Ace Interviews and Tell Better Stories

Interview skills are the single highest-payoff capability anyone can develop. Learning how to sell yourself will change your life

It’s impossible to know what questions you’ll be asked during your next behavioral interview, but there’s an approach to handle anything and land the offer. This article introduces practice questions, a response framework to ace them, and a “storyboard” to organize your experience.

Behavioral interviews are grounded in theory. They flow from a belief that the way you’ve reacted to situations in the past can predict how you’ll react to similar situations in the future. These questions are selected to determine how suitable you are for roles in the hiring organization.

Thorough employers often conduct resume reviews and behavioral interviews by phone before candidates are scheduled for in-person interviews. These interviews usually consist of ten to twenty behavioral questions ranging from “tell me about a time when you worked for a difficult boss” to “give me an example where you had to influence a peer.” When questions are open-ended successful candidates deliver concise, relevant stories that describe their role in similar situations. Rambling answers that miss key points will knock you out of consideration so preparation counts.

Real questions from real interviews:

Experience suggests that even the most structured behavioral interviews include traditional questions and candidates must be prepared to answer both. Over the years I’ve asked workshop participants to  write down three common questions and the ones they fear most. Another exercise gave them a chance to work through responses together to develop strategies that target their weakest areas and present solutions to the rest of the group. It’s an effective way to form automatic responses that keep your answers on track and on time. Here’s the list:

Icebreakers designed to “get to know you:”

  1. Tell me about yourself?
  2. What did you do to prepare for this interview?
  3. Tell me about your education?
  4. You have college experience on your resume, did you earn a degree?
  5. Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?
  6. How does this position fit into your career plans?

Traditional questions:

  1. Why should we hire you?
  2. Why do you want the job?
  3. Describe yourself in one word?
  4. Tell me about your career plans?
  5. Tell me something about yourself that no one in this room would know about you?
  6. Give me three words that each person would use to describe you: Supervisor; Peer; Direct Report?
  7. Why are you better than the other candidates in this pool/panel?
  8. Why do you think you are ready for this job?
  9. If you could lead your current department/division/company for one day what would you change?
  10. What is your most significant accomplishment?
  11. What is your greatest weakness?
  12. How would you determine if we should begin service in a particular market?
  13. If you were a tree what kind would you be?
  14. What kind of animal do you identify with?
  15. What is the greatest misconception people have about you?
  16. What’s your greatest weakness?
  17. What’s your greatest strength?
  18. What would your manager say about you that you need to change?
  19. If you could go back in time what period of your life would you relive and why?
  20. What the last book you read?
  21. If you were on the cover of a magazine, which one would it be and what would the story be about?

Opinion questions:

  1. What do you think about our ad campaign?
  2. What did you think about our latest earnings release?
  3. What do you think about our initiatives for next year?
  4. How do you feel about sick time?
  5. How would you change this company?

Behavioral questions:

  1. Describe an experience that helped you get ready for this?
  2. Tell me about a difficult co-worker?  How did you handle him/her?
  3. Tell me about a difficult supervisor?  How did you handle him/her?
  4. Tell me about a time when your supervisor asked you to lead a task you were uncomfortable with?
  5. Tell me about a stressful experience at work?
  6. Tell me about your biggest failure?
  7. Tell me about a time you used your strengths and what happened?
  8. Tell me about a time when you walked away from a sale?
  9. Have you ever fired a customer?  Tell me about it?

Case questions to evaluate problem solving skills:

  1. How many golf balls will fit in a Boeing 777?
  2. If an airplane takes-off at 130 mph on a 72 degree day using 4,500′ of runway, how much runway is required on a 100 degree day?
  3. How many tickets did the Rolling Stones sell on their last world tour?
  4. How much water did the city of Dallas use in the summer of 2015?
  5. How much energy does a satellite launch from Sea Launch save? Sea Launch is a towable marine-based platform that carries rockets to the equator for liftoff.

A Response framework for Behavioral questions – the STAR format

“Tell me about a time when…” is a powerful clue that you’re facing a behavioral question.

Behavioral questions and traditional questions demand preparation – it’s very easy to spend five, six, or ten minutes recapping endless details about a particular situation. When your question begins “tell me about a time when…” your story should be delivered thoughtfully, and contain several predictable elements. This framework will keep your answer on track and organizes your response.

Keep these principles in mind. Your response should provide background, details about your work, a challenge or specific result you were asked about, and a conclusion. All of this should be well-organized, delivered seamlessly, and in three-minutes or less. The interviewer is looking for a relevant, concise story, that fills-in enough detail to verify you’re experience met their criteria. Apply the STAR format to guarantee credit:

  1. Situation.
  2. Task.
  3. Action.
  4. Results.

Combine the first two steps. Spend 30 seconds setting up the “Situation” and “Task” – usually something like this: “When I worked as a budget analyst for Acme Corporation, I was responsible for my department’s sales forecast.”

