FIVE RULES FOR BETTER PRESENTATIONS

Presentation5Presentation software can be a wonderful tool when used correctly. It can also be a dangerous distraction that interferes with communication rather than facilitating it. The line between the two is thin. I have sat through hundreds of presentations. Most of them were done with PowerPoint. Most of them are done poorly.

I often think the presenter would be more compelling if he would ditch the presentation software and just speak. So if we can’t outlaw presentation software, at least we can improve how we use it.

Here are my five rules for making more effective presentations.

1- Don’t give your presentation software center stage. This is the biggest mistake I see speakers make. They forget that PowerPoint or Keynote are tools designed to augment their presentation not be their presentation.

Never forget: You are the presenter. Your message should be the focus. Not your slides. Not your props. And not your handouts. You are in the lead role, and you need to retain that role.

No amount of “razzle dazzle” or slide effects can overcome a weak presentation. If you don’t do your job, slides won’t save you. It only makes a bad presentationPresentatio1 worse.

2- Create a logical flow to your presentation. Better yet, tell a story. The absolute last thing you want to do is turn your presentation into a random assortment of bulleted lists, which is what often happens, especially when PowerPoint is involved. There must be a flow.

Start with a good outlining or mind mapping program. I personally use OmniOutliner. Decide if your talk is going to be a persuasive speech or an enabling one. (It should be one or the other.) We teach you how to do this at The SCORRE Conference. This is something I use every day.

3- Make your presentation readable. Memorize this sentence: “If people can’t read my slides from the back of the room, my type is too small.” Now repeat it over and over again while you create your slides. If people are squinting during your presentation, trying to make out what’s on the slide, you’ve lost your audience.

In my experience you must use at least 30-point type. Obviously, it depends on the size of the room, the size of the screen, etc. This is precisely why you can’t afford to leave this to chance. You must test your slides and make certain they are readable.

In Really Bad PowerPoint (PDF file), Seth Godin also sets forth five PowerPoint rules. In the first one he says, “No more than six words on a slide. EVER.” This may be too extreme, but you get the idea. The more words you use, the less readable they become.

I have made some really effective presentations with no more than a word or two per slide. It can be done. Steve Jobs was a master at this. So is Tom Peters.

Presentation4Here are some other things to remember regarding text:

Avoid paragraphs or long blocks of text. If you really, really must use a paragraph, then whittle it down to the bare essentials. Use an excerpt – a couple of sentences. Emphasize the important words. Put the text block by itself on a single slide.

Use appropriate fonts. I recommend a sans serif font for titles (e.g., Arial, Verdana, Helvetica, or – my personal favorite – Myriad Pro, etc.) and a serif font for bullets or body text (e.g., Times New Roman, Garamond, Goudy, Palatino, etc.). Most books are typeset this way because it make them more readable. The serifs help you recognize the characters (and thus the words) faster. It makes the text more readable. It’s also customary to use san serif fonts for chart labels.

Avoid detailed reports. If you need to include a report in your presentation, hand it out. Don’t force people to try to read a ledger printout on a slide. (Financial people take note!) If you must show a report, use it as a picture and then use a “call out” to emphasize the part of the report you want people to focus on. Better yet, just fill up a whole slide with the one number you want people to take away from the presentation.

Avoid “title capitalization” unless (duh!) it’s a title. Sentence capitalization is much easier to read. For example, “Sales are up 100% in the southeast region” is easier than “Sales Are Up 100% In The Southeast Region.” This is especially true when you have numerous bullet points.

4- Remember, less is more. Fancy slide transitions and fly-ins get old quickly. Ipresentation strongly recommend that you keep things simple. A basic dissolve from one slide to another is usually sufficient.

Also, have all your bullets appear at once rather than one at a time. Avoid sound effects—they serve no other purpose than annoying the audience and distracting them from your presentation.

