March 27, 2015

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Get Engaged and Accelerate Your Success!

February 12th, 2015

Not engaged as in married –- engaged as in work. Think of how happy you’d be going to work each day saying to yourself, “I want to,” not “I have to.” The difference? It’s being engaged in what you do at work. What does “engaged” mean? It’s feeling motivated at work, routinely applying your strengths and interests in your job, being committed to performing well and curious to learn and grow in your field. Unfortunately, statistics reveal 71% of U.S. employees are not engaged in their work.

Gallup research shows a strong connection between employee engagement and performance. The more actively engaged we are the more likely we are to have less sick days and raise productivity, quality, customer service and job satisfaction. A significant factor in feeling engaged is the opportunity to routinely use our strengths on the job. People who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged and three times as likely to report an excellent quality of life (Marcus Buckingham). When employees are engaged and thriving in their overall lives, even during difficult times in their organization, they are likely to maintain strong work performance. That is why more corporate wellness programs are including employee engagement in their wellness and wellbeing initiatives.

It is 2015 and we are never going back to thinking employees are “hired hands.”  Progressive organizations understand that healthy, high performing companies focus on the “whole person” at work. They appreciate the mind-body connection and the impact opportunities for growth and use of strengths and interests has on engagement and individual and organizational success.

So who is responsible for helping us become more engaged? Employers may help and that is great. However, ownership of engagement, satisfaction and career success is also on our own shoulders. Going after our goals with healthy enthusiasm for a more fulfilling life is up to each of us to make that happen.

Whether you are a business owner, manager or employee you may be thinking, “how can I become more engaged or how can I help my employees?” The answer involves uncovering and applying individual strengths as described in the following three steps.

1) Clarify skills/strengths that help you feel strong. Begin by brainstorming what you do well, what triggers your enthusiasm and motivates you. Also, you may want to complete the quick online Strengthsfinder assessment of your top five strengths (

What is a Strength?

Activities that energize you, that you are drawn to and feel easy and natural doing.  Strengths are made up of talents, skills and knowledge. Talents you are born with; skills and knowledge you obtain through learning and practice. Here are some examples:

Strength        Specific Use

Verbal –          Negotiating contracts
Social –           Interacting with people to plan events
Technical –     Resolving computer challenges
Artistic –         Selecting color and fabric to design a room

 2) List your work responsibilities and top priorities and find areas to apply your strengths. Identify 1-2 strengths you want to incorporate and match each with a current or new responsibility where you can contribute to your goals and/or organizational goals.

For example, if your strength is writing and you would like a chance to do it more often, look for a new or existing opportunity or project involving writing in the organization. Specify ways you can assist, possibly for the corporate blog or customer newsletter.

3) Have an open discussion with your manager to suggest ways to build 1-2 strengths into your work. Plan out the discussion. Remember, the object of this exercise is to help improve your job satisfaction AND fulfill a need for the organization.

Here are sample phrases you might want to use in your conversation. “I’m looking for opportunities to build on my top strengths to ensure my maximum contribution. I’ve found a couple ways I can align my skills with some of our current goals. Before I go into detail, what are your thoughts on giving this a try?  My key strengths are ____.  My ideas to apply and build them are _____.  How does this sound? What suggestions do you have for me to use my strengths more often?”

Note- this is not a discussion about your weaknesses. Those are much more difficult to improve because weaknesses typically make us feel depleted. The point here is that it’s much easier with less time and effort to concentrate on developing areas where we feel strong. The end result is to set goals and expectations every week based on your strengths. Step three may be the most challenging, however being bold and speaking up is essential to advancing your career.

Best of luck on getting engaged and accelerating your success!

- Sunny Klein Lurie, PhD. Advanced Performance, Inc; Fast Focus Careers

Stand Out in Your Interview

January 16th, 2015

You’ve just landed a job interview for a position you really want. Congratulations. Now, you know you only get one chance to impress, but how exactly do you do that? Given all of the conflicting advice out there and the changing rules of getting a job, it’s no wonder that job seekers are confused about how to best prepare for and perform in an interview.

