Perfect Fit for the Position? Expect to Lose!

Perfect Fit for the Position

perfect fitI have heard it over and over about how you are a perfect fit for the position.

I hate to tell you that, if you are really a perfect fit for the position, you will almost always lose!

WHAT???

Let’s start at the beginning of the hiring process with the creation of the job description.

Job Description

I am going out on a limb to say that most job descriptions are badly written. The hiring manager uses the Internet to find a similar position and then modifies it to fit the position they want. They will put every possible qualification in the job description. This turns into a Purple Cow Job Description that is almost impossible to find a perfect fit.

Your Resume

If you are smart, you will customize your resume so that it highlights accomplishments, results and metrics (ARM) for each responsibility in the job description.

When a recruiter looks at your resume, they quickly scan for these ARM statements and decide whether to call you. Typically, if you meet six out of the ten criteria, you will likely get a call for a screen interview.

If you meet ten out of ten, well, they may determine that you are overqualified!

You will likely get—at the very least—a phone interview.

The Interview

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You prepare for the interview by researching the company and the hiring manager thoroughly. You probe for pain points during the interview and simply wow them with your expertise. You can do this job in your sleep!

You walk out of the interview thinking you just nailed it. You then wait for the call saying they will be making an offer.

You wait and wait and wait…

You say to yourself, “I am a perfect fit. I can do this job. Who would be better?”

The Problem

You are a perfect fit! That is the problem. There is nothing for you to learn. There is nothing for you to grow into.

The hiring manager is sitting in the interview saying to him or herself, wow this is one impressive candidate. Will they get bored in six or more months and then leave? Would I rather have a less qualified candidate who can grow into the role, possibly pay them less, and have them stick around for two or three years?

If you are a perfect fit, there is no room for growth! Why would you want to take a job that does stretch your skills?

This is an area where a lot of baby boomers get into trouble. Maybe they want to scale back and take on fewer responsibilities. They are a perfect fit for the position, but will anyone believe them that they will not get bored in a few months?

NOPE!

If you really are a perfect fit for a position, you will almost always lose.

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

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

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Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

Unretirement by Chris Farrell – Book Review

Unretirement – How Baby Boomer Are Changing The Way We Think About Work, Community and the Good Life

unretirementUnretirement: How Baby Boomers are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and the Good Life by Chris Farrell, was released in early September of 2014.  Chris Farrell is economics editor of Marketplace Money, a nationally syndicated one-hour weekly personal finance show produced by American Public Media.

The concept of retirement is a relatively new one. In the United States, it first was mentioned in 1935 when Social Security was created. It then became a really viable concept in the 1950s, when Florida and Arizona were being developed. Affordable housing and warm weather attracted thousands to live there in their golden years.

Chris Farrell writes in Unretirement that, for many baby boomers, the concept of retirement will be replaced by unretirement. It is the concept that, if we want to live longer, happier, and more prosperous lives, we need to work past the traditional retirement age of 65.

It should come as no surprise to most baby boomers that 80% or more of us will not retire as planned. This is where the concept of unretirement comes into play.

Chris Farrell writes:

The last third of life is being reimagined and reinvented into “unretirement.” If the popular images of retirement are the golf course and the RV, the defining institutions of unretirement are the workplace and the entrepreneurial start-up. The unretirement movement builds on the insight that a better-educated, healthier work force can continue to earn well into the traditional retirement years.

The author hypothesizes that, if baby boomers delay retirement to 70 years of age, most baby boomers will have a secure retirement.

Here is the challenge, will baby boomers be able to find adequate paying jobs to be able to work till 70 years of age. I wrote in my previous The State of Baby Boomers in America that in many baby boomers are retiring early because either they cannot find work or unable to work due to health issues.

The author states:

Employer stereotypes that view older workers as lacking creativity won’t hold up to scrutiny. The prejudice that older workers aren’t productive will be proven false. The competition for talented employees will push managers to abandon long-held hiring hurdles against aging workers. Seniors will recharge the nation’s entrepreneurial energy.

What do you think?