Finally, cut down the number of slides. You don’t need a transcript of your speech with every point and sub-point. Yawn! People are only going to remember the major points any way.

5- Distribute a handout. I have changed my mind on this over the years. I do not think that you should distribute a handout before you begin speaking.

If you do so, people will start reading ahead instead of listening to you. It’s just one more distraction to keep them from focusing on your message. It also eliminates any surprises or drama you have built into your presentation.

Instead, I tell people that I will distribute a handout of the slides when I am finished with my presentation. (Or now, I often create a special page on my blog, with the slides embedded into it using SlideShare.net.) That way, they can take notes during my session, knowing that they don’t have to write everything down. This allows them to stay engaged without becoming distracted.

Finally, I would encourage you to hone your PowerPoint or Keynote skills like you would any other essential business skill. The more you work at it, the better you will get. And the better you get the more compelling your presentations will become.

I wish you good presentations!

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LIVIN’ YOUR OWN DREAM OR SOMEONE ELSE’S?

108365105Many people end up living someone else’s dream, the victim of another agenda. This almost happened to a Mexican fisherman in this story told by Tim Ferriss in The 4-Hour Work Week:

An American businessman took a vacation to a small coastal Mexican village on doctor’s orders. Unable to sleep after an urgent phone call from the office the first morning, he walked out to the pier to clear his head. A small boat with just one fisherman had docked, and inside the boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

“How long did it take you to catch them?” the American asked.

“Only a little while,” the Mexican replied in surprisingly good English.

“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” the American then asked.

“I have enough to support my family and give a few to friends,” the Mexican said as he unloaded them into a basket.

“But … What do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican looked up and smiled. “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Julia, and stroll into the village each evening, where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, señor.”Inle_Lake_Burma_fisherman_2

The American laughed and stood tall. “Sir, I’m a Harvard M.B.A. and can help you. You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. In no time, you could buy several boats with the increased haul. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”

He continued, “Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village, of course, and move to Mexico City, then to Los Angeles, and eventually New York City, where you could run your expanding enterprise with proper management.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, señor, how long will all this take?”

To which the American replied, “15–20 years. 25 tops.”

“But what then, señor?”

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right, you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”

“Millions, señor? Then what?”

“Then you would retire and move to a small coastal fishing village, where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos …”

2572010-015337PM-1The only thing worse than drifting without a plan is having your plans hijacked by someone else. You can avoid this unfortunate end and make sure you are fulfilling your unique, God-given calling by answering these three questions:

1- Am I living my own dream or someone else’s? If we are not careful, we can unconsciously be following someone else’s agenda for our lives. This usually happens because we are unwilling to take responsibility for our own lives.

2- What is my dream? This can get lost in the complexity of life. As a result, we need to pause and remember our own agenda. What is it that we believe God is calling us to be and to do? What is our passion? What would we do if we were brave?

3- What can I do now to move in the direction of my dream? The only way to reclaim our dream is to reject all substitutes and begin moving in the direction of our dreams. We don’t have to do anything heroic. We can start small and take baby steps. The issue is to make sure we are making progress toward our goals.MBA-students-008

Don’t spend your life fulfilling someone else’s agenda. Accept responsibility for your own life. Pursue your goals and live your dream. Live an intentional life.

Has your life ever been hijacked by someone else’s agenda? Tell us your experience.

WHY A COVER LETTER?

Cover Letter3I recently looked for a new supervisor-level hire for my school, and I got over 100 résumés indicating a great deal of interest, but I was shocked to see that over 90% did not have a cover letter, and some cover letters were addressed to a wrong person.

People often complain that they never hear back from the companies they apply to, and this may be one of the reasons why.

A cover letter is like a sales proposal; it’s an opportunity for you to pitch your services and to connect your “unique value proposition” to the needs of a company. It’s also a piece of personal marketing – you never know who will read it, and where that person will work next – your paths may converge in the future and it’s worth an investment to make a good impression now. Even if your résumé is not an exact match for the job, it’s a chance to convince someone you’re worth looking at regardless.

