Re-cap (April 18, 2019) – Successful Interview Strategies

We’ve come to the end of our first-ever Career Development Series. In our last webcast, I spoke to Jenny Rae La Roux of Management Consulted about successful interview strategies. Below are links to the video and audio only recordings:

To access the discounted resources on Management Consulted, please go to and fill out their interest form.

For additional reading on successful interview strategies, check out the following articles:

During the webcast, Ramana asked if recruiters use tools to rank resumes based on keywords. The answer is, “Partly.” Different employers use different Application Tracking Systems (ATS’s) to manage the many applications they receive for each position. Keywords are merely ONE factor ATS’s look at when scoring a candidate. Some ATS’s look at keywords in the context of a sentence. While it is necessary to customize your resume and cover letters to each position that you apply to, relying primarily on online applications is not a productive strategy. In fact, it can be frustrating and demoralizing. As you advance in your careers and seek higher level roles, it is increasingly important for you to establish actual professional connections with individuals who can, down the road, serve as career advocates for you. If you haven’t, I invite you watch our webcast on effective resumes.

And that brings us to the end of our first season.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. Thank you.

Jerome Ng
Gies College of Business Career Services
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Follow-up on LinkedIn and Connecting with Others

Finally! I figured out how to edit this video. Here is a demo of (1) how you should update your Career Interests section within LinkedIn and (2) what recruiters see when using LinkedIn’s Talent Solutions software. Sarah demos how to align what you enter into your Career Interests with how recruiters are coached to use Talent Solutions.

5 strategies to optimize your LinkedIn profile for maximum exposure to recruiters:

  • Include your target location(s) and job title(s) in your Career Interest section. Within your public profile, include the main location that you are looking to move to. If you currently reside in Chicago, but want to move to Austin, TX, list Austin, TX as your location in your public profile.
  • Have a profile summary that speaks to the types of roles you are aiming for. Include keywords relevant to those roles within your profile summary.
  • Include selected keywords within your profile headline that are relevant to your target positions. Your headline is the primary description that recruiters see when they pull a list of candidates. A headline, like “Seeking Full-Time Opportunities”, tells the recruiter nothing about your skills and experience.
  • Ensure that your profile photo is close cropped to frame your head and shoulders only, eyes looking towards the camera.
  • Follow your target companies within LinkedIn and connect with people within your target industry or function.

Here is an infographic summarizing 10 steps you can take to improve your LinkedIn profile.

I received a few inquiries after our webcast on LinkedIn with Hannah Morgan about reaching out to alumni. Towards the end of this post, I’ve provided links to various Illinois alumni LinkedIn groups. If you are a member of these groups, you can message fellow members without using InMails. HOWEVER, before your reach out to an alum or any contact for that matter, consider your purpose. Why are you contacting these individuals?

Below are 3 videos that go over Steve Dalton’s 2-Hour Job Search strategy for finding jobs. Parts 2 and 3 go over ways to make and reach out connections. I recommend watching all 3 videos.

Part 1: Prioritizing Target Employers

Part 2: Making Connections by Picking Starter Contacts

Part 3: Reaching Out and Tracking

Once you establish contact with a professional, you will then need to conduct an informational interview. Here is a sample approach to informational interviews:

Remember that your first informational meeting is not your time to ask for a referral. If the connection progresses after your meeting and your contact becomes an advocate, you can ask for a referral. Until then, they are a resource to help you prepare for future roles.

Illinois alumni LinkedIn groups:

If you have questions, please feel free to reach out.

Jerome Ng
Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach
Gies College of Business


Recap (February 28, March 14 and 28, 2019) Storytelling, Networking, and LinkedIn

March was a crazy month with being co-chairing a conference in Asia and then going on vacation. I’m very sorry for the delay getting the recordings out to you. Here are the last three webcasts:

On Stories… All stories comprise 3 parts:

  1. The Hook – set the time, place and circumstances; establish the conflict, contrast or contradiction
  2. Challenge and Change – the longest part of the story; describe the main journey and what happened at the end, what changed/was different at the end
  3. A Clear Theme – think of this part as your answer to “So what?”; what’s the purpose of your story, what are you trying to illustrate to your audience

A related element to a clear theme is how you choose to end your story: open-ended or closed. Use an open ending if you wish to engage your audience in a discussion or to solicit their insights. Use a closed ending if you want to drive home a point and avoid any ambiguity regarding the message of your story.

