Jacks-Of-All-Trades Don’t Get Interviews Because…

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As a career coach, I get a lot of emails that go something like this:

Dear J.T.,

I lost my job after working for more than ____ years at the same company. In that time, I had a variety of responsibilities. I worked in a half-dozen departments. As the company changed, I would take on new projects as needed. I was a “Jack-of-all-trades.”

I thought when I lost my job I’d find it easy to get a new one because of all I have done. I’ve got so many skills and abilities, my resume is three pages long. And yet, I can’t seem to get an interview. As I research positions on job boards, I find myself saying, “I can do that!” But, having applied to over 40 jobs, I’ve yet to get a single interview.

What am I doing wrong?

The answer is simple: When you try to look like a match for everything, you match nothing.

A Job Opening = Specific Problem To Solve

When a company has an open position, what they really have is a particular problem that needs to be solved. The person choose to hire will be the one that can solve the problem the best and is priced right. When you are marketing dozens of things about yourself, a/k/a being a Jack-of-all-trades, you overwhelm hiring managers. In fact, you distract them to the point they are unable to see you as a match. Not only do you appear overqualified, but they may also assume you are overpriced as well…resulting in your resume going in the “no” pile.(Here’s a good example of a Jack-of-all-trades who needed to revamp his LinkedIn profile in order to finally stand out to employers.)

The Solution? Become A “Swiss Army Knife” Instead

If you find yourself in the Jack-of-all-trades situation, I suggest you re-tool yourself to appear more like a Swiss Army Knife: be clear in what each of your key skills is good for and demonstrate them with precision. Here’s what to do:

Step 1: Identify the top 5 skill sets you want to leverage in your next position. You have many skills, but you need to focus hiring managers on the skills you are most passionate about using on a daily basis so you can find a job that plays to your strengths.

Step 2: Map out how those skills support an employer in solving a problem. Clarify how will you use these skills specifically to save and/or make the company money. Ask yourself, “What pain will I alleviate when I utilize these skills for an employer?”

Step 3: Quantify your track record of success in these key skills. You need to be able to back up your abilities with facts. Articulate examples of how you have used each of these skills to help an employer so you can justify the cost of hiring you.

Step 4: Optimize your career tools (i.e. resume & LinkedIn profile), so they reflect your problem solving expertise using the skill sets you chose to showcase. Simplify these documents so the text clearly supports your area of focus. Less is more. Give hiring managers enough information to confirm you can do the specific job without overwhelming them. Your career tools should say, “I can do the job you need, but you’ll need to contact me to learn more.” (Here’s an article where I explain why your resume has only 6 seconds to get a recruiter’s attention.)

Finally, Don’t Forget To…

Once you’ve gone from branding yourself as a generalist to a specialist, you need to do one more thing: start a proactive job search. Just because you revamped your professional identity to be better suited for specific jobs, doesn’t mean employers will start responding to your online applications. If you really want to get an employer’s attention, you need to increase your networking efforts so you can spread the word about your special problem solving abilities as a way to get referred into positions. (This article maps out why your resume is useless without the right networking strategy.)

What other tips can readers share to deal with the Jack-of-all-trades challenge? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

P.S. – First time reading my posts? Thanks for taking the time to stop by! Not only do I write for Linkedin, but I’m also founder of the career advice site, CAREEREALISM, and currently run the career coaching program, CareerHMO. I hope you’ll check them both out!

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Top Job Interview Tips

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Interview Skills – what really makes a difference?

It’s all pressure isn’t it? Not only do we live and work in a fast paced world, but we also have to be ever adaptable in the world of work, ever-ready to adjust that CV, explore and list our transferable skills, and so on. There’s so much good free information out there these days about how to structure your CV and application forms, that I suspect this has directly impacted on the increasing levels of post-interview disappointment that I am always reading about. Why? Because we’ve become so much better at the “getting the interview” part, that candidates are often failing to then “walk the walk” during the interview. I’ll cover this point in one of the tips.
So, what can be done to improve your chances at the next job interview? I have a number of practical tips for your tool kit. Which ones you adopt will be a matter of personal choice. I advocate all of them of course!

“6 of the best” Job Interview Tips:

• Be tuned in, switched on in advance: At least 30 minutes before you even enter the building, get “in the zone”, relax, breathe, tune in, and be absolutely on your game. Don’t leave it until you walk in the building to tune in.

