Ask The Coach #2: Consulting or Multiple Positions at Same Company on a Resume (how to)

August 4th, 2017

This question was something I came up against right when Diana emailed it to me… here’s the question, and the responses from coaches is below:

I have a question about listing consulting positions on a resume.  My last 3 jobs were 1099 consulting positions.  I was thinking after watching the Extreme Resume Makeover – could having them currently listed as separate positions be causing me to lose out on jobs that I am MORE than qualified for?  Looks like I job hop? If so, should I list like:

Consulting Work:
ABC Global Services………..
LodgicSource………..
LPL Financial………….
 

Or should I list next to the job title:

(Consultant)

Note from Jason: This question can be expanded to talk about one company where you had multiple roles… should you break those roles into separate resume (or LinkedIn) entries, or group them?

atc_2_cheryl_lynch_simpsonCheryl Lynch Simpson, Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach & Master Resume Writer, writes:

If your 1099 consulting roles lasted less than 2-3 years, it will be advantageous to combine them into one listing on both your resume and LinkedIn profile to combat the job hopper perception. My suggestion would be to give your consulting business a name, claim (Type of) Consultant as your title, and describe your achievements with each consulting role in bullets. For example:

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As you can see in this example, the emphasis is on your achievements with each company rather than the companies themselves. Take this exact same approach on LI, as recruiters do not like to read multiple job listings with short tenure.

Many professionals face the opposite problem, wherein they have worked for the same company for many years and question whether they should combine all their roles or list them separately.

  • If your titles were incidental and you basically held the same position for a very long time punctuated by expanding responsibilities such that you essentially did the same thing for years and years, then it may be difficult to disentangle one position from another. In this case, conflating your titles may be more realistic. However, it will be important to clearly indicated your rise in the company by including all your titles in one listing and stressing the gradual elevation of your authority over time, as well as the continuing nature of key initiatives that continued across your different roles.
  • If you held roles in different departments for the same company, then it will make more sense for you to list each position separately so you can stress the cross-functionality of your experience. Recruiters and hiring executives tend to value candidates with this kind of breadth.
  • Because recruiters don’t like long LI profiles with many different job listings, it is nearly always advantageous to combine roles with the same company into a single experience entry. Make sure you clarify the dates and titles of each role, however, so recruiters can see your promotion history and the appropriate key words will be included.

atc_headshot_denise_taylorDenise Taylor, Career Coach, Chief Inspiration Officer, the 50 Plus Coach, responds:

Your resume is a marketing document, you don’t need to include everything that you have done, but focus on what’s relevant for the job you are targeting. If some of the consultancy assignments were real ‘stand-out’ ones you could show them separately. They could stand out as they were longer, or there was a strong impact/result.

For the rest, I’d group them into one position – choosing different ones to refer to depending on the target job. This will stop you appearing as a job hopper and show the breadth of your knowledge. Your evidence against this job can include how you are quick to get up to speed/ understand a new culture/influence as an outsider.

atc_headshot_ron_auerbachRon Auerbach, Job search author, expert, and educator, writes:

In one way, this question is similar to a job seeker who’s been working through an employment agency and has been sent out on various assignments. Because you worked for several companies, do you list those assignments separately? Or do you combine them into one? The fact is there is no rule. So it all comes down to a matter of opinion and judgment. And part of this decision is to look at the overall background and goal of the job seeker. And the structuring of the resume itself.

But with consulting work, I would generally combine them into one listing on your resume. It cleans things up and still allows you to highlight the companies and/or kind of consulting you did. And in the case of gaps between the consulting jobs, having them all combined into one lets you show continuous employment. So on your application, you’d separate them out. But on your resume, you’d show continuous employment during the entire time.

Let’s suppose we combine them into a single job listing on the resume. The question now become whether to include the names of the companies for whom you consulted. Or leave the names out and just have the industries to which those companies belong. And yes, you could even include both if you wanted. For example, here’s how it would look if you listed just the company names:

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The advantage of going this route is that you can highlight specific company names that would impress the reader. And fyi, you don’t have to list all the companies for whom you did consulting, You can pick and choose which ones to list.

