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MBA Career News
Volume 2 Issue 13 :: April 14, 2010

Business Basics
How To Craft A Job Search Elevator Pitch
Susan Adams, 03.30.10, 02:07 PM EDT  Forbes Online
Get ready to sum up your accomplishments and aspirations in 30 seconds or less. When Anita Attridge worked in human resources at Merck and Xerox, she frequently kicked off job interviews with a standard request: Tell me about yourself. A striking number of applicants couldn't answer her coherently. "You'd get everything from, 'Where do you want me to start?' to their whole life story," she says. She's now a coach with The Five O'Clock Club, a career counseling firm.

"People screw it up all the time," agrees Connie Thanasoulis, a career services consultant at the job search Web site (available through the Giovale Library in "Databases") "They think they should walk you through their entire résumé." Instead, Thanasoulis, Attridge and other career and communications pros agree, job seekers should be prepared with a 15- to 30-second "elevator pitch," so-called because it should be so vivid and concise it could be delivered in the space of an elevator ride.

How do you sum up your life's experience and job ambitions in 30 seconds or less? First of all, think about the benefit you can confer on the employer, advises Jane Praeger, a media coach who heads Ovid Inc., in New York City. "People are too apt to go in with a laundry list of skills--I can do this, I can do that," she says. "Instead, say, for example, 'I can make sure your employees are well supervised and motivated.'" Praeger's own elevator pitch? "I help people figure out what to say and how to say it, to get the results they want."

Thanasoulis' strategy: Start by filling a whole page with what you would want to say to a hiring manager. Cut that down to half a page. Keep cutting until you get to a quarter page. Then pull out three bullet points that give a snapshot of your career. Thanasoulis's pitch: "I spent 25 years on Wall Street heading up a staffing organization for Fortune 500 companies. Now I take those insider secrets and teach people how to run an efficient, effective job search."

Thanasoulis, Praeger and Attridge agree that practice is essential. "Practice until it's as easy as saying your name," says Attridge. Always rehearse out loud, in front of a mirror, or to a friend or into a tape or video recorder. Force yourself to sound enthusiastic. Too often job candidates recite their pitches in a monotone or rush through them without passion. "Often the content is very good, but the delivery is so bad you don't hear it," Attridge notes.

Career coaches suggest preparing more than one pitch, for different audiences. Win Sheffield recommends tailoring a specific one for each interview. "Develop your pitch with a specific person in mind," he says, and make sure it includes where you've been, where you are and where you're going.

It's helpful to have a pitch designed to work in a social setting that doubles as a networking opportunity, such as a college reunion. In that kind of situation, Thanasoulis advises, mix in personal details along with the professional ones. For her that would mean something like, "I worked in corporate America for 25 years. I created my own business, and I absolutely love it. My husband and I built a home on Staten Island, and we just adopted a 180-pound mastiff." Then see what your conversational partner picks up on.

As much when you're selling yourself as at any other time, it's important to pay attention to your audience. "The pitch is no substitute for developing a relationship with a person," Sheffield notes.

Don't be blindsided during your job search.
How To Answer The Hard Interview Questions
Jerome Young, 04.09.10, 12:24 PM EDT

Why did you leave your last job? Why have you been unemployed so long? What are your weaknesses? Those are just a few of the questions that job candidates dread being asked. They can be hard and even painful to answer. But don't just hope they don't come up. Instead, take control of your job search by preparing to confidently answer them.

In our research with employers at Attract Jobs NOW, we have learned that how you answer the toughest questions can be the deciding factor whether you get hired. Here are three tips to follow to turn those tough interview questions into opportunities for success:

1. Prepare for the tough questions. Very often it's not the answers to them that make the difference but the interviewee's demeanor and noticeable nervousness when they're asked. You can minimize that by preparing answers before the interview and rehearsing your delivery. Once you've figured out what the questions are that you most fear, practice answering them in front of a mirror. That may seem a little awkward, but it's highly effective. It lets you be sure your explanations are concise and you're delivering them with confidence.

2. Play offense, not defense. At the beginning of most job interviews, the interviewer asks the candidate to walk through her résumé, or says, "Tell me about yourself." That's a great opportunity to take the initiative in addressing some of your hard-to-answer questions in a positive way. As you tell the story of your résumé you can seamlessly include explanations of potentially difficult matters, preemptively cutting off inquiries like "Why did you leave your last job?" It's often easier to raise such things yourself than to discuss them in response to direct questions. Good offense beats good defense every time.