What the Experts Say
One common piece of advice is to “take charge” of the interview. John Lees, a career strategist and author of The Interview Expert: How to Get the Job You Want and Job Interviews: Top Answers to Tough Questions, says this advice is misleading: “The reality is that the interviewer is in control. Your job is to be as helpful as you can.” Claudio Fernandez-Aroz, a senior adviser at Egon Zehnder International and the author of Great People Decisions, agrees: “You need to help interviewers do the right thing since most of them don’t follow best practices.” According to Fernandez-Aroz, who has interviewed more than 20,000 candidates in his 26 years as a search consultant, most interviewers fall prey to unconscious biases and focus too heavily on experience rather than competence. It’s your responsibility to make sure this doesn’t happen. Here’s how.

Prepare, prepare, prepare
Most people know they need to show up to the interview having done their homework, but both Fernandez-Aroz and Lees agree that people rarely prepare enough. “You can never invest enough in terms of preparation. You should find out as much as possible about the company, how it’s organized, its culture, the relevant industry trends, and some information about the interviewer,” says Fernandez-Aroz. He also advises researching the specific job challenges. This will allow you to demonstrate you have what it takes to fill the role.

Formulate a strategy
Before you enter the room, decide what three or four messages you want to convey to the interviewer. These should “show the connection between what you have achieved and what is really needed to succeed in the specific job and context,” says Fernandez-Aroz. Lees says the best way to do this is to draft narratives ahead of time. “People buy into stories far more than they do evidence or data,” he says. Your stories should be concise and interesting. Make sure they have a good opening line, such as, “I’m going to tell you about a time that I rescued the organization.” Then, learn them like the back of your hand. Know how they begin and end so you can relay them without stumbling or sounding like a robot. Whenever possible, use one of your stories to answer an interview question.

Emphasize your potential
“No candidate will ever be perfect, and you will be no exception,” says Fernandez-Aroz. Instead of harping on where your resume might fall short or letting the interviewer do the same; focus on your potential. This is often a far better indicator of future job performance. “If your past achievements are not directly related to the job, but you’ve demonstrated a great ability to learn and adapt to new situations, you should very clearly articulate that,” says Fernandez-Aroz. For example, if you’re interviewing for an international role but have no global experience, you might explain how your ability to influence others in a cross-functional role, such as between production and sales, proves your ability to collaborate with different types of people from different cultures.

Ace the first 30 seconds
First impressions matter. Lees points to psychological research that shows that people form opinions about your personality and intelligence in the first 30 seconds of the interview. “How you speak, how you enter the room, and how comfortable you look are really important,” he says. People who perform best in interviews start off by speaking clearly but slowly, walk with confidence, and think through what “props” they will carry so they don’t appear over-cluttered. Lees suggests rehearsing your entrance several times. You can even record yourself on video and play it back without the sound so you can see precisely how you are presenting yourself and make adjustments. The same applies to phone interviews. You need to use the first 30 seconds of the conversation to establish yourself as a confident, calm voice on the line.

Don’t be yourself
Lees calls the “be yourself” advice “demonstrably untrue.” He says, “It’s a trained improvised performance where you’re trying to present the best version of you.” Bring as much energy and enthusiasm to the interview as you can. But don’t oversell yourself. Because there’s an oversupply in the talent market, employers are wary that people are exaggerating their experience and skills. “If you’re going to make a statement about what you can achieve, you need to back it up with hard evidence,” Lees says.

Be ready for the tough questions
Many people worry about how to answer questions about a pause in their work history, a short stay at a recent job, or other blemishes on their CV. Again, the best approach is to prepare in advance. Don’t just have one answer for these difficult questions. Lee suggests three lines of defense. First, have a simple, straightforward answer that doesn’t go into too much detail. Then have two additional answers ready so that if the interviewer follows up, you have something further to say. For example, if you didn’t finish a degree that would’ve been helpful to the job, be ready to answer an initial question with something like, “I felt it was better to go straight into the work world.” If the interviewer pushes further, be ready with another level of detail, such as, “I thought about it carefully. I knew it would carry negative connotations but I thought I would learn a lot more by working.” Lees says, “The key is to never be pushed so far that you are left high and dry without a smart answer.”

Be flexible in the room
Even with all of the right preparation, you can never predict exactly how the interview will go. “You need the radar working in the room. A good candidate knows how to tweak the performance to play to different situations,” says Lees. Ask yourself: Do I need to supply better answers? Do I need to work on my tone? Do I need to just shut up? “A lot of interviewers like to hear themselves talk and you should be willing to let them,” says Lees. Adapt to the circumstances.