There are 5 basic plots in business communication:

  1. Origin Story – founder’s story, or how a person, business, idea, product, service, platform, movement or opportunity came to be
  2. Rags to Riches (variation: David vs. Goliath) – challenging beginning with circumstances stacked against individual, but surprises everyone with a dramatic turnaround
  3. Rebirth – this is about second chances, redemption
  4. Overcoming the Monster – any overt or covert entity or situation that can threaten survival of some sort or thwart someone from reaching an important goal
  5. The Quest – stories about reaching an inspiring goal; aiming for a seemingly unattainable prize; doesn’t have to begin from a point of challenge; in fact, many are enjoying a good life, but are not content with the status quo and strive for something bigger

In a recent blog post, Esther Choy talks about how to utilize 3 of these plots in presentations.

In the chat room, one of you asked whether it was a good approach to tell multiple nested stories when communication one’s value; in other words, telling a story inside of another story. Esther’s advice is “No.”

Because audiences tend to have fairly short attention spans, it’s best to avoid nested stories. Instead, I encourage people to follow the National Speakers Association’s advice: tell a story, then present the main point. Then another story. Then the main point. Story. Point. Story. Point. The different stories should all illustrate the same main point.

For more on how to Let The Story Do The Work, visit Leadership Story Lab.

In our conversation on networking or, as I prefer to say, “building relationships,” Ngee Key Chan challenged us to evaluate our mindset when we approach networking: do we see it as a transaction to get something from the other person or as an opportunity to give first? Ngee Key advises approaching networking from a mindset of giving first in order to create a strong and authentic relationship with the other person.

To learn more about networking strategies, visit (this subscription is provided through Gies Online Programs).

Finally, when it comes to using LinkedIn to advance your career, Hannah Morgan suggests 4 different tactics:

  1. Create an engaging profile, especially your headline and summary. In your headline, do not rely on the default job title from your current job. Say more than “MBA Candidate” in your headline. Instead, state what you can do, what skills you bring or what industry/functions you are targeting. In your summary, elaborate on your skills and accomplishment. Target your summary to the function and industries are are aiming to get into.
  2. Turn on your Career Interests to be visible to recruiter. Let recruiters know that you are actively seeking. Use the given text box to share a note with recruiters.
  3. Include a personalized note when inviting others to connect with you. Make this a habit, even when you know the individual.
  4. Make one post (not merely “Like” someone else’s post) each day to increase your visibility in LinkedIn. Increasing the frequency of your posts increases your ranking in LinkedIn. However, do not get carried away with multiple posts in a day as that will annoy your followers. Keep your posts relevant to your brand or target industry/function.

In the chat room, someone asked about whether international students should write a note to recruiters about their status, informing recruiters that they are open for offers. Hannah offers the following advice:

…adding something about H1-B Visa or even STEM in their “Note to Recruiter” within the Open To New Opportunities section (under Career Interests) sounds like the best place for this.

I know a student who didn’t even mention needing sponsorship until the end of the interviewing process, when the hiring manager asked her. It wasn’t a deal breaker at all. The company typically doesn’t sponsor, but they made an exception for her. So, I lean towards not stating anything on LinkedIn and bring it up during the interview when asked. Once they love the student’s skills, they are more likely to want to jump through hoops for sponsorship….(fingers crossed).

Visit for video tutorials on maximizing LinkedIn for your career. You may also want to enroll in the MBA LinkedIn Intensive found on the left hand menu bar under Focus Programs. (If you have difficulty accessing the videos from the URL provided above, please go to then click on Beyond B-School Career Mgmt Videos.)

Additional resources:

I am trying to edit a recording we did with MBA 2013 alum Sarah Zigman who now works with LinkedIn. In the video, she demos how recruiters use LinkedIn’s Talent Solutions platform when sourcing for candidates. The demo provides good insights into how you should update your Career Interest section within LinkedIn so that it is aligned with how recruiters search for candidates. I will upload that video to this site once it is ready to be shared.

Please join me on Thursday, April 18 for our final career development webcast when I speak with Jenny Rae of Management Consulted about Interviewing for Fit.

Thank you.

