Archive for the ‘Career Coaching’ Category

Are You Doing This on Interviews?

September 29, 2008
When it comes to job interviewing, by-the-book advice is easy to come by.  But these being far from by-the-book times, it is with great pleasure that I share an inspiring client story about the power of approaching an interview differently.

What made the difference for the career changer I’m about to introduce was his recognition that a job interview isn’t simply the culmination of weeks and months of networking…
A job interview is a relationship-building opportunity itself.

True story
*: Four months ago, Roger contacted me for career coaching.  During the course of our work together, he landed 3 rounds of interviews at the very company he most wanted to work for, vying with 2 other candidates for his “dream job”.
Roger recognized the position might be a stretch based on his prior experience and technical skills, but he felt firmly “in the running”.

After a nail-biting couple of weeks, Roger received word that he had been turned down for the position.  Disappointed but undeterred, he and I put our heads together, keeping in mind the value of relationship building.

During the interview process, Roger had established great rapport with one interviewer in particular named Stan.  Roger felt Stan would be upfront with him about the decision that had been made, so he decided to call Stan.  He asked Stan for feedback, expressed his interest in keeping in touch, and requested pointed advice on resources that could improve his chances next time.  This was Roger’s initial way of building on the relationship he had begun to develop with Stan in the interview room.

While Roger continued to apply to a number of job openings elsewhere, he made a point to buy the books Stan recommended and to enroll in a class after work.  Each step of the way, Roger e-mailed Stan to let him know he’d taken his advice and how well it was going.  By taking the initiative to keep in touch, Roger continued to build that relationship.

Fast forward…Well, wouldn’t you know what happened two weeks ago?  Roger received a call from Stan, asking him to interview for another position that had opened up on his team.  This time, Roger was the only candidate…and this time, he landed the position.  Furthermore, on his first day on the job, Roger already had a relatively established relationship with his new supervisor, one built on mutual respect.

Granted, things came together pretty nicely for Roger.  Interview candidates aren’t always able to get honest feedback from employers, or witness the timing work to their advantage.  But Roger’s story is a great reminder that regardless of outcome, a job interview is an opportunity to establish a relationship with a key member of an industry.  Once we dismiss the perception that an interview is a pass/fail evaluation, we lower our anxiety, increase our confidence, and put the interviewer at greater ease, too.   Essentially, we make room for big things to happen!



*Permission was granted to share this story, and names have been changed.

Jen helps people to set goals and then exceed their own expectations!
Her personal & career coaching programs are custom-designed for students and professionals.  Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Financial Times, Smart Money,, Time Out New York, and on The Today Show.

To learn more about Jen’s private coaching services, or to schedule an introductory session, please contact Jen directly:

Phone: 914.617.8283

Visit Jen on the Web at

The Complete Job Interview Checklist

June 13, 2008

How great would it be to avoid oversights or last-minute rushing before your next job interview? Well, now you can! Access The Complete Job Interview Checklist here. I’ve designed this checklist to be a quick tool for getting materials in order “the morning of” — so you can feel relaxed and prepared, knowing you won’t forget a thing. It comes in handy for business meetings, too!

My hope is that this checklist proves useful to you, allowing you to walk into future interviews and meetings with confidence and enthusiasm (two ingredients that count far more than any others on this list).

With cheer!
Click for The Complete Interview Checklist

p.s. If you know someone who might find The Complete Job Interview Checklist helpful, please share it. You may wish to print it and store it with your good resume paper…(you’ll be glad to discover it when the time comes). The checklist is a
PDF document. If you have trouble accessing it, download Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Jen helps dynamic individuals achieve professional success and personal fulfillment.
Her career coaching programs are custom-designed to help you meet your unique career goals.

To learn more about Jen’s private coaching services or to schedule a get-acquainted session, please contact Jen directly:


Visit Jen on the Web at

Make Follow-Up a Snap!

May 16, 2008

Sometimes there’s no way around it. You can’t seem to reach the business contact you’re calling directly, and you must leave a voicemail. If it’s your first time reaching out to a particular contact, it’s a good idea in the voicemail to allow yourself some room for follow-up right off the bat. After you introduce yourself briefly, leave your phone number and a good time to reach you. This is where you can add: “I’ll also send you an e-mail, in case that is a better way for us to connect.” This way, your “stage 2 follow-up” is already in place.

(see today’s full article below…..)


Have you noticed that as tough as it can be to “put out initial feelers”, it’s often the follow-up with new contacts that presents the real hurdle?

If you’ve ever been caught wondering what to do after you’ve put yourself out there and haven’t heard back, you are not alone. It’s likely that each of us — whether we are looking to grow a business, land a new position, advance in our chosen field, or just make a new friend — can relate to feelings of discomfort around following up. We’ve all asked ourselves the same questions: Should I call or e-mail? How can I be diligent without being too pushy?