Next deliver your “Actions.” Provide details about the task and challenge, and how you handled it. This is the meat of your answer, spend two minutes on it. It will sound like this: “Each month I sent worksheets to managers in the department and scheduled a follow-up conference call to review results and capture information about variances to plan, and build an up-to-date pipeline report. I also used the calls to cross-pollinate best practices within the department and ensure leaders were focused on their targets.”

Then conclude with “Results” – take thirty seconds to wrap-up. “Because I developed a pipeline report to identify where each opportunity was in our sales pipeline my forecasts were always within 1% of actual results.”

Plan to succeed – it works.

Pick a good story from your storyboard:

Mastering the STAR format is actually more important than the “Right” story. Each candidate will bring different experience to a role – by definition every response will be different – interviewers spend very little energy or attention to decide if your story was the “Best” from your experience – something that is unknowable to them.

Create instant recall by developing a grid to capture information about your previous roles and experience. Put jobs or assignments in different rows, and qualities, characteristics, and outcomes in the columns. Populate the cells with a story title, to aid your memory, and summarize actions and results. It should look like this:

Storyboard

There’s one more thing your practice should include – how to decline to answer a question. Most interviewers have a list of questions to choose from – if they ask you a question that forces you to select a poor fit, or worse, ended in failure – don’t answer. Pause for four seconds, and then say, “I don’t recall an experience like that – I’d like to pass on this one.” You can pass or decline in infinite ways although practice is always helpful to get you comfortable for the next time when you need a gracious answer.

Conclusion:

You’ll be amazed how quickly you can capture deep insights and catalog life experience to share during your next interviews and meetings. You don’t need 72 stories, but the more you remind yourself the better the fit and you’ll be well-prepared for any interview. This approach offers flexibility and adds diversity to your responses; it gives you a fighting chance to highlight relevant experience from different roles and situations.

Rock your next interview, ace behavioral interviews, and own your story. A thorough storyboard, along with practice responses to the questions listed here using the STAR format will dramatically improve your results.


For more detail about the STAR technique study this excellent post by Nagesh Belludi at his “Right Attitudes” blog. And for information about frameworks not covered here – specifically related to “case questions” review Marc Cosentino’s website Casequestions.com or his book, Case in point.

Coaching

What I’m Watching in 2019

One of my favorite moments in 2018 – when SpaceX’s “Falcon Heavy” put “Starman” in space to drive a Tesla for eternity and the boosters stuck a double-landing.  Now here’s what I’m watching in 2019:

  1. Fully autonomous cars offered for sale.
  2. Permits to allow humans to be carried by autonomous drones.
  3. Permits to allow single pilot operations in a “twin-aisle” cargo aircraft.
  4. Permit to allow autonomous operation of a commercial aircraft.
  5. George Bye’s Sunflyer will receive FAA certification.
  6. Better batteries – Solid state batteries with a substantially higher energy density than current Li-ion batteries.
  7. Solar panels with 2X efficiency of current panels.
  8. Power Over Ethernet lighting – POE Lighting.
  9. The first company to react to air quality complaints based on data from Plume Labs handheld air quality meters.
  10. The normalization of deterministic and probabilistic applications for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning as a patient analysis tool at the onset of a visit to a Doctor’s office (or no visit at all).
  11. The first announcement about a patient cured with CRISPR technology.
  12. Widespread 5G deployment (50% coverage in top 5 markets) then 50% in top 25 markets, then 100% in top 25 markets.
  13. The first company to be charged under the EU’s new Global Data Privacy Regulation – GDPR
  14. De-dollarization.
  15. College tuition costs to decline more than 25% and the Future of Education from Peter Diamandis.
  16. The Best of CES 2019.
  17. MIT’s Technology Breakthrough list for 2019 – due sometime at the start of Q2 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coaching

Deloitte’s CORE Leadership Program teaches Veterans the art of personal reinvention

Change is hard – it requires effort, it takes time, and demands gut-checks that are uncomfortable.

Thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen leave the service every year. Their choice means leaving behind a strong sense of purpose, service, leadership, teammates, co-pilots, neighbors, classmates, responsibility, and a life they understood and knew how to navigate. As a group, Veteran’s have more management, leadership, and decision-making experience than civilians twenty-years senior to them, but they often lack interview skills and job search experience. This is a gap Deloitte’s CORE Leadership Program fills.