• “Walk the walk”:
You have ticked all of the boxes in the JD, but do you have relevant and engaging stories for the panel that demonstrate that what you put down on paper lives and breathes for you. These anecdotes should be “locked and loaded” – ready to pull out of the bag as needed during the questions

• Rehearsals!:
This relates to the above point. I’d like you to dig a bit deeper, work a bit harder, at the whole rehearsing the potential answers you might give (to key questions which you will be able to anticipate, knowing the role’s requirements). They should be rehearsed aloud, not in your head. Get used to the sound of your voice, and it’ll pay dividends in terms of confidence and credibility.

• Better company research:
A no brainer? Perhaps, but again, candidates are getting smarter at this. You can download an annual report, get tuned into the company’s vision and objectives of course, but how about connecting with a few (non panel) employees via social networking, and finding out what the key issues are in the company?

• Post interview note:
You will no doubt in the past have followed up an interview with an email note thanking the interviews for their time, and briefly reiterating why you feel you’re right for the role. But how about a hand written, hand delivered card? This can be written out before hand, and left at reception as you leave (or if you’re walked right to the door, then pop back just after!). I’ve know this gesture work many times on a number of levels. The main one is, whether you get the job or not, you will be remembered for such a personalized way of saying thank you. If that idea doesn’t work for you, then a follow up email is a must.

• It’s a business meeting:
This is all about state of mind. If you truly view the interview as a business meeting, it will change the way you approach things slightly – you’ll feel a bit more like you’re sharing the “driving seat”, and I’ve known many cases where the candidate has been successful by adopting this mind-set.

The tips I’ve proposed are assuming you’ve got all the basics locked down; good body language, using their words in the interview, etc. Who’s to say which tips, from any source, are the definitive ones? What I always try to do is add that extra few % for my clients that will make the difference.

9 CEOs Share Their Favorite Interview Question

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English: Washington, DC, August 29, 2006 - Gle...

English: Washington, DC, August 29, 2006 – Glenn Cannon, FEMA’s Director of Response answers an interview question for a reporter at the FEMA Video Studio. FEMA/Bill Koplitz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

tony hsieh, ceo, zappos.com

tony hsieh, ceo, zappos.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Image representing David Gilboa as depicted in...

Image by None via CrunchBase

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

9 CEOs Share Their Favorite Interview Question

Getty Images/Ethan Miller

Tony Hsieh

If you could ask job candidates only one question, what would be most telling?

As it turns out, many CEOs have one go-to interview question that they believe reveals everything they need to know about a candidate. Some swear by serious questions about a candidate’s best accomplishment. Others believe that silly queries about holiday costumes and the zombie apocalypse best reveal a candidate’s creativity.

From Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh to Warby Parker CEO David Gilboa, we’ve collected top interview questions from the following nine company leaders.

On a scale of one to 10, how weird are you?

On a scale of one to 10, how weird are you?

REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

One of Zappos’ core values is to “create fun and a little weirdness,” Tony Hsieh, CEO of the company, tells Business Insider.

To make sure he hires candidates with the right fit, Hsieh typically asks the question: “On a scale of one to 10, how weird are you?” He says the number isn’t too important, but it’s more about how people answer the question. Nonetheless, if “you’re a one, you probably are a little bit too straight-laced for the Zappos culture,” he says. “If you’re a 10, you might be too psychotic for us.”

Another question Zappos usually asks candidates is: “On a scale of one to 10, how lucky are you in life?” Again, the number doesn’t matter too much, but if you’re a one, you don’t know why bad things happen to you (and probably blame others a lot). And if you’re a 10, you don’t understand why good things always seem to happen to you (and probably lack confidence).

Tell me about the time you realized you had the power to do something meaningful.

Tell me about the time you realized you had the power to do something meaningful.

InternetNews via YouTube

Simon Anderson, CEO of DreamHost

Simon Anderson, CEO of DreamHost, a web hosting provider and domain name registrar, says he asks one question to determine what motivates candidates: “Tell me about the first experience in your life when you realized that you had the power of change or the power to do something meaningful.”

“It’s open-ended. Some people might tell the story of when they were five and there was some incident and they had to take more responsibility for their baby brother or sister,” he tells The New York Times. “Maybe it was from their teenage years: ‘Something bad was going to happen at school and I stood up for this friend of mine and all of a sudden I felt self-empowered to do things.’ I think that’s really important. If someone sits there and they’re stumped, I think that tells you something.”

How would you describe yourself in one word?

How would you describe yourself in one word?

YWCA

Dara Richardson-Heron, CEO of YWCA

The best candidates are the ones who know exactly who they are. That’s why Dara Richardson-Heron, CEO of women’s organization YWCA, always asks her candidates this question.