Months ago, I worked with a client (I’ll refer to as Sally) who had a goal to land a new position in a competitive field, and would often find herself STUCK when leads seemingly went cold. Sally told me she would hesitate to follow up if she hadn’t gotten a response to an initial e-mail she’d sent, her mind filling with a litany of possibilities:

“I think to myself, perhaps the person never received my e-mail; perhaps she hasn’t opened my e-mail; perhaps she’s too busy to write back; or, worse yet…perhaps she isn’t interested in me! (??!).”

This last thought stops many of us from taking further action, and has us dropping the very leads that could be instrumental in reaching our goals.

So, how can we make follow-up more comfortable…and effective?

Three things…

1) Recognize e-mail for what it is. While it may be less intrusive to send an e-mail as a “first step”, it is important to consider the other side of the coin. E-mail is a largely anonymous and more passive means of communication (than say, picking up the telephone). From the perspective of the person receiving them, e-mails are an easy medium of communication to ignore. Not even to mention that many people won’t even open e-mails from people whose names they don’t recognize.

2) Gain permission in advance to follow up. If e-mail is the mode you feel most comfortable using initially, consider requesting permission for a follow-up phone call inside your initial e-mail. By doing so, you invite conversation and effectively put an end to wondering what to do if an e-mail of yours should go unanswered. At the very end of your initial e-mail, include a “call to action”, such as: “Feel free to e-mail me at this address, or I’ll give you a call Wednesday morning to discuss further.” When Wednesday morning comes around, if it turns out that you haven’t heard back, it is no longer a question of whether to follow up or not; rather, following up is a commitment you have made to that person.

3) Consider placing a phone call first. Unless you know the person does not like to receive calls or is very difficult to reach, an initial phone call allows you to learn and do several things that an e-mail does not. For starters, when reaching out to a new contact by phone, you can ascertain quickly if this person is indeed the correct one with whom to move forward (better to know upfront than to send an e-mail to the wrong person). Secondly, his or her tone on the phone allows you to gauge a person’s general interest level immediately. And lastly, time permitting, you can engage in a give-and-take conversation on the phone, the likes of which would be nearly impossible via e-mail. Many times, folks find they come away from one phone call with more insights and leads than they ever could have gained through e-mail alone. Added bonus: A phone call positions you for more productive follow-up. After speaking with you by phone, a person is much more likely to open your subsequent “follow-up” e-mails, simply because you — the SENDER — are now recognizable.

There is, of course, one notable drawback to using the phone — the possibility of not reaching the person directly (see above).

My client, Sally — who used to spend time & energy wondering what to do when an e-mail of hers went unanswered — had this to report recently, which I share with her permission:

“…Jen, I realize it all shifted when I began placing phone calls before sending e-mails. This let me determine if the hiring managers: a) were still there, and b) were receptive. By establishing a more personal connection by phone, I noticed they took my ‘follow up’ e-mails more seriously…And not for nothing, this new way of operating gave me valuable practice making phone calls. Three months later, I’m writing to you from my brand new office!”

If you’re game for experimenting in the coming weeks by including “calls to action” in your e-mails or by swapping e-mail for the phone, I’d be curious to know how it goes. Let me know! I would love to hear from you.

Cheering you on!


Learn more about Jen’s career coaching services at

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The Resume Profile: A Mock Example

March 14, 2008

Joe Smith

123 Sunshine Road, Pleasant, MD 12345 (321)555-6789

Senior Marketing & Sales Executive

Accomplished management professional with 25+ years of experience in sales/marketing leadership positions. Record of success in developing campaigns, strategies, and solutions that have generated 6- and 7-figure revenue growth. Recognized for ability to build relationships with key personnel and close large sales in heavily competitive markets. Well-versed in sales lifecycles and skilled strategist/negotiator. Exceptional trainer and mentor with skills to motivate peak individual performance from team members while driving sustained forward growth momentum. Areas of expertise include:

High-Impact Presentations/Brand Strategy Implementation/

C-Level Relationships/Strategic Partnerships/

Product Line Development/Team Building

(Resume would continue from here…)



Sound familiar?…You write your resume, and then every so often, you go to dig up the last old, dusty version and find yourself re-writing it…all over again.

While there are lots of pointers about resume writing out there, this ZoomLetter focuses on the most important part of any resume — the first few lines (the part just below the header containing your contact information). Not only is this THE MOST-READ SECTION of the resume by hiring managers, but given that most decision-makers spend about 30-seconds scanning any given resume, it may be the ONLY section that gets read. The trick to getting your resume noticed lies in making this valuable space work for you…and in not letting it go to waste.

You may have noticed in the last several years a quiet “revolution” taking place in this top section of the resume. It is official — The era of the Objective Statement is over, and in its place has emerged a new animal (and a much more useful one). Generally called a PROFILE or SUMMARY, this section is very often the #1 enhancement you can make to your resume. A Profile can best be thought of as a synopsis that immediately answers every employer’s main concern: “What does this candidate offer me?”

