Top Employers Hire Problem Solvers– Here's How to Brand Yourself as One in Every Step of the Hiring Process
We have ongoing dinner conversations about Elon Musk in my house. My 9-year old son is a big fan, inspired by his ingenuity and curiosity of space. My husband read his autobiography last year. I joined the conversation when he opened up about Asperger's syndrome and love for his mom as the host of SNL.
Outside of my dining room doors, the world tips their caps at Elon Musk for his success as an entrepreneur; I am most interested in what he has to say about hiring. Musk, CEO of Tesla and Space X, employs over 35,000 people worldwide and has unabatedly sought out problem solvers. He's known to ask every candidate: “Tell me about some of the most difficult problems you worked on and how you solved them.”
Problem-solving is one of the few skills that transcends all industries. Here's how to show you are the problem solver your next employer needs in each step of the hiring process.
Tout Your Solved Problems on Social
LinkedIn is the spot to call out your specific problem-solving skills as they relate to the positions you want. Dial into your industry's needs and call out how your expertise is the perfect remedy in your headline and About Me section. I often encourage clients to throw in research and facts to display the scope of an issue within their industry and data to support their impact. Jam this into the first line with a punch. Here's a couple of hypothetical examples:
Indoor sports lost 76% of their memberships in 2020; my work as a lead-generating strategist has recovered Soccer World's deficit up to 93% and is set to exceed 2021's goals.
The average page view time is 9.3 seconds for most corporate websites. I have leveraged innovated user-experience methods to increase rogers.com's viewerships to over a minute.
Get Problem-focused in your Networking
Reaching out to hiring stakeholders at your dream company? Inquire about their problems. For instance, asking:
What have been the most challenging hurdles for your team/company this year?
Expand a dialogue on strategies they have explored, and don't be shy to share your ideas on remedying those pain points. Most importantly, ask questions to break open areas of potential problem-solving. Allison Wood Brooks is co-author of the HBR article "The Surprising Power of Questions." In an interview, she states,
"Follow-up questions are almost always good. They show that you're listening to what the person has already said. You're probing for more information, which shows that you listen, care, and want to know more, which is like the whole embodiment of empathy and perspective-taking. You look like a very caring person and, you're smart because you're going to learn more information. It's like all of the good things wrapped up into one question-asking strategy."
Embody Your Problem-Solving Essence in Your Resume
Don't just throw the word problem solver in your career summary and call it a day (yep, I'm wagging my finger at you!) Instead, weave your work in the problem-solving process throughout the entire document.
To bulk up your resume and interview content, journal 4-5 career stories answering:
What problems have I solved throughout my career?
How did my problem-solving impact others and our work?
Use the specifics of your journaling product to infuse problem-solving evidence in your career summary, skills section, and professional experience bullets.
Talk About It
Like in networking, you'll want to explore problems in an interview too. Research goals and potential roadblocks of the team and explain ideas backed by similar situations you've resolved in the past.
Describing problems you have solved during an interview is especially important for career pivoters to take advantage of because there's potential to lean into your transferable skills.
For example, your next company is having trouble retaining customers. Your background is in education, so you can elaborate on your skills/experiences explaining concepts, listening to concerns, and building relationships; these skills will serve their mission to retain customers. Make that point really clear and tell them directly.
An essential piece to this is walking your interviewer through how you work. Tell them about your triumphs as a problem solver and be specific. The more they can see how you work, the more enticed they are to bring you onboard solving problems for their team.
Go get 'em, problem-solver!
A few years back, I worked at a company deeply motivated to earn the Great Places to Work certification but couldn’t get the necessary Trust Index survey results. It was excruciating for the executive team.
You see, the process to land on these lists starts with decades of research into best practices to build strong work cultures. This foundation pairs with a unique-to-company survey that they must pass to go through the certification process. When I worked at the company during the process, I realized the power of this certification. For employers, it holds the key to much esteem in the industry and for attracting top talent. For employees, it’s eye-opening because going through the survey sheds light on what’s happening in the workplace and your feelings about it.
Now, I use annual Best Companies to Work For lists as a tool for my clients looking for their next career step or mapping out their career trajectory.
Great Place To Work In Your Job Search
I’m all about intentional job search tactics. Jumping off the hamster wheel of endless notifications from the big box boards authorizes control and confidence. One of the first steps to harnessing more power is identifying what you want in your next company and going after the ones checking those boxes. Flexibility, engagement, growth, benefits, and strong leadership are areas that can help you to start identifying what’s most important in your next company. The Great Places to Work List is a collection of companies that are likely to check those boxes. Thereby, a perfect first step in building your target list.
A target list is a group of five companies (that’s my recommended number to keep track of and foster meaningful relationships) that have jobs you want, a mission you back, and a culture that suits your vision of work/life integration.
Identifying a target list is a bridge to uncover jobs amidst the hidden job market. Lisa Rangel writes that 75% of all available positions are filled through employee referrals, social media recruiting, and hiring managers’ networks, sourced by a 2012 study by Career Xroads. Nurturing relationships and communicating your depth of appreciation for the work and mission of a company is a sure way to catch these need-to-know-basis jobs.