Now let’s assume you chose to list the consulting work by industry rather than company name. Here is how that would look:

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This approach is very helpful if you feel the company names won’t be recognizable to the readers. Or if the companies you consulted for aren’t the size that would impress employers or recruiters. It’s also useful where you want to stress the industries where you consulted. FYI, if your consulting was limited to a particular industry, you could replace my “Multiple or Several” with the industry. And then list the various companies within that industry where you consulted.

If you were to list them separately, or use the combined method, are you still at risk of being seen as a job-hopper? The answer is still yes. So if that’s a big issue to you, one way to handle it would be to leave those bullets out. And just list yourself as a consultant. So just the one line with no info below it. And in a different spot on your resume, that’s where you can list the info that goes along with the consulting work.And yes, you could also remove that “Multiple or Several” in my examples to just have your Consultant title and dates. Here, you’re playing into the assumption by readers that maybe you only consulted for a single client rather than a bunch.

Now if you want to work for a consulting firm rather than for yourself, then job-hopping isn’t an issue at all. In the world of consulting, it’s normal to work for one this time and somebody else next time. So job-hopping is the norm in this field. And happens with those who work for consulting companies and those who are independent contractors working for themselves. So job-hopping is the norm, totally accepted, and not an issue at all. But if you are seeking work in something else, then job-hopping might be an issue in that world.

FYI, the ways I mentioned about how to list consulting and temp work also applies to those of you who may have had differing roles with the same company. Yes, you could decide to list them separately. And include some duties and accomplishments with each one. Or you could combine them into a single listing. And use bullet points to include the KEY accomplishments and duties from all your roles. You can also include a statement that you were promoted from X to Y. Here’s an example to illustrate:

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If things get messy or you don’t have enough space to get all the info you want across to readers, then you could split things into more than one listing. And decide which one(s) to list separately and which ones(s) to combine. So yes, you can mix and match with part combined and part listed independently. The bottom line is you have a lot of flexibility to structure thing in the way that works best for you.

atc_headshot_lucie_yeomansLucie Yeomans, 6X Certified Career Services Professional and Job Search Strategist, writes:

This is a complicated question with a variety of answers. Do you want to continue to work as a consultant or are you looking for full-time employment working for a company? Here are a few ideas for either situation.

1099 Transitioning to Full-time Employment

Yes, you do want to avoid looking like a job hopper to the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or the first reader who gives your resume a 6- to 8-second initial glance. For those of my 1099 clients who wish to work for a company, we have had the most success when we list their 1099/consulting positions under their own company name. Give a brief explanation of the type of work you provide (be sure to include industry keywords in your description), followed by a more resume-style description of each of your 1099 jobs.

Example:

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Continue as Consultant, looking for new 1099 jobs

For those of my clients who wish to continue as a consultant and look for new 1099 gigs, we use a completely different approach. As you know, networking is key in finding your next 1099 job, but the document you leave behind or email ahead of time needs to reflect your brand. Your resume in this case should be more of a marketing document with testimonials, services, lists of jobs/clients (if not confidential) and your unique value/brand. You also want to the layout to be visually appealing, as well as easy to scan for important information.

Sonia Cerezo, Certified Professional Career Coach, says:

Dear Consultant,

List all your experience under your consulting title and/or business. I suggest using this format.

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Be sure each of your bullet points has quantifiable information. You are in finance, so it is important to provideatc_headshot_sonia_cerezo
specifics on how your consulting benefits future clients or an employer. This provides you the stability of ongoing
employment and it accurately portrays your experience.

Also, be consistent across all marketing platforms, LinkedIn profile, online portfolio, and/or website, etc.

However, if you had multiple roles with one company it is important to show progression and identify each one
separately. It is important to put the dates with each position but the entire time you worked with the company
under the company name. Here is an example.

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I hope this answered your question.