If you already have a Profile Section (sometimes called a Qualifications Section) on your resume, you’re ahead of the game. If instead you jump right in with your “Employment History”, you may be missing a HUGE opportunity. Leaving off the Profile, you launch the reader into a chronological rundown without providing a reason to bother or a roadmap of what to expect. Especially in today’s super-charged market, we all love a good “hook” and a quick summary (look no further than reviews on Amazon or profiles on Employers are no different — they have limited time, and they respond to being enticed upfront. A good Profile Section gives them a reason to want to read further.

Notice that the Profile Section is quite distinct from an Objective Statement (the latter usually addresses our own desires and interests). The best case for using a Profile rather than an Objective is that a hiring manager will have much more interest in reading about the VALUE you can provide, as opposed to what YOU hope to gain. Here is where it’s important to note that far from being an archive to detail the past, your resume is in fact a marketing tool meant to attract a buyer — by illustrating what you can do for that buyer in the future. If you think of the prospective employer as that buyer, then the resume is meant to speak directly to the needs and interests of the employer, just as an advertisement details the benefits of a product to a consumer.

So, how to write a good Profile Section? There is no one-way-fits-all here, but there are some useful rules of thumb:

1) Keep it succinct and specific. Consider writing the Profile in paragraph form in a few short sentences. Include keywords that can be picked up easily through a database search. You may also choose to include a quick list of bulleted highlights conveying specific areas of expertise.

2) Consider the employer’s perspective. In looking over the job listing, consider what challenges the employer is facing. How might you craft your Profile to convey to the employer that you can provide solutions to those challenges? The more closely you address the employer’s needs, the better results you’ll experience.

3) Provide focus. Especially if your experience and job history are diverse, use the Profile to make the case that you are an ideal candidate for this particular position with a concise, hard-hitting illustration of your transferable experience, skills, and achievements. Don’t shy away from revising your Profile to fit each new position.

Colleagues, friends, and family can be great resources for suggestions when it comes to writing or re-crafting your resume. Interested in receiving professional feedback on your resume? I’m a phone call or e-mail away.



Visit Jen on the web at

The Most Important Question to Ask When Making a New Connection is:

December 7, 2007

With whom might you suggest I speak with next?

Far from being your first question, this one must be saved for the very end of a conversation with a new contact, after you have thanked them for their time and consideration. Done gracefully, this question yields dividends nine times out of ten. It is an old trick from my time in TV news. My best leads always came from my last lead.

Remembering to make this question your very last one is a good habit to build, especially for informational interviewing. It is also a great recovery tool when a new contact simply can’t help you. Along with a “thank you,” it gives you a quick and useful getaway.

And consider this…When you call the next contact in the chain, you have a built-in introduction that makes you less of a “stranger”. You can begin with, “So-and-so suggested I reach out to you.”

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This Week’s ZoomLetter: “Pull a Finaggin”

December 7, 2007

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A quick & useful newsletter on keeping happy and productive, delivered to your inbox twice a month.

It is a pleasure to share with you the very first ZoomLetter!

I’ll kick things off with an inspiring story experienced by a recent client…

When Rob came to me for some coaching, he was looking to make a BIG career change — out of a field that felt “miserable” to him and into a “dream field” for which he had no direct experience…but lots of desire and energy. His first action plan was to make contact with someone in the new field, but the hurdle was that he didn’t know anyone who worked in this particular industry.

We were both familiar with the name of a “big player” in the field — a person we’d seen featured in the media — but it felt like a “huge reach” to Rob when I asked him if he would consider contacting this person. The industry leader went by the name Finaggin, and Rob was able to track down an e-mail address for him. It seemed like a long shot that this industry leader would open Rob’s e-mail, let alone respond, but once Rob took on the action of writing the e-mail, his desire to “take a shot” outpaced his wariness. Rob hit SEND on his computer before he could talk himself out of it. “What was the worst that could happen?” he reasoned.

Three or four uneventful days passed, and then something happened that would change Rob’s perspective on long shots.

Finaggin did one better than respond to Rob’s e-mail. He called Rob personally. Rob said he nearly fell out of his chair when he saw “Finaggin” come up on the caller-ID, but was able to compose himself enough to thank this gentleman and to get answers to some of his most burning questions from this industry leader. Finaggin spent 20-minutes that day on the phone with Rob. He shared a ton of suggestions and information with Rob. Even more than that, Finaggin gave Rob a very literal way to see that “big shots” are people just like everyone else. And just like everyone else, sometimes they make the time.

In the weeks since Finaggin’s call, Rob has let go of considering worst case scenarios, and instead has taken to considering what surprises might happen. He has upped the ante and has contacted several other well-regarded professionals in the industry. Most recently, Rob received his first offer and is making incredible headway towards pursuing his “dream field”.

Rob laughs when he thinks about how far he’s traveled past his “fear of contacting strangers”. He has even dubbed a new expression for taking a crazy shot in the dark that pays off; he calls it “pulling a Finaggin”.

One of the most rewarding parts of being a personal coach is witnessing a client take a leap that changes what seems impossible into something quite doable.

In an area in your life where reaching out to someone feels like a long shot, how might you throw caution to the wind and “pull a Finaggin”?

With cheer,

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