When it’s going poorly
There are times when it’s clear the interview is not going well. Perhaps the interviewer is not engaged or you stumbled over answers to some important questions. Resist the temptation to agonize over what’s already happened. “That’s a surefire way to get lost,” Lees says. Instead, focus on the moment. “Concentrate on answering the current question as if it’s the first,” he says. You can also redirect the conversation by acknowledging the situation. You might say something like, “I’m not sure if I’m giving you what you need” and see how the interviewer reacts. “You just have to be sure you aren’t digging a deeper hole,” says Lees.

Written by: Amy Gallo, contributing editor at Harvard Business Review.

Posted by Sunny K. Lurie, Fast Focus Careers


Why Resilient People Are Happier

December 9th, 2014

Why Resilient People Are Happier—and How to Be More Like Them

There are people in life who show exceptional resilience. They have the strength and the passion to go on even in the face of adversity. Below are eight habits of extremely resilient people.

Start with one and continue to add on as you go, but at least begin down the path of increasing your resilience. Resilient people lead happier and more successful lives. Don’t you want that, too?

 1. Get the Support You Need

People with exceptional resilience typically have a big safety net—many loved ones and friends to turn to when times get tough. Having others who accept you for who you are and who are there for you during good and bad times strengthens your resilience. Don’t have much family or many friends? Get out there and join a group, club, or team—start connecting and making friends. 

2. Realize It’s Just Part of Life 

Resilience comes with knowing that life isn’t perfect and that, yes, there will be drama and trauma in your life at one time or another. Your ability to view a tragedy as an isolated event instead of what your future has in store for you is what will set you up for success and greater resilience in the future.

3. Make Healthy Choices

People who are extremely resilient typically take care of themselves. They exercise daily, get the rest they need, address their own needs and feelings regularly, and make an effort to eat healthy. If you take care of yourself—even walking 20 minutes a day can take your stress down a notch—you will be less likely to fall apart during those times in your life that are filled with stress or tragedy.

 4. Remember to Laugh

Even during the worst times, exceptionally resilient people still laugh and find joy. Laughter can reduce the pain you feel, both body and mind, and help to minimize the issue at hand. Yes, the bad things will still happen, but you can lighten that load by finding your sense of humor.

 5. Be Nice to Others

Exceptionally resilient people enjoy helping others. They find great joy in random acts of kindness that lift the heart of not only the receiver but also the giver. On the flip side, it is equally important to receive and appreciate kindness from others who are trying to help you during a tough time—showing gratitude is also a big part of resiliency.

6. Get the Ball Rolling

Resilient people face life’s obstacles head-on. When confronted by a crisis, they immediately ask themselves, “What are my choices and solutions for this?” They collect all the information they can, come up with a plan, and then face the pain or anxiety directly with action. Even when faced with the worst of tragedies, such as a death in the family, resilient people collect, plan, and act until things are back to normal.

 7. Look at the Bright Side

Resilient people have a knack for always find the silver lining. Even though they are not immune to pain and anxiety, their eyes are wide open—they are able to see the good even during the worst times. Resilient people literally see each moment in life as another opportunity and another chance. Their glass is definitely half full.

8. Don’t Make the Same Mistake Again

Resilient people learn from their mistakes instead of making the same ones over and over. They ask themselves what went wrong and come up with a strategy to prevent the mistake from happening again. They get excited about doing things in a new way or approaching things differently, and this is what helps them endure unhappy times.

Written by P. Economy from Inc.

Posted by Sunny K. Lurie, Fast Focus Careers

Spreading Introductions

September 28th, 2014

We’ve heard about Random Acts of Kindness spreading around the world. Recently, I was the lucky recipient of a random act of kindness when a car in front of me at a drive-through paid for my coffee –wow, impressive! Right after this happened, a light bulb went off. What if more people applied acts of kindness to the workplace, helping job seekers connect with potential employers? Having a personal introduction inside an organization is a huge advantage to career changers.

In fact, referrals are the number one source companies use to find outside hires, and over 70 percent of people find jobs through leads from others, according to the top professional network platform LinkedIn. Access to the right people and companies is vital for a successful career change, especially as the market place becomes more challenging. A few moments of time connecting people to your network is a powerful act of kindness.

