The Mentorist

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Talking to the Elephant in the Room: When Silence Counts Against You

Three from the files:

Scene One:  The job description screams ‘corporate background required.’  A litigator submits his resume, nonetheless — along with a ‘breast-beater’ cover letter that ignores the requirement.

Scene Two:  A company puts out an RFP [request for proposal], in search of a law firm to handle its litigation work.  The executive-in-charge invites five ‘usual-suspect’ big firms to pitch for the business.

She also invites a boutique firm, seriously smaller than the others but known for excellent work.  The executive has some understandable concerns that the boutique might not be able to handle the heavy case volume.

At the pitch meeting, the firm’s partners stay mum about size. Continue reading

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I Meant What I Said and I Said What I Meant: Decoding Your Performance Review

Life is what happens when you’re writing performance reviews.

At least that’s the view of most managers I know.  I’ve never met one who enjoyed the process.

Having been on both sides of the manager/managee divide, I get it:  Performance reviews take big chunks of time to write and deliver.  Time that could be spent fighting fires and conquering countries.

Although ‘people development’ (what these reviews are about, after all) should also make the list of time-spending priorities, somehow it loses out.

As a result, managers too often deliver slapdash performance reviews that range in content from a grunted ‘keep-doing-what-you’re-doing’ to a set of stream-of-consciousness impressions that would do James Joyce proud.

Say what? Continue reading

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‘Tell Me About a Time When You….’: Prepping for the Behavioral Interview

Perhaps their parents didn’t read them Harold and the Purple Crayon enough times.

Whatever the reason, job interviewers these days expect candidates to regale them with tales of personal derring-do.  Not just any old adventures, mind you.  Rather, the interviewer wants to hear tales that convince her you’re the missing piece in her company’s HR jigsaw puzzle.

Yes, behavioral interviews are all the rage.  But what exactly are they?  They’re interviews designed to ferret out how you’ve acted –- and, more specifically, what skills and personality traits you’ve displayed — in past work situations.

The premise underlying behavioral interviewing is that past performance predicts future performance (unlike with your investment adviser…).  In other words, how you’ve behaved in past situations is the best predictor of how you’re going to behave when facing those to come.  (For those in therapy, this is a discouraging notion.) Continue reading