Archive for March 2010

Are you pursuing your dream job? (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

March 29, 2010

One of the surest ways to fail professionally and to feel unfulfilled with your (work) life is to do work that does not excite you.  However, while this sounds obvious, the majority of the U.S. population is making this unnecessary mistake. 

There is a big difference between not knowing what your dream job is and knowing what your dream job is but not going after it.  If you do not know what type of work you want to do, you need to start talking to people in various fields to see what is out there and you need to spend some time figuring out what interests you.  (We will address this more in an upcoming blog.)

However, if you know what your dream job is AND you still aren’t going after it, then I can guarantee that you will have internal strife.  There is no worse feeling than inner conflict, and there is no greater feeling than inner peace. 

The 2 main reasons why people don’t pursue their dreams are due to a fear of disapproval from others (i.e. family, colleagues, and friends) or due to a fear of failure.  In order to get past these 2 fears, you must ask yourself the following 2 questions:

  1. What benefits will you or others begin to experience if you pursue your dream job?
  2. What pains will you or others continue to experience if you do NOT pursue your dream job?

Focus on the pain and pleasure associated with your action or inaction, and get motivated to head in the right direction.  Once you start going after your dream job, it’s just a matter of time before it is yours!

Thanks for reading!

-Pete Leibman

President of Idealize Enterprises, LLC


To get his dream job, he just showed up! (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

March 26, 2010

Last Friday night, I was invited to attend a small networking event/dinner hosted by one of my favorite authors, Sam Horn.  Every few months, Sam hosts a dinner party with leaders and successful people in the DC area.

At the event, I was seated next to a design editor from National Geographic.  He mentioned to me that it had been his dream to work at Nat Geo, so I was naturally very interested in hearing his story on how he got hired.

He told me that he had applied online for a job with Nat Geo toward the end of his senior year when he was a student at the University of Michigan.  However, as many students can relate to, he did not hear back from them at all after applying. 

So, what did he do?

2 months after getting no response, he packed up his portfolio and a suit and literally drove from Michigan to Washington, D.C., showed up at the offices for National Geographic and said he was there to interview for the position he had applied for 2 months earlier!  Now, that takes courage, confidence and determination!  (Note: these are 3 characteristics that impress EVERY employer.)

The woman in charge of hiring for the position was unable to meet him that day, so he spent the night in DC, came back the next day for an interview, and he ultimately got the job!

If you want a job badly enough, what are you willing to do to differentiate yourself from the competition?  Maybe you just need to show up!

Thanks for reading!

-Pete Leibman


The #1 Way to Get Your DREAM Job! (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

March 19, 2010

There was a discussion recently posted in a career expert group I belong to on, entitled “The 100 best job board web sites.” I intentionally will not be sharing that list with you because it’s NOT where you should be looking!

I suppose job boards can be somewhat effective if (a) you desperately need to find a job (i.e. you will not be able to pay your bills unless you find work ASAP) and (b) if you are not very selective about what you want to do.  However, if you want to get your DREAM job, then stop relying on job board web sites!

There are 2 main problems with job boards:

1. It is very hard to differentiate yourself when you apply to a job posted online since you are lumped in with everyone else who applies.

2. When you use a job board, you are limited to what is posted online. In other words, you are only going after “publicized” jobs, instead of seeking out “hidden” job openings that may be more appealing to you.

So, what should you do instead of using job boards? The #1 way to get your dream job is to determine what your dream job is and then to connect (by phone, online, or in-person) with successful people who work in your desired industry, regardless of whether or not they do hiring for their company. Establishing relationships with these influencers will enable you to get referred to decision-makers when jobs become available, and it will also let you know about jobs that never get posted on job boards.

I know this works because I did it myself!  When I was a senior at Johns Hopkins University, I decided my dream job was to work in sales and marketing for a pro sports team. Despite not being able to find any relevant job openings online, and despite being told by friends, family, professors, and sports marketing “experts” that I lacked the relevant work experience, I persisted in my quest.

Ultimately, I met a senior executive for Fila at a networking event 2 months before graduation.  Impressed by my professionalism and enthusiasm, he referred me to several of his colleagues who were also major players in the sports industry. One of those individuals took a liking to me as well, and he then referred me to the Director of Sales for the Washington Wizards. Next thing I knew, I had an interview for a full-time sales position, and several weeks later, I was hired!

There are 3 important takeaways here from my story:

1. Both the executive I met at a networking event, and the executive who referred me to the Washington Wizards were people I spoke to in-person for a combined 60 seconds! (Most of our communication happened over the phone.) In other words, you don’t need to have a referral from your uncle or your father’s best friend to get your foot in the door somewhere; referrals can come from casual professional acquaintances!

2. Successful people want to help students and young professionals because they were once in your position.  Your youth is an advantage that makes people want to help you, so ask for help!

3. My dream job was not posted online. In other words, I would never even have found out about it if I relied on job boards alone in my search. Instead, I might have ended up selling textbooks after college (a job one of my professors recommended!)

In summary, job boards should only be used if you are desperate for work. In this economy, that may very well be the case. However, if you want to get your DREAM job, then focus on establishing and building relationships now AND throughout your career.  Relationships are the #1 way to get your dream job and achieve career success!

Thanks for reading!

-Pete Leibman

Gen Y Career Expert and Speaker

President of Idealize Enterprises, LLC

President of BetterFitness BetterHealth, LLC

12 Tips for Your Interview Day (i.e. Game-Day) Routine (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

March 18, 2010

Every great athlete has a specific regimen that he/she follows on game-day. Similarly, I encourage you to create your own routine for the day of the interview. Here are 12 things you should consider for your game-day preparation!

1. Exercise. Do it right after you get up, while listening to your favorite music. It will jump-start your energy levels and get you in a great mood.

2. Mind/Body Shower. While cleaning your body in the shower after exercising, clean your mind as well by reminding yourself of everything you have to be thankful for and by thinking about everything you like about yourself. Also tell yourself out loud why the company should hire you. You may laugh, but this positive self-talk really helps improve your mood!

3. Eat Breakfast. Go for a breakfast that is high-protein, high-fiber, low-fat, and which contains good carbs (i.e. egg whites, oatmeal, and some fresh fruit).

4. Floss and Brush. Do you know anyone that likes talking to someone with bad breath?

5. Get dressed. Get completely dressed, and double-check to make sure your clothes are free of any stains, holes, or wrinkles.

6. Travel in comfort.  In other words, if it’s going to be 100 degrees, don’t wear your entire suit to the interview; dress comfortably and then change into it at a nearby Starbucks.

7. Arrive very early. Arrive 30-60 minutes early (that is not a typo) and make sure you know exactly where you need to go.

8. Hang out at Starbucks. Then, go to a Starbucks or somewhere peaceful and relax. Inside of Starbucks, call some friends, talk to the staff, and loosen yourself up by talking to others.

9. Enter office and head for the bathroom. Actually show up into the office 5-10 minutes early and go to the bathroom and affirm to yourself that you look great and are ready. Then, go into a stall and hold a fixed smile for 30 seconds; it is impossible to be in a bad mood while smiling!

10. Be friendly to everyone you meet inside. Pretend each person you meet could be the decision-maker on getting the job. Once inside, acknowledge that you are a few minutes early and state who you are there to meet with.

11. Use small talk to relax. While you wait, do something to try to relax. Do not drink coffee in case you might spill it. Grab water when they ask to get you a drink or drink nothing. Read a magazine or just talk to the receptionist and ask them how long they have worked there, etc. Talking will help you release some of your nervousness.

12. SMILE and Stare (for a second). When you are greeted by the person interviewing you, SMILE wide, give a firm (but not suffocating) handshake, and make eye contact as you greet them. Ask yourself “what color is this person’s eyes” and you will be forced to make eye contact.

We’ll discuss what to do next in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!

 -Pete Leibman

Gen Y Career Expert and Speaker

President of Idealize Enterprises, LLC

President of BetterFitness BetterHealth, LLC

6 Tips for the Night Before a Morning Interview (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

March 17, 2010

The interview process begins the moment your interview is scheduled and does not finish until you accept the job!  By preparing the right way the night before the interview, you can be relaxed and stress-free the morning of the interview, and this will make your more confident in the interview itself!  Here are 6 essential tips for the night before a morning interview. 

  1. Check the forecast the night before.  If the weather report calls for any chance of rain, bring an umbrella with you (fold-up umbrellas can fit into any briefcase or small purse).  If it rains (and you show up wet), or if it is going to be 100 degrees (and you show up sweaty), you’ll feel self-conscious and look bad.  Don’t let the weather throw you off!
  2. Get dressed the night before.  Prepare all your clothes the night before the interview.  Make sure your shoes are polished and clean, your clothes fit properly (not too loose or too tight), and that your outfit matches and is crisply ironed.  Do NOT get your clothes together the morning of the interview; you don’t want to be scrambling to find another outfit if you notice a stain or hole in your clothes the morning of an appointment.  It has happened to me!
  3. Pack the night before.  Make sure you have the following ready to bring with you to the interview: (a) copies of your resume printed on high-quality paper (b) copies of letters of recommendation, even if they were not requested, (c) a typed page of 5-10 questions you plan to ASK at the interview (d) any relevant research or notes you gathered on the company/person interviewing you (e) any other materials that have been requested by the interviewer or which are relevant (i.e. writing samples, a cd featuring graphic design work you did at your last job, etc.)
  4. Get directions the night before.  Determine your mode of transportation to the interview (i.e. bus, train, car), map out your route to the interview location, and calculate how long it should take you to get there.
  5. Determine the night before when to leave.  Leave yourself 2-3 times as much time as you need.  In other words, if it should take you 30 minutes to get to the interview, plan to leave 60-90 minutes before you need to be there.  You don’t want to be rushing to arrive on time!  Get there early, and hang out at a local coffee shop until the interview is scheduled to begin.
  6. Sleep tight the night before.  Get a good night’s sleep the night before your interview (i.e. 8 hours of quality sleep).  So, if you have a 9 am interview, get into bed by 10pm, so you can be up by 6 am.  We’ll discuss what to do the morning of the interview in an upcoming post.

When you prepare the right way the night before a morning interview, you will walk into the interview confident and relaxed.  Good luck!

-Pete Leibman

Gen Y Career Expert and Speaker

President of Idealize Enterprises, LLC

President of BetterFitness BetterHealth, LLC

10 Questions to ASK in Every Job Interview (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

March 16, 2010

In a clip from a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode, Larry David discusses the importance of ASKING questions in a job interview, instead of just being prepared to answer them.

Remember that the interview is like a first date; regardless of who sets it up, it is designed for each party to decide if there is a match!  Since Curb doesn’t tell you what you should really be asking, here are 10 of my favorite questions to ASK when being interviewed.

  1. HOW DO YOU ENJOY WORKING HERE? (This is a good ice-breaker question to get to know the interviewer better and to learn about their background.)
  2. WHATS SKILLS OR PERSONALITY ATTRIBUTES DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST CRUCIAL FOR SUCCESS IN THIS POSITION? (This question will tell you what you should highlight about yourself, especially when you make your closing statement at the end of the interview.)
  3. WHERE DOES THE COMPANY WANT TO BE IN 5-10 YEARS?  (You will probably be asked this question.  Seems fair to me that you should be able to ask the company the same to see what their plans for the future are!)
  4. HOW WILL PERFORMANCE BE MEASURED FOR THE POSITION I AM APPLYING FOR?  (You want to learn what system they have for measuring success.)
  5. WHAT IS/ARE THE CAREER PATH(S) FOR SOMEONE WHO SUCCEEDS IN THE POSITION I AM APPLYING FOR?  (You want to learn what opportunities for advancement and growth exist in the company.)
  6. WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS THE GREATEST WEAKNESS OF THE COMPANY/DEPARTMENT? (Again, you will probably be asked this question, so it seems fair to me that you should be able to ask it as well!  Remember to ask it gently by highlighting the company’s strengths first.)
  7. WHAT IMPACT DO YOU BELIEVE THE RECENT _____  WILL HAVE ON THE INDUSTRY AND THE COMPANY’S FUTURE?  (Whether you highlight the economy, a new law, or some industry trend, this question shows an interest in the future.  If you feel comfortable, you can also share your predictions before asking this question to show that you have thought ahead as well.)
  8. HOW HAS THE INDUSTRY CHANGED SINCE ______ (OR SINCE THE INTERVIEWER STARTED WORKING THERE)? (Similar to question #7, this shows an interest in and awareness of changes in the industry.)
  9. NOW THAT YOU HAVE GOTTEN TO KNOW A LITTLE MORE ABOUT ME, WHAT CONCERNS, IF ANY, WOULD YOU HAVE ABOUT HIRING ME FOR THIS JOB?   (You want to try to draw out any objections that have not surfaced yet so that you can combat them.)
  10. WHAT IS/ARE THE NEXT STEP(S) IN THE INTERVIEW PROCESS?  (Like any good salesperson, you need to get a commitment for next steps, so that you are not forced to ‘touch base” or “follow-up” later on to see what to do next.)

By preparing thoughtful questions in advance and by asking them throughout the interview (and not just at the end of the interview), you can turn the interview into a 2-way conversation.  You will also learn more about the position and the company you are applying for, while demonstrating that you were well-prepared for the interview and knowledgeable about the company and its industry. 

Good luck!

-Pete Leibman

President of Idealize Enterprises, LLC

President of BetterFitness BetterHealth, LLC

How to Answer 7 of the Most Common Interview Questions (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

March 15, 2010

While each interview you participate in will be different, you can count on being asked some version of most, if not all, of the questions below.  You MUST have a well-constructed answer prepared for each of the following 7 questions.

Question #1:Tell me about yourself

How to answer: Using some quick “evidence,” discuss why the company should hire you and discuss why you want the job.

Question #2: What are your greatest strengths?

How to answer: Using some quick examples, discuss several of your strengths that are most relevant to the job you are applying for. 

Question #3: What is your greatest weakness?

How to answer: Discuss a strength that can occasionally get in your way (i.e. being too hard on yourself, being a perfectionist).

Question #4: Where do you want to be in 5 years?

How to answer: The interviewer wants to see how much thought you have given to your future, and he/she wants to be confident that you aren’t going to leave in 3 months if you are hired.  Discuss a plan that includes the company you are applying for.

Question #5: Where else are you interviewing/applying?

How to answer: The interviewer wants to see if you have other employment options (a positive) and if you are focused on specific jobs (a positive) or if your search has no direction (a negative).  Highlight several other relevant jobs you are applying for without being overly specific.

Question #6:  Why should we hire you?

How to answer: Highlight the most relevant skills and experience you have that make you qualified for the job, and be sure to mention how badly you want the job and how hard you will work, if you are hired.

Question #7: How would you describe yourself?

How to answer: Focus on several of your personality traits that will make you likely to succeed if you are hired.

In summary, if you are prepared to answer these 7 questions, you will be well on your way to acing your next interview!

Thanks for reading!

-Pete Leibman

President of Idealize Enterprises, LLC

President of BetterFitness BetterHealth, LLC

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