Many of us have made introductions in the workplace. What I’m suggesting here is to consider doing it more often. Not only will positive things come back to you when you extend a kind introduction, but you may also significantly help someone gain employment and improve their life.  Introductions require no money and are simple to do.

Consider This:

1.  Look for opportunities.  Put up your antennae to become aware of friends, family or colleagues who are changing careers and ASK if you can help and who they’d like to meet.

2. Get specific to identify their target organizations, jobs, people and industry. The more specific you are about whom to meet and what companies the person wants to work, the better. Consider who in your network is inside a company or industry they seek. Think about business owners, professionals and first-rate companies you know. LinkedIn and Facebook friends are perfect for finding people – look through your lists and groups. Maybe you have a neighbor working at the desired target company who knows the department recruiter. The idea of “six degrees of separation” for reaching anyone on the planet is alive and well.

3. Call or email the contact to make an introduction. It’s more impactful if youpersonally introduce the two parties rather than just supply a name. The rest is up to them.

True example. Recently, my cousin Terry was looking to leave his entry-level tech position. He made a list of 12 local organizations he liked who were hiring web developers.  To avoid sending in his resume blind, he asked me and others to run his list through their network and LinkedIn contacts. It turned out Terry found connections inside three companies. One person helped Terry reach the hiring manger and he was invited to interview. Over the next couple months they brought Terry back for several interviews and eventually he was offered a job.

Do an experiment. Try it for a month. See how many introductions you can make in the workplace and what you feel. You never know; some day when you need an introduction for your career, reciprocity for all your kind acts will be fully rewarded back to you.

Please forward this message to your contacts and help introductions spread!

By Sunny K. Lurie, Fast Focus Careers

Take Action for Your Career

July 23rd, 2014

Life comes at us fast. The best-laid plans get pushed aside when more urgent items arise. One way to stay on top of things is to keep an active to-do list.  Plans are not straight lines that work exactly as they might appear on paper, said Sunny Klein Lurie, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Fast Focus Careers. Having a to-do list you refresh often gives you a greater advantage to take action and get things done for your career.

Remember, Dr. Lurie added, with no specific targets, it is tougher to achieve end results. Keeping goals visually and refreshed as often as possible, you can avoid getting sidetracked.
Your to-do list should reflect the top four actions that must get done today. By designating these actions as priorities, you are more likely to get them done in a timely manner. Don’t fret about checking them off in perfect order. That’s not realistic, Dr. Lurie said.

The best way to ensure you accomplish the items on your to-do list is to make it a ritual in your life. The more you make it a ritual, the better the probability that you will follow through with it. If you have to decide continuously what to do throughout the day, the more difficult it is to make it happen.

Keep your to-do list manageable.  Plain and simple, if your list is too long, it is difficult to achieve, Dr. Lurie advised. Be realistic about how much and what tasks you have to do. Consider your schedule for the day and what availability you have to complete additional tasks.

How to avoid procrastinating

Many people with great intentions at the beginning of their day slowly lose momentum. The biggest obstacle is avoiding action. There are a few ways to handle items you avoid, Dr. Lurie suggested.

Plan ahead to do the most challenging item at your peak performance time when you have the clearest thoughts and most energy to get through it faster.

Attach a personal incentive that gets you in the right frame of mind to do the work. For example, as a quick warm up to get ready for the task, go ahead and read entertainment news for a few minutes if that is something you enjoy doing. The point is to find a couple of activities that are more fun than work just to get you going.

If you hit a roadblock on accomplishing an item on your list, walk away for 10 minutes. Go outside, grab a snack and come back with renewed energy. If you really need a boost to make it through your list, consider a quick call with an upbeat person you know. Optimism is contagious.

By Terri Mrosko with Sunny Lurie, The Plain Dealer, Employment Section

Posted By Sunny Klein Lurie, Fast Focus Careers

How to Follow-Up On Your Resume

June 18th, 2014

By Herberger

Career Image blogCareer Image blog

Don’t rush it

Wait approximately two weeks before you follow up. It’s safe to assume the hiring manager is busy - particularly if they’re amidst a hiring campaign. They will have received numerous applications. Give them time to have reviewed the documents you sent before you start back in about your own application.


The best way to follow up with a resume is to give the right person a call. It gives you a chance to show them your personality, your impeccable manners, and that you’re a motivated individual.

