been with one ever since.

Professor Merton’s premise is that most of us are not qualified to manage our retirement portfolio. I agree with him.

I could study up and do it myself, which I am sure some of you do. But…I do not want to. I have no interest in the topic.

Have you run a retirement calculator? 56% of workers report that they have not attempted to calculate how much money they will need to have saved for a comfortable retirement. (Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute)

Are you qualified to perform retirement planning?

Are you ignoring retirement planning?

Are you getting help with your retirement planning? Will you be able to retire as you planned?

(More: Baby Boomer Career Development Plan

Help with Career Planning

I am in my late 50s and am on my seventh career! I started my career business in 2011. Looking back, I wish I had also had someone to advise me throughout my career.

The great recession shook the baby boomer generation to its core. Many baby boomers saw their retirement portfolios crumble and they exited the market. Many were laid off and, when they found jobs, they made significantly less money.

Suddenly, most of us plunged into a world where traditional job search methods were thrown out the window. Social media became the way many companies found talent. Your resume is almost irrelevant.

I am approached frequently by baby boomers who have been unemployed for six months or longer. Many voluntarily took a package. They are now in financial trouble. They come to me looking for help, but they can no longer afford to pay me. They waited thinking they could find that next job on their own.

In 2013, I was twice approached by retired senior military who had left the military and thought they would quickly find jobs in the private sector. Both came to me after 9 months of unemployment—in a panic.

A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by a former CFO who took a voluntary package. She has been unemployed for a year, and is now dipping into her retirement savings. I told her a typical job search for someone like herself is 12-18 months and could be longer if it is not handled properly.

I am working with two clients at the same company to plan their exit. That exit could come in the next three months or over the next three years. They will move when the time is right!

Just like retirement planning, are you qualified to manage your career?

Just like retirement planning, are you ignoring managing your career?

Do not wait until you get laid off. Plan your career NOW! Always be ready for your next career pivot!

Contact me for a free 30 minute consultation

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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You can also download my latest white paperStrategic Networking – A Career Pivot White Paper

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

BoomerJobTips – Curated Content for August 9

BoomerJobTips Update

BoomerJobTipsWelcome to this weeks BoomerJobTips Update the central point to get current career information for the Baby Boomer Generation!

Check BoomerJobTips Daily for the latest curated career content. Content is curated from hundreds of the leading career websites with a focus on baby boomer career issues.

Most Popular

Social Media

Job Search

Career

Baby Boomer

Career Pivot

 

Another way to look at the same links AND MORE from BoomerJobTips.

Join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

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Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

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Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

You can also download my whitepaperDon’t Retire Even If you Can and What to do Instead – A Baby Boomer Manifesto

Battling Age Discrimination – Young and Old

Battling Age Discrimination

Age discriminationAge discrimination is a reality in the current job market. It affects two vastly different groups:

Notice both groups battle age discrimination due to issues in employers’ perceptions of their skills and experience.

What is interesting is that both groups can use the same strategies to combat age discrimination.

It is all about demonstrating and not telling what you can do to solve your future employer’s problems.

Who you know and who knows you is critical!

The days of waiting for a position to be posted and then applying for it are over. More than any time in history, personal relationships are paramount to your employment.

The issue is these two groups have different definitions of what constitutes a relationship.

If you are under 30, you likely define relationships in online terms. If you follow someone on Twitter, friend someone on Facebook, or are connected to someone on LinkedIn, you will likely say you have a relationship.

If you are over 50, you likely define relations in offline terms. If you have met someone in person (or at least talked to someone on the phone), you will likely say you have a relationship.

The problem is that today’s world requires both!

I serve an Austin based non-profit, Launch Pad Job Club, where I was asked recently by an over 50 job seeker if they need to be on Twitter. My answer was YES! They asked why. My response was that, if I hope to get a response from a recruiter, I will tweet to them. I will adapt to the communication medium that they are most comfortable with.

I was recently giving a workshop on the Multi-Generational Workplace and was asked by a millennial participant about the problems she gets into with her mother. She always texts her mother. I had explained that different generations need to adapt to each other. If she wants to develop relationships with someone over 50, she will likely need to talk to them.

Each group needs to adapt. You need to build relationships both online and offline.

Create a Platform

Creating a social media platform is key to demonstrating that you know your stuff and, therefore, battles age discrimination. You can now:

  • Attach work product to your LinkedIn profile. This could be presentations on SlideShare, PowerPoint slide decks, videos, sample documents of your work, links to code you have written, and just about anything that can be found on the Internet.
  • LinkedIn Publisher is now a platform that will be available for you to publish to anyone. This is an excellent way to demonstrate that you know your stuff.

Once you have established a platform , showing that you know your stuff, you need to promote, promote, and promote some more. You do this by connecting effectively on social media.

Each group has issues.

The younger you are, the less likely you will have work samples to demonstrate what you know. In that case, create them!

The older you are, the less likely you will want to promote and connect. It is not how we were raised. Get over it.

Overcoming Age Discrimination

If you want to overcome age discrimination, it is about targeting key employers and developing key relationships using both online and offline methods. Once the relationship is established, you need to be able to show them that you know your stuff.

Whether you are experiencing age discrimination at the beginning or at the end of your career, it is all about relationships!

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

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When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

————————————————

Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my latest white paperThe Multi-Generational WorkplaceMaking Generational Diversity Work

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

 

Should I Take a Survival Job?

Survival Job

Survival_JobAre you considering taking a survival job? Have you been out of work for over six months? Have your unemployment benefits run out?

Are you running out of money to pay the mortgage, or are you going to raid your 401(k) for living expenses?

Many are driven to this decision by monetary issues and feel like they are stepping off into desperation.