Baby boomers have redefined society to match their needs and wants. The author states that baby boomers will redefine the concept of retirement to create unretirement.

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This will likely mean that most will work at both traditional and non-traditional jobs well after the age of 65. We will not necessarily work in the same industry or use the same skill sets, but will reinvent the concept of retirement to live longer and happier lives…because we continue to work.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and agree with most everything the author hypothesizes. It paints a rosy picture going forward that looks very different from what we planned or assumed just ten years ago.

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Why Save For Retirement If You Don’t Plan On Retiring

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The State of Baby Boomers in America

Baby Boomers in America

Baby Boomers in AmericaBaby Boomers in America are in the process of dividing into multiple groups as we all approach the traditional retirement age of 65. Unfortunately, I see a very disturbing trend that I would like to discuss in this post.

Baby Boomers in America and Encore Careers

Recently, Encore.org announced their 2014 Purpose Prize Award winners. The purpose prize is given to six inspiring social innovators over 60 who are working to advance the social good in their communities and the world. These are tremendously inspiring stories of people who have decided to dedicate their later years to social good. They should be an inspiration to all baby boomers in America.

Baby Boomers in America and Entrepreneurship

We are seeing entrepreneurship grow among baby boomers in America. Self employment rates among those over 60 is growing exponentially. This is both good and bad.

Some (I include myself in this group) have reached a point in their lives where pursuing entrepreneurship can be a reality. It might be kids out of the house, paying off the mortgage, or just tired of working for the man that makes this plausible.

For others, it is a necessity. I refer to these as necessity entrepreneurs, or “buying a job.” They cannot find a job due to age discrimination or their industry or profession has disappeared.

Many are not really oriented to being an entrepreneur, and their best option is to buy a franchise or buy a business in a box. I have seen many people successfully do this. Are they happy? Well…they are financially independent…but happy? I just don’t know.

Baby Boomers in America and Malaise

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Over the last couple of years, I have talked to a lot of baby boomers in America who are in a holding pattern, or malaise. Many have lost their jobs and have not been able to find work. They are in a financial position where they can afford to retire, but they are young enough that they really do not want to retire.

They view retirement as defeat. They are scared that, if they retire now (typically in their late 50s or early 60s), they will run out of money before they die.

Many of the people I have talked to have always worked for someone else. They are not suited to starting their own businesses. That is not how they are wired.

Most of them will never work again. In my humble opinion, this is one reason the labor force participation rate is declining.

Baby Boomers in America and Poverty

Baby boomers in America are retiring into poverty in large numbers is my greatest concern. I have talked to a lot about baby boomers in America who applied for social security at the age of 62 because that was their only source of income. They cannot find work and probably will never work again.

In the coming weeks, I will be reviewing the book Unretirement: How Baby Boomers are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and the Good Life by Chris Farrell. Chris Farrell is economics editor of Marketplace Money, a nationally syndicated one-hour weekly personal finance show produced by American Public Media.

Chris hypothesizes that, as the economy continues to grow, it will reach a point where companies will have to hire older workers to fill their needs. He also states that that will only happen if—and this is a big if—companies change their hiring practices that currently exclude hiring older workers.

I hope he is correct!

Conclusion

I have concluded that these last two groups, baby boomers in America and malaise or poverty, will make up the majority of baby boomers in America in the next ten years. I find this very disturbing!

What group do you fall into?

Am I wrong in my findings? I would love for someone tell me what I am missing!

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Please check out this months sponsor III Financial

and their guest post

Why Save For Retirement If You Don’t Plan On Retiring

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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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How Long Will My Job Search Take?

How Long will My Job Search Take?

job searchI am often asked, “How long will my job search take?”

My answer is almost always, “It depends.”

I work, primarily, with experienced professionals—which is code for those over 50 years of age.

I tell them that a really short job search is three months. It takes almost three months for a company to decide to hire someone, post the job, interview candidates, make an offer, and then make the hire.