Like any well-constructed, well thought-out sales proposal, it has to have certain elements to be effective. I have read many poor cover letters over the years – letters that were vague, generic, and full of clichés, or that failed to connect the dots in a way that is convincing or at least intriguing. Like clients feel with ineffective sales proposals, when reading a poorly written cover letter it’s hard not to think “Why should I care? How are you going to help the company get where we need to go?” Cover letters are about you, but it’s about you only in relation to the needs of the company that is hiring, and it’s up to you to build that positioning framework.

Demonstrate passion or interest in what the company is all aboutCover Letter

Share what attracts you to the company and why you would love to join the team – show that this is not just “another job application” for you and that you relate, or care, for the mission and vision, or services or products the company is delivering.

Demonstrate specific knowledge of the company

It’s easy to do the research today on the company, leadership, employees, strategy, success or challenges, and the competition. Demonstrate that you have done some research and try to connect your background, attitude, or skill-set with where the company needs to go or the challenges it needs to address. You need to position yourself as a person who will add value to the future success of the team – this should be in the opening paragraph. With the increasing competition company X is facing, my track record in operating in a fiercely competitive environment while at Y will strengthen the team’s ability to compete successfully. “My collaborative leadership style as demonstrated through X will help you build a culture of collaboration which is one of your stated goals for the upcoming year”. Make that connection!

Make specific links between role requirements and your experience.

After the broader positioning, it is so very important to go a bit deeper and connect your background, skills, knowledge, and attitude with specific requirements of the role that would have been stated in a job posting. If there are too many, choose a couple and focus on them. If your résumé is not perfect for the job, draw from academic, personal or extra-curricular and volunteering experiences. The key here is to assert that you are a match for what’s required.

Cover Letter4Finish with confidence.

It’s good to summarize your unique value proposition at the end – to reinforce a key point of what you bring to the table.

It is essential to finish with confident and specific “next step” statement. You should express certainty and confidence with your last sentence – “I look forward to discussing how my skill set is relevant in an interview…”

Naturally, make sure there are no grammar mistakes – one thing that I see so often is confusion between “its” and “it’s” – it’s worth having someone look at your letter and copyedit it.

Keep it brief.

Finally – a cover letter shouldn’t be longer than a page. It’s hard to write succinctly and articulate your key points in a few paragraphs, but it’s worth taking the time to do it.

Good luck!!!

SUCCESS AND ACCESSIBILITY

limited-access.001aThe more successful you become as a leader, the more other people will demand of your time. As a result, if you are going to maintain margin for your most important priorities, you will have to make some difficult decisions about your accessibility.

Recently, I was listening to Andy Stanley talk about this very topic. He said:

“The harsh reality of leadership is that the more successful we are, the less accessible we become. As things grow and as more people become involved, a leader can’t be equally accessible to all people. So then we are faced with the dilemma of who gets my time and who doesn’t, when do they get it, and and how much of it do they get.”

Your time is a zero sum game. When you say yes to one thing, you are simultaneously saying no to something else. The more successful you get, the more difficult this becomes. You find yourself saying no to good things – worthy things – in order to say yes to your most important priorities.

For example, last week I spoke at a teacher’s conference. After my speech, at least a dozen people handed me their book proposal or manuscript and asked if I would read it and tell them what I think. I truly love helping authors. There was a time when I would have felt guilty about saying no.

After all, from the perspective of the one asking, it is not a big request. But, what they usually don’t realize is that I get dozens of these requests each week. To agree to their request would require a major investment of my time. Add all the requests together, and I am soon eating into the time allotted for my own projects, friends, family, and health.

As a result, I said to each one, “I am sorry, but I am afraid that won’t be possible. In order to be faithful to my other commitments, I have to say no to these kinds of requests. I hope you understand.”