How Are Other Companies Building Trust
It’s not professional rocket science. Trust builds employee retention and engagement. When you trust your team, manager, and leadership, it just feels right to be there and fuels effort.
If that experience is missing in your current work scene, dive into what other companies are doing to build the trust muscle and infuse those tactics into your workplace. The Trust Model serves as the backbone in the Great Places to Work strategy. The five dimensions in the model are credibility, respect, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. The model goes on to share areas in which managers and leaders must excel to build trust: hiring, inspiring, speaking, listening, thanking, developing, caring, celebrating, and sharing.
The Trust Model can highlight high-functioning aspects of your workplace and those that need improvement, yielding more trust for you and others. Sharing your reflective thoughts and sourcing the credibility of the Great Places to Work model can perk ears and spark real constructive change.
Finding best practices that have led to gaining certification is easy. Most companies are so amped to tout their Great Places to Work award; they include an essential play-by-play on their blog. Here are a few:
Your Future Leadership Strategy
Whether growing with your current company, starting your own, or jumping to another professional sector is part of your 5-year plan, understanding the work world done right will help your future career goals.
If your current company is not on the list, spearheading the initiative to gain certification is a sure to get your name of the future leaders list. The certification process serves not only the improvement of the work culture but the talent (your future coworkers) along with the company growth and progress of the future. You’ll find the story of Wonolo and Bankers Healthcare Group create compelling employer brands that attract more great job applicants on the website, and there are dozens more on the websites of certified companies.
The most crucial point I want to make clear is-- work can be enjoyable and meaningful, and there are tools to help us obtain an elevated version of our 9-5. Great Places to Work is just one of the many sources to identify and praise good work. The more that pop up, the closer we get to widespread work fulfillment.
Your Most Untapped Job Search Ally Sleeps Right Beside You: 5 Ways to Enlist Your Spouse and Land Your Next Role
Yesterday, I noticed two spouses on LinkedIn take time out of their day to type a sincerely supportive post about their wives landing new jobs. As I read, feelings of admiration and respect rose in me, and then I began to think:
“Wonder what he did to help her get the job?”
In my opinion, moms have very few flaws, but one that seems to be a hurdle for many, including myself, is asking for help. We relieve burdens, so it seems counter-productive to our role to impress one upon someone else. Time over time, day after day, I relearn the falsity in this theory. I also preach its falsehood to the clients I support. The golden rule of career growth is:
Success lies underneath requests for help.
The intense time spent with our spouses over the pandemic months is unnatural. One dear friend remarks on time spent with her husband in their co-working/co-living space, “I now know all of him. And I have had to accept parts of him that are not at all attractive.” I also think about the meme that reads: “I never knew I was married to a ‘let’s circle back’ man.”
On the contrary, our spouses have seen the ardent work we as mothers put forth day-in-and-day-out. Our invisible work has been uncovered, allowing us to be unmistakably seen for the intelligent, capable, problem-solving, tactful, budget juggling, patient, communicative professionals we are inside and outside our homes. Now our spouses are more equipped to SUPPORT YOUR CAREER!
The most important thing about asking for help is to be specific and clear. Here are 5 ways your spouse can help your return-to-work success:
1.Read your resume, view your LinkedIn, and listen to your elevator pitch
Leave their phone in another room because your spouse’s understanding of your professional brand, skillset, and career goals are the backbone of successful support. Carve out an hour of his/her time after the kids go to bed and lay it all out. Encourage questions and possibly prepare a pop quiz.
2.Help him/her connect the dots.
It’s one thing to say, “It’d be great if you could help me find a new job” the most you’ll get out of that line is a few links emailed to you from Indeed via a 5-minute quick scan. The same goes for any networking request; you need to be specific and connect the dots for them. Think about his/her inner circle and start there. Are there friends that work in similar industries or companies you aspire to join?
3.You wash their underwear. You can stalk their LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the most comprehensive public network display. Use this tool to help further connect the networking dots. Scour his first-degree connections and align them with companies on your target list.
4.Connect with his Recruiter.
Most people keep in close contact with the recruiter or HR specialist that guides their onboarding and company growth. A quick email to this contact can open up worlds of professional possibilities because many folks in the talent acquisition world are interconnected; they know word of mouth is the most reliable channel for talent. So even if you don’t want to work at your spouse’s company, his talent connection may know someone who hires at your top pic.
5. Become Their Go-to Plus One
As vaccines and hopes of COVID’s demise rise (still crossing fingers for the latter), more corporate events are starting to pop up. Join in on the happy hours and post-conference events to collaboratively expand your network. You may not feel comfortable announcing that you are looking for your next professional opportunity to the group; an alternative is to aspire to connect with three people, get their contact information, and request their support afterward. Saving a career request for later takes the pressure off the initial meeting and allows you and your new professional connection to speak more authentically.
