Ep. 256: Linda Muneka & Ai Ling Lee - Advancing Your Skillset for Tomorrow's Competitive Job Landscape

Adam Larson:

Welcome back to Count Me In. I'm your host, Adam Larson. And on today's episode, we're zeroing in on the pivotal role of personal branding and mastering your professional trajectory. It's a conversation about the nuances of public identity, self perception, and the ever present imposter syndrome. We're joined by 2 distinguished vice presidents from the renowned staffing agency, Robert Half.

Adam Larson:

Linda Muneka and Ai ling Lee are here to impart their expertise on advocating for your own brand and the significance of feedback in harmonizing your internal intentions with external perceptions. Whether you're aiming to enhance your online presence, gearing up for your next career leap, or looking to cultivate a dynamic personal brand, this episode is your go to resource. Get ready to dive deep as we lay down the blueprint for interview success and round out your professional toolkit. Let's get started. Eileen, Linda, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today.

Adam Larson:

Really excited to talk about just growing your skills and, your experiences as you're looking for as people are looking for jobs. And I figured we could start off with just, how do you assess your skills and your experience needs in the current job market? Because I can imagine it's constantly fluctuating. So it's not just a target that you can reach for, but it's something that's constantly moving.

Ai Ling Lee:

Yeah. No worries. It's great to be here. And, Linda and I, you know, will would would gladly share some of our thoughts on this. You know, that's a pretty loaded question.

Ai Ling Lee:

For me, instinctively, there's there's 2 major categories when we talk about skills, Adam. And the first is pertaining to your profession, your industry, the desired job. And so all of that's going to be under the category of technical skills or what some people called call hard skills, you know. And that's a bit of a process where you have assessments, you can cross leverage your experience, your resume, and your LinkedIn profile can clearly outline your skills, whether you have it, the degree of which you have it, and how you will apply it to benefit your future or current employer. I think what's more of a newer focal point, especially since the last few years, is a lot more of a focus on human skills, the soft skills, the skills that are not as tangible, but are getting more and more important in the world of communication and empathy and collaboration, especially with what we're seeing with Gen AI and what it is not, and it is not, you know, human.

Ai Ling Lee:

And so I think that it's an interesting time that we're in, and I'm sure Linda has more to say about this. But how do we assess it? It's it's a lot of communication, a lot of self awareness, a lot of trial and error, and it's a it's a journey. You know, whether you have something today, does it mean that you can't continue growing it, and what tomorrow brings is a little bit unknown. So I think people today looking at their career, looking at their skill sets, continue to think of it as what tools are you bringing along your journey of your career?

Ai Ling Lee:

What do you put in storage? What do you bring out to sharpen? And you continuously interchange it as you need to. So I think being flexible and being versatile is also really important in the assessment of your skills. So Mhmm.

Ai Ling Lee:

That was a bit of a long winded way of starting this conversation, but, Linda, I'm sure you have a few other things you'd like to add.

Linda Muneka:

Yeah. Thanks, Ai Ling, and thanks, Adam, for having us today. To echo some of the pieces that Ai Ling just highlighted, I think beyond the the soft and hard skills and kind of how you categorize them, I do think the most important call out here is about how you stay updated in terms of what's important, what you put in storage, what you take out and re sharpen. For today, I think for finance, again, when you think about those hard skills that Eileen just highlighted, it could be experiences with major ERPs such as, I think, of an Oracle or SAP, but also having that foresight and kind of identifying what is really going to be required and sought after tomorrow is an important part of this equation. The The buzz that we're hearing a lot right now is all around AI.

Linda Muneka:

So staying on top of kind of these trends and how you can start building these tools and skill sets around them within your space then becomes very, very important from an assessment standpoint. Now the the $1,000,000,000 question here is really how it stay updated. How you define really what you are gonna keep and what you're gonna kind of, take away. And I think twofold for me here, following influential figures within these domains on platforms such as LinkedIn or whatever platform, again, that they play a big part in can be very, very helpful, as well as joining professional associations or networking events centered around these topics are more crucial today than ever. So it's really all about creating that rolodex of experts and thought leaderships so you are up to date with the latest and greatest from a skill set perspective as you are thinking about what, what you want to focus on going forward.

