The Art of Intentional Listening

Being able to actively listen is one thing, but having the ability to discern what the other person really wants is an art form. In today's competitive market, it is more important than ever to have a leg up on the competition. One way to make yourself stand out in an interview or network situation is to intentionally listen for what the other person wants or needs. If you are wondering how you can listen intentionally, then this article is for you.   

Most people listen to others through a filter. In fact, study after study has shown that people only listen effectively 25% of the time! People often only hear what they want to hear, and do not pay close enough attention to what is said, and more importantly, to what is not said. Imagine the last time you were having a conversation and your mind began to wander to what you had for breakfast or to the list of errands you had to run. People do not typically listen to what others have to say, rather, they are simply waiting for their turn to offer their opinion or ideas. The same is true for interviewing.


When you are in an interview, you are often wrapped up in trying to think of the next question the interviewer might ask you or perhaps how to convince them to hire you. Rarely do people listen for what the employer needs and how they can solve the employer's problem. If you can learn how to listen for the problems a company needs solved and then turn around and offer a solution, you will blow the competition away!


Below are 3 tips to help you become a more intentional listener:

 

1) Be present-Empty your mind and focus on what the other person is saying, rather then your next response. Be willing to focus all your attention on what the other person is saying. It can be draining to be present all of the time, but in the long run, it is worth it.

 

2) Think/Listen empathetically-Be sensitive to the other person's feelings and thoughts. Avoid using the word “but,” as it negates anything that was said prior. Focus on repeating back to the person what was said in a way that has the other person feel understood, such as “I can see why you would feel that way.”

 

3) Ask questions and offer insights-A great listener will want to make sure they understand the problem clearly. They will ask pertinent questions related to the conversation and will add ideas or insights to what the speaker has already said. This will give the speaker the experience of being heard.

 

Intentional listening takes hard work and focus. It can take an hour or a minute to hear what the other person is saying, that is up to you. If you take the time to work on your intentional listening skills, you will amazed at what you hear.

The Final Part to giving a great Tell me about yourself (TMAY)

  The past two weeks we have talked about how to give a great “Tell me about yourself” or TMAY. The first week we discussed the importance of your “hook.” The hook portion of your TMAY is important because it requires you to engage your audience by capturing their attention, and getting them interested in what you have to say. The next portion of your TMAY is your “WHAT” statement. Your WHAT statement tells your audience a little bit more about what you do, and it allows you to delve into more of the specifics of what you have to offer. Now we are going to get into the final aspect of your TMAY, which is your “evidence.”
  Anyone can say that they can give the best massage or sell the best insurance package or offer the best legal advice, however, unless you can back that statement up with strong evidence that supports your case, what you say is worthless. The hook and the WHAT part of your TMAY are meaningless if you cannot provide an example that supports what it is your are promising. For example, if I were to tell you that I am the worlds best recruiter, and that I can find you a job in less then 3 months, however, I could not give you an example of where I have actually done this, then my hook and my WHAT statement are meaningless. Giving evidence as part of your TMAY is something that is often forgotten or overlooked. People will talk for hours about WHAT they do or they will make big promises to you about what they can provide, but when it comes to giving an example or evidence to support what they are saying, people fall flat.
 This is why having evidence is such an integral part of your TMAY. When you are considering what your hook is going to be, you should first think about an example that you have that backs up your hook statement. For example, if I tell you that I can help job seekers land the perfect 6 figure job in less then 6 months, I would then want to make sure that I can illustrate this point through a recent example of where I was successful such as: “In one of the slowest months of the year, December, I was able to help two different job seekers land 6 figure jobs.” This would be my evidence to back up my hook. A great way to come up with strong evidence is to make a list of achievements in your line of work. Doing this will help give you the foundation for a great TMAY!

Remember, the formula to an effective TMAY is as follows:

HOOK+WHAT+EVIDENCE= A great TMAY that will get you the job and/or the client!

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Why use Twitter in your job search?

What is Twitter, and why should I use it for my job search?