What if you don’t know who to call? If you have the name of the company, chances are you can find the name of the hiring manager somewhere online. If you can’t find a name, contact the company and ask to speak to the person in charge of hiring for the open position – don’t give up quite yet.

What if you get their voicemail? Easy - call back. Don’t leave a message until you’ve gotten their voicemail at least twice.

Call in the morning. You’re more likely to reach someone before their day has become a tangled mess of meetings and emails.

If calling isn’t an option, email or a handwritten note are both acceptable. They will still show initiative and bring you to the forefront of the hiring manager’s mind.

Don’t just ask if they received your resume

This is your chance to truly impress the manager. You should express your interest in the position and the unique skills you can bring to the company. Make sure that you’ve reread the job description and researched the company. Just like your cover letter, what you say should speak directly to what they’re looking for.

That seems like a lot to say but remember not to take up too much of their time. The point of the follow-up isn’t to have an entire phone interview, it’s to bring your resume to the top of the proverbial pile and have it looked at again. You want to express your enthusiasm but be brief and respectful of the manager’s schedule.

Written by Team ZipRecruiter. Photo by Herberger
Posted by Sunny Lurie, Fast Focus Careers

Job Hopping is More Acceptable

May 5th, 2014

Long-term employment is becoming less popular in a modern world characterized by: lay-offs, mergers and acquisitions, instant dissolution of global businesses and an increasing dependence on global workers.

Gone are the days when employers could expect to have a pile of resumes containing job for lifers with uninterrupted tenures, (especially as research suggests that the average employee is changing jobs perhaps every 3 to 4 years). In the good old days, employers could simply discard candidates with multiple short tenures on the basis that they were job hoppers, but these days, a large proportion of the candidate pool is comprised of job hoppers and employers need to be better at analyzing job hoppers in a modern context.

One of the first things that employers need to do is let go of the prejudice surrounding job hoppers as there are many positive aspects to this type of employee; I have outlined three of the most positive ones below.

1. Adaptability

Job hoppers can gain more experience and skills from each new environment they work in, so more roles, environments and sectors means more experience. As well as this, job hoppers may have honed their relationship building skills, being able to quickly integrate into teams and build rapport. And using their skills in different jobs and environments will have helped to keep their skills sharp.

2. Signs of ambition and high achievement

Job hopping can also be a sign of ambition. In the old days and especially in larger companies, career progression could be done from your arm chair or office chair. Climbing the corporate ladder meant going upstairs to the next floor. But, in today’s environment not only are employees more ambitious, (largely due to a harsher economic climate), many employers and jobs do not have advancement opportunities and if an employee wants to progress he or she needs to change companies. So job hopping shows initiative and a willingness to progress.

3. Not afraid to take a risk

Job hopping can also show that a candidate is courageous and not afraid to take a risk. Many employees stay in roles they are not happy with because it’s the path of least resistance and they are not comfortable with the risks associated with moving. Job hoppers are often bold enough to take the risk of making the move. It means they may be more flexible and may be prepared to take on new roles in your company.

There is an obvious criticism of job hoppers in that they may be unsettled and aimless, but, many people go through a phase in their career when they are simply searching for the right role and this is commonly seen at the start of one’s career; so, don’t frown too hard on graduates who change roles very frequently in the first five years as they may just be looking for the right fit and who knows your company could be it. This can also happen to candidates who are in career transition. Just make sure you interview them closely to ensure your role is right for them.

Also, don’t over look the fact that job hopping could be simply as a result of the difficult climate and the job hopping may have largely been out of their control, e.g. relocation, redundancy, mergers and acquisitions, reduction in permanent contracts, etc. In these circumstances, job hopping does not necessarily suggest a lack of commitment or focus, which means they can still be an asset to your business.

So, it’s no longer suitable for employers to immediately consign job hoppers to the resume bin, as job hoppers characterize our industry and employers need to be able to understand and assess job hoppers in the context of their individual circumstances and then appoint the one most suited to the role.

Written by Kazim Ladimeji, Recruiter.
Submitted by Sunny K. Lurie, Fast Focus Careers

Think Like an Owner for a Career Change

March 13th, 2014

Your actions are all initiated by you. Many career professionals will agree that YOU must take the initiative to change your current career. Owners and entrepreneurs don’t wait; they initiate. They use stress, fear and other emotions to propel their businesses into action.