Deloitte University

A few weeks ago Deloitte volunteers completed another three-day CORE Leadership Program for 50 Veteran’s in transition. Participants were selected to attend a series of workshops and networking events at Deloitte University (DU) to learn more about themselves, know their fit, know who to ask for help, and learn how to tell their stories effectively. Soon after the immersive program began Dorie Clark gave a powerful talk about personal reinvention.

Dorie’s an accomplished writer, speaker, and teacher who’s observations and ideas are supported by pivots from journalism, to politics, to non-profit leadership, then on to teaching, speaking, and writing for Forbes, the Harvard Business Review and other premier publications. Her talk about personal reinvention resonated with every person in the room.

Over the years I’ve witnessed capable peers, and accomplished employees, struggle. They either lacked confidence or story telling skills; they languished in jobs they were overqualified for because they didn’t know how to reinvent themselves. One of the greatest skills anyone can learn is how to interview well. Simply put – it’s a high payoff activity that gives people command over their careers, and it’s the reason CORE is so potent. The exercises, workshops, round-tables, practice interviews, and evenings at the “Barn” filled the middle.

The Barn

CORE ended on a Saturday afternoon – with a presentation by a Veteran, and two-time, Paralympic gold medal winner.

Here’s a preview at the risk of sharing too much with future CORE participants. During a raid the speaker activated an IED while moving to aid two Afghani Commandos who suffered serious injuries minutes earlier when they set off a 40lb explosive charge. Days after being flown back to the United States he learned devastating news. His situation changed – he had to reinvent himself.

This hero delivered an emotional, inspiring story. He offered more laughs than tears and called out many people who put themselves at risk or made other sacrifices to give him a second chance at life. He’s still adding chapters to his amazing story, and all of us have someone to cheer on in the 2016 Paralympic games.

Before CORE I thought about what I could offer, and how I could help. I left CORE  humbled, and more grateful for the Veterans who stepped-up after I left the Army seventeen years ago; I left filled with a sense of purpose and pride in Deloitte that is every CHRO’s “employee engagement” dream and I’m looking forward to meeting a new group of Veterans in February 2016.

Personal reinvention is hard, but a comprehensive roadmap exists. Please share this with service-members you know are ready to transition. Click here for more information about the CORE Leadership Program, including program eligibility and application requirements.

Originally published on LinkedIn.

Coaching

Self-Confident Networking

Successful people are self-confident. Confidence alone doesn’t make you successful, but it’s so important it’s worth studying in detail.

Confidence has several ingredients – how we act, look, feel, what we say, and how we say it. Our body language, speech, and delivery influence people around us.  Amy Cuddy taught the world how “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are” in a TED speech watched more than twenty-million times. We convey a lot of information about ourselves, our status, and how we’re feeling through our posture, body language, and how we move to establish personal space.

How do confident people act, walk, and talk? You know it when you see it. Let’s look at an effective teacher – the Military. Drill and ceremony rehearsals, confidence courses, the “gas chamber,” where Soldiers and Marines are inoculated against the fear of being hit with “tear gas” through the experience of being exposed to it. On demolition ranges where they learn how to throw live hand-grenades – safely. Airborne school, where Soldiers are turned into Paratroopers, and on countless missions, deployments and real emergencies that challenge participants to control their emotions to keep fear in check.

Early in my Military Police career I witnessed how attitudes affected preparation, readiness, and performance. I watched a five foot three inch, hundred and ten pound women control her fear to subdue a violent man twice her size. Phrases I half-believed then I embrace completely now – “fake it till you make it”, “when in charge, take charge, and when you’re not, act as if you are.” Confidence is not a substitute for competence, but it trumps alternative ways to approach life.

Training can be designed to teach tasks that together form skills that Soldiers or business-people master before they are qualified. Drown Proofing is a good example. It begins as a series of easy-to-achieve tasks. Soldiers are taught how to stay afloat and to make a flotation device from their clothing. The training culminates with a fully-clothed soldier, complete with kevlar vest, helmet, rifle, and boots thrown into the water. To pass, they need to stay afloat, no style points – as long as they don’t panic, they’ll get through it. And that’s true for anything you do in life – don’t panic.  More dramatic than conventional drown-proofing, this image shows Marines inside a helicopter mock-up as it rotates into water – you can watch the entire video on youtube here. This specialized training increased the survival rate for helicopter passengers caught in a forced-landing on water by several hundred percent.

Marines a modular Amphibious Egress Tank

Lessons learned in the Military can be applied to business. Networking is to business what drown-proofing is to Marines. Research on networking conducted at Harvard University adds evidence on this topic.