Twitter is a FREE social networking and micro-blogging service that allows people to communicate through 140 characters or less, otherwise known as their tweets. Twitter gives people a chance to network and communicate with millions of people world-wide. Some people use their tweets to share simple every day things such as where they are or what they are doing at that moment, however, job seekers are beginning to realize the value of utilizing Twitter in their job search. Below are the top 5 reasons you should be using Twitter to enhance your job search efforts:

1) Get up to the minute updates on hot jobs! A job seeker can now be alerted through Twitter the moment a hot new job is posted by getting on websites like www.tweetmyjobs.com, www.jobshouts.com, and/or by following recruiters at various agencies and companies.  

2) Each tweet is treated as its own individual web page by Google. This means that what you say on Twitter will automatically help raise your Google ranking (especially if you use your first and last name as your Twitter User name), so make what you say meaningful!

3) Be seen as an expert in your field. Are you transitioning into a new career or do you have less experience than your competition? If so, it has never been easier to establish yourself as an expert by tweeting about relevant topics in your field.

4) Get connected. 80% of jobs are found by word of mouth, and of the 80% of people who find jobs by word of mouth, a majority of those people find their jobs through acquaintances, not close friends!

5) Use your tweets to let others know about your job search. It is great to connect with a lot of people and to be seen as an expert in your field, but you also need to let your followers know what you are looking for. Communicate with your followers by asking them for introductions to particular companies, and offer your connections or knowledge as a resource in return!

The 2nd Part to giving a good Tell Me About Yourself (TMAY)

    Last week we covered how to give a good hook in your TMAY. This week I want to talk about what comes after a great hook. Once you have your audience hooked, whether in an interviewing situation or a networking situation, the next step is to say a bit more about WHAT you do, without having them lose interest. Where people falter is when it comes to discussing WHAT they do in an interesting and informative way. Your hook starts by telling them about the problem that you solve and the group of people that you solve it for, and then your WHAT statement should expound upon your hook in more detail. Below is an example of my hook and my WHAT statement:
    “You know how millions of Americans are struggling because they are out of work and cannot find a job? Well what I do is I coach them on how to land the perfect 6 figure job in less then 3 months.” (Hook) “How I do this is by determining the individuals strengths and weaknesses, helping them in creating a personalized Wishlist and daily declaration, and then creating a personalized 3 month coaching program that facilitates the person landing their dream job.” (WHAT)
    Notice how I do not go into too much depth with my WHAT statement. Your WHAT statement should be short, sweet and to the point. People can often lose interest if you go too much into the technical aspect of WHAT you do to quickly. Your WHAT statement should only be 1-3 sentences at the very most and should paint a broad picture of how you solve the problem you mentioned in your hook. Once you have done your hook and your WHAT statement, there is only one more step to perfecting your TMAY.
    Check back next week to see what the last step is in giving a great TMAY.
  

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Volunteer Experience

When you Volunteer, should you add your volunteer experience to your resume?

YES

There are two possible situations:

1) In the first situation, you may still be employed and be looking for another job. If the volunteer work you are doing while working is NOT in the field that you are looking to get into, then you do not need to list the volunteer work as a position on your resume. In that situation, your volunteer work can go at the bottom of your resume under accomplishments, hobbies, interests, groups, associations etc… If you are doing volunteer work in a field that you currently have no experience in, and are looking to transition into, then it is a good idea to to list your volunteer work as an actual position under your “Work Experience.”

2) In the second situation, you are unemployed and looking for a job. The longer you have been out of work, the more important it is to show something on your resume to explain what you have been doing since your last job. This could be temporary or contract work, or if you volunteer, you can list your volunteer experience as your most recent position. Employers like to see that you have been doing something since you got laid off.

It is important to note that when you list your volunteer work on your resume you should put (Volunteer) next to your experience so that there is no confusion!

Remember, volunteer work can be just as important as paid work, especially when you are learning new and valuable skills.

To list an address or not to list an address…

Yesterday I was speaking at a job seeker workshop and the question arose about whether or not one should list an address on their resume. My thoughts on this are that It depends on the situation. Some companies will require you to have an address, however, as wBurbank, there is a strong possibility that the company in Burbank will be reticent to bring you in for an interview. They might worry that you will get burned out from the commute and quit after a few months. The same is true for people who are relocating long distances. If a company can hire someone just as qualified as you, but the other person lives locally, chances are they will choose the person who lives closer rather than risk dealing with relocation costs and the chance that you might decide not to relocate after all.

