A job search is much like a cable news show, you have to get your point across in sound bites. You often don’t have time to give a detailed answer. Candidates need to get comfortable with doing this.
Think about all the times during your job search when you are required to give the famous, “30 second talk.” Many times during the interview process you have a short period of time to answer the question or give your introduction, you use bullet points on your resume and even your business card, and all of these require you to express yourself in just a few words.
This is one reason why a job search is so difficult. Not only is it very difficult to speak in sound bites, most candidates are not prepared on how to do it. This technique takes practice and fore thought. This is not a case where you can just wing it. How many times have you left a meeting, only to realize you didn’t give a great answer to a question, didn’t get your point across as well as you would have liked to or thought, “OOPS I forgot to say ___.” This happens mainly because the candidate hasn’t taken the time to really get prepared.
A job search is not the time for on-the-job-training.
It is our experience that candidates wait too long to understand this point. You can’t wait and hope you will do just fine. First off, “just fine” in this economy doesn’t cut it. Secondly, in this economy, there may not be a second chance for months.
As part of our job search coaching programs, we spend a lot of time preparing candidates for these short sound bites. Although frustrating for candidates, we have seen these sound bites pay off so many times, we have to continually reassure the candidates of the need to prepare for them.
Candidates need to spend more time preparing and less time running to networking meetings, coffees, and one-on-ones until they are completely prepared. We find that candidates waste excellent opportunities because they were not prepared on how to communicate in sound bites. I get calls weekly asking how best to do a do-over because the candidate believes they missed an opportunity.
There are rarely do-overs in a job search.
To learn how to speak in sound bites consider:
- Write out what you want to say. Then wordsmith it until it is less than one minute.
- Get help. This is a difficult task that takes experience. Don’t be afraid to invest in some professional help.
- Take the known items and the comments or questions, such as your introduction, elevator talk, the question,”Tell me about yourself,” or “So, what do you do?” Most of you know these, after all you have been asked them many times during your search, and convert them into short sentences that get the point out in less than one minute.
- Practice them. Go to people in your network and test them. This is like any marketing campaign.
- Once you have the answers for these then add one more set of comments and answers. Having two different sound bites is always a good thing.
Take some time to step back and get prepared. I know every candidate wants to jump into a job search as soon as possible. The problem is this jump is often in the wrong direction.
Like most things in life, if you do the ground work, get prepared, and do some planning things go a lot better.
To download the free chapter on Conducting an Effective Phone Interview from our book “This Is NOT The Position I Accepted” CLICK HERE and then click on the Free Search Resources link.
If you would like to know if your job search is fully utilized and you are doing the right things, download our free 8 Matrix Job Search Self-Assessment Scorecard. CLICK HERE and then click on the Free Search Resource link.
I welcome your thoughts and comments.