Jerome Ng,

Recap (February 14, 2019) — Making Employers Fall in Love with Your Resume with Ross Macpherson

Thank you for the excellent questions during Thursday’s webcast with Ross Macpherson on resumes. If you missed the interview, you can view/listen to the recording below:

I appreciated Ross’ perspective on branding and resumes. One takeaway for me is that your resume is about “who you help and how you help them.”

An important clarification he raised is that you should not list “MBA” next to your name if you have not graduated. Doing so is falsifying information. You can list “MBA” in your Education with your expected graduation date.

Ross had an in-depth answer for the question about the amount of technical vs. MBA skills to list in a resume. For me, it is about relevant skills. At the end of the day, you need to ask what are the most relevant skills to the job to which you are applying.

Ross offered 3 ways to quantify your accomplishments:

  • Actual result or who benefited (usually the company) and how
  • Context or scope
  • What was it like when you started and what was it like when your task/project ended

IMPORTANT: Be truthful about your accomplishment. You need to be able to stand behind your claim and be able to explain how your achieved your results.

If you have not watched Ross’ videos on Beyond B-School, I strongly encourage you to do so. Ross offers lots of thorough in-depth advice. (If you have difficulty accessing the last four resources, you will first need to set up an account or log into your account at Please use your e-mail address to set up your account. Once you’ve logged in, you can use the links below to access the resources.)

If you have more questions for Ross, you can find him at

Before we ended our webcast, we had a question about whether having a “bare bones LinkedIn profile” was affecting their job search. We will address the question on March 28 when we interview Hannah Morgan about LinkedIn. Please join us.

In the meantime, if you are interested in subscribing to our monthly newsletter, please go to and click on the SUBSCRIBE button that you’ll see on the left hand side of the page.

For upcoming events, please bookmark and follow our blog. See you at our next event on February 28 when I speak with Esther Choy and Reena Kansal about communicating your value through effective storytelling.


Recap (January 31, 2019) – Personal Branding: Why You Need One and How to Go About Building One (Part 2)

Here are Michael’s responses to questions from the chatroom that we did not get to during our interview. Please let me know if you have follow up questions.

How is personal branding role specific?

Personal branding is YOU specific. When you’re fulfilling a certain role, you only release the pieces of your personal brand that are required for that role. Your brand shouldn’t change often. It will evolve over time as your skills, talents, and experiences allow you to express deeper parts of yourself in new ways, but most of what makes you authentic will remain the same.

Is personal branding similar to writing what you would write in your resume where you try to sell yourself to a potential employer?  Is there any room in personal branding to discuss your weaknesses or is it all about selling your strengths?  I always feel like there’s never enough emphasis placed on where we fall short as professionals – it’s all about knowing strengths and weaknesses.

Yes, your personal brand statement could be utilized at the top of a resume, in LinkedIn’s summary, and in your bio. In my definition of a personal brand, there is room for the areas you’re purposely developing. But, you wouldn’t write your weaknesses down and use them to sell yourself. I would suggest only sharing the areas you’re working to develop when you’re asked to (in interviews, with a hiring manager, etc.), with accountability partners, and your personal board of directors. It takes a truly humble, knowledgeable, and emotionally intelligent person to openly share what he or she is working to be better at. I encourage you to display your vulnerabilities, but do so in a way that adds credibility to your brand.

How do you maintain a personal brand when you don’t have a lot of “brand assets”? — when your career hits a dead end, when your company is unheard of, etc. How do you embody a positive, intriguing brand when you’re a bit stuck?

Your personal brand is an aggregation of your (1) communication profile, (2) motivators, (3) values, (4) strengths, and (5) life’s experiences. When you find the themes in these five “assets”, you can write a personal mission, 3-year goals, and a 3-5 sentence brand statement that will sell you without recent career wins. You may also consider creating wins through volunteering with your favorite nonprofit, joining a professional association and helping them with projects, offering your skills complimentary to a small business in exchange for a recommendation, reaching out to your networking and collecting as many LinkedIn recommendations as possible, or launching your own website explaining more about you. More importantly, don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Even if they appear to be successful, I promise you they’re going through challenging things they’re unwilling to share. This temporary slow time in your life is preparing you for something bigger than you can currently comprehend.

We recently had a survey asking group members to rate other person on 1. how easy to work with this person? 2. Does this person respond quickly to requests? 3. Is this person easy to get engaged to solve issues? 4. Dose this person always deliver on commitments?  Wondering do those questions connect to personal branding?

