Browse Category: Personal Branding

Interview preparation

Interview Preparation – Using Keywords in your CV

Interview preparation – You have to GET an Interview first

Interview preparation is all very well. But first, you have to GET an interview!!  Many clients come to me saying that they want interview preparation but often ask: “How do I get to interview in the first place?” The ‘paper sift’ is the most extreme – often reducing hundreds of applicants down to a shortlist of may 10 to 20 people. This is also the stage where generally ‘they’ are looking for reasons to exclude rather than include. You should spend at least as much time on your CV and your covering letter as on your preparation for the interview.

What is the best CV format?

There are millions of gurus who claim to have the perfect CV for a format. I don’t think there is one – but it should be clean and simple and easy to read. No use of block capitals for a start! Then it should outline skills and abilities and achievements rather than just listing job titles.

Key words in your CV – are they the secret to getting interviews?

The other thing you should think about when writing your CV is whether you are using the key words relevant to your industry – the jargon and the trigger words – in your CV. These should emphasise your soft and hard skills.

Of course, you first need to know what industry and which type of job you are targeting. Do some research in  existing or old job adverts and identify the works that are being used. Remember functions and skills count as much as titles and positions. Use these key words in your CV, not excessively or unnaturally, but visibly.

You can use these keywords in a headline profile summary as well as in the main body of the CV.

Words Work – Interview Preparation, Pitching for Business, Fundraising

Interview preparation is hard work. Use the right words.

Interview preparation is more important now than ever before. Competition in terms of both the number of candidates and the quality of candidates in terms of their degrees, number of internships, other experience/affiliations/memberships/achievements etc.

Or as I could have said – Far more candidates with impressive CVs for far fewer jobs.

So what is the answer when you are looking for a job and don’t have much money? Accept the place you are in, get on the internet, switch off Facebook and start researching! But first of all – read this blogpost of mine on what to look for when you are researching for words and prospective employers!

Fact 1. The words that you use work – for you or against you. It is a fact. Live with it.

Fact 2. Research the words and language that potential employers use takes time. But it can pay rich dividends.

This video makes the point very clearly. To the idiots who made dumb comments underneath the video – yes of course, it is a scripted and acted video. What do people expect – seriously? However, the video has had an incredible number of hits so it must be doing something right!!

Personal Branding. Good for You. Good for Your Job.

Personal branding is how we market ourselves.

Personal branding is a new word for an old truth. Perceptions are reality. And often almost instant. How we are perceived by others does impact on how they treat us, how well we are paid and can limit or unleash careers.

Individuals do not have logos, brands and taglines (necessarily) but we all do have  a brand. People love to gossip and they give people tags – you will have heard people refer to other people as ‘the gossip’, ‘always late’, ‘a workaholic’,  ‘fun’, ‘quiet but clever’, a ‘drinker’, ‘really successful’. Some say it is even worse to trigger the response:  ‘Who?’

These tags come from the behaviour, or the perceived behaviour, of the people they are describing or slurring. These tags soon become The Established Truth. By their nature and by definition, we can influence what these tags are. We would be stupid not to try and influence them if they are not what we want. In some cases this may mean changing our behaviour because the negative tags reflect the truth. It is not rocket science but it does require a plan with reviews and testing.

Perceptions are reality. The truth is irrelevant.

Just like a product branding process, you need to define who you are, who your audience is and establish your message. The most important thing you have to do is to make sure that your behaviour reflects the brand that you are trying to project. Then you need to test that your “message” is being received and believed. This can take time.

What do you want to be known for? What do you want to be remembered for?

In my case, I am interested in being, and being perceived as being, discreet and effective in storytelling and personal branding/corporate branding for individuals, politicians and businesses. In the spin-filled circles where I work it is really important to be what you claim to be – but the same is true everywhere. This impacts on how I act and speak and how I operate with my social media and in real life.

interview preparation questions

Interview Preparation – Another Client gets a Job!

Interview Preparation is the best part of my job

I have worked with a Prime Minister, leading politicians and serious business people. I love working with these people – they are inspirational and motivational and challenging and get me buzzing.

But there is a special buzz when a young graduate phones or texts to say that they have their first proper job. The internships, holiday jobs and endless and emotional job searches, interviews and endless waits for letters that never come, are finally over. New found confidence flows into them, their shoulders relax, their smile loosens. The pressure is over. Now all they have to do is buy an alarm clock, polish their shoes and get used to the routine of working life. It is really very, very good to be part of so many young people’s first “grown up” career success.

Last week a client phoned after he had been through two interview processes with two different companies. We had worked together the week before the two interviews. He was exultant, over the moon, when he called. He had got the job with the second company.

