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April 3, 2013

Pitching Your Best Self: Tips and Tricks to Identifying and Presenting Your Strengths!

Shiv Paul
Shiv Paul is a trainer for SAGEWorks. The workshop he leads includes exercises to help people identify and sell their strengths, as well as tips and tricks on how to write effective cover letters and resumes. If you are in the New York City area and want to attend his workshop in person, the next one is Wednesday, April 10th from 6-7:30pm. Scroll to the bottom of the post for detailed information, including how to RSVP.

I recently sat down with Shiv to ask him about tips, advice and best practices he can share with mature workers looking for a job. Shiv was a recruitment professional for many years and currently works for a management consulting firm and is owner of his own life coaching practice, Authentic Life Rules. Over the years, his own experiences and those of his clients have taught him effective techniques for increasing a candidate’s chances of getting a job. This includes successful networking, and writing a well-crafted resume and cover letter. He shares with us below.

Bryan: In pitching your best self to potential employers, what advice do you have?

Shiv: Pitching yourself to an employer, someone at a networking event or even a new friend is all about making a connection.

  1. Take a moment to center yourself before going into an interview so you come from a place of calm objectivity.  If you are asked a question that catches you off guard in an interview there's nothing wrong with asking the interviewer for a moment to compile your thoughts if you need it.
  2. Be yourself and talk from your passions. What you love and the lessons you’ve learned should inform any conversation about your work experience. The person you’re talking to will be able to see it in your eyes, your face and your body, and will hear it in your voice. For example, instead of telling someone simply about a project you worked on, try and relate it to what challenges you faced and how you overcame them. What did you learn? How did you change your working style as a result of this work experience? Describing the impact you had in a situation or project will land more with someone rather than simply saying you are a hard worker.
  3. Prepare as much as possible for your interview by researching the job and the company and by practicing your pitch. Remember to be professional! Use humor appropriately. When I was interviewing for my first job in London and was asked at the end of the interview if I had any questions I'd always reply, “Just one. When do I start?” I thought it was funny, but it turned people off and I never got a single offer!

Bryan: What makes an effective cover letter and resume?

Shiv: The cover letter is designed to get you to read the resume. Therefore, don't fill your cover letter with the details of your resume. Write two to three reasons why you think you are right for the role for which you are applying. The resume is designed to get you in the door so don't fill your resume with everything you might say in an interview. In your resume write your experience with the impact that you had rather than simply listing roles and responsibilities you held.

Bryan: What are some of the common mistakes to avoid in cover letter and resume writing?

Shiv: Three things:

  1. It sounds silly but make sure you have clear contact information with a normal/professional sounding email address—so not snoopydog@gmail.com!
  2. Make sure there is consistency in terms of font and style and spell check it to death!
  3. Get other people to read it to see if they get a sense of your skills and strengths from what you've written. If they can't identify them, then it means a recruiter might not be able to either without some hard work.

Bryan: Any tips or secrets you can share with mature job seekers?

Shiv: You probably have more experience than most, so use that, because the truth is you probably do know better than someone who is younger even though they may be interviewing you. Try to find a way to dispense advice that sounds collaborative. If you're in an interview, can you share how that organization might be able to do things in a more efficient and effective way based on your past experiences? In terms of where you want to go next what are the patterns and themes in the jobs you have had? Does it still serve you to follow that path or is there another calling for you? What are your core values and passions? What are your constraints? Make your goals specific and measurable and explore all the digital avenues like LinkedIn or YouTube to showcase your resume and skills.

Bryan: Any final piece of advice?

Shiv: Don't be hard on yourself. Make sure your measures of success are clearly defined and are in line with your core values.

About Shiv

Shiv Paul is a strategy analyst at a leading management consulting firm specializing in planning long- term strategic goals for IT products through user research and client management. In addition to being a trained coach, Shiv is a certified Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) practitioner and combines this corporate experience with a background in acting and journalism. He is also a Reiki practitioner. As a coach he aims to help clients define and implement their Life Practice focusing on mind, body and spirit activities to lead a centered, balanced life. Find out more at Authentic Life Rules.

Attend Shiv’s SAGEWorks Workshop!

Pitching Your Best Self: Tips and Tricks to Identifying and Presenting Your Strengths!

  • Wednesday, April 10th; 6pm-7:30pm
  • 305 7th Avenue, 6th Floor (Conference Room #2) - SEATING IS LIMITED!
  • You must RSVP by Tuesday, April 9th to Zoraida Ramos, Assistant Manager at 212-741-2247 (Ext. 224) or zramos@sageusa.org

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