I define a survival job as any position that you plan on taking temporarily. This might be taking a retail position at Home Depot or substitute teaching with the local school district or even working for a family member in an administrative role.

Here are the questions I want you to ask yourself before you take a survival job.

(More: You Did Not Get the Job! Now What?)

Will I Be Able to Continue My Job Search?

I have been on the board of directors of Launch Pad Job Club, the largest and oldest job organization in Central Texas, since 2006. Early in my tenure on the board, I ran a survey of our current and past members. What I found was that the vast majority of those who took a survival job discontinued their job search.

Be honest with yourself!

Look at the number of hours you will be working and when. If you take a 40 hour a week position, will you have the time and energy to continue your job search?

I have seen a lot of job club members take retail positions where they are on their feet all day on concrete floors and come home exhausted.

Will the hours you work conflict with your ability to network and interview for a new position?

Launch Pad Job Club now has a signature program called Leap to Success where club members work on real projects for area non-profits pro-bono. The projects are intended to last only 4-6 weeks and only require a 10 hour per week commitment.

(More: Inertia and Persistence as it Relates to Your Career)

Will I Have the Opportunity to Meet Prospective Employers?

Here are some examples where a survival job might allow you to make some money and network your way to your next position:

  • Work temporarily for local conventions in registration and other administrative functions.
  • Take a seasonal position at a company where you want to work. Whole Foods Market, which is headquartered in Austin, gives priority to candidates who have worked there. For example, f you want an IT position you can work as a cashier during the holiday season, impress the manager, and you will likely be given priority in interviewing for IT positions.
  • Seasonal government positions – This could be a census taker or working local elections. You never know who you might meet.

Will this Position Help Me Acquire a Skill?

I have had multiple clients take survival jobs through Goodwill Staffing of Central Texas. In some cases, they have been given access to software that they could not afford on their own. In a few free moments during the day, they have been able to train themselves on the software. They can only do this on their breaks and lunch time, but it is possible.

(More: Negotiating for What You Want!)

Would I be Embarrassed to Put this on My Resume?

When taking a survival job, you need to consider whether you will put this on your resume and on your LinkedIn profile.

Obviously, if you went to work for an adult oriented business, you will likely not want to put this on your resume. If you do not, you will need to explain the gap in your resume. This also could include working for religious or political organizations. In today’s politically correct climate, you will want to clearly weigh your options.

Think carefully before taking a survival job.

  • You have to be honest with yourself about your own abilities to make sure you can continue your job search.
  • What, if any, benefits other than the income do you get from taking this position?
  • What are the liabilities to taking the position?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my latest white paperStrategic Networking – A Career Pivot White Paper

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

BoomerJobTips – Curated Content for August 2

BoomerJobTips Update

BoomerJobTipsWelcome to this weeks BoomerJobTips Update the central point to get current career information for the Baby Boomer Generation!

Check BoomerJobTips Daily for the latest curated career content. Content is curated from hundreds of the leading career websites with a focus on baby boomer career issues.

Most Popular

Career

Baby Boomer

Job Search

Career Pivot

Another way to look at the same links AND MORE from BoomerJobTips.

Join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

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Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

Subscribe

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Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

You can also download my whitepaperDon’t Retire Even If you Can and What to do Instead – A Baby Boomer Manifesto

The Purple Cow Job Description – Should I Apply?

Purple Cow Job Description?

Purple CowI guarantee you have read a purple cow job description. It’s one of those that, when you finished reading it, you said to yourself:

I am not qualified for this job but…is anyone?

They are looking for the purple cow. The ideal candidate does not exist!

I am going out on a limb to say that most job descriptions are badly written.

In my last corporate job, I had an open position to fill. I had to write a job description.

Did I know how to write a job description? NO!

I went onto Indeed.com and searched for openings with the same job title. When I found one I liked, I copied it!

I was expanding my team for a training and certification program. I wanted a technical trainer who was familiar with the program and was already certified. We had certified less than a thousand people worldwide.

The candidate needed to have five years of technical training experience.

I wanted someone who was already located in Austin, Texas.

The odds of finding someone who was certified in the topic, had five years experience as a technical trainer, AND lived in Austin was close to ZERO!

I was looking for the Purple Cow!

Did I write the job description saying I wanted everything? YES!

Dissecting the Job Description

We will want to look at:

  • High level job description
  • Responsibilities
  • Requirements/Qualifications
  • Education

(More: Is the Resume Still Relevant? )

High Level Job Description

Can you honestly see yourself with this title? One of the problems with high level job descriptions is they have become so vague. Do not write yourself off even if it does not look like a fit just yet.

Responsibilities/Description

Read through this section carefully. Have you actually performed more than half of the responsibilities described?

Requirements/Qualifications

Check out each item in the requirements/qualifications section of the job description:

  • How many of the requirements/qualifications do you have? Make sure you meet at least half of the requirements/qualifications.
  • Do you have equivalent requirements/qualifications? Do you have existing skills that you can map to what is in the job description? How long would it take, given your current experience, to attain what is needed?

Education

  • Do you have all of the required educational credentials?
  • Do you have the preferred educational credentials?
  • Do you have experience that can be substituted for any of the credentials?

One way to get around having all of the educational credentials is to put in your resume a statement like the following:

20 years of experience in xxxxxx…in lieu of an MBA.

This will often get you past the applicant tracking systems and at least get you a phone interview for your to prove your worth.

(More: What Does Your Resume Say About Your Age? )

Do Not Be Afraid of the Purple Cow

Lastly, if you are following a targeted job search strategy, you will have an internal contact within the company. Ask your contact to find out what the hiring manager is really looking for!

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

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When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

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Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

————————————————

You can also download my latest white paperThe Multi-Generational WorkplaceMaking Generational Diversity Work

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist