Sunday, April 15, 2012

More Lessons that Job Seekers can Learn From "Shark Tank"

For those of you who read “Career Matters” on a regular basis, you may have noticed that I like to take ‘rules’ that are typically found in the boardroom and change the perspective so that those ‘rules’ can be applied to those seeking employment“Shark Tank”, as you may know, is a prime-time show where successful entrepreneurs fight over promising start-ups, and ruthlessly chew up the unprepared.  In the show, the five ‘Sharks’ provide a wealth of knowledge about what venture capitalists need to hear before they invest in your company and a good deal of this knowledge can be transferred to a job candidate’s interview process. 

The show offers its audience a glimpse of pitching sessions gone totally right or disastrously wrong, and the lessons that can be gleaned from watching the show can be easily morphed into a hiring manager - job candidate scenario.

Here are a few lessons and from the “Sharks” about what it takes to be one of the more desirable fish in the sea:

  • Professionalism speaks volumes - When making your ‘pitch’ i.e. the response to the inevitable ‘Tell me about yourself” part of the interview, know what you are taking about.  HINT: Do not memorize your response.  KNOW IT!  Speak to your specific skill set and how those skills relate to the position you desire. Be clear. Be concise.

  • Know your numbers - When speaking to potential employers, take the time to talk about how you have contributed in a positive manner to your previous employers’ bottom line.  Did you increase sales?  If so, by how much in dollars or by what percentage?  Did you make the company run more efficiently?  If so, how much money did the company save?  Passion is important, but passion only gets you so far.  Numbers tell the real story.

  • Good marketing counts! - Clean up/spruce up all of your marketing collateral including profiles on social media: 
    • Join professional sites such as LinkedIn and complete your profile
      • Become members of the LinkedIn groups that are related to your industry
      • Make substantive comments on the questions and comments posted by other members of the group
    • Ensure that there are no unflattering photos on your Facebook profile
    • Attend networking events that are both directly and indirectly related to your industry
      • LinkedIn advertises upcoming events that you may be interested in attending under the tab called “MORE” on your home page
      • MeetUp groups and events are also another way to network with your local community and like-minded individuals

  • Be humble. - This lesson can be best applied when you are in salary negotiations.  Know what the salary range for someone with your skill set is and ask for it when the time comes.  N.B.  Recognize that career opportunities may not always revolve around ‘salaries’ per se.  Know the parameters within which you would like to work.  How much travel, either directly related to the job, or time spent commuting to and from the job site is required?  Is the opportunity to work from home a possibility?  Does the company offer a flexible workweek?  What are the chances and timelines with regard to being promoted? 

  • Understand good timing - If you can identify/anticipate the needs of the company and demonstrate how you can solve their problem, [the best example would be to show tell the interviewer how you have handled a similar problem/ situation for another company in the past, you will be ahead of the game.   

  • Have a good story - Know why you want the job. N.B. the key to answering this question is WIIFT [What’s In It for Them] and not WIIFY [What’s IN It For You]

  • Be prepared to walk - Some things are not meant to be.  If it doesn’t feel ‘right’, or, if something you heard during the interview has left you troubled in some way, but you just can’t put you finger on the concern, walk away. 

  • Always be polite and personable - Remember that ‘No’ sometimes means ‘Not now’.  Remember that old adage, “Be careful of the toes you step on today as they my attached to the butt of the person you will have to kiss tomorrow.”

While all of the above will get you closer to your dream of landing that plumb position with that dream company, it also helps to have a winning personality. No one wants to work with someone who is not likeable.

Remember all those things you learned about being nice in kindergarten because those same things apply in the boardroom as well as the interview room with no exceptions. 

Was any of the above information useful?  Please let me know.

Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved. Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of the author, Mary Salvino. “Career Matters” is a blog authored by Mary Salvino, Senior Consultant for SMART Career that is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. This blog is also dedicated to those who stand a little taller each time they picked themselves up after failing and those who gained the wisdom and humility from those experiences to help others do the same. For any questions or comments that are better addressed privately, please feel free to e-mail Mary directly at