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Your personal brand and learning to dance

Well, it’s the New Year and why not take some dance lessons like my friends Tony and Rosa. They will be gliding across that dance floor in no time, intent on doing an activity together that’s healthy and pleasurable. You might be wondering, how that connects with your job search and career. Well, it does, even Lou Adler, career guru, thinks so.

Learning to dance
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Think about dancing, it’s a social activity that requires you to follow a number of steps. You want to get them right, but you also want to enjoy the music and let it carry you through the physical execution. It is very much like a job search and interviewing process. First you need to get someone to notice you. That means getting out there and networking. Answering online ads is not going to get you a turn around the dance floor. Then there’s presentation. I know someone who’s bright, eager, and very skilled. Yet every time I see her she is dressed inappropriately for the occasion. I only see her at business events, so I cannot speak to the rest of her wardrobe, but for business events, a dark suit with a splash of color in a layer or an accessory is acceptable, unless you’re interviewing in a highly creative field. This rule goes for men and women. It’s important to convey reliability, sound judgment, trust. Hair color, style and accessories should also be business-like. This is not the time to wear the biker jacket or the extreme hairdo.

Strategize your approach. Too many people focus on the immediate job, salary, location, title. You need to consider the bigger picture. Some industries are filled with vice presidents, but it doesn’t mean that they all make decisions. When you focus on these details, you lose track of the core of the role you’re looking at. Think about the job and its impact on the company. Consider what you might learn and how that can be useful in the future. Did you listen to what Mary Barra, the new CEO at GM had to say about the jobs she held along the way? She always concentrated on what had to get done and did it to the best of her ability, not thinking of the next step in her career. She has been quietly changing GM for years.

Make sure you interact with your dance partner, the interviewer. Steps can’t be taken alone. Ascertain the potential objections they might have and counter with in depth descriptions of what you accomplished that are believable and compelling. This requires you to put your whole heart into the process, just like when you’re really dancing with the music, the melody and the physical exertion taking you to another place.

You may need to take the lead in the interview dance. While in there, ask a question that showcases one of your top skills. “Will good follow up skills be necessary in this job?” Then you give a stellar example of how your following up saved a project. Of course you should have rehearsed this approach with a friend or colleague beforehand. You want to make sure that your delivery is natural, relaxed, and believable. Practice makes perfect, in dancing and interviewing. The old rule of thumb was 5-7 interviews before you have the interview that wins you the job. Asking questions about the job itself, why it is available, the challenges or even difficulties gets the interviewer to relax and offer up information that you need to take the interview to the next step. We’re hoping that next step might just yield a full dance card. Shall we dance?

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