Brian McIvor
______&Associates
Find your place

Career Coaching and Mentoring,
Interview Preparation and Training Services

My mission is to help free people from unproductive careers and to help them move into positions where their talents, skills, expertise, potential and passion can be fulfilled, recognised and rewarded.

Blog

Finding a job/career in a tough marketplace.

It's official: Ireland is the toughest place in the EU in which to look for a job: the ratio quoted is 50:1 (RTÉ: The World at One: 5/2/12). However, this statistic doesn't take into account the fact that some jobs are more sought after than others. Which means that the job search has to be focussed and prioritised; this means being clear what you are looking for, what you are best at, what you have to offer and how flexible you will be in identifying options. If you are too flexible ("I'll take anything) you will end up being exploited and frustrated. If you are too narrow -" there's only one thing I can do" you will be equally unsuccessful. In between these two extremes is the process of prioriting  your skills and expertise, researching the market, prioritising,setting goals and using your network effectively for mutual benefit of you and your contacts.

If you want to survive find ways of keeping your focus and your energy. If you really want to thrive, rather than survive help somebody else in their hour of need.

At executive interviews: confidence calms, track records impress but humility triumphs.

Scepticism about E-Marketing

Light at the end of the tunnel?

It seems there is a shakeout on how people are using social media in the recession. If you want to find out what people are talking about - go to Twitter. If you want to find out who they are as people Facebook will tell what they want you to see . If you want to know their professional persona use LinkedIn. But if you want to make an impression, or a real connection or even get a job you might want to show up in person.

 

Getting the edge in Interviews: Product Knowledge is the Key

I have noticed in recent months in coaching interviewees the need for to be aware of the products, corporate challenges and markets of your target company. Talking to Jane (not her real name) the issue came up about the market position of the company she was going for. "Where are they in the marketplace? What are their main products" I asked. "Don't know" came the answer. "Find out" was my suggestion. "Do a SWOT analysis on them, their products and their main competitors so that you understand where the real need for this job comes from." Jane enthusiastically went off to do her research. It reminded me of the old interviewer's story about the computer company who wanted to know what the letters IBM stood for. Only one candidate knew the answer. Guess who got the job?

A great way to learn job interview technique.

...is to become an interviewer yourself. I was coaching Sarah (not her real name!) recently and she got stuck with the "what is you weakness?" question. She got more and more nervous and was about to give up. "Why don't you ask me that question and probe until you get a convincing answer." - I suggested. Immediately, her energy changed and she attacked the job with gusto. No, I won't reveal what I told her then but when she resumed being the interviewee it was obvious that some real learning had taken place. That's what happens in creative interview coaching and mentoring.

If at first you don't succeed...

In the real world things don't come right the first time. I had a client recently, Jennifer (not their real name) who after a number of coaching sessions went for a very senior job but was not successful. This was disappointing, but not surprising, because our coaching sessions had examined the possibility that even though her qualifications were suitable for the job the interview board may have had a particular preference for a specialist - rather than a generalist.  Jennifer had a wide range of experience - which worked against her in her interview.

A few weeks later she came to me to work on another senior job application. We worked on the interview, the presentation and the in-depth background research and networking that needed to be done for this job. The research identified the background to the new post being created and issues about the organisation which would be vital for the candidate to know. The rumour in the industry was that the job would go to an insider. However, Jennifer was sufficiently on top of her brief to impress the interview board with her grasp of the organisation, its current challenges and future strategy. She got the job at a much higher salary than the first one.

Moral of the story: persistence counts for a lot.

Stuck in a Job Interview? Try This...

A while back I was coaching an executive who was being interviewed for a Chief Executive post.

She wondered what to do if she really got stuck and couldn't think of what to say next.

I gave her the usual tips: breathe, ask them to repeat the question etc.

"What if none of these work?" She said.

I suggested another idea: moving her position in the chair. I explained it would give her time to think, it would activate her right intuitive brain which would then come into play and this would unfreeze her.

She wasn't convinced: "I have heard rubbish in my time and that beats the rest." I countered: "You won't really know if this works until you are in this situation." She was not convinced.

A few days later I got a call from her. "I got the interview, thank you for your input and support. It was a long and tough interview but I made it."

"You're welcome" I said. "By the way, did you get stuck?"

"Yes, and how!" was the reply.

"I would be curious to know how you got unstuck..."

"Well" she said "there was nothing for it and I tried moving my position in the chair. And that did it!"

"That's wonderful" I said not wishing to remind her of her scornful opinion of what I had originally suggested.
"I am not finished..." she replied. " When I moved, they all moved together in unison, and instantly I realised that I was in deep rapport and that relaxed me. It was a long interview and every so often I re-adjusted my chair, and they followed all my moves. I was then in control for the rest of the interview.
You were right, you will only know if it works when you are in the actual situation."

She has been in her new job as Chief Executive for a while and I often wonder how she manages her meetings.....
 

Don’t follow the herd, An Executive Coaching Case Study

Following the herd is dangerous - you can get lost in the crowd - or worse still get trampled in the rush. Herd thinking is dangerous and self-destructive behaviour.

I recently had a case where over 50 doctors going for the same group of jobs circulated stock answers to the interview questions they had accumulated from previous competitions. I was told that this list had been jealously guarded and passed from doctor to doctor in secret. It was even jocosely suggested that it had to be read by moonlight - such was its power! The doctor who told me had come for personalised coaching because she didn’t want to join the herd.

What happened in the subsequent national competition was interesting; some interviewers complained that they had to reject all those with similar answers and for acting as if they were still medical students and not professionals! The interviewers quickly tired of hearing all the stock answers and marked those candidates down for lazy thinking. What they wanted were doctors who had initiative and integrity and they were the ones who got the jobs.

And the doctor who came to me for individualised coaching? - they got the job