Wishing you much success in your career!

atc_headshot_rich_grantRich Grant, Online career course instructor for Peak-Careers, writes:

Yes, it’s a good idea to consolidate consulting roles on your resume. Besides helping to minimize the appearance of being a job hopper, it simplifies your resume and makes it easier to read. The other way to clarify it is by making a note within the line listings of the consulting projects, for example “six-month contract.” Then, a prospective employer won’t think you had a series of short-lived jobs.

There are a few ways to group together consulting roles, including creating a separate section on your resume for “consulting experience,” listing consulting projects under one agency name, if that’s the case, or creating your own business name. It’s also a good idea to group jobs together if your company gets bought out and your old company name no longer exists. Rather than list it as two different employers on your resume, list the new company name on the first line, with the full date range you worked for both employers. Show the different positions you held, listed under the main company header, and for the jobs you had at the old company, put the old company name in parentheses after the job title. This will be particularly helpful if your old company got bought out after you were only there for six months!

atc_headshot_gavan_ambrosiniGavan Ambrosini, Career Consultant and Executive Coach, writes:

Employers will want to get an immediate blueprint of your value–and in situations like this, it is not uncommon to highlight your skills and expertise first, followed by your consultant title and brief naming of your client list. We call this a functional resume.  It focuses more on your skill sets, trainings, and certifications and not so much on your work history.
I suggest the following format:
  1. Start with your name and contact info,
  2. Professional summary: (2-3 lines qualifying you as a viable candidate)
  3. Highlights of Skills and Accomplishments/Trainings/Certs etc comprised of a targeted and bulleted list.  You may even want to break it up into mini sections with 4-6 in each.  If you can show quantifiable results in your  section this will also grab an employers attention (scope of project, ROI, etc) For tons of examples of functional resumes, google “functional resume” with your industry and look at images tab to get ideas on how you can present your work.
  4. Following this section list your Work History. You can even use your “last name” and “consulting” as your company name and then list the client name, city, and duration of each consultant gig on a separate line. No need to list out responsibilities for each role here as that can be highlighted in your selected skills & accomplishment section that precedes this.  The idea is to communicate your strengths as a targeted and complete package to the employer’s needs, not as a hodge-podge of different short time gigs with various roles & duties.
As for being viewed as a job hopper–It is all how you present it.  Some may very well see it that way–however, if you are good at what you do, you can communicate how much you gave & gained working on these special projects.  Being hired as a consultant carries a lot more weight than as just a contractor so wear that difference proudly! You were a hired gun for a specific job because of your expertise in a particular area and that is something of value to note.

Part B: List roles separately or as 1 grouping?  If you have only worked at 1 company for the past 20+ years and you want to highlight how you have moved up the company ladder–use the company name as a header and then follow with 1 title of each role you had, followed by the years in that role and a brief description of what you did beneath it.  2-3 brief action verb sentences to give context of your role followed by a couple of bullet points to highlight your achievements.  If you have more than 2 companies to list and the experience from company 3 and 4 is just as valuable as your last role–then just list your most current role at said company–and you can make mention of how you moved up in your cover letter or briefly mention your promotions in your summary section or job description.  The bottom line is this: Every word should be of value to the employer–not be used as an opportunity to justify or showcase your own self-worth. If responsibilities of your first job with the company don’t serve your future employer in any way–then don’t put it on there. Everything is prime real estate on a resume–so choose your words carefully and make them count!

atc_headshot_craig_toadtmanCraig Toadtman, Job Search Consultant, Career Adviser, Coach, Executive Search Consultant, says:

Résumé format is important, but content is critical. That said, you raise an excellent question that also applies to an individual holding several positions at one company. I suggest that you combine the consulting projects under one heading, such as [Your Name] Consulting, and indenting the individual projects with descriptions. For example:

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Descriptions should be concise and loaded with key words that are clearly demonstrating your skills and experience which appeal to automated recruiter software looking for YOU!

atc_headshot_gina_bartosiewiczGina Bartosiewicz, Professional Resume Writing Consultant, says:

When putting together your resume as a consultant, you want it clean, easy to read, and relevant! Remember, you are creating your personal brand here, and you want to keep it organized while marketing and highlighting your skills and accomplishments. Since your perspective clients or employers are looking for someone in particular, you want to be sure that you are including details about your projects, along with quantifiable achievements for each project so that they know that you have what it takes. Your goal here is to grab the reader’s attention, and you certainly want to avoid bouncing around with dates. The best part about a consultant resume, is that they are easy to tailor for a specific position or client, and you can leave out anything that doesn’t relate directly to the position.  I realize that the act of creating a new resume for each job you apply for can be tiresome, but in the end, if it lands you that project or job, isn’t it worth it?

For a Consultant resume, my focus is typically more on the functional side – showcasing and highlighting skills and achievements. I typically present consulting work by grouping all projects together. Many consider themselves a Consultant, so they list themselves as a Freelance Consulting Firm, or just Consultant and then I combine all projects under that umbrella.  Grouping all consulting work into a single time block will better control the readers perception of any gaps or longevity, because even when you aren’t working on a project, you are still a consultant, and may be in between projects.

An example would be:

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In a company where you have held several positions, I generally find this to be a different scenario, however.  Because roles vary from position to position, sometimes you really do need to create a separate section for each job title.  In some cases, however, when there isn’t much change or diversity within the roles, you can group the position titles together.  In general, it is always a good idea to have a second or third pair of eyes on your resume.  Does it flow well?  Does it grab the readers attention? Are you getting your point across and showcasing and highlighting your accomplishments in each role? Are you repeating yourself in order to fill space? Remember to strive for clean, easy to read and relevant!

atc_headshot_perry_newmanPerry Newman, Certified Social Media Strategist, Certified Personnel Consultant, Resume Writer, and LinkedIn Transformation Specialist, writes:

Since you are a 1099, theoretically, you own your own business and, I advise you to list it as such. If you worked through a third-party source, you can say partnering with ABC Consulting. This method is not deceptive since 1099 employees work for themselves and your pay stubs and 1099n tax forms will verify this.

Example:

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In the body for each assignment you can break down whom you reported to, the nature of the project with
applicable metrics including on time and on-budget delivery.

In the case of listing multiple roles in the same and or a merged /acquired company, there are two ways to go on a
resume depending on how relevant the prior information is and whether you want to emphasize it or minimize it.

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You can also group these positions if you have been in a company a long time and/or moved from lower level to
executive level roles. The key is always to highlight jobs that are relevant to the jobs you are applying for.

As for LinkedIn, for the 1099, I advise listing it as a position under your business name and breaking down the
assignments in the body.

For long-term employees, I advise listing each role separately on LinkedIn for maximum key work optimization.

 

atc_headshot_john_sattlerJohn Sattler, Certified Personnel Consultant and Certified Professional Resume Writer, writes:

A resume is about communicating your value as professional for the purpose of generating an interview for a job you desire. Keeping this in mind, what is the best way to communicate this scenario to serve our purpose?

I would not combine different positions held with the same company. This is a completely different scenario than someone doing contracting gigs. This shows a pattern of progression, that the candidate is promotable, able to learn and adapt, able to handle additional responsibilities, and able to take on increased complexity and sophistication of work.

would combine positions under 1099 activity. Many professionals do consulting work when they’re between full time (W-2) jobs. It’s a way to stay sharp, engaged, and visible. Let’s assume this person is an experienced Marketing Analyst: here is how I would present it on the resume:

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atc_headshot_alexia_scottAlexia Scott, CPRW, says:

You were actually self-employed during that time, so there was only one employer (you). That’s why you received 1099’s–you were an independent contractor. This is the logical way to present that time period, and this treatment sidesteps the obstacle of listing multiple consulting clients.

Recently, I helped a lean performance improvement expert who did consulting work for C-level executives. I combined his consulting work, showing it as one “employer,” with the heading “Independent Consultant.” A bulleted list briefly  described his most notable consulting achievements.

 

atc_elvabankinsbaxter_headshotElva Bankins Baxter, Certified Master Coach, writes:

When your last three jobs were all 1099 consulting positions and you are in a current job search seeking another position, I would suggest combining your consulting (1099) positions into one descriptive position and use beginning and ending dates for the entire three years. This avoids someone reading your resume to think you had three short stints or are a job-hopper.

I’d suggest the following sample  format:

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When you have worked for a company and have held multiple positions with in the same company, List the company and your beginning and ending years.  Then list each position held and your achievements (no more than three) per position held.  For each position, the years should be listed.  This format should be used for recent and one previous position (within the past 10 years) positions only.

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For the second page positions and more than 10 years ago…group them and list the overall achievements:

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atc_headshot_heather_maiettaHeather Maietta, Career Coach, Facilitator, Trainer, Author, Speaker, says:

The short answer I have is ‘it depends’. Considerations include:

  1. 1) how long the consulting gigs lasted
  2. 2) how prestigious the company
  3. 3) depth of other experience

If the consulting gigs lasted less than six months or were insignificant in depth and scope, I might advise grouping them under a heading ‘Consulting Work’. If the each gig lasted for a significant length of time and/or were instrumental in depth and scope, I might advise to list separately with the position title ‘consultant’. I would advise similarly if the consulting work was performed at a reputable company, globally and/or within your industry. This would draw attention to the fact you were a consultant for a significant player, thus showcasing prestige.

Since a resume is a document to grab attention and keep the reader interested in engaging with you further, length should always be a consideration. If your consulting work is in addition to years of relevant work experience, grouping may save space and present your experience in a more concise, visually appealing way. If you are newer to the workforce or to the field, showcasing your experience more in depth will give the reader a better sense of the experience you have gained that isn’t highlighted anywhere else on your document.

Regardless of how you format your document, you can include a one sentence header or bullet under your professional summary that captures your consulting experience and positions you as a thought leader in your industry. Something like “Global Financial Services consultant at Fortune 100 Companies: ABC Global, LogicSource, LPL Financial” or something similar.

Wasn’t that a great roundup from our coaches? There arelots of great answers… hopefully this helps you figure out how to create this part of your resume!

 

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Ask the Coach #1: Recovering from a Bad Interview Experience

July 28th, 2017

I blogged about this about a month ago, but I wanted to put this in front of a group of job search and career coaches and get more qualified thoughts on this question and issue, which I’m sure a lot of people have dealt with. So, let’s launch a new series called “Ask the Coaches,” where I present a bunch of coaches with questions from job seekers (SEND ME QUESTIONS :)), and they’ll answer it with their years of experience.  Let’s jump into it. The question I sent the coaches is:

“I had an interview and the feedback I got was that I was too low energy. You can imagine that was a problem since this was for a sales role. I am a pretty even-keeled guy, and I’m not super high energy, but I am very good at sales. His only hangup was my energy level?  How do I respond to the interviewer, and what do I do going forward?”

John Sattler, Certified Personnel Consultant and Certified Professional Resume Writer, responds:

jjblog_John_Sattler_ProfileAPPROACH:
Sales is about numbers and people, therefore, any question about your perceived energy deficit can be squashed easily via a dialouge where you turn it into a unique asset and show how you use it to your advantage. I’m assuming you made it to a face-to-face interview by showing proof of your sales performance in numbers. 

It’s best to evoke/uncover and address an interviewer’s concerns during the interview. After the fact can be done via phone or, as a last resort, email. If the job is ideal, try to set up another face to face appointment to discuss.
 
SAMPLE DIALOGUE:  
Interviewer: Do you have any final questions?
 
You: I’ve learned a lot today, and, although I was upbeat on the position prior to this interview, I am now positively enthusiastic. Based on what you know right now, are you ready to hire me?  
 
Interviewer: No. I am concerned because I’m sensing a lower-than-normal level of energy from you.
 
You: That is really interesting, what makes you say that?
 
Interivewer: You speak at a slow pace……and just your general aura. I feel little or no enthusiasm coming from you.
 
You: “Do you have any other concerns? (you MUST uncover ALL concerns and deal with them one by one)
 
Interviewer: Not at all, I feel strongly, however, that a sales representative must transfer feelings of energy in order to be effective…..”
 
You: I understand. As sales manager, of course you want a team of high peformers who get along reasonably well, are helpful, and represent the company is a professional and positive way. 
 
I bring all of those assets to the table – at least my employers think so – and I have found my personality to be a huge asset. You’re right, though, few would readily think someone they perceive as calm, introverted, and speaks with a slower-than-normal cadence would turn out to be a top-performing salesperson. But the fact is, I am just that, as my performance record indicates. I use this initial perception of me as an advantage by focusing the entire presentation on the prospect: I demonstrate how I will solve their problem, robustly and directly address their concerns, and communicate trust. The prospect is reassured that I am talking substance wholly unaided by “big personality,” if you will. I’m not saying it would work for everyone – it does work for me – and the proof is in the numbers.
 
So, I don’t blame you for stating your concern – at that moment you didn’t have all the information. Though now that you dohave plain proof, in quantitative and qualitative terms, that I can deliver top-tier performance and be an asset to your team, would you be ready to make the offer? (DO NOT SPEAK until they do). 

 

Frank Pomata, Labor Tech/Suffolk County Dept. of Labor, says:
jjblog_Frank_Pomata_headshotI would urge the candidate to take the feedback seriously and perhaps engage in some mock interviews with others to see if they have similar perceptions.  Thank the interviewer for the feedback, but emphasize that many customers prefer not to be sold in an aggressive/high energy manner and how your track record in sales demonstrates the success of your approach.
That being said, consider being open to trying new techniques to show your energy level is at least equal to other sales personnel.

 

Melvin Scales, Senior Vice President, Meridian Resources, wrote:
jjblog_melvin_scales_headshotIn my opinion, having a perceived low energy level when interviewing for a sales role has everything to do with what is being sold. In non-tangible sales such as consulting for example, being a high energy salesperson can backfire because the salesperson is seen as pushy. Of course this can happen in tangible sales such as automobiles, major appliances, computers etc. This is clearly an issue of preference demanded by the hiring manager. He or she is looking to hire someone like themselves. It has been my experience that the best salepersons are excellent listeners and remain focused and balanced throughout the client relationship.


jjblog_Cheryl_Lynch_Simpson

Cheryl Lynch Simpson, Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach | Executive Resume Writer

Assuming you have shared your sales achievements with the interviewer, then his “low-energy” comment indicates to me that he has a pre-conceived idea of what he views as a desirable candidate personality. He clearly equates high energy with sales success despite evidence of an exemplary sales record.

Moreover, because he seems to be insisting that all of his hires must have the same sales personality, I believe he is probably a micromanager. Is that the kind of person you want to work for? If it’s not, then I suggest you move on, but clarify for yourself what kinds of personality and leadership traits you are seeking in an immediate supervisor and make every effort to screen your potential managers going forward.

 

Lucie Yeomans, Certified Career Services Professional and Job Search Strategist

jjblog_Lucie_YeomansDon’t take the feedback too hard. Your personality has led you to what sounds like a great sales career. Going forward, here are a couple of strategies you may not have considered.

  1. Recent studies show an overwhelming majority of interviewers today are looking for a cultural fit as much as they are looking for the right qualifications and experience. To show your enthusiasm and energy, do your homework on the hiring company. Go beyond just reading the company website. What are the industry trends, opportunities, and challenges? Have thoughtful, engaging questions and your accomplishment stories ready to discuss with the interviewer(s) regarding these topics. You want the interviewer to notice how impressive your up-to-date industry/company knowledge is, which will bring out more of your personality and enthusiasm as you engage them in meaningful discussions.
  2. Also, many candidates never consider whether the hiring company is a good fit for them. You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Check out the company’s social media platforms and engage with employees. What are the employees tweeting about? What is their culture like? Is it a good fit for you? Too many clients have come to me after they jumped at a job only to find out within a few months the company was not a good fit. The trick is to not be one of them.


Denise Taylor, career coach, Chief Inspiration Officer, the 50 Plus Coach, responds:

jjblog_denise_taylor_headshotIt sounds like you were interviewed by an extrovert, high energy person who was looking for someone similar. You want to be ready with all the examples of how you are successful in sales, and how you adapt to different potential customers. That’s the experience bit, but this person wants to see and hear your energy. Here’s some suggestions for next time. Let’s think about what’s going on inside and outside. Inside you know you can do it, and are enthused but it’s not coming through so find inside you the energetic enthused you from a previous, possibly non work situation and hold that thought. How did you feel act – was there more passion in how you spoke? More energy? Changes in how you hold your body? Now take that and make it come to the outside – make some changes to your voice tone and posture and let this energy shine through. You’re not looking got a radical change but a shift of maybe 10%.

Gina Bartosiewicz, Professional Resume Writing Consultant

jjblog_Gina_Bartosiewicz_headshotNever sacrifice who you are and what you stand for, personally or professionally, for any role or any company.  If you are getting feedback on an interview (which, by the way is great!), that you are not a particular fit for that company’s culture, then this feedback is extremely valuable and not to be taken lightly.  One of the most important things you can do for your well-being and your career is to take on a role with a company where you will feel like you mesh well with the culture, and can effortlessly fit in, and therefore, find it easier to contribute and make a difference! Always attempt to do your research on a company’s culture prior to the interview, if possible!

I have been hearing more and more about this type of feedback, or feedback in general pertaining to an interview candidates skills or qualifications being brought to the attention of the interviewer during the interview itself.  Although, most are not prepared for this type of feedback during an interview, it is becoming more commonplace, and I think it’s a positive thing.  Historically, you receive a letter or email after the interview with a simple “thanks, but no thanks” and not a lot of reasoning behind it, but having something to actually think about and have hard facts and reasoning behind the “no thanks” walking out of an interview can be enlightening  It may not be what you wanted to hear, but any constructive feedback can be helpful to you in your job search.  Additionally, it helps YOU weed out the company.  Remember, you are also interviewing the company.  This particular company wanted high energy sales.  This was not the candidates style, and it may have just been an uncomfortable fit for everyone.

Elva Bankins Baxter, Certified Master Coach

jjblog_Elva_Bankins_baxter_headshotWhen the feedback is “low energy”, it can be a matter of “fit” as it relates to the high achievers on the current sales team or it could be a reference to the age of your friend. Your friend may be older than the sales team’s high achievers and potentially exude less energy.  Either way, the interviewer perceived a cultural mismatch.  While this feedback is frustrating to hear, when the candidate has proven successes and high achieving sales, it’s an “Ah Ha” moment for the candidate.   My advice for this candidate moving forward is to tell stories about his key wins, not just state the statistics about a win.  He or she should give specifics about these key wins and what made him or her successful in beating the competition.   Told early in the interview,  these stories must be brief and should be rehearsed well before the interview.  I recommend using the S.O.A.R method for story telling.  Most people like to hear a good story that has a beginning middle and a highly successful ending.  The telling of the story will demonstrate the candidate’s passion, credibility, energy, and fit and enables interviewers to see the potential value that this candidate brings to the sales team.


Ron Auerbach, Author of Think Like an Interviewer: Your Job Hunting Guide to Success