What about you? If you are a leader with more demands than time, you are probably faced with similar situations on a daily basis. Here are seven ways you can limit your accessibility, so you can stay focused on what matters most:

1 – Acknowledge your resources are finite.Security-Authorization-Signs-75311-ba

This is a fact. You have 168 hours per week. No more, no less. Every time you commit to something, you are depleting your available time. Your other resources are also limited, including your attention, money, and energy. If you ignore this, it will eventually catch up with you. You will pay a high price when that happens – perhaps an emotional breakdown, a divorce, wayward kids, a business failure, or a health crisis.

2 – Determine who needs access and who doesn’t.

Not everyone needs full access to you. They may think they do, but they don’t. Therefore, you must prioritize your contacts and relationships. For me, my family, the people I work with daily, and my close personal friends constitute my “inner circle.” They get my time first. Remember: once you let people in, it is hard to ask them to leave without creating misunderstanding or hurt feelings. Be intentional.

3 – Take practical steps to limit your accessibility.

Here are a few things I do:

¬ I use two e-mail addresses: a private one and a public one. I monitor the first; my assistant monitors the second. Only about 30 people have access to my private address. If something hits my public account and requires my personal response, my assistant redirects it to my private account.

¬ I follow a limited number of people on Twitter. These are the only ones who can direct message me. It keeps me from getting flooded with spam, which is what my life was like before I unfollowed 108,698 people. I still interact with people in the public space via replies. I think it is even more effective, because others can observe and jump in.

Do-Not-Enter-Traffic-Signs-69137-baa¬ I have a private Facebook profile and a public fan page. The first one is for my inner circle and a few others. The fan page is for everyone else. My accessibility on Facebook is almost identical to my access on Twitter. I also have LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram accounts, but I treat them as public accounts. I don’t even try to respond to private messages.

¬ I have two phone numbers. You guessed it – a private one and a public one. I use Google Voice for my public number. It goes directly to voice mail, transcribes the message, then e-mails it to my assistant. If it is something requiring my personal attention (rarely), she forwards the notification to me.

4 – Make a list of common requests.

Go through your e-mail for the last few months and compile a list of recurring requests or comments. You’ll find that they fall into specific categories. Here’s a short sample of a few of my categories and requests:

Blog:

¬ Thanks for your blog.
¬ I noticed a typo on you blog post today.
¬ How can I advertise on your blog?
¬ Would you write a post about my product [or service]?
¬ What WordPress plugin are you using to [specific feature]?
¬ Can you recommend a web developer?
¬ Do you accept guest posts on your blog?

Boards/Investing:Notice_DoNotEnter__98295.1369147861.1000.1000

¬ Would you consider serving on our board?
¬ Would you consider investing in my company?

Books:

¬ Would you read my proposal [or manuscript] and give me some feedback?
¬ Would you publish my manuscript [or book]?
¬ Can I send you a copy of my new book?

Consulting/Coaching/Mentoring:

¬ Would you take a look at my blog and tell me what you think?
¬ Would you consider mentoring me?
¬ Would you consider coaching me?
¬ Can you consult with my company?
¬ Can you answer a question?

Meetings:

¬ Can I meet with you over coffee [or a meal]?
¬ Can I get together with you to ‘pick your brain’?
¬ Can I schedule a call with you to discuss my service [or product]?

This is just a sample. Currently, I have identified about 50 common requests.

5 – Decide how you will respond to these requests.

This is a huge time-saver. Why keep re-inventing the wheel? Craft a thoughtful response that really adds value and use it to point people in the right direction. Save your response as an e-mail signature or use something like Typinator. It also takes some of the pain out of saying no. It enables you to decline with grace, without going through the angst with each new request. (This is especially important for people-pleasers like me, who hate saying no).

I have an e-mail signature for every one of these common requests. My assistant manages and uses them on my behalf. It is a great tool for training people who work for you.

private6 – Delegate to people you trust.

