Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Pitch Charming: How to create an elevator pitch

“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?”

This was the question that Steve Jobs of Apple posed to John Sculley, an executive who was working at Pepsi, who Jobs wanted to take on the role of CEO at Apple. Despite being offered a generous salary and impressive stock options, it was this one line that stuck with Sculley and made him take the job at Apple.

On his CBC Radio show Under the Influence, marketing and advertising authority Terry O’Reilly described this example as the “best elevator pitch in history” in an episode of the same name.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine JaremeyWhat’s an elevator pitch?
An elevator pitch is a short, concise encapsulation of an idea. But, it’s so compelling, that it ignites action. It’s an icebreaker that will hopefully lead to having a more in-depth dialogue in the future.

The most important thing about an elevator pitch is its length. Think about it as how you’d describe something to someone in the brief time it takes to go from the first floor to the second floor in an elevator. However, some people say it can be as long as 60 seconds. My rule of thumb? The shorter, the better. There’s only so much the audience can digest and remember in a brief amount of time.

O’Reilly describes the elevator pitch as the test of an idea. If you can’t short-form your idea, it lacks focus and clarity. This is why an elevator pitch is a core communications tool that’s often used to describe companies, brands and marketing campaigns.

Pitching your personal brand
When it comes to your career and marketing yourself in the job market, an elevator pitch can be a compelling way to express your personal brand. Your personal brand is the image or impression that you can establish about yourself and your career in the minds of others, including contacts in your network, your employer or potential employers. Learn more about cultivating your personal brand here.

Distilling this information into an elevator pitch can convey that your career has a clear direction, that you understand your strengths, and that you know how you can provide value.

What will your elevator pitch look like? Here’s a simple recipe:

Step 1: Start with what you do
Step 2: Then, add context to convey the value you bring
Step 3: Finish with where you’re going next

When you add these together, the finished product can look something like:

“As an accounting expert with my CPA and five years of experience working at a global accounting firm, I’m now focusing on increasing my management experience while providing counsel directly to clients.”

“I am a public relations specialist with three years of experience in the technology industry. I’ve worked on award-winning campaigns and have secured top-tier media coverage. Now, I’m building my project management and strategic planning expertise.”

If you’re struggling at first with creating your elevator pitch, don’t worry. Distilling an idea – or something as complex as your career – to its very essence is an art. For inspiration, listen to the full Under the Influence episode for examples of the elevator pitches created by leading companies and brands. Try running drafts of your elevator pitch past friends, family members or peers at work and ask for their constructive input.

Want to learn more about crafting an elevator pitch for your personal brand? Find more tips here.

When you’re done, and if you’re feeling brave, share your elevator pitch in the comments!

Image credits: Pixabay.com; Pexels.com.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Job recruiters share how to get hired

If you have a job interview coming up, you probably want to make the most of your face time with the company. Whether you’re working with a third-party recruiter or an in-house hiring manager, these nine tips from recruiters, compiled in a video by Buzzfeed, can help you prepare for your interview. Scroll down to the bottom of this post to watch the full video!Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine JaremeyTip 1: Don’t lie
In an interview, people might say that they’ve worked at a company when they haven’t, or that they have a degree when they don’t, thinking it will give them a competitive edge in the hiring process. If the recruiter, hiring manager or the company’s pre-employment screening department are thorough, it’s likely that the truth will be revealed. Depending on when that happens, you may not get a second interview, or a job offer can be rescinded. The worst part of that scenario? You’d never know if you would have been successful with the company had you just told the truth.Tip 2: Nail your resume
What are recruiters’ top tips for a great resume? They include:

  • A resume shouldn’t be longer than two pages (or one page double-sided)
  • Highlight the things you’re most proud of first, then list your work experience
  • Avoid using unprofessional fonts like Comic Sans or symbols like Wingdings
  • Only include information that’s relevant to the position, without oversimplifying too much