jjblog_Ron_Auerbach_headshotEven-keel can be used to describe those who let things just roll off their backs. Translation, things just don’t bother or get to you. This is a good thing because it says to interviewers that you’re somebody who will not get very upset, lash-out, or give up. But when it’s used to describe somebody who is less motivated or dedicated, that is an extremely bad thing! So less energy = less motivation, dedication, and/or desire to achieve or succeed. And with sales, this is a job killer!
Sales is a profession where candidates need to be seen as highly-motivated and extroverted. Somebody who is extremely personable that can relate well to new prospects and existing clients. And a person who will be able to handle the pressures and rejections that are commonplace in sales. So to be successful in a sales interview, an interviewer must perceive you as displaying these qualities.
Now you don’t want to go overboard! Being seen as too aggressive can turn off an interviewer just as easily as being too shy. So you need to avoid crossing over into arrogance or cockiness territory. So extroverted and personable enough to say prospects and clients will feel very comfortable with you. And cool enough to say pressure and rejection won’t get to or bother you.
Sadly, it is too late for this questioner to do anything about that interview because it was after-the-fact. And the time to have been seen the right way has passed. So speaking up now won’t change their minds. But going forward, is is crucial that he be seen in a very positive light. So learn from this by displaying a more animated and extroverted personality. One that says you’re outgoing, personable, can handle pressure, and don’t let things bother or stand in your way. Those are the KEYS to success in a sales interview!

 

Rich Grant, online career course instructor for Peak-Careers
jjblog_Rich_Grant_headshotYour response to the interviewer (ideally the hiring sales manager) is your opportunity to demonstrate your competencies as a sales person, primarily overcoming objections and highlighting the benefits of your product or service in terms of the customer’s needs. A good sales person is a good listener and asks good questions. By the way, this might be a test to see how persistent you are. You want to make the point that being low key does not mean “low energy.” Ask some questions to find out more about the personalities and temperaments of the customers. Do they expect a hyper, high energy sales approach or would they prefer a serious, less pressurized, consultative approach? You overall point is that you get results. You’re good at sales. Your even-keeled demeanor provides a benefit to the customer because you listen and they’re comfortable with you.

 

Gavan Ambrosini, Executive Coach, Career Consultant
jjblog_gavan_ambrosini_headshotFirst off, congratulations on getting the interview.  Your resume and/or your connections are working for you, and that is a great start.  Second:  Try not to take it personally when you get feedback that isn’t 100% positive. Use it to your advantage to work on your interviewing skills, and be sure to thank them for the useful feedback (yes THANK them) It shows you have a growth mindset and are open to learning.  It could keep the door open to continued dialogue with them.  Perhaps send them a few testimonials from happy customers to illustrate your point that you don’t need to be super outgoing to be successful or to please your clients. The next time you interview, tune into the body language of your interviewer–and mirror the person you are talking to. If they speak with a more energetic tone– match their pacing with yours.  If they talk slow and deliberately, then slow down your pace down.  People are naturally & unconsciously biased towards those who are like them unless they are trained specifically to recognize it when it pops up.  Remember, feedback is subjective and tells you more about the person giving feedback than it does about you. The only reason feedback may bother you is if you think there is some truth in it.  If not, it wouldn’t bother you.  If so, then there are ways to work on it to present yourself differently for the next time.

 

Dr. Heather N. Maietta, Master Career Coach
jjblog_heather_maietta_headshotAddressing the feedback in the moment would be ideal. This is easier said than done, especially when caught off guard. In part, the interviewer wants to see how you respond to unconventional questions or feedback, so how you react is as important as how you respond. In this instance, letting the interviewer know that’s your signature approach to sales and it has brought you much success to date. People respond well to your easy going, laid back demeanor, as supported by your excellent sales record. Mention this is a question she should pose to your references when he calls so he can be rest assured your energy level is a non-issue.

 

Wym Bumgardner, Career Services Representative
jjblog_Wym_Bumgardner_headshotEvery interview is different.  “Being too low energy” means different things to different people.  And, kudos to the interviewer for pointing this out.  This is a “gold nugget” for you to consider, and also to engage your interviewer in a discussion about this.
It sounds as if the interview is over.  You have an opportunity to follow up with the interviewer, thank him for his comments, get specifics about what “low energy” means to him and what a “high energy” interview would be.  Let him know that you are flexible with your style, and that your excellent sales results speak for your skills.  Offer to meet with him again, demonstrating a high energy level.  Practice with a trusted colleague for this “high energy” interview before you go.  Being prepared both with “energy” and strong sales accomplishments could lead you to a new position.

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