What factors affect how long the job search will take:

  • Depth of experience and perceived salary requirements
  • Your Network
  • Geographical demand for your skills
  • Time of year
  • Age discrimination

Depth of experience and perceived salary requirements

The more experience you have and the greater perceived salary requirements, the longer it will take. Notice I wrote perceived salary requirements. Yes, I know you say you will take less money butno one will believe you!

The reality is, the higher the perceived salary requirements, the fewer and fewer jobs there will be. After you get over a 6 figure income, the number of jobs decreases in most job markets.

Your Network

Your next job will likely come through a referral. If you follow the Target Job Search Strategy you will be strategically building a referral network.The stronger your network the shorter your job search.

Geographical demand for your skills

Are your skills valued in your local job market? For example, if you have an oil and gas background and you are looking for a position in Central Texas, where I live, well…it will be a tough and long job search. However, if you move to Houston,  you will find your skills much more valued.

If you have a certification, is it valued in your local market? The varies greatly by region!

If your skills or credentials are in over abundance or are not valued in your local region, you need to extend the length of your job search or expand your geographical search zone.

Time of year

Like every other business process, hiring goes through cycles. A lot of hiring occurs after annual budgets are approved. Look at financial statements of each target company on your target list and determine when the financial year begins. Some companies start their fiscal year in October and others start in January.

Hiring usually stops from late November through the middle of January. This is an excellent time to network and build your tribe, but little hiring occurs during this time.

Similarly, hiring slows down (but does not stop) during July and August when many people go on vacation. It only takes one person in the hiring process to go on vacation for everything to grind to a halt.

Age discrimination

Age discrimination is alive and well. You need to factor this into the length of your job search. You have to be realistic and find employers who value your skills and experience and will not discriminate based on your age. I am working with a client right now who in part of the long term unemployed cohort, and she is targeting government positions. For her, it is a numbers game, but she will be treated fairly in applying for government positions.

So how long will my job search take?

I tell my clients to plan on a minimum of 6 months to 2 years. If you are employed, it really depends on the amount of time you can dedicate to the job search. If you follow my Target Job Search Strategy, you should plan on starting your job search 18 months after you start a new job and plan on that search taking 18 months. That means you will be prepared to changed jobs every 3 years. That does not mean you will change jobs every 3 years, BUT you will be prepared to do so.

How long do you expect your job search to take?

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

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

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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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

Interviewing with an Uneducated Interviewer

The Uneducated Interviewer

Uneducated InterviewerYou have likely encountered the uneducated interviewer! It is my claim that most hiring managers have never been trained to interview candidates.

I just finished reading Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. This book is the bible on how to interview for A players.

They chronicle ten different interview styles of the uneducated interviewer:

  1. The Art Critic -These are the managers who think they can spot talent when they see it.
  2. The Sponge - They think if they spend enough time with you they will soak up enough to make a hiring decision.
  3. The Prosecutor – The have watched too many episodes of Law and Order. They will aggressively question candidates attempting to trick the candidate.
  4. The Suitor - They want to sell the candidate rather than interview them.
  5. The Trickster - These are the interviewers who use gimmicks to test for certain behaviors. The authors state “they might throw a wad of paper on the floor to see if a candidate is willing to clean it up.”
  6. The Animal Lover - Have you been asked in an interview “What type of animal would you be”?
  7. The Chatterbox - Have you spent more time in an interview talking about the local sports team or the weather?
  8. The Psychological and Personality Tester - Have you been required to take an assessment before being able to interview?
  9. The Aptitude Tester - This is a variation of The Psychological and Personality Tester.
  10. The Fortune Teller - The interviewer asked the candidate to predict the future. The authors give an example “If you are going to resolve a conflict with a co-worker, how would you do it?”.

Do you recognize any of these?

Have you used one of these interviewing techniques? I have!

I will admit it. I have not been a very good interviewer!

Let’s address the three most common in my experience:

The Suitor

The suitor is the easiest of the uneducated interviewer to deal with. Be prepared to tell stories. You should have a story prepared for each responsibility listed in the job description.