Tip 3: Do your research
Find out about the company and the role that you’re applying for. Learn as much as you can by visiting the company’s website and social media channels, look them up on Glassdoor, or have an informational interview with a current or former employee. Know what about the company makes you want to work there. Bring print-outs of your findings (like a recent press release) to an interview to demonstrate that you did research and understand the company.Tip 4: Don’t come in sick
If you have a communicable disease, like pink eye, a cold or the flu, be honest about it with the recruiter, hiring manager, or other person who arranged the interview. Be as flexible as you can about rescheduling it.Tip 5: Dress appropriately
Do research on the company’s dress code as you prepare your outfit for your interview. Then, dress one “notch” above it. For example, one recruiter described his office as “business comfortable” and would want a candidate to demonstrate that they fit into the dress code. Depending on the industry you’re in, wearing a three-piece suit to an interview may not be appropriate. Find more tips about dressing for a job interview here.Tip 6: Know your greatest weakness
This question can indicate how honest and self-aware you are. Recruiters or hiring managers can generally tell if you’re being genuine. When sharing an actual weakness that you want to work on, be sure to follow it up with how and why.Tip 7: Know when to negotiate
Be transparent about your salary expectations from the beginning so that both you and the recruiter or hiring manager can find a salary level that all parties are happy with. However, be aware of the salary band for the role you’re applying for. It’s unlikely that a company can exceed the band’s upper and lower limits.Tip 8: Ask questions
Have at least three questions to ask the recruiter or hiring manager at the end of the interview. Where do you start? The following questions are helpful because the responses can serve as a “cheat sheet” for what to do in the first three months on the job if you get it.

  • What can I do in the first three months to be successful?
  • What do the first 30 to 90 days look like in this job?
  • How can I immediately add value in this role?

Tip 9: Keep calm and carry on
Sometimes a person who isn’t hired may overstep when engaging with the recruiter or hiring manger after getting the bad news. Requesting a Linkedin connection is fine, but following and messaging them on other social media channels or showing up at their office won’t be well-received. If an opportunity doesn’t work out, stay calm and professional. The recruiter may end up having another job that’s a better fit down the road.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmss6bTs1ecDo you agree with these job recruiters’ tips? Share in the comments.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Quitting vs. crafting: How to get the job you want

Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now? How about 20?

Have you ever realized that where you see your career in the distant future can depend on your job today? The job-related decisions that you make now can play a role in the path your career takes, and can impact whether your vision of the future becomes a reality.

Two trends – job quitting and job crafting – present relatively new ways to approach your career. They are ways of obtaining job satisfaction, while also strategically building the career you strive for.

Job Quitting
The job-quitting economy is based on the premise that job seekers eye jobs that will be helpful for the next step in their careers once they quit them. Rather than accepting a job offer for its benefits, salary, corporate culture and promotion potential, so-called “job quitters” look at if they can gain the transferrable skills and experience they need to progress in their careers, whether the company’s reputation in the industry makes other companies desire its employees, and how the role can serve as a stepping stone to another more prized job.

As companies have transitioned from hiring less full-time and more contract workers, the job-quitting economy has naturally evolved as the mindset of job seekers changed to see certain jobs as ways of getting to a job with full-time perks down the road. But in today’s highly-competitive job market, full-time employees may approach their careers with a job-quitting mindset too.

The concept of a personal brand, which many consider to be helpful in landing a job, underlies the job-quitting economy. The transferrable skills gained in a role contribute a job seeker’s overall Me, Inc. package, which is what makes each person stand out from the competition.

Some drawbacks of approaching your career as a job-quitter could include less fulfillment at work, as you might not fully engage and reach job satisfaction if you only see your role as a stepping stone to the next one. Further, jumping from one role to the next after too little time may cause future potential employers to see you as a “flight risk” who could leave their company after too-short a time.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Job Crafting
To get the job you want, there’s another option other than making a huge change and joining another company. This option is called job crafting, which involves making incremental changes to your responsibilities or day-to-day experiences at work, resulting in increased job satisfaction.