Richardson-Heron says she doesn’t judge people on the word they choose, but it does give her insight into how people package themselves. She tells Adam Bryant at The New York Times that she likes when people take time to ponder the question and answer thoughtfully.

What would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?

What would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?

Screenshot from YouTube

Ashely Morris, CEO of Capriotti’s

This seems like a ridiculous question to ask, but it’s posed to every prospective employee at Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, a national restaurant franchise. Ashley Morris, the company’s CEO, says it’s the best way to learn how candidates react under pressure.

“There really is no right answer, so it’s interesting to get someone’s opinion and understand how they think on their feet,” Morris explains. “The hope is that for us, we’re going to find out who this person is on the inside and what’s really important to him, what his morals really are, and if he’ll fit on the cultural level.”

Tell me about the last person you fired.

Tell me about the last person you fired.

Courtesy of Marc Barros

Marc Barros, CEO of Contour

Marc Barros, cofounder and former CEO of camera company Contour, swears by this question. “Of all the ways I interviewed executive candidates, this question and the discussion that followed proved to be the strongest indicator of the candidate’s leadership ability,” he tells Inc.

Barros believes a candidate who claims to have never fired anyone is clearly a bad choice. “You can’t build a great team without occasionally deconstructing and rebuilding it,” he argues.

If the candidate has fired someone, then he focuses on how the process went, which reveals a great deal about their communication skills. Did they offer feedback to the person and explain their reasoning for the decision? Barros says great leaders are like coaches, constantly giving feedback.

Tell me about your failures.

Tell me about your failures.

Museum of Chinese in America

Jenny Ming, CEO of Charlotte Russe

A good answer to this question is important because it means that the candidate isn’t afraid of taking risks and will admit when things don’t work out, says Jenny Ming, president and CEO of clothing store Charlotte Russe.

“It doesn’t even have to be business; it could be life lessons. I think it’s pretty telling. What did they do afterward?” she says. “How did they overcome that? I always look for somebody who’s very comfortable admitting when something didn’t work out.”

People always like to tell you about their successes, she explains, but they don’t always want to tell you what didn’t work out so well for them.

What was the last costume you wore?

What was the last costume you wore?

Colin Hughes/Courtesy Warby Parker

Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal, CEOs of Warby Parker

It doesn’t matter so much what they wore, but why they wore it. If the candidate’s reasoning matches Warby Parker’s core value of injecting “fun and quirkiness into work, life, and everything [they] do,” they might have a real shot at getting a job there.

“We find that people who are able to make the job environment fun build followership more easily,” the company’s cofounder and co-CEO David Gilboa tells Iris Mansour at Quartz. “If we hire the most technically skilled person in the world whose work style doesn’t fit here, they won’t be successful.”

Tell me about your crowning achievement.

Tell me about your crowning achievement.

Courtesy of The Adler Group

Lou Adler, CEO of The Adler Group

Lou Adler, CEO of hiring services company The Adler Group, says he always asks candidates to talk about their crowning achievement or most significant accomplishment. That question not only tells you what energizes the applicant, but also helps you figure out if their interests and passions align with yours.

“The idea is that if you understand someone’s most significant accomplishment or crowning achievement, and really are willing to spend 20 minutes understanding it, then you know what motivates the person,” Adler tells Business Insider.

Tell me about your last project. Who was involved and what was the biggest challenge?

Tell me about your last project. Who was involved and what was the biggest challenge?

ijeggers via YouTube

Jana Eggers, CEO of Spreadshirt

To get a sense of how people work, Jana Eggers, former CEO of personalized clothing company Spreadshirt, likes to ask candidates about projects they’ve worked on.

“I’m interested in seeing how they organized themselves, how they think about projects, how they think about other people around them,” Eggers tells The New York Times. “There are very few jobs in any company these days where one person goes in and does it alone. They always have to interact with other people.”

BONUS: Give me an example of a time when you solved an analytically difficult problem.

BONUS: Give me an example of a time when you solved an analytically difficult problem.

Commonwealth Club via YouTube

Laszlo Bock, SVP of people operations at Google

Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google, says the company ditched its famous brainteaser interview questions in recent years for behavioral ones.

“The interesting thing about the behavioral interview is that when you ask somebody to speak to their own experience, and you drill into that, you get two kinds of information,” Bock tells The New York Times. “One is you get to see how they actually interacted in a real-world situation, and the valuable ‘meta’ information you get about the candidate is a sense of what they consider to be difficult.”

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Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/ceo-interview-questions-2013-12?op=1#ixzz2oAKAONJd