You don’t have to do it all. If you are like me, you may say yes, but then regret it. However, if you can have someone on your team act as a buffer, it helps. This gives you the space you need to be more thoughtful and priority-driven in your decisions. In addition, people on your team are often better equipped to help the person making the request. Or at the very least, they can point them to the resources they need without your involvement. Either way, the person making the request is well-served.

This is also a great opportunity to train your people by allowing them to shoulder the load. Jethro once told his son-in-law, Moses:

The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself” (Exodus 18:17–18)

7 – Accept the fact that you will be misunderstood.

People often feel entitled. Some will try to shame you. Others will talk about you behind your back. Don’t worry about it. There is nothing you can do to stop them. There are just some things that other people won’t understand until they have walked in your shoes. Trying to convince them otherwise only further depletes your limited resources and gets you off track. My advice is to ignore them.

If this is a struggle for you, that’s a good sign. It means you have a good heart. But it’s going to take more than that to succeed over the long haul. You will also need wisdom and courage to limit your accessibility in order to stay focused on your priorities and fulfill your calling.

Are you struggling with success and accessibility? How are you managing it? You can leave a comment here and share your experience.

HOW TO FIND AND APPROACH A MENTOR

job interviewAll entrepreneurs need a solid support system of individuals they can turn to for business advice. These supporters can be close friends, family and colleagues, but one of them should fill the role of a knowledgeable, experienced mentor.

“Mentors can be one of the most powerful weapons for an entrepreneur by providing guidance, wisdom and connections,” said Lourdes Martin-Rosa, American Express OPEN adviser on government contracting and mentor for the OPEN Mentorship Institute program. “Every entrepreneur should have a mentor for obtaining the best answers to his or her daily challenges during startup and management.”

Although forming a mentor-mentee relationship must be a mutual process, there are some key factors to keep in mind as you’re seeking a business mentor. Mentoring and career experts offered their answers to questions entrepreneurs may have about choosing a mentor who’s right for them.

What does a mentor do?

Whether you’re the founder of a brand-new startup or an entrepreneur with a bit of business experience under your belt, you can always benefit from having a mentor.

“A mentor can serve as a sounding board at critical points throughout your career,” said Diane Domeyer, executive director of staffing firm The Creative Group. “They can provide guidance on career management you may not be able to get from other sources and an insider’s perspective on the business, as well as make introductions to key industry contacts.”

Doña Storey, another OPEN Mentorship Institute mentor and American Expressmentor (2) OPEN adviser on procurement, noted that mentors can help their mentees identify and avoid business pitfalls, and work through the challenges ahead of them. Martin-Rosa added that a mentor can also save entrepreneurs valuable time and money by helping them craft a road map to success.

What qualities does a good mentor have?

At the most basic level, your mentor should have experience greater than your own and a track record of success in what he or she does. But there are plenty of other qualities the person who is guiding your business decisions should possess. Doug White, career expert and editor of career and management insights website TCG Blog, advised seeking a mentor with a strong character and whose traits are worth emulating.

“Look for mentors who are authentic, empathetic, creative and honest,” White told Business News Daily. “You need someone who’s caring and invested in your professional growth, but also someone who will speak truth to you. Sometimes, you need some constructive criticism or a reality check, while other times, you need a high five or pat on the back. A well-chosen mentor can provide all of those things.”

A mentor in the same business area as yours may be able to better understand your business’s challenges and concerns, but Storey noted that fruitful mentoring relationships don’t necessarily have to happen within the same industry.

mentor (1)a“Make sure that the mentor shares a similar value system in leadership and management,” she said. “Knowing who you are as a leader is critical before entering into a mentoring relationship. Only then can you align yourself with the right guide.”

How do you find one?

There are many experienced business owners and profes-sionals who are well qualified to be mentors, and they’re often right in your own backyard. It is possible that your perfect adviser could find you by chance and offer his or her mentorship, but Domeyer believes that being proactive in your search for your mentor (or mentors) is the best approach.