How does job crafting work? To start, try listing the skills and abilities you’d like to have to progress in your career. Maybe gaining or advancing technical skills, business acumen or leadership abilities are important professional development areas for you. Then, get creative and make an inventory of the different ways that you could add these activities to your work. Once the list is complete, a conversation with your manager or other colleagues might be required to ensure that they’re aligned with your professional development ambitions, and so they understand why you are taking on new tasks.

If successful, the growth and changes that you achieve by crafting your job will move you toward your career goals.

Potential cons of job crafting? Your workplace, manager and co-workers must be open to your role evolving or a change in your job’s responsibilities. Without external support, your attempt at job crafting might end up being a flop. It also takes patience and time for your job to change into one with the attributes that you’re striving for.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Now that you’ve learned about these two trends, do you think you’ve ever adopted a job quitting or job crafting mindset in the past? If not, which trend do you think you’d be more likely to take on to shape your career? Share in the comments.

Image credits: Pixabay.com.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Canadians can now Google their ways to new jobs

Last year I reported on one of Google’s new search features for people seeking a new job: Google for Jobs. At the time, this tool was being piloted in the U.S., while Canadians were awaiting a launch within our borders.

Google’s job search functionality is now available in Canada.

What’s it like? For the purposes of this post, I did a quick search of communications jobs in my area, and really liked what I saw. The search results loaded quickly and were easy to review. I liked that there were tags listed across the navigation bar at the top of the page to filter the results, and the option to turn on email alerts for new postings under the search terms. Check out what the results looked like below.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Not stopping there, on April 26, Google announced a $1 million investment into a new platform, called the Employment Pathway Platform (EPP), which will provide even more search capabilities for Canadians looking for jobs. It will search based on commute distance, ability to work from home, industry, title and time commitment. What’s also cool is that this new platform will be the result of a partnership with Toronto’s MaRS innovation hub, and my company is located in the MaRS Centre (pictured below).

MaRS Centre West Tower

Once it launches, the new platform’s users can obtain a skills assessment, find jobs that match with current abilities and skills, and get information on courses that can help users build their skill sets.

This technology will help job searchers adapt to how the workplace is evolving. From automation to artificial intelligence, jobs today are changing at a rapid pace, and will continue to in the future.

This means that workers (including me!) must be open to continual learning and training opportunities to stay efficient, effective and competitive in the workplace. In fact, according to Inc.com, 91 per cent of the respondents of one survey said that the most successful employees are the ones who can adapt to the changing workplace.

Fortunately, the EPP will “pull together data skills and training options from multiple sources and then analyze a user’s existing skills and employment preferences against this.” Having data that will contribute to skills-building is definitely a perk for users of the future service.

The new platform that will result from the Google/MaRS partnership and investment is expected to launch next year. I’m excited to hear more about the new platform as things move ahead.

Do you think you’ll try the new platform once it’s available?

Image credits: Reuters; Erin Sugar.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Free career resources from the Toronto Public Library

“The best things in life are free.”

If you have a Toronto Public Library (TPL) card, this saying is true when it comes to ways to boost your career.

TPL provides access to helpful resources for searching for a job, refining your resume, and updating your skills and knowledge.

Career-related workshops

The fall 2017 edition of TPL’s What’s On publication lists some career and resume-focused sessions at library branches. They cover:

  • An introduction to LinkedIn
  • Job market opportunities
  • Resume writing and critiquing
  • Improving interview skills
  • Networking and job search tactics for newcomers to Canada

resources

Online education at lynda.com

LyndaTPL card holders have access to lynda.com for free. Lynda.com provides “over 3,500 video tutorial courses led by experts on web design, software development, photography, business skills, home and small office, project management, 3D + Animation, graphic design audio, music, video editing and more.” This perk gets you a Premium monthly membership, which has a value of $29.99 per month.

Completing courses at lynda.com can increase your knowledge of tasks you’re doing on-the-job or that you’re curious about, impress your boss, and boost your resume or LinkedIn profile.

Need a library card?