3. Make sure you give consistent answers. If you have multiple interviews with the same potential employer, answer the tough questions the same way each time. Having different interviewers ask the exact same questions is something companies do to make sure their job candidates are being honest. You may feel pressured to be creative with your answers, but when the interviewers compare notes, that won't look good.

Almost everyone looking for a job has questions they'd rather not deal with. The smart thing is to figure out how to answer them better than most other candidates to increase your chance of getting the job.

Did you know . . .
According to three separate research projects by Harvard University, The Carnegie Foundation and The Stanford Research Institute, success in getting, keeping and advancing in a job depends 85% on people skills and only 15% on technical knowledge and skills.

Must-Ask Interview Questions
An interview is supposed to be a dialog, not an inquisition. If you don't have any questions prepared to ask the prospective employer, you’re missing a huge opportunity. At your next interview, be sure to present at least five questions to illustrate your preparedness, your enthusiasm for the job, and your desire to ensure a good fit.

Both you and your interviewers should have a say in evaluating the potential match between the organization’s needs and your ability and desire to fulfill them. If you fail to ask questions, you’re making it more difficult for the employer to get a balanced idea of your qualifications and your personality – key elements of selecting a new hire. In effect, you’re forcing them to decide if the opportunity is right for you.

Job candidates who don’t ask questions may be perceived as unprepared, uninterested, overly nervous, or lacking communication skills. Don’t let any would-be employer gain such a misperception.

The Five Must-Ask Questions

Here's a list of five must-ask interview questions, each followed by an explanation of why you must ask it, and what you want and don’t want to hear in reply.

1. What created the need to fill this position?

Why it’s a must-ask: The answer will tell you whether it’s a vacated or newly created position, which can indicate whether the company is growing or holding steady. The answer will help you understand the business issues that affect the position and the broader context in which you would operate.

What you want to hear: That it’s a new position because the business is growing, sales are up, or they’re launching a new project and need the expertise you can provide. Or, if it’s an existing position, that your predecessor moved to a role of greater challenge or responsibility thanks to skills developed in this position.

What you don’t want to hear: That the company is experimenting with a new offering or entering a risky new market that could affect your job security. Or that the person who held the position left because of conflicts with management (an issue that may still exist), or that there has been high turnover in the role.

2. What do you feel are the key skills required to succeed in this job?

Why it’s a must-ask: The people who conduct job interviews are not always the same ones who write the job descriptions. In addition, business needs are always changing, and job descriptions don’t always keep up. If you find out each interviewer’s unique opinion about what’s important for this job, you can tailor your responses to address their actual priorities.

What you want to hear: Specific skills or qualities that the interviewer is seeking. The way they answer this question will reveal how much they have thought this through and how familiar they are with how the job fits into the overall business plan. The more specific they are, the better equipped you will be to highlight your talents in terms that address what the company is seeking.

What you don’t want to hear: Vague answers that seem to express an unwillingness to disclose, or inability to define, the requirements for success. Or, a list of skills that are not close to your talents or that point in a direction that’s different from where you hope to take your career.

3. What are the three biggest challenges I would face in the first six months?

Why it’s a must-ask: The question itself tells the interviewer you’re serious about the job and want to succeed. Knowing what the immediate challenges would be for the job will help you determine if this is a job you can – and want to – perform effectively, and whether doing so will help establish you as a strong player.

What you want to hear: Challenges that seem positive and reasonable, and that give you confidence you can meet them. The answer should also give you assurance that you either have the requisite skills or will receive the necessary tools and support to meet the challenges.

What you don’t want to hear: Hesitancy or evasiveness on the part of the interviewer, which might indicate a lack of familiarity with the job, or a reluctance to admit some unpleasant aspects. Another bad sign would be a list of long-term problems that previous employees have been unable to solve. You don’t want to “inherit” responsibility for impossible challenges.

4. What has to happen in the first six months to convince you that you’ve hired the right person?

Why it’s a must-ask: The answer can help you determine how critical the position is to the company, reinforce whether the required skill set for the position matches yours, and give you an indication of whether you can handle the demands of the job while you're getting accustomed to your new workplace.