Adam Larson:

So as you're putting things in your tool chest and assessing your skills and what to put away, what to bring forward and sharpen, as you're doing all of those things, how often should you be updating things like LinkedIn or your resume? Do you do it weekly, monthly, daily? Like, how often should those things be happening as you're as you're going through this process you guys just talked about?

Ai Ling Lee:

I I think it's a little bit more of an intuition. If something changes in your life, you you might wanna note that down. But also, you might wanna schedule, you know, a recurring time in your life where you look at your skill sets and just see if there's anything you'd change. Even your perspective looking back is always going to be a little different. And so, you know, as changes happen, if you get a new certification or if you get promoted or if your company has gone through as, you know, company wide systems upgrade, I think it's just whatever it takes for you to remind yourself that you should be proactively working on your skills and resume and CV and LinkedIn profile as a way of reflecting current reality.

Ai Ling Lee:

Mhmm. So my guidance wouldn't would be just don't leave it too long. Don't say, the last time I looked at my resume was when I first started this role 6 years ago. And I think just breaking the the myth that you only need a resume when you're looking for a job. Mhmm.

Ai Ling Lee:

And, you know, I think it's the same myth that people are starting to see being broken with annual reviews. And rather than checking in with your manager one time a year to see if you're doing a good job, reviews and sort of check ins are becoming more sort of more occurring, more real time. So, you know, if I had to give a a number, maybe twice a year, once a year minimum would be a good time, I think, just to reflect and say, is this what is true? Does this give a good reflection of who I am, especially as LinkedIn is not your resume? LinkedIn is a private.

Linda Muneka:

Mhmm.

Ai Ling Lee:

I mean, LinkedIn is a public domain. People can see in real time what you're doing. And so, you know, that gives you a little bit more of a consideration of keeping that up to date versus your resume, which you might not be publicly putting on display.

Linda Muneka:

Mhmm. Yeah. Yeah. I have a calendar invite to myself once a quarter that I said to myself, and it's called just a self evaluation meeting. I do it myself.

Linda Muneka:

And to me, I think it's very important to have some intentionality around this because, again, we we are so busy on our day to day that I think the last thing that we typically do is really do a little bit of that tool dump that we typically talk about, which is, if that's all the tools that you have, sharpen them, take them out, and some of the ones that might not just be as relevant for your current or future positions. So I do those quarterly, but again to Ai Lings's point, which I very much agree, I think this needs to there is that intention piece of intentional piece of it, but there is also that organic Mhmm. Piece of it where as, again, these events happen, as you go through a system implementation, as you add another stripe, and you want to make sure that you kind of update it organically. But it's all comes down to don't leave it for too long. Mhmm.

Linda Muneka:

Don't make it a trigger event for your next job because that's when you realize that you you just simply would not remember what your accomplishment on April 19 I don't know, 2019 is. So it's really more just about creating some milestones so you can capture all that information. And then when you need them, you probably won't utilize all of the milestones or all of the accomplishments that you have, again, been capturing, but you can then pick or choose on what's most relevant at that time.

Ai Ling Lee:

Yeah. I'd also recommend keeping a brag book or some type of folder in your inbox where you can click and drag any compliments, any kudos emails, you know, any recommendations or acknowledgments you get, even just nice thank you notes that if not for you, this person would not have shown gratitude or gotten some type of benefit. Keep a log. Keep some type of scrapbook, a professional scrapbook of all of your wins, big or small, because these are the things that add up, And these are the things we tend to forget when it comes to sitting down and writing about your strengths and how you've contributed to the team and how you show sight you know, examples of leadership or overcoming obstacles. So I think this is really more about keeping that professional diary, good and bad.

