Written By Susan Lamphiear
You’ve likely heard comedians and other commentators trying to make sense of the current Pandemic, along with other pressing societal issues that cannot wait for the medical crisis to end. Comedians have wondered, “Has God given us all a timeout to go to our rooms and think about it?”
Regardless of how you view the cause or timing of these current crises, many experts, including psychologists, urge all of us to make the best of this time to think and prepare.
The rug pulled out from under us, we’re all being urged to take stock of our lives. And to consider doing things that will help us individually emerge from this unusual time as better citizens of the world, better friends, better children, better spouses, better parents, better neighbors, better siblings, better employers and better employees.
Even without a Pandemic, the notion of personal transformation rings particularly relevant for those in job transition. How can everyone come out of this captivity stronger and surer of what they have to offer the world, including the work place? How can anyone in a job search better prepare for the job transition?
Having faced his own challenges, keynote speaker Gregory Gaines, former corporate executive, has transitioned into business and leadership coaching. Gregory runs GKG Marketing Services. A SCORE mentor, Gregory volunteers with Career Connectors and brings passion to his work with individuals who strive to improve their job search by focusing on personal branding.
What changes will you make?
Gregory reminds job seekers this historic Pandemic season offers an opportunity for anyone in career transition to reassess what they really want from a career. Many people he meets, Gregory explains, don’t really like the term “branding” and feel uncomfortable talking about themselves. This is why Gregory reminds attendees to look at “branding” as a way we communicate our value to other people.
Whether staying in the same field, changing industries or changing job function, anyone in transition needs to be able to communicate transitional skills, experience, accomplishments and gather information (find a person who’s hiring).
Ask yourself: “What VALUE do I bring to the new career field, career function or new industry?“
Gregory explains he didn’t do everything right in 2007-2008 as he transitioned into his role of consultant and business and leadership coach. He once met with a CEO about consulting who caught him off guard when he asked Gregory, “Tell me about your own super power.” Gregory hadn’t really thought about it and was unprepared in the moment.
Be prepared to articulate your Accomplishments.
- Describe your past successes (an indicator of future performance).
- Articulate Achievements versus Responsibilities.
- Describe your benefits or business impact.
- Define your added value to an employer.
Format your accomplishments as action verbs.
- What was the Problem?
- What Action did you take?
- What were the Results?
Be prepared to discuss your accomplishments in context of your impact on people, processes and products. List your accomplishments in order of business importance.
Prepare your own Power Stories to engage your listener or audience emotionally. Always remember, when you’re networking, your goal is to generate the response, “Tell me more.”
Validate your value with people who know you before you go out into the world to market yourself. Ask friends or former co-workers or bosses who worked with you a series of questions.
- What adjectives would you use to describe me?
- What’s the feeling you get when you work with me?
- What do you consider to be my greatest strengths?
- What’s the one word or phrase that describes my contributions and/or what you’ve come to expect from me?
When Gregory decided to conduct this survey with his friends and coworkers, he was rather stunned at the feedback. He’d expected to confirm what he knew were his strengths of revenue generating and innovation. Instead, he received the following feedback which was hard to hear.
- You’re too serious.
- You don’t say hello and often don’t even look up when we pass in the hallway.
- You’re not very social.
- You don’t smile very often.
- You never smile.
Gregory urged the attendees to learn from his mistake. He realized he needed to reassess the qualities that would make him a good fit and what people might be looking for in the marketplace.
- Develop your value proposition.
- Understand your skills.
- Know your accomplishments.
- Prepare your power stories.
- Create a strong brand message.
- Resume & Cover Letters
- Marketing Bio (with target companies)
- Email Address/networking
- LinkedIn profile, social media presence (relevant to your target market)
- Video Bio
Elevator Pitch Do’s and Don’ts
- Be Relaxed, Natural, Conversational.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Summarize who you are and what you do.
- Keep it simple.
- Create a call to action (ASK).
- Speak fast or rushed.
- Use jargon.
- Be unprepared.
Additional Elevator Speech Tips from Gregory
- Every word counts. An elevator speech is generally 30-45 seconds. So Gregory suggests not leading with your name, though it might be good to end with your name. Instead, he prefers to hear about achievements and be handed a business card.
- When someone approaches him, at his worst, he’s apt to remember one thing. At best, three things.
