What do you say when ...


Yes, what do you say when such-and-such happens?  You may have run scenarios around in your head from time to time, but presented with a specific challenge, especially in a business context, you want to be prepared.  This is pretty much the aim of Casey Hawley’s 10 Make-or-Break Career Moments: Navigate, Negotiate, and Communicate for Success, preparing you for 10 particularly daunting work situations.

Of the situations detailed in the book, the first three are directly of interest to the job searcher: meeting key executives of companies (that one is interested in), what to say and do in the job interview, and how to approach the job-offer meeting.  This is, of course, not to discount the rest of the book, but as this is a blog about looking for a job, I figured I’d highlight those for you, and have you click on over to my review of the book for the rest of the details.

Ms. Hawley is a “communications consultant” (a job description that I should investigate!), who seems to specialize in keeping business executives saying the right things in the right situations.  Unlike many other “coaches” out there, her book is remarkably even-toned, with very little of the “you should do this because I say so” sort of “advice” and a whole lot of carefully-dissected communications dynamics to make sure you’re getting the right message across.

She agreed to complete The Job Stalker interview, and here’s what she told us (after the break):

Q:  Briefly, what’s your background?

A:  I teach business communication at Georgia State University, and have consulted on wide range of communication for over 20 years.  Additionally, I help Southern Company write industrial proposals, train the lobbyists at Georgia-Pacific, train national accounts presenters at several Fortune 500 companies, train government and private sector environmentalists to communicate clearly, etc.

Q:  Have you had notable job-transition experiences?

A:  Going from being a college professor in my 20s (ivory tower) to being a stockbroker for Dean Witter was a shocker but a fabulous experience.

Q:  Why did you decide to write a book about work-place communications?

A:  I am called on by so many people to help coach them and prepare them for interviews, critical workplace conversations, etc., because I have experience with so many clients to draw from — not just the IBM perspective or the Ben & Jerry’s perspective but a wide range.  I am a go-to person when people want advice on how to say something effectively.

Q:  Do you have any insights from your perspective on the job market, both current and over the next six months or so?

A:  Opportunities are reportedly increasing, and any jobseeker should advance as if that is strongly true for them. I think people are becoming savvier about how to market themselves. Also, I think some people who have dreamed of being entrepreneurs and contractors have been pushed into it by the economy; we may have more opportunities as these micro-businesses grow.

Q:  If you had just ONE piece of advice for today’s job searcher, what would that be?

A:  Articulate who you are and the specific skills and value you can bring anywhere, anytime, to anyone. It is probably your hair stylist’s cousin’s wife who will be your connection to your next opportunity and not the people you thought would help you.

Q:  What do you feel makes your book unique?

A:  The book is not theory or general approaches. Some people can only think of the right thing to say the day after the opportunity passes. This book equips professionals with actual phrases and models to follow, and there are tons of examples that can be adapted to readers.

Q:  Aside from your book, what resources do you recommend?

A:  The best source I know is the Crossroads networking groups in almost every city, Monster.com has wonderful, very current articles adapted to specific professions, and Richard Nelson Bolles’ What Color Is Your Parachute?

Q:  Any additional words of wisdom?

A:  Most people neglect the physical part of interviews and conversations, a big mistake since surveys prove that your success is 85-93% dependent on your nonverbal communication. If you are stating perfectly accurate facts, but your look of concentration is misinterpreted as boredom, arrogance or hostility, you won’t get the job. Do muscle tightening and deep breathing exercises described in the book before you go in and smile! Learn to be compassionate towards your interviewer. Most candidates are so concentrated on their own nerves, they fail to be fully responsive to the interviewer. If you are not getting a warm response from our interviewer, remember that he may have been up all night with a crying baby or she may be hungover. When she says anything, be sure to respond specifically to her remarks and do the empathy statements described in the book.

Again, one of the main things I noticed about 10 Make-or-Break Career Moments was the extremely factual, straight-forward approach, and, as somebody who “has issues” with most coaching, this was “a breath of fresh air”.  If you have concerns about how you’re getting across in professional settings, picking up this book will be money well spent.

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