Ai Ling Lee:

And when the time comes, you you have all of this from yourself to your future self to work on, and and it can make a big impact because nobody likes being put on the spot, ask you know, being asked questions that they have to dig into their memory archive. It's it's tough to remember that. Yeah.

Adam Larson:

I really like that idea, this idea of a brag book of of quarterly meetings of of reminding yourself. You know, as an example for for myself, you know, I this podcast started in 2019, but it wasn't until 2022 or 2021 that I actually put it on my LinkedIn profile. I didn't realize that I hadn't updated anything in years. And it was, like, one of those things where somebody's, like, hey. How come I don't see the podcast on your profile?

Adam Larson:

And I was, like, oh. And so that's when I started started this I I think I do it. I don't have, like, an actual scheduled meeting, but every 6 months or so, I take a look at things and try to update them. But it's one of those things where if you're not thinking about it, you can go years without even updating things. And then when a job does come, you realize you're it's gonna take so much longer to update resume, update all your profiles

Linda Muneka:

Yep.

Adam Larson:

To even be current to what you're currently working on. So I love this Yeah. I love this idea of the that constant feedback of yourself because we get so lost in our jobs that we forget that we're people and that we need to review what we're doing ourselves.

Ai Ling Lee:

Yeah. Yeah. And that's it. Nobody's advocating for you more than you are yourself.

Adam Larson:

Mhmm.

Linda Muneka:

You know?

Ai Ling Lee:

And and there are some people that have accountability partners or they can outsource or delegate that work, but ultimately, you are your best brand ambassador. You are your best career coach and your best cheerleader. So, you know, I think that everybody should have some type of way to communicate with their future self so that that journey and that growth continues in the right track, in the right direction.

Linda Muneka:

Yeah. And I also think my pre one of my old managers told me this once and really, really stuck with me On they said, when you keep a folder, for them, it was an email folder with with all the thank you notes, with all the congratulatory notes, everything, again, essentially that we're talking about here. And they said beyond job search, they said whenever you're having a bad day, whenever you feel like this is an imposter syndrome day, pull up that folder and take a look at what you have been able to accomplish to date. And I think it's it's a little shot in the arms like this that really can help us and just, again, keep going and acknowledging the fact that we've worked very hard to get to where we are today. And it's every little piece of brick that we're putting forward can help us to go further and and make this building that much taller.

Linda Muneka:

So to me, it's it's kind of, again, leveraging it and making it kind of a piece of the fabrics of your day to day that really makes us a powerful tool beyond just updating your LinkedIn profile. Mhmm.

Adam Larson:

So you guys have mentioned, like, your personal brand, and that's something that people talk about a lot when it comes to building your your profile online. And a lot of times what stops people from creating a good personal brand is things like imposter syndrome, things that, you know, you're like, oh, I'm not good enough, or what what do I really have to offer? So I guess my question is 2 2 fold. Like, what do you guys feel what are your feelings about things like building your or showcasing your personal brand? But then also, how does one overcome that imposter syndrome?

Adam Larson:

Because it is something that probably everybody struggles with and doesn't even realize it.

Ai Ling Lee:

Mhmm. Mhmm.

Linda Muneka:

I think okay. So let's break down personal brand Mhmm. A little bit in terms of why it matters to us and why we should be talking about it more frequently. Many of us have a kind of a specific idea of certain brands within their domain when we think about it. So if I say, think of a a luxury clothing brand or think of a soft drink, what brand comes to mind to you?

Linda Muneka:

And that's really the power of branding in general. And on the personal front, when people think about you, what do you want them to think about? So impostor syndrome aside, your personal brand really should be your reputation. Again, back to the break analogy, the pieces that you are putting together that can help and shape and and a good reputation can really make things easier, and the bad one can make things a lot more difficult as you are, again, framing your next step, whatever it may be. So I think it's when it comes to, again, overcoming that impostor syndrome, I think a lot of that is personal is internal for you.