“Try to meet as many experienced professionals as you can,” she told Business News Daily “Once you’ve identified someone, approach your potential mentor and the initial meeting as you would an interview. Be prepared to explain what you hope to learn from the individual and why you value his or her insights and expertise, as well as what you bring to the table. Don’t take this phase lightly — you’re laying the groundwork for a relationship that will hopefully last a lifetime.”

Have you ever had someone (a mentor) that you could rely on? Tell us your experience!

Good luck!!!

5 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE ACCEPTING A JOB

business-deal-israel-dealbook-2011-m-35249aMany job seekers are inclined to jump at the first job offer that comes their way. But what if it isn’t exactly the type of position you wanted? Should you still take it?

While those who have experienced a long-term job search probably feel as though they should take what they can get, there are other options. When you encounter offers you don’t completely love, you must ask yourself if you will accept the job offer, attempt to negotiate or wait for a better opportunity to come along.

If you find yourself in this situation, here are some things I recommend consider before accepting a job offer you aren’t completely in love with:

1- Are serious goals being sacrificed? One of the most important questions you should ask yourself is if you would make any serious sacrifices in your career when accepting the job offer. Would you need to relocate to a new city or work more hours than you’d prefer? You should take a moment to compare your career goals to the job offer and see where they overlap. As long as the job keeps you moving forward in your career, then maybe the offer isn’t so bad after all.

2- Is there an opportunity to expand your skills and experience? Almost every job presents the opportunity to learn something new. When thinking about the job offer, take a look at the different responsibilities that come with the position, as well as opportunities to learn. Will the position require you to learn a new skill or program? Will there be opportunities to attend workshops or conferences? Sometimes, these types of learning experiences turn into perks that could have a positive impact on your career.

happy man3- Does it meet most needs? If you’re having a difficult time deciding on a job offer, you should make a list of your needs — everything from lifestyle needs to career goals. If the only thing you don’t love about the offer is the vacation package, maybe the offer isn’t so bad. However, if you need to have a benefits package that supports your family and the job offer doesn’t include that, or if you have a strong desire for a promotion and you don’t think that’s likely, then maybe you should try to negotiate the offer.

4- Imagine working for the company: If you can see yourself working in the office and with the people, it’s probably a good sign the company could be a good fit. Even if the salary isn’t as high as you had hoped, you could be accepting a job offer that provides a great company culture and an overall positive experience. Remember, not every job is about making the big Abucks — it should also be about finding happiness where you work.

5- Could this job be a stepping stone to a better opportunity? Throughout your career, you’ll likely find that some jobs can help you discover better opportunities. It’s OK if not every job you ever have is your dream job. Although you should be working toward your career goals, there will be times when you need to work a particular job in order to achieve your next goal. Every type of experience you gain gives you the opportunity to shape your career path.

Seekers who do decide to accept the position shouldn’t forget about negotiating.

You can always negotiate an offer if you aren’t completely satisfied, but overall, you should weigh the costs and benefits of the position. And remember: Your career goals and values should always come first.

FIVE EXPERT TIPS FOR FOLLOWING UP AFTER A JOB INTERVIEW

job interviewThe big job interview you’ve been prepping for and stressing over for days or weeks is over, and you can finally breathe a sigh of relief — except now comes the hard part: Waiting to hear back.

You’re excited about the opportunity, and you want to do everything in your power to present yourself as the perfect candidate for the job; one way to increase your odds of landing the gig is to follow up in a professional manner.

Landing your dream job requires a degree of finesse, from the initial email or phone conversation to negotiating salary and signing on the dotted line. In the post-interview aftermath, you want to appear interested without crossing the line and coming across as a pest. You want to be memorable in the right way; so what does this entail?