You may wonder how to formulate your specific outreach messages. Here’s a draft template to help:
I’m so glad my spouse ________ introduced us. He has appreciated your influence on his recent ___________. My career paused to focus on family needs during the pandemic. I’m now searching for a __________ position within the ___________ industry. I remember _________(spouse name) mentioning your wife works at _________ which is on my target list. I wonder if you’d share her contact information with me to ask her about her experience at the company and any opportunities there.
I appreciate your time on this!
When you begin to gain some traction on these networking leads, book a career coaching call with me to strategize your next steps and review your resume to land your next role. You can access my calendar directly from the Home and Services page. Talk soon!
By: Christine Anastasia
As we make our way to the end of February in a COVID year, I’ve been keenly interested in learning about how working parents will broach the topic of their careers in the next iteration of life within COVID times now and beyond. For all intensive purposes, we are not through the woods and many companies are still crafting their policies and practices with how to return to their offices safely, efficiently, and effectively. Without everyone vaccinated, there is also big disparity among employees that desire to go back to the office and others that have found a new breather in their home life to balance some of the things that stressed them pre-covid, like a commute. As many companies are still remote at this time, many are beginning to crack the “where do we go from here?” questions around working parents and taking into an account the larger issue of #Wellbeing and #Mental Health in the workforce. It’s not a linear process and it’s quite multifaceted. What is interesting to me, and I hope working parents will ask the question:
Is there a life beyond 9-5 that you can dream up?
Wrestling the storm of 2020 has led working moms to fumble for any sort of stability in sight. For many that can manifest through work choices and take shape in abandoning rocky entrepreneur ships and reaching for a corporate lifeboat.
I'm a seasoned career coach and job search doc expert exclusively supporting working and return-to-work moms, and in recent months, I've noticed an uptick in women abandoning their own businesses to throw their resumes in the race with hundreds of other job-hopefuls for companies that offer more financial and communal stability. But they don’t know how to go about making the jump.
Entrepreneurs are incredibly marketable candidates. Heck, they’ve built a business while growing a family- that’s impressive and shows grit! Here are the mandatory steps to make a successful career shift and land your dream corporate gig.
Over the holiday break, my family watched Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day starring the hilarious Steve Carell and Jennifer Gardner. Alexander's father played by Carell is job searching, stay-at-home-dad. He scores an exciting interview but can't find a sitter so takes the baby along. The scene was excruciating to watch. As Steve struggles to force-feed the interviewers his catchy ideas for the job, his baby eats an entire permanent marker. The interviewers spend the scene gawking at the baby, immersed in the ultimate interview distraction.
I spent the rest of the movie wondering:
“How are interviewers distracted in virtual interviews?”
Job reqs are flooded with applicants right now. One way to get attention is personalize the heading of your job search docs under your name and contact info. Though each doc will have different content, the heading is the perfect spot to market your personal brand right from the start. Here’s are 4 ways to do it:
A Quick + Easy Run-Down on Small Biz, Side Gig Service Agreement Contracts: Tips and Tactics from a Legal Expert
Many side gig, small businesses start organically for women and the wheels begin to turn before the structure of the car is built. A friend asks you to do a little photography or design project, then she tells a few friends what a swell job you did, and before long you’ve got a full-fledged side gig, small biz. It’s exciting and feels good. But there’s an inevitable point in a small business where you begin to venture out of your friend zone to build a more robust client base, there lies the time for visible processes to be set in place for formality and optics sake.
Contracts convey legitimacy and cover your ass, so they’re well worth understanding and integrating into your initial small business set-up. My legal knowledge is limited, like my marriage license and parking ticket procedures are my only exposure to the justice system, so I reached out to my dear friend Whitney; she’s Corporate Counsel for Fortune 500 healthcare and life sciences company and has specialized in corporate contracts for the last five years. She spends most of her days pouring over high-stakes contracts, then interpreting and negotiating these complex documents. She beautiful and knowledgeable-the interview was a crash course in liability– here’s the scoop.
Virtual interviews are a 50/50 blend of excitement and fear. I have coached many women to articulate their unique value in an interview, and a critical piece to a virtual interview prep puzzle is the few minutes prior to your Zoom call. This video will walk you through a quick, seated series with easy breathwork and movement channeling the calm of yoga and the confidence of Power Poses by Amy Cuddy, leaving you feeling ready to share your best self in your upcoming virtual interview.
Want individualized interview prep support? Email me at: email@example.com to set up a mock interview. Here's what a recent client said about our work together:
"So grateful for your help! They said I kind of blew everybody away during the panel interview and that was all because of your help!" -Carly
You got this, mama!
It took me many late nights of below minimum wage pay to stop and think about how I was charging for my services; actually, it took my husband’s inquisition. After I noticed a discrepancy in my work and pay in my side gig/small biz, I began to evaluate and change my pay structure. These guidelines can be applied to a wide range of businesses as they uniquely focused on the small business owner.