When there is a break in the conversation, pivot it back to the job description and immediately launch into a story. “Let me tell you about the time I demonstrated…”

The Chatterbox

The chatterbox is definitely an uneducated interviewer. Most do not have a clue of how to interview, but be prepared to be hyper-vigilant when interviewing with other interviewers. If the hiring manager is a chatterbox, the decision on whether to hire you will most likely come from others.

The Prosecutor

As soon as you realize your interviewer is playing the role of district attorney, you have to play the role of a good witness. You need to listen carefully to the interviewer and answer the questions. Be prepared to thoughtfully delay answering the question. You can rephrase the question, “Let me make sure I understand the question. You said…” This will give you time to think and make sure you really understand what he or she is asking.

When I taught high school math, I used questions like, “Do they have 4th of July in England?” The answer is YES! They do not celebrate it, but they do have 4th of July.

Lastly, be prepared to probe for pain points. Ask the interviewer about what was behind the question they just asked. You might say, “From the last question, can I infer that you are having a problem with…? If true, let me tell you about the time…” It is important not to pause between the question and the second sentence. Remember, you are dealing with a district attorney and you want to take control of the flow of conversation.

The key in dealing with an uneducated interviewer is to be conversational and respectful. You definitely want to control the flow of the conversation. Be prepared to tell stories on how you demonstrated your expertise.

Can you spot a uneducated interviewer?

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

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

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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

References from Beyond Your Reference List

References

referencesReferences are a key component in getting a job. Who can verify that you know your stuff?

Traditionally, references are supplied when an employer is getting ready to make an offer. Recently, I have had two clients who had very different experiences as it relates to references.

Asking for References after a Phone Interview

I have a client who is a very experienced technology professional. He had a phone interview with a technology hiring manager with a regional retail firm. The interview went very well! Afterwards, the recruiter asked for a list of references.

My client became a bit incensed that he was being asked for references so early in the process. He did not want his references to be bothered until he knew he wanted the job.

The recruiter told him that they would instead contact the people who recommended him on LinkedIn. What!

My client was still incensed, but relented and supplied a list of references.

He asked me if they could do that? My response was YES!

Do you have LinkedIn recommendations from people you would prefer prospective hiring managers to not contact? You do not have to display all of your recommendations. You can hide recommendations!

Behind the Scene References

Behind the scene references have occurred for a long time.

This starts with an employee referral. When someone passes your resume to the hiring manager, he or she becomes a reference.

I recently had a client who got a job because of a behind the scene reference. I wrote about “Susan” in my post, Moment of Clarity – Fending off a Layoff.

Susan’s marketing position was eliminated, so she was facing a layoff. She interviewed for a position in the Learning and Development function. Susan has extensive experience in Learning and Development, but she had been in the marketing function for an extended period of time. After the interview, the hiring manager talked to few people who Susan had worked with in the past. These people were Susan’s behind the scene references.

The hiring manager did not ask for a list of references. The hiring manager therefore, did not need to ask for permission.

Susan later found out one of those references was absolutely key in landing the position. If she had not done some detective work, she may have never known who had helped her land the position.

Usually, behind the scene references come from employees at your target company.

However, recently, I had a client get a positive reference from the neighbor of the hiring manager. The hiring manager’s neighbor was a colleague of my client at a company five years ago. How did the hiring know this? He did his homework on LinkedIn.

This is why it is critical that, when you leave a job, you never burn bridges. Make sure you leave on a positive note.

Have you receive references from beyond your reference list?

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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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

Baby Boomers and the Ever Shrinking Workforce

Shrinking Workforce

shrinking workforce

click to enlarge

I have recently read a book and multiple articles on the shrinking workforce in America. Each of these left me a bit disturbed about the future.

The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) has been steadily declining ever since the beginning of the great recession.

Why is it shrinking? Is it necessarily bad? I think so.

Why are people leaving the workforce?

In the recent article on CBS MoneyWatch – Why are people leaving the workforce? they quote Bob Funk, chief executive of global staffing company Express Employment Professionals.