Below, recruiting experts share their insights on the dos and don’ts when following up after a job interview:

1. Yes, You Should Follow Up

Following up is critical in showing your continued interest in a job opportunity, says Allyson Willoughby, senior vice president of people at Glassdoor, a job and career site where employees anonymously post the pros and cons of their companies, positions and salaries.

Willoughby cautions candidates against becoming a burden to the hiring manager — she stresses the importance of politeness. “You don’t want to pester until you get an answer, but rather keep yourself in [the hiring team’s] minds as they make the decision,” she says. “A great approach is to ask about their timeline for making a hiring decision before you leave the interview. This will help you to properly time your follow-up attempts. In addition, a quick ‘thank you’ [email] is always a nice touch.”

Another way to stand out in your follow-up communications is to mention recent news about the company to show that you’re keeping the job opportunity top-of-mind. This tidbit could be in regards to a blog post, industry news or something related to the job you interviewed for — it goes without saying that the news should be positive in nature; don’t send over a note with a mention of a company scandal.

2. Communicate in a Timely, Professional Manner

Nathan Mirizio, content marketing writer at The Resumator, a recruiting software company, agrees that there’s nothing wrong with sending a gracious thank-you message, unless the recruiter explicitly states no follow-ups or replies.

Mirizio suggests using the last form of communication that you had with a recruiter as the best medium for following up (i.e. phone, email, text, mail, etc.). “Go with that medium, or follow whatever instructions have been given to you. Email is always a safe bet, but always contact recruiters through their business accounts. Personal email accounts and phone numbers are for personal friends, and trying to reach [hiring managers] at home can be an awfully quick turnoff.”

3. Tastefully Follow Up When You Haven’t Heard Backinterview prep1

In a situation in which the company says they will make a decision next week, and a week goes by without any word after you’ve sent an initial follow-up note, Willoughby says that it’s okay to send one more polite inquiry.

“If you’re following up multiple times after each interview, that’s likely not appreciated,” she says. “However, if the company has given you a set time frame and exceeded it by longer than a week, a well-written follow-up note is reasonable. It should be concise and friendly. Don’t necessarily remind them that they haven’t gotten back to you, but rather use the time frame provided as the reason for your follow up.” Willoughby suggests wording your message along the lines of, “I know you mentioned you were hoping to make a final hiring decision by the end of the month, and I wanted to follow up and see where you are in that process.”

4. Learn When to Move On

If you’ve been waiting patiently for a reply from the company and they still haven’t responded, there’s a point when you have to move on — even if you really like the company and want the job. Chris Fields, a human resources consultant and expert resume writer at ResumeCrusade.com, reminds job seekers that focusing on other opportunities is the best way to move forward. “Don’t take it personally; just move along. You never know what is happening internally at a company. Here is my rule of thumb: Follow up once, and if you receive no response, follow up once more. If you still don’t hear anything, move on.”

Fields adds that company time frames can be tricky to predict, and candidates should take encouraging comments during an interview with a grain of salt. “Workplace emergencies happen unexpectedly and all the time, so it’s important to follow up a couple of times. But if you hear absolutely nothing, then it’s time to move on,” says Fields. “Some interviewers are complimentary to avoid confrontation; they tell you what you want to hear. Sometimes it’s genuine, but there is no way for you to tell. If the company wants to hire you, they will contact you, whether it happens a week later, a month later or even several months later.”

5. Don’t Make Assumptions With References

A request for references doesn’t necessarily mean that the job is in the bag, says Mirizio. “It’s a good rule of thumb throughout the hiring process to never assume anything,” he adds.

Fields agrees. “I’ve seen some crazy stuff, like negotiations falling apart, offers rescinded and miscommunications. [Being asked to supply] references is a good sign that you are in the top two or three candidates, but it’s no guarantee of employment,” he says.

The ultimate goal in any job search is to receive multiple offers so that you, as the candidate, can choose the best one. Creating a strategy to follow up after interviews is just as important as the actual interview itself.

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Good luck!!!