September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month, so there’s no better time to get or renew your card. Further to the TPL resources listed above, the other benefits of having a library card are numerous. You can get a TPL card if you live, work, go to school or own property in Toronto. Learn more about getting a card here.

Image credits: Laine Jaremey; Lynda.com.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey
Video

Work emails: Judgement required

From a formal “Dear” line and asking about your weekend, to one-word messages and emojis, to swear words and jokes that toe the line into being NSFW. There are many different approaches to how people write emails at work.

A friend and former colleague, Amanda, recently sent me a hilarious video from CBC’s TV show, Baroness von Sketch, on the topic of work emails. It’s a tongue-in-check look at how people can interpret emails differently. View it here or click on the following image:

Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 3.39.25 PM.png

The manager in this video is at one end of the spectrum when it comes to email etiquette. She is informal and unprofessional in emails, and expects staff to act similarly. Although her unprofessionalism is taken to the extreme because it’s *~hilarious~* in the sketch, it’s also relevant for work emails in the real world.

“There’s nothing wrong with throwing in an ‘exclamaysh’… It lets people know that you’re not gonna skin us alive.” – Baroness von Sketch.

Let’s think about what a real professional work email looks like. In my opinion, it includes a clear subject line, a greeting (such as “Hi Mary,”), short sentences and concise writing, one exclamation mark at the most if required, a clear request or action item, finished with your name and email signature. Don’t forget to proofread. Pretty simple!

As a general rule-of-thumb, being professional (or “profesh”) in emails is important. Why?

  • You may know the person you’re sending an email to, but others CC’d on an email thread – either immediately or in the future – may not know you as well and may not interpret an unprofessional tone in a favourable manner.
  • An attempt to be informal or to make a joke could be risky, because emails lack the nonverbal cues that often make jokes land as intended.
  • An email may be filed for future reference. It would be unfortunate to have an unprofessional email as part of a thread that’s in an official record.
  • Whether you’re starting out in your career or are a seasoned veteran in an industry, email is a tool that helps communicate the type of person you are and your work style. Using a professional tone communicates that you’re polished, dedicated to quality and serious about your career.

That said, know your audience. If you’re emailing a close contact at work, it could be appropriate to include something lighthearted and funny in your email – just make sure it’s suitable for work, and that the recipient will interpret it clearly. Showing your personality is an important part of fostering positive interpersonal relationships with colleagues.

What guidelines do you use for work emails? Please share in the comments.

Thanks again to Amanda for inspiring this post!

Image credits: Pixabay.com; cbc.ca.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Nine tips for successful informational interviews

Have you ever been on an informational interview?

If you haven’t heard of them before, an informational interview is a meeting with someone who’s already in an organization, field or industry that you’d like to get into, which doesn’t relate directly to a job opening. It’s an opportunity for you to learn, grow your network and get your foot in the door.

Informational interviews can help improve your career prospects. They’re especially helpful when you graduate or if you’re starting out in a new field. In fact, the effectiveness of informational interviews has been described as “engineered nepotism”. Essentially, if you don’t have an existing strong personal connection, an informational interview can have the potential to result in one.

Informational interviews have benefited my career. My first job at a PR agency was the eventual result of an informational interview with a VP there. We were put in touch through connections in our networks, so I didn’t know her personally before the meeting. That said, I diligently prepared for the meeting and it was a success.

That’s why, when a role became available at my level at the agency a month after the informational interview, the person I met with contacted me. She thought I could be a good fit based on what she learned about me in the informational interview. As I had already dipped my toe by meeting with her and learning about the agency, I was immediately engaged. So, we met again to discuss the role and I was interviewed by other senior members of the organization. As a result, the role was a great fit for me, and I was a great fit for the team.