There’s no clear reason why people are leaving the workforce, and the issue has ignited a fierce debate among economists. One trend that they seem to agree on? About half of the decline is due to baby boomers entering their retirement years.

The other half of the decline gets a little fuzzy. Funk notes that some portion of the unemployed either don’t want to work or don’t think they can find a job. His company commissioned a poll of the unemployed in May, he said, and found that 47 percent have completely given up looking for work. “That’s a real problem,” he said.

Approximately, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 years of age every single day.

Are they retiring and leaving the workforce? Some are and some are not.

My question for you is—If baby boomers retire at 65, is it because they want to or have to?

It is my belief more are retiring and leaving the workforce because they have to, due to health or because they just can’t find a job.

What do you think?

Unretirement

I recently read Unretirement: How Baby Boomers are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and the Good Life. The author states that unretirement, which is staying in the workforce past the standard retirement age of 65 and delaying retirement, will save the retirement for baby boomers, save the economy, and save social security.

The bigger question is whether baby boomers can stay employed past 65? For most, this will mean creating a business or developing a portfolio career and not a traditional job.

The author projects that by 2020, the demand for workers will be high enough that employers will need to hire older workers. However, the author also questions whether current hiring practices can and will change to allow the hiring of older workers.

I agreed in theory with just about everything the author said, but he based a lot of his projections on the workforce expanding and not shrinking!

Left Behind: The Long-term Unemployed Struggle in an Improving Economy

A recent report from Rutgers University called Left Behind: The Long-term Unemployed Struggle in an Improving Economy states the the great recession continues to have a lasting effect on our economy. The report is a product of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, which conducted a nationally representative survey of 1,153 Americans between July 24 and August 3, 2014.

In the great recession, over half of the long term unemployed were baby boomers. Baby boomers were less likely to become unemployed, but if they did, they would likely enter the ranks of the long term unemployed (over six months).

Here are several quotes from the report

Two-thirds of all adults in the survey, including those who were laid off and those who never lost a job, say the recession had an impact on their own standard of living, a staggering number in American society

Even though the stock market has soared in recent years, just one in seven employed workers say its performance affects them a lot; another half say the market has a little impact on them.

The report clearly shows the impact of the great recession has long lasting effects. The booming stock market has helped those at the top, but not the common man.

The report paints a picture that is far different from the rosy economic numbers that are coming out of Washington.

What does all of this mean?

The average baby boomer will have to work long past 65 years of age, if allowed. Will they be allowed to continue to work?

My hypothesis is that the shrinking workforce is due to:

  • Baby Boomers who are retiring by choice
  • Baby Boomers who are retiring due to health issues
  • Baby Boomers who cannot find work and have given up looking. There only choice is to apply for Social Security and retire.

The last two groups will likely retire into poverty.

I do not like this picture!

What do you think?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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Volunteering to Get a Job – Guest Post

Volunteering to Get a Job

VolunteeringThe advice to “volunteer to get a job” when you’re looking for employment shows up everywhere. It’s one of those pieces of advice that sounds easy when it’s on paper, but job seekers who have actually tried to follow the advice discover that it’s anything but. Often, the non-profits you’d like to volunteer for, don’t have volunteer positions. Even if they do, they’re often for low level jobs like envelope stuffing that wouldn’t help you even if you did put it on your resume.

In this post, I’d like to show you what those other books and articles simply don’t talk about: The nitty-gritty of how to actually get resume relevant work through volunteering, using a process I call the skill-bridge technique.

Step 1: Decide What Skills You’d like to Develop

The first step to getting resume relevant work is to figure out what skills you’d like on your resume. Make a list of all the skills needed for your desired job title, and find the weak points on your resume. What skills are critical for the job but for which you don’t have much (if any) experience?

Step 2: Figure out what the organization needs

The next step is to do a bit of networking. This can be through volunteering at the organization in the low level jobs mentioned earlier, or through going to events that people from the non-profit will be at in high attendance. The goal is to have conversations with people who work there, and figure out two or three issues that are on everybody’s mind. What are the top problems, challenges, and opportunities that the organization is facing?