- Do not waste words talking about years of experience unless you’re just starting out. He’d rather be told your achievements–how you’ve already shown your value.
- Briefly tell the person you’re speaking with what you’ve done. The person is more apt to be receptive if you then follow up with, “If you’d like to discuss this further, could we set up a brief meeting?”
- Remember when you speak to someone in networking, the response you hope to generate is, “Tell me more.” The elevator speech should generate questions and interest, not bore the person.
- As an “ASK,” instead of leaving everything up to the other other person, consider saying, “How about if I call you to continue the discussion?”
- As inadequate listeners we often wait for a pause so we can start talking, and we do this at the expense of listening well. Practice really listening.
- Ask for coaching and advice, not help.
In Networking, be positive and confident, focus on relationship building, remember to ask how you can help, and schedule a follow-up when possible.
TIPS to keep in mind
- Use social media for targets.
- Pick relevant “Key words.”
- Express genuine interest.
- Ask for “Coaching and Advice.”
- Start an accountability group.
- Remember Content is King.
- Be Visible, Be Heard.
- Who knows you?
Remember Crisis & Refreshed Branding = Opportunity.
Are you prepared?
Richard Buscher, Regional VP & General Manager
CarMax, the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, operates 210 stores in 41 states, and appears on the 2020 Fortune 500 List. With 25,000 associates nationwide, Fortune 100 lists them as one of the Best Companies to Work for 16 years in a row.
Values the company holds dear include Do the Right Thing, Put People First, Win Together, and Go For Greatness. Founded in 1993, 95% of their purchasers say they’d recommend CarMax to family and friends.
CarMax has received 48 AWARDS for Business Excellence in just seven years ranging from 2012 through 2019.
The company is community driven and is particularly proud of being military friendly. They’re also proud of the Kaboom volunteer program where they either build safe playgrounds for children or rebuild unsafe ones. So far they’ve worked on 60 playgrounds.
In Tempe, AZ, their Customer Experience Center opened in December, 2019, with the Grand Opening celebrated in January 2020. At that time the company was looking to hire over 170 new associates within the first few months.
Current openings include Customer Experience Consultants and Customer Experience Assistants. No sales or automotive experience is necessary, just a desire to deliver exemplary customer service.
To obtain more details about the company, to browse their benefits, and to apply, visit their website.
US Health Advisors
Joe Bourcier, Joe the Health Insurance Pro
US Health Group which includes US Health Advisors has been honored with Gold Stevie Company of the Year Award, 2020 American Business Awards, sponsored by the Stevie Awards. US Health Advisors was recently purchased in October, 2019, by United Healthcare.
US Health Advisors partners with Career Connectors.
US Health Advisors offers flexible health insurance coverage for individuals including Medicare supplements and can be competitive for anyone on COBRA insurance. For small businesses under 20 people, they’re often able to offer better coverage including creative ways to customize coverage for individual employees instead of one blanket policy.
By the time Joe meets with clients, he and/or the company has done research first, which allows them to offer from one to three top plans that might work best for the customer. Many businesses need coverage and he’s able to cover 30 states in the US. The company works with realtors, plumbers, doctors, dentists, and lawyers, to name a few.
A career with US Health Advisors means interacting directly with America’s self-employed workers, small business owners, or individuals to help them access affordable benefits and services.
Joe can be reached via Facebook or LinkedIn so feel free to reach out to him with questions. He’s a free resource to all attendees or anyone who needs information. Or visit the company website for more information on careers with US Health Advisors.
Resources and Closing
CEO/Founder of Career Connectors Jessica Pierce thanked the volunteers and hiring companies, invited attendees to sign up for regular notifications, to take the DISC assessment free, and to use the resources outlined on the website.
Career Connectors, now being offered online, means they can now serve even more people, so Jessica urges attendees to share this information with other people who may benefit from the free events and resources. For the remainder of August, the meetings will continue being held weekly on Wednesdays. The schedule may change in September. See the website for details.
Remember, the August 26 event will include a panel of eight hiring companies. Also, the September 2 event features a discussion of the DISC assessment. If you haven’t taken the DISC assessment yet, you may want to take it free online on the Career Connectors website before September 2 to get maximum benefit from the presentation.
Go ahead. It’s OK to smile or grin even during the Pandemic. You Tube: The Elevator Speech