What you want to hear: Realistic short-term expectations that give you a chance to prove your value, thus helping you move toward your long-term career goals. Specific work-related goals might be mentioned, in addition to such factors as adopting the company’s mission as your own. Ideally, you want to know that there will be tangible accomplishments you can add to your resume for the next time you’re job hunting.

What you don’t want to hear: Expectations that are far beyond what can be accomplished within the first few months at a new job, or worse, the interviewers can’t really tell you what their expectations are.

5. How does this position relate to the achievement of the boss’s (or department’s, or company’s) goals?

Why it’s a must-ask: The answer will tell you whether this is a critical position in the company that helps fulfill a key financial goal, enhance market position, or provide valuable support.

What you want to hear: It depends on what you want out of the job. If you want to be a highly visible, key player, you’ll probably want to hear that it is indeed a critical position that directly affects the bottom line and draws the attention of senior executives. On the other hand, you may want to hear that this job is one of many positions that contribute indirectly to the organization’s success.

What you don’t want to hear: Again, it depends on what you're looking for. Everyone has different goals in the workplace, so what you don’t want to hear is an answer that does not align with your objectives.

Interviewers want and expect you to have questions. It shows that you're interested in the opportunity, not just the paycheck.

Business Etiquette  Top 10 Fashion Mistakes for Men
From Ellen Reddick, President and CEO of Impact Factory

Things move at an incalculable pace today. As people are pressed for time, only the things that immediately catch our eye capture our attention. This goes for ads, magazine covers, product packaging, and of course, people.

Because we are so busy, appearance counts a lot more than it used to. Appearance is what makes the first and most lasting impression, and appearance reflects one's personality and attitude. In the workplace, this is more important than you might think.

Top 10 Fashion Mistakes for Men
No.1 - White socks with dress shoes
Teaming white socks with dress shoes may have enjoyed brief popularity as a quirky style statement in the mid-'90s, but there is a good reason this combo has failed to make a strong comeback. Dress shoes should only be worn with dress socks, which are wool or cotton socks in dark hues like black, blue, gray, and brown that go up to the knee. White socks, in contrast, should be reserved solely for pairing with athletic shoes and track pants.

No.2 - Buttoning blazers incorrectly
Even with a well-made suit, fastening the wrong number of buttons on your blazer can cause it to pull and stretch in awkward directions, making it seem ill-fitting, so pay attention to the advice that follows. Double-breasted jackets should nearly always be buttoned. With a two-button suit, fasten the top button and with a three-button suit, you have a choice between fastening the top two buttons or the middle one only. No matter what kind of blazer you're wearing, always unbutton it when you sit down.

No.3 - Stuffed pockets
Your pants pockets are a place to put your hands, some spare change and perhaps a slim wallet. They are not places to keep a bulky wallet filled with cash and two-month-old receipts, your cell phone, three sets of keys, and a stash of business cards. Bulging pockets detract from an otherwise streamlined look, so if you notice any square lumps in your pants, it is a sure sign that it's time to get a bag. An all-purpose bag that translates easily from work to play is a messenger. Briefcases for business-minded men and carryalls for active men are additional options. At the very least, rather than stretch out your pants by filling your pockets to the max, you should consider donning a blazer with interior pockets to distribute your daily necessities over a larger area and maintain a sleek appearance.

No.4 - Oversized clothes
One of the greatest male fashion fallacies is that loose clothing looks better than more fitted threads. The truth, however, is that even on larger men, body-skimming styles are more flattering. Of course, "body-skimming" is not synonymous with "skin-tight." What we are referring to are clothes that glide comfortably over your body and show your physique to its best advantage. If you're not sure whether you're supersizing your clothes, try going one size down from what you normally wear next time you go shopping and compare the difference. You will know your clothes are too big if you have trouble discerning your body shape in them.

No.5 - Mismatched suit and shoes
Making a blunder with regard to the color of your shoes practically defeats the purpose of suiting up, which is to look your most presentable. Unfortunately, men too frequently select shoes in shades that do not complement their dress clothes, like brown-hued footwear with black trousers. Follow this advice, however, and you'll avoid this common fashion faux pas: pair black suits with black shoes; gray suits with black or camel shoes; brown suits with brown or camel shoes; and navy suits with black, camel, tan or oxblood-colored footwear.