“Basically, the more “powerful” the person, the less they view “networking” as a “Dirty” activity. The lower power the person, the more they view it as a shameful chore. One implication for practice is that, to foster the advancement and effectiveness of professionals at low hierarchical levels, organizations need to create opportunities for emergent forms of networking, as those who need instrumental  networking the most are the least likely to engage in it.”

People I work with don’t need to do more good things better, they need to stop doing one thing poorly or step-up in situations where senior leaders wouldn’t hesitate. Usually it’s a single self-defeating inaction, or belief that stops them from moving forward. Self-confidence is the most common element their focus can fix to achieve the results they want. Think about how this could apply to you.

Gavin de Becker points out that young circus elephants are tied to a post with heavy chains they can’t break. Over time, they learn to stop trying, and eventually, as adults, they can be restrained with the flimsiest rope. What ropes are holding you back? Are you afraid, or lack confidence, or self-worth? Learn to be fearless.

Please “Like” and share if you found this useful!

Paul’s talk – “Personal Branding and Digital Footprints” is a discussion about how people connect, learn, and grow. He introduces ideas and techniques you can apply to achieve your goals, enhance your career, and help other people along the way.

Paul Laherty leads Deloitte’s relationship with several major airlines. Over the past fifteen years he’s led teams in Sales, Marketing, and Finance at American Airlines, Advito, Travelocity, Diio, and Cornerstone Information Systems. Paul’s an instrument-rated pilot, writer, speaker, world-traveler, former Army Officer, a husband, and father.  He helps people and organizations achieve significance, travel safely, and think differently. Paul publishes at paullaherty.com, and is open to connecting on LinkedIn at LinkedIn/paullaherty, or twitter @paul_laherty.

Coaching Risk Management Sales & Marketing

Babies and Billionaires are Assertive

The most assertive people I know are babies and billionaires. Babies demand attention when they’re hungry or have a dirty diaper, and great wealth isn’t acquired by those who think about questions but never ask them. I have an example – during the opening-night reception for the King Tut exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art the hushed crowd flowed into the signature room containing the King’s greatest treasures. An older man wandered in, and in a loud, familiar voice, asked, “Where’s the Mummy?” I turned around and found Ross Perot standing in the doorway.

In business, speaking, presenting, selling, and networking are common sources of stress. When a leader reacts calmly, and confidently to a stressful encounter, their emotional intelligence and leadership strengths shine.

Self-confidence is about overcoming fear. Fear motivates us, but it can also disable us, through panic, or over longer periods through the corrosive effects from elevated stress. Inoculation is a process to induce immunity from panic. Inoculation increases our ability to manage fear and to operate effectively when we’re exposed to the fear-inducing thing. Stunt pilots are trained to fly an airplane upside down, just a few feet off the ground, without engine power, while Firefighters learn to navigate hazards in the dark during simulations in a “burn tower.” Paramedics and ER physicians don’t panic when they have two minutes left to stabilize a trauma patient.  All of these people were exposed to conditions that simulated their worst-case scenarios to teach them how to respond. They developed reflexsive responses to save themselves and others from serious harm.

Good leaders know that you can reduce fear by pushing rising-stars in front of an audience to speak or being tasked with a presentation for the Board of Directors, or leading a project for a Senior Vice President. Inoculation against our fears expose courage, and assertiveness is the way we demonstrate it every day. Fear is in our minds most of the time.

Here are a few actions you can take that will increase your courage, and innoculate you against fear – be polite, but be assertive:

  1. In situations with lots of people including conferences, conventions, and large internal meetings – reintroduce yourself to people you should know. And if you can’t remember their name lead with this “Hi – my name is…, I know we’ve met, but I’ve forgotten your name!”
  2. Always let someone know if their out-of-office message has expired. When you check in to a hotel ask, “Is there anything I can do to receive a complimentary upgrade?”
  3. Stop eating food that wasn’t prepared the way you asked, and send it back to the kitchen.
  4. Spend time with a few people who seem to be fearless and watch what they do.

And if you’re still looking for something to really push your limits try a ToughMudder race – they offer great confidence challenges.

Over time you’re self-confidence will increase and situations you once viewed as stressful will become normal parts of your day.

 

Coaching

Work-Life Balance

We’ve all tossed around expressions about work life balance, and they have different meanings to different people. But how many of us actually keep track of our balance in a systematic way? What if you could measure your balance on a regular basis to uncover insights about your happiness or career satisfaction? Or learn how problems with your kids, partner, or other factors affect you in other areas of your life?

The “wheel of life” has a long history; it’s originally from the Indo-Tibet region – as the Bhavacakra. It’s a powerful way to identify areas in your life that require attention and help you move up the satisfaction food chain. Kevin Burgess describes four states people are always in: Survival, Sustainment, Success, and Significance. Where are you? As you fill out your wheel of life think about how problems in one area affect the others. You can create a simple radar chart in excel or download this chart here.

Life Wheel

Consider each category and assign a score.

1. Health

Are you generally healthy, other than the normal aches and pains that accumulate over the years? Do you get enough sleep and exercise? Are you comfortable with your weight? or battling habits and addictions like caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, or obsessive eating?

2. Family

Is your family supportive, available, and healthy? Are they a source of strength and encouragement or a drain? Are you caring for someone who is sick or disabled? or coping with a troubled child?

3. Friends

Do your friends push you forward or demand support? Are they coaches and cheerleaders or emotional vampires?

4. Finances

Are you doing well and saving for retirement, or does your income just cover your bills? Conversely, are you battling with medical bills, late fees, and home and auto repairs that threaten to swamp you? Give yourself a high score if you’ve paid off debts with a windfall.

5. Recreation

Do you have time for yourself and spend it on activities that you enjoy and look forward to, that energize you, and increase your satisfaction?

6. Personal Growth

Do you have written goals and a plan to achieve them? Is formal training part of your day-to-day life or something you avoid?

7. Career

Are you satisfied with the three “R’s” Responsibility, Recognition, and Rewards provided by your job? Is there a clear path to achieve your goals? Do you have the support you need to reach them?

8. Workspace

Your office space or work space should be ready for you to do your best work. Does it help you or get in the way? Is your space clean, and workable or cluttered and disorganized. Do you have to hunt for things when you need them, or are they ready for quick use?

9. Romance

Is your romantic life satisfying? Do you feel loved, and receive attention, affection, and support? Does your partner feel that way?

Once you’ve recorded your responses plot them on the wheel and add a score to describe your happiness, satisfaction, optimism, and choose which of Kevin’s four phases you’re in now – put the date on it and keep it at your desk. Revisit the wheel again in six months to learn how happiness, satisfaction, and optimism ebb and flow as multiple dimensions in your life change.

Coaching

Master Your Future

Several years ago I was trying to master cross-wind landings in an especially under-powered airplane on a gusty springtime day in North Texas. It was ugly. I was all over the runway – at one point even touching down with the nose pointed 30 degrees to the left of an enormous strip of concrete at Alliance Airport. I was frustrated and exhausted when my flight instructor broke in with encouragement I’ve found useful many times since. He said, “It’s your pony to ride.” He meant own it, make the plane do what you want it to do, when you want it to do it. Don’t let the wind knock you around – be the boss. Said another way, when in charge, take charge, and when you’re not, act as if you are. That’s great advice for anything you do – and it applies to leadership and self-improvement.

Have you ever tried to measure how much you’ve learned since your last graduation? Did the internet exist? Smart phones? Twitter, Linkedin, Salesforce.com, 3D printers, LEDs, SAP, Prezi, Dropbox, Office, Word, Excel, and all the other technology tools, gadgets and Software as a Service applications you’ve mastered? What have you learned about managing people, HR rules, federal regulations, tax laws, environmental regulations, and everything else you’ve focused on?  I’ll bet your working knowledge has increased at least 3% every year – if not more, and many skills seem to multiply the benefits of newer skills and information. There’s a cumulative effect. But what does that look like, and how would it impact you to find ways to be more efficient and to adopt new technology or processes before your peers? I’ll show you after a brief discussion about success.

High School reunions provide lots of material about how we predict and measure success. Yours and others. When you graduated it’s likely that you had an idea about how successful or unsuccessful your classmates would be. In most cases you had little information about your peers’ personal growth strategies so it was difficult to predict that the “C” student in your social studies class, the one who spent summers roofing new homes, would go on to own a $100 Million construction company, or the quiet kid in your English class would earn a law degree from Yale and end up as a Federal Judge. In High School, and beyond college, it’s too early to observe the cumulative effects of exponential growth. Over time skills and knowledge acquired outside the classroom will dominate. It can take many years to rack up the score that other people use to measure progress. Successful people share a drive to learn new things and take risks. And many learn that failure doesn’t stop you unless you let it. Everyone fails, but some people keep trying.

It doesn’t matter what you measure, income, wealth, efficiency, knowledge, employees – pick your yardstick. Comparisons among three exponential growth rates 1%, 3%, and 6% lead to obvious difference over several years. A 6% improvement starts to bend up and away from the 3% line. Separation is evident over fifteen years, but the “Bend” is clear over twenty-five years.

15 year line

 

25 year line

Again, It doesn’t matter what you measure, what counts is that learning something new provides enormous benefits over many years.  Look at the same graph over thirty years – the 6% line bends upward in an increasingly obvious way. But what if there were opportunities for giant leaps? A promotion, a degree, a company started, a skill mastered? How would leaps impact the line for a life-long learner?

30 year line

In the next chart two 50% leaps have been added to the 6% line in early years. Maybe the leaps were generated by an advanced degree, but what if they flowed from starting a business that failed, or a second business that failed? You would be far smarter and wealthier from the experience. It doesn’t matter how your axis is labeled, the point is to see how gains can have a huge impact over years.

Performance Leaps

Obviously leaps have an enormous impact – especially when they occur early – but leaps create bends any time they happen – and that’s what you need to know to develop a plan that will separate you from the crowd. A final example – what happens to someone who catches a lucky break or a gets an unexpected promotion, while avoiding new skills or knowledge? Take a look.

Performance Crossover 1% and 3%A 1% annual improvement with a 50% leap in year 12, climbs past the steady 3%-er, but the effect isn’t long-lived, and slow and steady outperforms. This begins to look like a study in luck – or the idea that lucky people make themselves lucky. You’ve already seen how much separation occurs when the 6%-er received the lucky break – was that person lucky? or did they create the situation? Undoubtedly these charts demonstrate that meaningful progress to develop new skills can lead to big performance differences. Get a plan and start something to bend your line.

Coaching

Paul Laherty’s LinkedIn Tip Sheet

Linkedin is the primary tool recruiters, fans, employers, colleagues, customers and friends use to learn about you. It’s a powerful application and an open-book. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel – review what other people in your profession have done and use their profiles as a benchmark to measure your story. You should even ‘borrow’ ideas that represent you from anyone who says it better than you think you could.

This isn’t everything but it will give you a good start. Even a brief profile can be effective and allow you to generate thousands of relevant connections.

Linkedin is one-part of a complete brand-building strategy. You’ll learn a lot by becoming an expert user so it’s worth focusing on it as a starting point.

1. Getting started – You need a starting point to measure your progress so create a network map of your connections before you make other updates and changes. Visit Socilab.com to create a report about your network. It’s even better than inmaps, as long as you have fewer than 500 connections, since it shows your network ‘developing.’ Capture a screenshot to use later (save it as a pdf, jpeg, or other photo file – most computers have “Paint”, just “Paste” the screenshot into it, and “save as”).

2. “Turn off notifications” as a courtesy to your connections (since you’re about to get busy). From your thumbnail photo select “Privacy & Settings”, then, in the lower-center choose “turn on/off your activity broadcasts.”

3. Select groups to join and companies to follow. You should choose associations and groups you have in common with your co-workers, colleagues, friends, family, and classmates. Once you’ve joined a group, you can manage visibility – many groups should be public on your profile, but “connection generators” should be hidden. Consider turning off notification messages from the groups you join, but you should allow members to contact you.

4. Join the following groups (you can join 50):

A. Ten trade associations in your profession.
B. Your school alumni associations.
C. Military and veteran groups.
D. TED: Ideas worth spreading (400K+ members).
E. Another 20 that are specific and important to you. E – J (below) should be hidden from view (you can select this option in ‘Manage Groups’
F. Jobs (+750K members)
G. Linkedin:HR
H. Linkedin Residential Real Estate
I. Linkedin Accounting
J. Linkedin Entertainment
K. eMarketing Association Network.

5. Follow companies and organization (not included in the 50 “groups” you can join):

A. Your employer
B. Previous employers
C. Competitors
D. Your suppliers
E. Local colleges/universities
F. Local companies

6. Follow influential people and trend setters:

A. Elon Musk
B. Mark Cuban
C. Tony Robbins
D. Seth Godin
E. Nassim Taleb
F. James Rickards
G. Influential people in your industry

7. Add 10 skills: Leadership, Management, Strategy, Venture Capital, Startups, Procurement, Product Development, Marketing Communications. Keep this list small so you can hit 99+ endorsements for each one as soon as possible. Once you have many endorsements for those, then add new skills.

You’re on your way with a more complete profile.

8. Add connections.
Do not send blast emails. Personalize connection requests – it doesn’t need to be sophisticated, but you should show recipients that you care enough to personalize the note. Here’s an easy example. John – I hope you’re doing well. I’d like to add you to my network on linkedin. Regards, Dianne. Short, easy, personal.

Tips: This fact is a goldmine: you don’t need to know someone’s email address if you are connected to them through a group.

Another nugget for your consideration: Linkedin prevents spamming through sophisticated algorithms that keep track of how many invitations you send out, how quickly people respond, and the percent that accept your requests. This is why personalization is crucial. You want quick ‘yeses’ to keep going. This means your friends’ parents, or kid’s soccer coach plays a role – they’re likely to say yes, so when your CEO sits on hers for a few days you don’t get locked out.

Find people who are well connected – they will give you exponential reach. It’s better to have ten connections that each have 5,000+ connections, than a thousand people who have 10 connections.

Look for LIONs – Linkedin Open Networkers (they have a circle logo next to their profile). These are people who encourage others to connect with them. Authors, speakers, consultants and senior executives are more open to connecting if you send them a good argument. As your work advances It’s a great idea to search for people who are similar to you or have the same title. In the search box type “Product Development” or “Sales Manager” to find the highest ranked people. Look at their profile. What groups do they belong to that you could add? How did they write their job descriptions? What skills have they listed?

Now – do the same thing for the current and former trade association Presidents and Board Members… how can you incorporate information from their profiles into yours?

Search Engine Optimization – This is a book by itself. To get started, select five words or phrases you think describe you or the roles you’ve had and are looking for. For this example use “Software Developer” – next, use http://www.google.com/trends to search for your term. You’ll find that it’s not a great search term, but a similar term is, “Software Engineer.” So if you decide to stick with “Software Developer” you should also seed your profile with “Software Engineer” to maximize the number of times you will appear in Linkedin Searches for one of those terms. It doesn’t matter what your key words or phrases are, what matters is what other people think and how often recruiters use those terms, so embrace “Google Trends” and use it to guide you towards relevant, high-frequency key-words to give you the best advantage.

Have fun and share what you learn.

Coaching

Optimize your linkedin profile

So it’s time to refresh your profile… where to begin?  Said another way, where do you get the most bang for the buck on your profile? The answer depends on your goals, but generally, it’s useful to acknowledge that your linkedin profile is “content”, while Linkedin is a content “host” and “data-aggregator” that powers search results with a proprietary algorithm hidden from the user’s view. So how do we measure something that’s invisible? Easy, identify the search terms you expect people to use to locate your profile.

Here’s how you do it. Open the “Advanced” search window in Linkedin. Put four or five of your keywords or phrases in the “Keywords” field (separated by commas). Then move down to the “Postal Code” field and type in your code; next, select a distance in the “Within” field. Then hit “Search” to see the results sorted by relevance. Record your position and note the page your profile shows up on. Then expand the distance by changing the “Within” field and repeat until your profile doesn’t appear in the results. Now hit “reset”, a link next to the “Search” button. Re-type your keyword list to perform a worldwide search.

At this point you should examine profiles that appear at the top of the search results on the first page, since these profiles have the highest relevance score in Linkedin’s algorithm. Pay close attention to variations of your keywords that appear in multiple high-scoring profiles. Once you’ve created a list of phrases and keywords the top performers used edit your profile to include two of the new keywords or phrases in several relevant places throughout your profile to test their effect on your ranking. Rerun the search with the distance filter to measure your profile’s performance against peers near you compared to your starting point.

Your keyword strategy starts with description words about your job-level, functional area, and industry: Hotel Sales Manager, Software Developer, Hospital Administrator, Author, Speaker, Product Strategy Manager, Inbound Marketing Director. You know what they are, but what you don’t know is which words and phrases are favored by the recruiters, customers, and partners who might be looking for your profile. Fortunately there’s a multi-million dollar tool freely available to you to uncover insights about how most people search for the terms you think best describe you. Google trends.

Go to google.com/trends and type your first keyword in the search box. When the results appear they will include “Related Searches” below the fold. Scroll down to look for similar keywords that might outscore the one’s you’ve selected. Compare the new keywords and phrases to the list you captured from high scoring profiles? Use google.com/trends to evaluate the new phrases too – and update your list powered by this new information.

On to your profile – great profiles have a lot in common. They include high quality profile photos – and no photo is complete without enhancements in photoshop. It’s a photo…a representation of you…it’s not you… so you should have perfect hair, and gleaming white teeth… and you should not have a beer in your hand, an arm around your shoulder, red-eye, or any variety of crazy accessories. Don’t use any picture that could be included in a “caption contest.”

Do ensure that your profile is 100% complete – Linkedin leads you through steps required to get there.

Do put your contact details at the top of your profile, and in the section marked “contact details.”  Make it incredibly easy for people to reach you.

Do put schools, organizations, affiliations, and hobbies in your profile.

Do join at least ten groups in your industry, and another ten groups in your functional area, and five or more groups for your level. Along with alumni associations, athletics, and religious organizations above, groups will increase the number of items you have in common with other people. It will humanize and personalize your profile. These touches will increase your likability, accessibility, and approachability, all characteristics that will enhance the probability that others will reach out to you proactively.

All of this can be achieved without more than a sentence or two about each position or job. Leave the detailed scope and accomplishments light and focus on keywords and your profile completion score, then fill-in the remaining areas when you have more time.

In his book, Bounce, Matthew Syed pointed out that expertise requires “Meaningful Practice” – I agree, and this article should help you get there with Linkedin.

Coaching

Boeing 737 vs. Toyota Prius (this might surprise you)

We’re surrounded by advertising designed to convince us that some product or activity is green. Lighting, transportation, and hot water combine to form a significant portion of our daily energy consumption. Looking outside our homes, transportation is the largest controllable expense and energy user. Efficiency is tricky and subject to opinions and interpretation so I won’t create an absolute efficiency measurement here. Given Delta Airlines’ recent announcement that they will purchase an oil refinery to better manage their fuel costs let’s compare transportation on a relative basis and use empirical data to show us how different forms of getting around compare against one another?

I define efficiency as an amount of fuel required to move one person one mile (a passenger seat mile). On that basis we can rank Ford F150 pickup trucks against Global Express 550 corporate jets and a Toyota Prius against a motorcycle. Two additional ways we might look at this question are: 1. What’s the maximum efficiency a particular mode could achieve? 2. What’s the most likely efficiency a given mode will achieve?

Data and calculations have been updated to include a Tesla model S, and four airplanes that entered service since this was originally published in 2012. The new list includes the 737MAX, Airbus A321 NEO (New Engine Option), a Boeing 787-900, and the Airbus A350-900. When people are asked which is more efficient, a Boeing 737 or a Toyota Prius, most make a common error and allow speed to affect their judgment about efficiency. The answer depends on the number of full seats. In fact, a 737 filled with a typical number of passengers is more efficient than a Prius with a single occupant. The Prius excels when you start to pack people into it, but most respondents assume that modern jet aircraft couldn’t compete against a hybrid car. This exercise showcases how efficient certain vehicles are. Our runaway winner is the world’s fleet of large tour busses. Operated at capacity these vehicles can move one person between Los Angeles and San Francisco with one gallon of diesel fuel, while a 737 will consume five gallons, and a loaded Prius needs more than two gallons per seat.

The other end of this spectrum is interesting too. How does traveling in First Class by commercial carrier compare to the fuel ‘cost’ required for an individual to travel onboard a private jet? Before we answer this we need to calculate the fuel burn for a first class seat. Boeing reports the 777-200 aircraft could hold 440 seats in a coach class configuration, so we know this plane can achieve 81 miles per gallon for each passenger. Assume that Business Class seats use twice as much fuel as a seat in coach, and First Class seats consume four times more fuel than the average seat in Coach, then for the Boeing 777 we would expect to achieve 20 miles per gallon for each First Class passenger.  Compare that to the 13 miles per gallon each seat could generate in a Gulfstream Global Express 550 if every seat was full! Even filling half the seats in the plane would require a fuel burn more than three times higher than consumed by a First class seat on a Boeing 777-200ER and that ignores the frequent ‘repositioning’ flights private jet travel requires.

This table normalizes fuel efficiency based on passenger seat miles. In this example, a Prius with four people would generate four passenger seat miles for every mile driven, while a Boeing 737-800 could generate up to 175 passenger seat miles for each mile flown.

This exercise also points out a paradox in aircraft design – a single aisle Boeing 737-800 is nearly twice as efficient as the larger, double-aisle Boeing 777-200ER. The design requirements for long-haul international flying require more lavatories, large galleys, more storage space, life rafts and a host of other overhead not needed for shorter hops. This paradox creates an opportunity for shorter stage long-haul flying as fuel costs continue to rise. I’ve already shown that absolute fuel burn does not correlate to efficiency the way seating capacity does. Commercial aircraft can move many people very rapidly, and they do it at least as efficiently as cars, and advanced aircraft designs like the 787 Dreamliner, and A350-900 are closing the gap with their single-aisle peers. Motorcycles and minivans are great for moving one or a few people, but it’s very clear that technology scaled for personal transportation doesn’t beat mass transit today. Buses and mini-buses continue to shine in a world where liquid fuels are scarce and expensive and it will be interesting to watch how efficiency demands will shape international and domestic travel in the coming decades.

If you’re interested about commercial aircraft fuel economy you should check out these posts:

The Secret Behind Airline Fuel Surcharges.

Strategic Travel Managers Know Chemistry

Aviation Featured Travel Management