Put Up or Shut Up!

March 25, 2009

Yes, Big Interview Day has come and gone. It went really well, I think…… Many pleasantries back and forth, shared sensibilities about the challenges at hand. Inserted all the alluring lingo I could manage into one hour-PowerPoint, Blogging, my Client Base, TweetDeck. Much nodding about collaborative opportunities that we must explore. 

And then, she says, “There is a ‘test’ to pass.” I am still nodding and smiling, but processing……. A test?!

Initial reactions in no particular order: Sure, I will do anything. What did she just say? What did I agree to do for free? I have to do what I said I can do? 

I think I was smiling while all of the above raced through my brain.

So, they request that I prepare a sample PowerPoint (one of the communication devices I “specialize”in) to pitch a new campaign they are working on. Just  an “opportunity to see if we are on the same page”. Really, it does make sense. An outside consultant would probably provide something similar to get the business and this “relationship” we are working on is consulting-like.  

And isn’t this what many of us have been waiting for-a stop to endless pre-screening applications and blab, blab, hypothetical blab during hard to earn interviews? Just a chance to do our stuff and make a difference. 

So off I go to focus and pound away. And probably spend a few too many minutes thinking about what I should wear…..

 

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Sitting in a waiting room this morning captive to the pre-selected TV channel (thank God not Jerry Springer), I saw a piece that could inspire many of us. The “Today Show” was featuring several interns doing work in NYC. The difference was they were not bright faced 20 year olds, but instead “women of a certain age” as a fellow blogger Karen Knott might call them. They were all very capable journalists facing a changing workplace and needing updated skills. Sure, it took a lot of guts and they were offering their services for free, but really, ingenious.

Think about it this weekend-who could you call upon to pitch this idea? It should be well thought out and approached in the same way any business proposal would be presented. Great exchange though-you offer your enthusiastic work ethic in exchange for exposure to new skills, an elimination of the dreaded resume gap and an opportunity to make some amazing new contacts. In this tough economy, you might be exactly who someone could use right now!

Let’s get going…….

today-show

Big Interview Day

March 17, 2009

Khaki dress?    Nope?

1980s bow tie?    Nope?   

Fancy black suit?   Yup!

All your good advice and wishes?  Right in my back pocket!!

All the best luck of the Irish to everyone today with an opportunity ahead of them!

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Regardless of the fabulous single process color of my hair, the graduation date on my resume is the elephant in any interview room. “I thought she was a lot younger than that” is the best I can hope for as they do the math, hopefully comparing me to their age and not their mother’s!

You see, it’s a Catch-22. I’ve spent some years out of the corporate loop. So, of course it’s important to fill those dreaded gaps with impacting action phrases describing my successful, if unconventional ventures. Which all of a sudden makes me both overqualified and dramatically unproven at the same time.

I have applied for some positions only to be either rejected as it’s deemed below my qualifications or promoted to interview for a senior position where other candidates more seamlessly fit the mold. Would I sound lacking in confidence (or the desperado I sense I am becoming) to admit, “Hey, just bring me on at any level. I know I can do it and the clock is ticking!”

You see, I wasn’t expecting to keep pace with my peers that toiled these past 20 years in a conventional job. But it is becoming shockingly clear that there was an expiration date on the value of my original corporate experience-and some view my date should land me in the spoiled bin!

Matt Youngquist, author of Career Horizons: The Blog! offers an insightful punch list of issues for those of us engaged in the post 40 job search. It is spot on in assessing these silent but deadly misgivings the guy across the table might be having. I plan on working my way down the list to be better prepared for my next fabulous opportunity.

How’s that for optimism? What are your secrets for keeping the faith?

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In my spastic attempts to re-enter the working world, I have committed several missteps that would be funny if they weren’t devastatingly stupid. Let’s share war stories. Here’s the first in my list of Top Things Not To Do.

Save Your Best Outfit for Your Follow-Up Interview-Ok, this one is “girlie”, I know. But it applies to many aspects of the process. Sometimes your best (and only) shot might be right off the bat. Mine seems to have been. An “informational” interview set up with a top PR VP was offered to me last year. I was beyond excited as I bought the fabulous suit for the interview process that was sure to follow. But what to wear to the “informational”? I cringe looking back at the khaki dress pulled out while the power suit was “saved” for the full day interviews surely to follow. I got so ahead of myself, I forgot to focus on the here and now. A mistake that also applied to the resume that was still a bit weak and the shared confidences of bits of insecurity with the VP after we hit it off so well.

Let’s just say the “follow-up” Silence was not so Golden!   

How many times have I told me kids, “You only have one chance to make a first impression”. There is no such thing as “informational”. Go for it at every opportunity.

I unfortunately have a few more to share with you in the coming days. How about you? Any good ones?

khaki-dressversusblack-suit