Step 3: Show the organization how your skills can solve their problems.

The final step takes a little bit of creativity. The goal is to figure out how you can use your desired skills to tangibly effect the problems, challenges, and opportunities that you identified. Then, ask one of your contacts at the company for the email address of a decision maker. Send them a short email saying that your contact gave you their information, and create a crisp, clear proposal showing how you can help solve their problem using your skill (for free).

Conclusion

If all goes well, you’ll take on a relevant project that will not only fill in the gaps on your resume, but also give you passionate advocates and connections who know you can solve problems, and will assist you in your job search.

Interested in seeing how a real life job-seeker used this strategy to go from administrative assistant to business analyst? Listen to the original interview here!

About The Author:

Matt Goldenberg is the creator of the Skill Bridge Technique and the founder of Self-Made Renegade, a website for liberal arts grads and career changers who’d like to get their dream jobs.

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Are You Defined by Your Job?

Defined by Your Job?

definedFor many of us, our own self image is defined by our jobs. When someone loses their job, they may feel they no longer have value or purpose.

This topic was brought about by Dustin McKissen, who wrote a post called If You Lose Your Job, Remember This. Dustin wrote about his father after losing his job:

My dad is also good at more than just building things—he is a good guy, with a good heart, and people love him. I love him. He is a great Grandpa.

But when he lost his job, he lost part of himself.

When you feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself, the search to find that missing piece can take you to some very dark places. It did for my dad, and much of the last 15 years have been hard on him, and the people that care about him.

My Own Father

My father was an economist for the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). In 1978, my father was handed a retirement package and was asked to leave. He was in his late 50s and was not ready to retire. Financially, my father and mother were fine. The retirement package kept my mother living well into her 80s.

However, the retirement package killed my father. It took another 15 years, but it killed him.  His entire self image was defined by his job. Dad had twice pursued a PhD in economics, but each time a child came along, he put it aside. When he pursued University teaching positions, he was always turned down. He did not have the paper credentials.

He eventually landed a teaching position at York College, but by that time, he was pretty beat up. His mental health declined and that is what eventually killed him. He was defined by his job.

IBM Meltdown

During the holiday season of 1992, I ruptured the L4/L5 disc in my back. I decided to take three months of disability and let my back heal rather than be operated on. I do not like doctors with sharp implements.

While I was gone, IBM nearly went bankrupt. IBM discontinued the famous full employment pledge. Thousands of employees were given generous retirement packages to leave. Just like my father, who would pass away a few months later, this was a death sentence for many. They viewed themselves as IBMers. It was who they were.

When I returned to work in early April of 1993, I was clear. I had had a moment of clarity while I was out on disability. I saw what was important to me and it was not my job. I was not defined by my job.

My definition of myself was further reenforced by what I saw when I returned to IBM.

How We Forget!

Fast forward a few years later. I left IBM on my terms in January of 2000. I went to work for a successful high-tech startup, Agere, which was acquired by Lucent. Then, in July of 2002 I had another moment of clarity: I had a near fatal bicycle accident.  I had a head on collision with a Toyota Corolla, where our combined speeds exceeded 50 miles per hour. By the way, I lived!

The following year, I pursued getting my Texas High School Math teaching certificate. I taught high school math at an inner city school for almost two years. I was very successful. It tore me up emotionally and physically.

When I left teaching, I was lost. I wrote a post on this called Dealing with that Directionless Feeling, which is found daily on Google search.

Ten years earlier, I became determined not to be defined by my job, but I was struggling…just like my father! The difference now was I wanted to be defined by my life purpose and not my job.

Job Club

I have served on the board of directors of Launch Pad Job Club since 2006. I have seen many who have been laid off who struggle with the lose of self image. Whether the job loss was involuntary like my father and fellow IBMers or voluntary like my departure from teaching. It still stinks!

I have to go back to the time when I returned to IBM and remind myself it is my choice on how I define myself.

I am not defined by my job! I desire to be defined by my life’s purpose!

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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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.

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

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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