I see this as being linked to one component of a person’s brand. I believe it’s most closely connected to someone’s thinking, behavioral, and communication preferences (#1 in my answer to the previous question), but not strongly correlated to their personal mission or goals.

What is the role of color in a personal brand?

I dive into this topic on the third episode of my podcast, listen to it here. Consider reading this website for another look at how color affects human decision making. After you’ve uncovered your personal values and written your mission, it’d be fun to look at the meaning of different colors and choose two that most closely correlate with how you want people to know you. Can you find ways to infuse those colors into your wardrobe, resume, LinkedIn, website, business cards, social media posts, etc. The more you use the color, the more people around you associate you with the meaning of that color.

How do you (can you) tie your brand to your company/team brand?

Do your core values align with the company’s values? Is your personal mission somehow connected to the organization’s mission? Is your personal brand similar to the organization’s value proposition? If yes, find ways to openly talk about the connection. Draw the connection via posts on social media. Write blogs that talk about why you love working for the employer. Wear clothing with the organization’s logo. Join a board of directors and tell others why your mission aligns with the nonprofit’s mission. Host a dinner series and invite like-minded people to the dinner. As much as possible, talk about it in person and online. The connection between your and the organization’s brand will grow quickly.

I always struggle with polarities and the need to categorize us. This is one of the things that I find most difficult in branding. Everyone wants to put you in a box and identify you with… when our real talent is about synthesizing—and in multiple contexts.

I feel the same. Differences should be celebrated, not hidden or categorized. Thankfully, the voices of the people who loved to place other people in boxes are rapidly shrinking. They’re being replaced by the emotionally-developed people who see how diversity creates balanced, stronger, engaged, and more productive teams. If you follow the process in my answer to question #3 above, it’ll be awfully difficult for anyone to place you in a box. I think it’s impossible for any other person to have your communication profile, motivators, values, strengths, and life’s experiences. The more you share this uniqueness, the less they can place you in a box.

Recap (January 31, 2019) – Personal Branding: Why You Need One and How to Go About Building One (Part 1)

Our guest on Jan. 31 was Michael Seaver, a leadership and executive coach based in Arizona. You can find the full video recording here. If you would like to listen to the audio recording only, you can listen to our interview here.

Before we started the webcast recording, some of us started talking about chronotypes. Below is the page I held up on the screen camera. You can find the web link to that story here.


According to Michael, our personal brand incorporates our values, motivators, experiences, and strengths. They come together as patterns that exist through how we live our lives. It is the 3-5 things that make us unique. We then express our personal brand through the work we do, how we conduct ourselves, the color(s) we choose, our body language, what we choose to say in our resume, LinkedIn profile, executive biography, interview, and even when we are out networking. We have to consciously use that same language repeatedly; if it is not utilized—whether on paper or in electronic format—then it is hard for others to understand what is true to us. In other words, our personal brand is expressed both verbally and non-verbally; and it has to be expressed in a consistent manner.


When Michael works with clients on developing their personal brand, he begins the process by having his clients complete a behavioral profile using the DiSC assessment. He then works with them to identify their motivators and value structure. Once he has compiled that information, his clients draft three guiding statements: an intention statement (similar to a mission statement), an ambition statement (goals, vision), and finally their value proposition, which becomes the foundation for their personal brand.


All of us should develop a personal brand, including introverts. All of us, including introverts, should focus on the alignment between thought, mission, what it is that we are and our actions. The greater the congruence and consistency in those aspects of our life, the easier it will be for people to know us for our brand. Introverts can share their brand (this is typically with smaller groups of people) by producing content, for instance, by writing a blog or posting on Instagram. Introverts can also demonstrate their brand within organizations by getting small groups of people together to make sure that those in the group are moving towards a common goal. Additionally, introverts can showcase their brand by getting involved in non-profit organizations within their community.


Job search and career advancement aside, personal branding is also relevant from a job satisfaction standpoint. In a 2017 study of the global workforce, Gallup found that only 13% of the global workforce were engaged. In other words, 87% were disengaged or actively working against their organization. As organizations, this is a huge loss of productivity. As individuals, it means that 87% of the global workforce were working in environments in which they are not satisfied. If we do not know what it is that we want (including the type of environment in which we will be our best) or if we cannot articulate the value that we bring to an organization/team, it will be challenging for us to proactively engage in and be satisfied with the work that we do.