It is also important to be careful about posting your resume on www.monster.com or www.careerbuilder.com with your home address. You never know who might find that information. For those candidates that do want to list their address or need to list their address for particular jobs, I always recommend getting a PO Box during the time that you are looking. Getting a PO Box can be a good way to avoid any unwanted solicitations. If you live out of area, you may want to consider leaving your address off your resume, getting a PO Box in the area you are relocating to, or finding out if you can use a friend’s address in the area you are looking to move to.

There is no right answer, but if you notice you are not getting interviews in locations that are further away, you may want to consider alternative options.

Giving a great hook to your Tell Me About Yourself (TMAY)

   Your Tell Me About Yourself (TMAY) statement could be one of the most important things you ever say. Giving a great TMAY can open many doors for you and can help you land your dream job or business deal! What makes a great TMAY? One of the most critical elements of your TMAY is your “hook.” If you have a good hook the rest flows easily. How do you create a good hook?
   Creating your hook does not have to be hard work. There is a very simple and easy to use formula to quickly capture the attention of your audience. Here is what the formula looks like:”You know how X? Well what I do is Y.” The idea is that you start off by describing a problem that a group of people faces (X), and then you explain how you solve that problem in a unique, effective and memorable way (Y). The reason you want to do this is that most people start off by telling you WHAT they do, instead of telling you how they can solve your problem. When you talk to people in terms of problem/solution they become much more engaged and interested in what you have to say!
   My hook to my TMAY looks something like this “You know how millions of Americans are struggling right now because they are out of work? Well what I do is coach them on how to land the perfect 6 figure job in less then 6 months.” It is simple and to the point, but at the same time powerful. I was saying my TMAY to someone at a coffee shop, and the person standing next to them overheard me and asked me for my business card. I later wound up coaching that person on their career all because they overheard my TMAY statement.
   If you want to know if your TMAY is effective, practice it! The next time you go to a party or networking event and someone asks you what you do, say ONLY your hook and shut up. If you have said your hook well and intrigued your audience, there will always be a follow up question such as “How do you do that?” or “Tell me more about that.” It is a great way to gauge how effective your hook is. If someone immediately loses interest after your hook, then you know you have to go back and re-work it.
   Check back next week to find out the second part to a great TMAY statement!

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Failure is NOT an Option

Failure does not exist. There is only what works and what does not work. Edison said it best when he said “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” When you redefine your definition of failure in a way that is empowering to you, you will be able to develop a new, more powerful relationship to your unfulfilled expectations. Remember, expectations are pre-made resentments.

For example, if you go into an interview and you prepare for hours rehearsing your answers over and over, yet you still get passed on, chances are you might wind up beating yourself up and thinking to yourself how unfair it is that you were not hired, or how you are not worth hiring. If instead, you look at this as a learning opportunity, you can create something very powerful. You could look at being passed on as a chance to grow yourself as an individual and as a potential employee. Take this opportunity of being passed on to evaluate what was missing in the interview that might have made a difference and ask yourself “Would I have been happy in this job?” Often times we sabotage an interview because we know intuitively the job is not what we want. Perhaps not being hired for that particular position is the best thing that could have happened. Look at what possibilities you can create out of NOT being the one who was chosen, and create an empowering context for your next interview.
Many people relate to failure as though failing means something is wrong with them, however, this perspective can be detrimental to one’s personal growth and development, as well as, to achieving one’s goals.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. If you find you keep getting the same results that don’t work for you, then it is time for you to branch out and expand yourself in a whole new way. A great exercise that I often give my clients is called the “3 NOs.”
This exercise entails attempting to get 3 NOs from people about something that is important to you. Your objective is to get the person you are asking to say NO. Some of you reading this might cringe at the thought of hearing NO, and others might think that getting a NO is no big deal. Wherever you are at is perfect. The purpose of this exercise is to get present to your relationship to failure. By better understanding your relationship to failure and being able to be unstoppable in the face of hearing NO, you will learn to become fearless. A great example of practicing getting NOs is with dating. If you are someone who is single, I would encourage you to ask 3 complete strangers out on a date and be intentional in getting a NO from them. You might even be pleasantly surprised by a YES. The same goes for a job seeker. As a job seeker you can practice calling CEOs and HR Manager on Linkedin and asking for an interview. You might be surprised by the results you produce!