Owners and entrepreneurs believe in an ability to build and direct their own destiny. This mindset puts you in the driver’s seat. You permit yourself to have the power. You don’t hold off until others give you permission and allow you to achieve. Owners understand they must take charge of growing and adapting their business, just as we need to do in our career.

You DO NOT have to be fearless to run your career as an owner. Just as owners may have some prudent fear in running their business, you may have fear of failure and of wasting money, time, and energy. Fortunately, you can succeed with fear. So, if your fear of not trying slightly outweighs the other factors, then that’s all you need to forge ahead. However, owners operating in a volatile economy must have a game plan that embraces change and promotes the development of survival skills to sustain their organization.

When thinking like an owner, be sure to consider:

  • Taking Initiative

Owners are aware that things could fall apart at any time, even when things seem to be going well. They understand they must consistently take initiative to make changes in their business if and when a new direction is needed. Complacency and extended delays in business are simply unsustainable. The same is true for careers. Staying stuck in a career that is no longer working has a way of taking hold if we remain stagnant. The longer we are in limbo, the more mental or financial pain we endure from not moving forward. Sometimes we need a jolt to get unstuck. The main point is take action when it’s time to seek a new career.

  •  Tolerating Risk

Change, and therefore progress, always involves risk. Not crazy risk, but reasonable levels of risk. The people who are by nature risk-averse will feel uncomfortable with that. But experience tells us that perhaps the only way to offset the fear of the unknown is to understand the greatest risk comes from sticking with business as usual. If people can be convinced that a career at a standstill could mean soon being unemployed, they may suddenly develop an appetite for trying something new. In this new work era, risky is the new safe. Give it a chance, try something you normally wouldn’t do. Start small, read news from unusual sources, check in with an old colleague, or sign up for an online learning program in a completely new field. See how that feels, then take it up a notch.

  • Moving After a Disappointment

Don’t fixate when things go wrong. Successful owners do not avoid mistakes and failures; they learn from missteps and move on. When attempting something new, if it doesn’t work somewhere along the way, or you don’t get the position you want simply try again with a different strategy. Disappointments are a normal and expected part of the career-rebuilding process. Don’t become preoccupied with the negative. When reinventing your career, if you have a letdown, embrace the lessons and keep going. It’s important to pull the lever and move on.

At the end of the day, only you can take charge of your career. Find the drive and ambition required to pursue the job you wish to have. With the right mentality anything is possible. Live it, own it, change it!

By Sunny Klein Lurie, Excerpt from her new book, “Jolt Your Career From Here to There: 8 Strategies for Career -Change Success”



8 Simple Steps for a Great Interview

February 6th, 2014

You landed the interview. Awesome! Now make it work.

Easily three-fourths of candidates make basic interviewing mistakes for jobs ranging from entry-level to executive.  Here are eight practical ways to shine:

1. Be likable. Obvious? And critical. Making a great first impression and establishing a real connection is everything. Smile, make eye contact, be enthusiastic, sit forward in your chair, use the interviewer’s name…. Be yourself, but be the best version of yourself you possibly can. We all want to work with people we like and who like us. Use that basic fact to your advantage. Few candidates do.

2. Never start the interview by saying you want the job
. Why? Because you don’t know yet. False commitment is, well, false. Instead…

3. Ask questions about what really matters to you.
(Here are five questions great job candidates ask.) Focus on making sure the job is a good fit: Who you will work with, who you will report to, the scope of responsibilities, etc. Interviews should always be two-way, and interviewers respond positively to people as eager as they are to find the right fit. Plus there’s really no other way to know you want the job. And don’t be afraid to ask several questions. As long as you don’t take completely take over, the interviewer will enjoy and remember a nice change of pace.

4. Set a hook. A sad truth of interviewing is that later we often don’t remember a tremendous amount about you — especially if we’ve interviewed a number of candidates for the same position. Later we might refer to you as, “The guy with the alligator briefcase,” or, “The lady who did a Tough Mudder,” or, “The guy who grew up in Panama.” Sometimes you may be identified by hooks, so use that to your advantage. Your hook could be clothing (within reason), or an outside interest, or an unusual fact about your upbringing or career. Hooks make you memorable and create an anchor for interviewers to remember you by — and being memorable is everything.