No.6 - Backpacks on professionals
When you are a student and you needed to carry around 10 pounds of books each day, a backpack is precisely the bag you needed. Once your college glory days are over and you enter the job market as a professional, you will need to leave behind your backpack just like you did your baseball cap. To complement a work wardrobe of blazers, dress shirts and the occasional suit, you need similarly polished accessories, so splurge on a leather messenger bag or briefcase and save your backpack for camping.

No.7 - Wearing running shoes outside the gym
Generally speaking, active wear should not be day wear. This rule holds true especially when it comes to wearing running shoes in any environment that is not fitness-oriented. Even if they have no obvious scuff marks, the fact that you wear your runners at the gym during heavy sweat sessions makes it nasty to even consider donning them on any other occasion. For a just-as-comfortable alternative without the "ick" factor, pick up a pair of slip-on loafers to pair with your casual ensembles.

No.8 - Overt branding
There's nothing wrong with being a label-lover, but discretion is the name of the game. After all, you're aiming to look like an incredibly handsome version of yourself, not like a walking advertisement. Invest in a label because you love the fabric, quality and fit. Spending your life savings on pieces that feature prominent logos or branding only shows others that you are more concerned with status than substance.

No.9 - Not shaving tricky areas
While unintentionally leaving a patch of facial hair untouched is something that has happened to even the most conscientious of groomers, it is never attractive, and for men who tend to rush through their morning routines, it is an all-too-frequent occurrence. To make sure you get all those hard-to-reach spots like right beside the back of your ear lobes, install a shaving mirror in your bathroom next to the sink. Then invest in a very good razor and, above all, slow down and enjoy the art of shaving. Eyebrows, ear and nose hair are another etiquette newsletter!

No.10 - Socks with sandals
It is shocking how many men persist in wearing socks with sandals despite how horrendous it looks. This monstrous fashion mistake could perhaps be forgiven if there were a practical purpose for pairing socks with sandals, but there isn't any. If it's cold enough to warrant wearing socks, then your feet will feel warmer in shoes. And, at the beach, getting sand in your socks is simply uncomfortable. The point here is that if you're guilty of committing this heinous fashion crime, do yourself and everyone else a favor and rethink your attire.


HOT Job Opportunity

LANDesk Product Manager - Desktop Virtualization

Job Description:
This individual will be responsible for the product planning and execution throughout the product lifecycle, including: gathering and
prioritizing product and customer requirements, defining the product vision, and working closely with and lead a cross-functional team consisting of engineering,
sales, marketing and support to ensure revenue and customer satisfaction goals are met. Emphasis will be placed on the ability to provide strategic guidance with respect to
desktop virtualization and alternative computing within enterprise environments.

The Product Manager is expected to:
1. Define the product strategy and roadmap that aligns to company vision
2.Work with external third parties to assess partnerships and licensing opportunities
3.Run beta and pilot programs with early-stage products and samples
4.Be an expert with respect to the competition
5.Act as a leader within the company

Job ID# 17633 in Employment Wizard

Additional Employment Opportunities:

Executive Director (Job ID# 17536) *NEW*
National Ability Center
Closes: 4/28/10
Senior Accountant (Job ID# 10212)*NEW*
Summit Financial Resources
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Financial Analyst (Job ID# 17566) *NEW*
Native American Resource Partners, LLC
Closes: 5/01/10
Executive Director - Wasatch Front Regional Council (Job ID# 17637)*NEW*
Salt Lake County Human Resources
Closes: 5/08/10
Sr. Product Marketing Manager (Job ID# 17216)
Omniture, Inc.
Closes: 5/12/10
Marketing Manager (Job ID# 17666) *NEW*
Energy Solutions Arena
Closes: 5/13/10
Director of Accounting and Finance (Job ID# 17479) *NEW)
KIPP Colorado Schools
Closes: 5/28/10
Quality Manager - Asia (Job ID# 17609) *NEW*
Closes: 5/28/10
Human Resource Manager (Job ID# 17050)
Hexcel Corp. in Windsor, CO
Closes: 5/31/10
Business Consultant (Job ID# 17449) *NEW*
Prolific Payment Solutions
Closes:  6/01/10
All positions details are located on Employment Wizard.

Use your Novell username and password to login, fill out the profile, and search for positions.  

Please inquire at the Career Resource Center (Shaw 101 or by calling 832-2597) if you have any further questions.


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