This experience has made me believe in the power of informational interviews. Since, I’ve continued to participate in them, both as interviewer and interviewee. Based on what I’ve learned, I have some tips for acing informational interviews as your start off in your career:

Tip 1: Prepare as you would for a job interview – Would you ever go to a job interview without Googling the company and person you’re meeting with? Informational interviews should be treated the same way. In addition to reviewing the company’s website, check out the social channels of and recent news articles about the company, its leaders, its brands and the person you’re meeting with. Review your contact’s LinkedIn profile and consider connecting with them before or after the meeting. Show you’re really on-the-ball by weaving-in what you learned in your research during your conversation, or even print out and bring an article or two.

informational interview JPEG 3
Tip 2: Determine an objective – Understand what you hope to get out of your informational interview. Keep your objective(s) top-of-mind, and even mention them to the interviewee either before or early in the interview. For example, if you’re emailing the contact in advance, you could say, “I look forward to meeting with you to learn about your career path and the trends and opportunities you see in the industry,” if that’s what your objectives are. This will help the interview subject prepare, and as a result, you’ll get more from the meeting.

Tip 3: Prepare a list of questions – Make a list of questions to address anything you’re curious about – the person’s career path, something you learned when researching their organization, industry trends, their organization’s culture or their organization’s open positions (if they’re not posted online). Write the questions down in your notebook (see point 5, below) or print the list. Refer to them during the interview to demonstrate your preparedness and engagement.

Tip 4: Get ready to share a bit about yourself – Ideally, the interview should focus on the person you’re meeting with. However, it would be helpful for the interviewee to know a bit about you so that they have context when sharing information or advice. Rehearse a summary, also called an “elevator pitch”, about yourself in advance. Make sure it’s short, concise and clear. Learn how to craft an elevator pitch here.

Tip 5: Make notes – Bring a notebook and pen and jot down important things that your interview subject says. Write down questions that arise when they’re speaking and ask them later to avoid interrupting them. Even if you’re a digital record-keeper, writing down notes demonstrates to the speaker that you’re fully engaged. Making notes on a smartphone, tablet or laptop can have the opposite effect. (Still not convinced to write in a notebook? Richard Branson has a compelling pitch for using them!)

apple-971148_1920 (1)

Tip 6: Dress to impress – First impressions count. But, before you put on a tailored suit for an informational interview, keep in mind that in recent years, attire for job interviews and other professional meetings has changed, just as how people dress in the workplace has evolved. A suit is great, but not always necessary (hello, suit separates!). As part of your research, learn about the culture and dress code of the organization and industry of the interview subject to ensure your attire is appropriate. However, even if the organization’s dress code is very causal on a day-to-day basis, you should dress more formally to convey your seriousness and professionalism. Learn more about dressing for a job interview here.

Tip 7: Find an appropriate venue and time – Allow the interview subject to share their preferences for when and where they’d like to meet. Encourage a venue that’s close to their workplace to minimize their time away from work. Your interview subject might suggest a meeting room at their office. Or, coffee shops or casual cafés are usually good bets, but make sure you can get a table at the meeting time; you might even want to arrive early to secure seats. Don’t order drinks or food in advance, and offer to pay if you’re the one who called the meeting (although if you’re a student or if it’s early in your career, the interview subject may politely decline your offer!).

Tip 8: Be mindful of time – Arrive early and ensure the meeting ends on time. This shows that you respect the interview subject’s time, that you’re able to manage time effectively, and that you understand they have other priorities in their schedule.

Tip 9: Send a thank-you note – Express your appreciation after the interview in an email or, better yet, a card sent in the mail. I mean, who sends cards these days? It’s a unique way to stand out. Also, if someone introduced you, take the time to send them a short email to share that the interview occurred and to thank them for the connection.

I’ll finish up with a disclaimer. The result of my informational interview scenario, described above, was ideal for me at that time because I was starting out in my career and looking for a job at the same time a position became available. However, not every informational interview will result in a job offer. And, sometimes, that’s not your objective!

You might not be able to anticipate how participating in an informational interview now can benefit you down the road. Outcomes can include being approached regarding a job opportunity, increasing your technical knowledge, absorbing perspective based on the interview subject’s experience and gaining connections to the interviewee’s network.

What other tips do you have for making the most of an informational interview? Share in the comments below!

Image credits: Pixabay.com.