5. Know what you can offer immediately.
Researching the company is a given; go a step farther and find a way you can hit the ground running or contribute to a critical area. If you have a specific technical skill, show how it can be leveraged immediately. But don’t say, for example, “I would love to be in charge of revamping your social media marketing.” One, that’s fairly presumptuous, and two, someone may already be in charge. Instead, share details regarding your skills and say you would love to work with that team. If there is no team, great — you may be put in charge. If there is a team you haven’t stepped on any toes or come across as pushy. Just think about what makes you special and show the benefits to the company. The interviewer will be smart enough to recognize how the project you bring can be used.

6. Don’t create negative sound bites.
Interviewers will only remember a few sound bites, especially negative ones. If you’ve never been in charge of training, don’t say, “I’ve never been in charge of training.” Say, “I did not fill that specific role, but I have trained dozens of new hires and created several training guides.” Basically, never say, “I can’t,” or “I haven’t,” or “I don’t.” Share applicable experience and find the positives in what you have done. No matter what the subject, be positive: Even your worst mistake can be your best learning experience.

7. Ask for the job based on facts.
By the end of the interview you should have a good sense of whether you want the job. If you need more information, say so. Otherwise use your sales skills and ask for the job. (Don’t worry; we like when you ask.) Focus on specific aspects of the job: Explain you work best with teams, or thrive in unsupervised roles, or get energized by frequent travel…. Ask for the job and use facts to prove you want it — and deserve it.

8. Reinforce a connection with your follow-up.
Email follow-ups are fine; handwritten notes are better; following up based on something you learned during the interview is best: An email including additional information you were asked to provide, or a link to a subject you discussed (whether business or personal.) The better the interview — and more closely you listened — the easier it will be to think of ways you can make following up seem natural and unforced.

Posted by Sunny Klein Lurie, Fast Focus Careers

Written By J. Haden



Top 5 LinkedIn Mistakes

December 8th, 2013

The Top 5 LinkedIn Mistakes People Make

LinkedIn can be a very powerful tool in developing and enhancing your career or helping you build your business. There are, however, common LinkedIn mistakes that even the most competent professionals make – and then they wonder why LinkedIn isn’t working for them.

Here are common LinkedIn mistakes you need to watch out for.

1) Not using keywords properly

This is perhaps the most prominent LinkedIn mistake people make when crafting their profiles. They focus so much on polishing their profile’s looks that they totally forget to to put keywords in their profile headline and summary.

If you do not enrich your LinkedIn profile with keywords, you will never appear on the site’s list of results when a prospective client or employer types in their needs. For example, if you are a marketing consultant, then the phrase “marketing consultant” needs to be placed in your headline and profile summary in order for people searching for that phrase to find you on LinkedIn.

2) Joining groups but not participating

Another very common type of LinkedIn mistake is to join a myriad of professional groups but never taking the time to join in the discussions.

Groups are one of the most powerful tools available in the LinkedIn networks. They allow professionals to share their ideas and opinions about things, and users are empowered to display their professional competence in these discussions. Join a group and take the time to share your own professional thoughts on the topics at hand.

3) Trying to sell yourself on group discussions

LinkedIn is NOT the place to explicitly advertise your products and services, although you can do so in a subtle and unobtrusive manner.

People bluntly promoting their wares are not welcome in LinkedIn. Advice and professional feedback are the topics of discussion, and these are your primary tools for marketing your products and services. Help out potential employers or give some advice to prospective clients and you are already marketing yourself.

4) Emailing people you don’t know

Some of the more common LinkedIn mistakes involve emailing people out of the blue. This can quickly get you kicked off LinkedIn if people report “I don’t know this person.”

Emails are closely guarded on LinkedIn, and are meant to be used by close contacts and professional associates. If you want to contact someone you don’t know on LinkedIn look for connections on the network who might be able to introduce you.

5) Not using a custom URL

LinkedIn allows its users to create a customized URL in place of the default URL, and this feature is often ignored by newer users.

Not taking advantage of this tool greatly reduces the chances of prospective clients and employers finding your account. You can change your URL where it says “Public Profile/edit.” Use your name, if it is available, as this will greatly increase your profile’s uniqueness and visibility in the network.

By Carol White
Posted by Sunny Lurie, Fast Focus Careers

Dr. Sunny Lurie photos by Perkoski