But the story didn’t end there. With the first company, he had made it to the third interview. A third interview that had not been planned or anticipated but he had obviously made the choice sufficiently difficult that a third interview had become necessary. He wasn’t offered that job in the end, but the fact that he had made it to the second and then to the unplanned third round had given him more confidence and an even better sense of self worth.

“My interview was ace. I couldn’t have done that without you!”

Which is the kind of call or text that I love receiving. Find out more about my interview preparation work here.   Have a look at further articles here – including one on telephone interviews and one which outlines my interview training courses designed especially for graduates.  

Presentation Coaching

Presentation Coaching – We Are All Amateurs and Armchair Experts

“I bet he didn’t get any presentation coaching.”

X Factor was the first big show to turn us all into armchair experts. Then followed all the other instant celebrity shows. When I visited the amazing Olympics in London, brilliant explanatory videos and introductions to each “show” taught us spectators how to be instant and superficially, knowledgeable critics who knew exactly what to watch out for.

We have all seen presentations. Some of us have occasionally even seen ones that are passable or good. We all instinctively know what makes a cringeworthy or ineffective presentation. Boring facts, reading from a list-laden Powerpoint presentation, showing the audience your back, having technology issues, not knowing your stuff, lack of eye contact. The list goes on and on.

It is easy to say what is wrong with a presentation. It is not so easy to coach presenters so that they give less bad, better or even good presentations. Reading a book or a blog is all very well.

But what usually happens when your palms are sweating and your face feels flushed and the audience are rolling their eyes? You feel blind, primitive fear. You want to run out of the room, tell your boss that you are sorry for losing the client before you even know that you have.

The last thing on your mind is the content and the words in the presentation folder or blog or book that you read last week. You may know exactly where the book or the folder is – even what shelf they are on. But you cannot, for the life of you, remember what those pearls of wisdom in them are. Let alone apply them to your current awful situation.

Books make you more aware, on an intellectual level, of what to do and not to do in presentations. Presentation coaching makes you more able to give good presentations.

P.S. I offer presentation coaching! 

Political Networking

Getting Selected – Conference season is work for Candidates

Political Networking

Getting Selected – Network & Be Authentic at Conference

With Party Conference season upon us, candidates and wannabe candidates are, or should be, getting their hair cut, polishing their shoes and choosing which fringe events to attend. What they do this year and over the next 12 months could change their lives for ever. They’re preparing to network for their political future.

Getting Selected – good networking

If you’re networking, you need to have a few things at the ready. You are always prepared to do this in your day job – but are you equipped to network politically too?

You need your personal or political elevator pitch or stories. Then you need your intelligent, research based questions in case you do end up being stuck next to the Chairman of your dream constituency. A decent website is essential – so they can remember who you are the next day and do some research on you. For them to remember this you also need your political business card.

Too often we forget that to be good at communication, half the battle is actually listening and asking good questions and preparation. The same is true in politics.

It is important to be and sound authentic and to listen and talk in the right ratio.

Some anxious wannabe’s try and maximise their time at conference – thinking it’s a number game – how many business cards can I get today?  They jump anxiously from one target, um – I mean person obviously, to the next, nodding jerkily but not actually listening. This rubbish approach makes their current “networking partner” feel seriously un-special. Many glance furtively at your conference pass to see if you are important and worth their time. This may be sneaky – but it NEVER goes unnoticed! Just like looking over people’s shoulders at the next target. Bad, bad, bad. Plus – everyone knows everyone in the Conservative Party – be nice, be friendly and you may gain a supporting or deciding voice.

Being authentic, having those questions ready to help you dig and actually giving a damn is key to your networking success, whether that be at Conservative Party conference, or a business seminar.

Interview preparation – Key Points 1-5

Interview preparation – 5 key points

Napoleon allegedly won his battles in his tent rather than on the battlefield. That was where the preparation took place – the planning, the war gaming, the assessment of his own resources and how he could best deploy them.

That sounds just like what my clients do with me in my interview preparation courses. What are the obvious questions and how will you answer them, how will you introduce yourself and your CV and what questions should you ask.

This eliminates uncertainty, increases your confidence and prepares you for the expected – and some of the unexpected.

1. Your CV. Have a couple of copies with you and reread your written pearls that morning over breakfast. In case you forget something and then sound dumb when they ask you about it.

2. Bring a (decent looking) pen and a pad – I like the moleskin books that fit in your jacket pocket.

3. Dress formally and without any distractions.

4. Know where the interview is and how best to get there – a dry-run may seem ridiculous the day before but when you are lost and late on the day of the interview it may suddenly appear a brilliant and obvious idea! Know where to park, bring cash…

5.  Arriving 5 minutes early is fine – late isn’t and neither is too early. If you are early, get a coffee somewhere – but save your smoke until afterwards.

Interview preparation – Key points 6 – 10 will follow next week.


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