The Career Buzz blog is Karen Kodzik's frequently updated source of news, information,
tips and insights concerning job search, career management and planning, and human resources.

Winning the Executive Interview

Congratulations you have made it through the prescreen, and perhaps even the exhaustive pre-screening profile.  You may have met many members of the leadership team as well as your team of directs and even board members.  Now you are a finalist!

Marcia Ballinger in her newly released book Winning the Executive Interview offers solid counsel on how to approach this very moment.

Now you may be thinking, “I know, I know, I’ve been down this road before and I’ve even sat on the other side of the table”.  Entering the room as a finalist playing that mental script is a sure fire way of securing the runner-up position, congratulations.

So what is the mindset for approaching that final conversation with your hopefully soon to be new employer?  Notice how I didn’t say what answers should you have memorized from the book 101 interview questions.

Before you verbalize a single word here are some tips for the internal script inside your head.

  1. “I am here to listen.”  Listen to their questions completely.  Listen for their pain points.  Listen to their story about the organization, it’s future and it’s challenges.
  2. “I am here to inform.”  Informing is knowing how to articulate your comparable experiences without bragging.  Yes results are important as it qualifies and quantifies your experiences, but learning how to do so in a way that is informative.  Informing is also about owning up to gaps and short comings.
  3. “I am here to connect.”  Connecting is not just about connecting your experience to the job it is about connecting on a relational level with the leadership team, the decision maker and the board.  Finding points of congruence will be the key to fostering chemistry.  Those that become finalists are the ones that fit best with the team and the organization.

Good luck Winning the Executive Interview.


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How Long is Too Long?

The days of the 25 year tenure at a company are behind us.  Yet jumping from job to job is also not advisable.  So how long is too long to stay at an organization before it starts to negatively effect your career plans, or candidacy as a job seeker?

To answer that question you have got to consider adaptability.  How quickly can you adapt to a new environment, industry or company?  The longer someone stays in one place the longer it takes to adapt to a new place.  The reason for this is that people become entrenched in an organization’s culture, language, and operational nuances to the point that they become habit or second nature.  Moving to a new culture with it’s own language, acronyms, and nuances takes a longer time to adapt.

Then there’s the perception of a prospective employer.  The longer you are at one place, the more difficult it will be to convince a new employer you can change and adapt.

Lastly, the longer someone stays, the harder it is to leave because people get comfortable, they have rich vacation benefits or even retention incentives.  They may fear better exists or have accepted their current organization as “the devil they know”.   All this lends to people staying longer than they should.

So how long is too long?  The 8-10 year mark  is a good time to step back and consider what you want from your career, does staying open more career doors or does diversifying your experience in a different organization or industry?

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Leaving a Job You Love

Many of the professionals I work with come because they are stuck, frustrated, bored and are in jobs or organizations that they quite frankly hate.  Occasionally I work with professionals who mostly just want something more or something else.  But sometimes, people come because they have lost or circumstances are forcing them to leave a job that they love and have loved for a long time.

This is a unique and particularly difficult type of transition.  Before someone can move on and see possibility they have to go through some feelings of grief and loss.  Allowing themselves to feel anger, denial, and depression, not in an attempt get rooted in the past but as a way to honor the place and role the job or organization held for them for so many years.

Just as people are dynamic and ever changing, so are jobs and organizations.  Nothing or no one stays the same and that is ok because evolution and growth require change.

Another reason leaving a job you love is particularly difficult is because your identity may be closely tied to that job or organization.  It had become who you are, what you are known for and what you have taken pride in.  Now that has been taken away and you feel lost, grappling with the question “if I am not that, than who am I?”

It is facing these difficult feelings and questions is where we often start our transition work.  There has to be release of the past, acceptance of the situation and belief in possibility before you can move foreword.


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Texting: Job Search Strategy or Misstep

Given this day and age of mobile access, using our mobile devices to access information and people, it is a good time to talk about the roll is plays in job search.

Obtaining the name of a key networking contact, recruiter or hiring manager is gold. Obtaining their direct email, phone number or cell number is platinum!

So how do you use these judiciously to get in front of them without overstepping?

First is to keep in mind the context of your outreach.  Job search occurs within the context of business.  A good guideline when deciding whether to text a hiring manager is to ask your self would you do this if you worked in the same office with them?  Think about it, would you text your boss or the CEO of your company?  This is appropriate only once a relationship is established and an understanding of preferred communication methods has been agreed upon.

Job seekers often feel the pressure of time and want to land a job as quickly as possible so they want things to happen fast, so texting someone to quickly get in front of them or get a response seems to be the way to do this.  However what happens instead is a business etiquette misstep for the following reasons:

  1. Text messages are designed to be short meaning context can easily be lost.
  2. Text messages often have “mystery senders” if the person does not indicate who they are and assumes the recipient will recognize their phone number.
  3. Text messages are often written too casually and often with slang and misspellings which does not leave a good impression.
  4. Text message inappropriately assumes the recipient wants to communicate with you through this mean.

So the next time you are contemplating if you should just send ” a quick text”, think twice before pushing the send button and consider starting with an email.


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What to do when your company is in crisis?

Crisis can come in many shapes and forms for organizations.  Sometimes a company’s crisis is brought on by a leadership change, a cultural shift, an economic downturn in their target market or by a public relations scandal.

So what are workers to do?  Sit tight and see if things stabilize or scramble to get your resume dusted off?  This is a tough spot to be in not to mention stressful with all the unknowns lingering in the air.

For some bolting quickly is their first inclination.  But this is just running from something not running to something.  It often puts you in the position of job searching from a place of desperation and therefore not presenting well as a job seeker or a desirable candidate.

Others may sit tight saying to themselves “the grass is never greener.”  These people run the risk of acclimating to a toxic work situation that ultimately affects their health and wellbeing.

The best approach when your company faces a crisis is to step back and ask yourself the following.

  1. How long am I willing to wait for things to change or improve?
  2. What does improvement look like?  How can I measure it?
  3. Will change bring opportunity?
  4. What’s values I am unwilling to compromise?
  5. What pieces do I have control over?

Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into the eye of the storm during a company crisis.  Using this method will allow you to approach this time more objectively and in a way that puts you in the drivers seat.

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