If you would like to work directly with Michael on developing your brand—whether for your job search or career advancement—you can find him at To sign up for Michael’s newsletters, visit For those in the US, you can text the word “discovery” to 66866.


As iMBA and iMSA students you also have free access to Beyond B-School, including their videos on personal branding:

* If you encounter difficulties accessing these videos, go to Beyond B-School first before clicking on the links above.

** To access these videos, go to Register for an account using your e-mail address. Follow the instructions to set up your password and then log in. Note that the password you set expires every two weeks, so you may need to re-set your password after that.


As an Illinois student, you have access to content on To access, go to and sign in using your Illinois NetID (the portion before and password. Once you are logged in, you can access the videos accordingly. However, you must first log in through Illinois.


Additional Resources:


If you are interested in subscribing to our monthly newsletter, please go to and click on the SUBSCRIBE button that you’ll see on the left hand side of the page.

For upcoming events, please bookmark and follow our blog. See you at our next event on February 14 when I speak with Ross Macpherson, expert resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile writer.


Recap (Jan. 17, 2019): Developing Your Career Development Strategy

Thank you for attending our first webcast on Developing Your Career Strategy. You will find the full recording here. To view the clip of my interview with Steve Dalton, please click here. (I apologize for the problems with the sound during the live session. We’ll get better with our subsequent webcasts.)

There are different career development frameworks that you will find when working with different coaches. Here is one framework that I’ve put together based on working with students and private clients:

Many job seekers begin their job search in the “Apply Your Brand” stage, where their focus is to submit as many applications as possible without a customized resume or cover letter. Others start in the “Express Your Brand” stage, revising and updating their resume. However, without having identified their brand or considered their long term career trajectory, many still miss out on distinguishing themselves from other candidates.

Gerald shared his approach to developing a career strategy. In addition to his suggestion, I recommend considering the following factors as part of your larger strategy; these questions can help you focus your job search:

  • What are your geographical preferences?
  • What are your functional preferences? What are your interests?
  • What are your industry preferences?
  • What type(s) of companies/organizations would you prefer to work for?
  • What is important to you? What are your motivators?

We also discussed different assessments, including:

  • Clifton Strengths  —  I have 13 access codes to give away for free. These codes will give you access to the assessment and reports for your Top 5 Talents. Please e-mail Jerome Ng if you are interested in one of these codes. One access code per person. Available while they last.
  • CraftMasterED  —  This is the assessment that Dr. Gerald Wilson is developing. It is still in the beta phase.
  • DiSC  —  Thank you Josh R.!
  • 16 Personalities  —  Thanks again Josh!
  • Kolbe  —  Thank you Karen L.!
  • MBTI
  • Six Lives Exercise  —  Thank you Lauren J.!

A couple of questions from the chat room that we missed:

  • How do you document your assessment results on your resume, if at all?

It is not necessary to explicitly document your assessment results on your resume. Instead, you can think about framing your experience around those results, which you should have weaved into the career brand that you would like to showcase. Using Clifton Strengths as an example, Consistency is my #5 talent. One of the things people who are dominant in Consistency enjoy is processes. I’ve determined that this should be part of my professional brand. Accordingly, I highlight my ability to develop and streamline processes to maintain quality assurance and data accuracy, while improving efficiency.

Linn mentioned that she uses the results of her assessments in interviews. That is a perfect venue in which to talk about them. The other channel is cover letters since that is an opportunity to highlight a couple of qualities that make you a unique candidate.

  • What are the next steps after Strength Assessment tests?

You can find a list of Gallup-Certified Strengths Coaches here. You can also use the self-guided learning modules within the Gallup Strengths Center (log in with the account you created for your assessment). “Next steps” depend on your long term plans. In terms of careers, I work with clients on applying their Strengths to crafting their professional brand, building interview stories, and being aware of the type of organizational culture that best fits their work style.

If I missed any questions, please let me know.

If you are interested in subscribing to our monthly newsletter, please go to and click on the SUBSCRIBE button that you’ll see on the left hand side of the page.

For upcoming events, please bookmark and follow our blog.

See you at our next event on January 31.