Linda Muneka:

So and that's actually what the challenge when it comes to building our personal brand is when as much as we're in control of creating sub pieces about it, we know too much about ourselves to really be objective around what we are good at. So the most powerful strategy, in my opinion, when it comes to overcoming these pieces and really kind of fine tune fine tuning of finessing your brand is lean into your colleagues, lean into your friends, lean into someone that's worked with you in the past who can tell you what you are good at that you potentially may not recognize as well. And moreover, they can also help you to spread the word on what these strengths could be to help you with further solidifying that personal brand externally. And I think that's very, very important regardless of where you are in your job search journey or where you are in a professional journey.

Ai Ling Lee:

I think big picture, you know, everyone has a brand Mhmm. Whether they've decided they've got one or not. Everyone has a brand. It's all about the perception of what people think of you when you're not even in the room. Right?

Ai Ling Lee:

Every business has a brand, whether they've purposely spent 1,000,000,000 of dollars curating that brand or they've just fallen into it because of that's naturally just become how people perceive them Yeah. From their services or their product. So you walking into a room, your colleagues, your peers, you know, your friends and family, all have a perception of your brand. And I think when you think about your career and you think, this is where I wanna go, this is what I want from my from my next role, from my current role, Your brand is going to be extremely important in terms of whether or not you're getting what you want or you're getting roadblocks or you're getting obstacles that you don't understand. Mhmm.

Ai Ling Lee:

Why am I not getting that promotion? Why didn't I get the job? Right? Why am I not getting called up for these projects that I want? And so I think when people think about branding for the first time and they ask themselves the question, what do I want to be known as?

Ai Ling Lee:

How do I wanna be described as by people?

Linda Muneka:

Mhmm.

Ai Ling Lee:

And children even do this with friends. It's like, oh, Matt, my friend, he's the smart one. Right? Julia is the one that never gets in trouble. People have already ideas of who people are and what they're about.

Ai Ling Lee:

The question is, is your perceived brand in your mind's eye the reality? Is it aligned with what people think of you? So if you see yourself as a fantastic leader, a diligent worker, it's great if that's what you want your brand to be, but it really isn't the point. The point is it's is it what other people external to you think

Ai Ling Lee:

of it? And is that what you want them to do? So I think it's making the connection of saying, I want people to see me as confident, ethical, team worker, innovative. And the question is, how do we put that brand out there? How do you align your intention with reality where your network is agreeing with you?

Adam Larson:

Mhmm.

Ai Ling Lee:

Because I think we just see a lot of disconnection on what people think they come across as versus what they are coming across as.

Adam Larson:

Mhmm.

Ai Ling Lee:

I think imposter syndrome is where you think less of yourself than what people actually say. If I say Linda's charismatic, she's confident, she's a hustler, she's fantastic, and Linda's not getting alignment with what her colleagues and peers are seeing.

Adam Larson:

Mhmm.

Ai Ling Lee:

And she has so, you know, so people tend to think differently about themselves, whether it's an inflated or a deflated view. Yeah. And this constant exercise of getting feedback from neutral credible sources, asking your peer group, asking people in your network that you trust, what what do you consider my strengths? What do you consider my weaknesses or areas of opportunities of growth? How would you describe me in one word?

Ai Ling Lee:

You know, send in a quick text to your friends and say, hey. Describe me in one word. What do they say? And I think that exercise is just about this constant growth and self realization journey that we're on.

Adam Larson:

Mhmm.

Ai Ling Lee:

And always, you'll get surprised by what someone says about you that you never really thought of yourself. Mhmm. You know? And that would be an action for me. I'd say after this podcast, You should all go do everyone should go do.

Ai Ling Lee:

Text 5 people in your family and ask them, give you one word that describes me best.

Adam Larson:

Mhmm.

Ai Ling Lee:

Right And it's it's it's just that branding. That's that's part of your personal branding journey. That's just the self understanding that what we think of ourselves is never always an accurate perception because we have bias, we have fears, we have insecurities that

Linda Muneka:

Mhmm.

Ai Ling Lee:

Come from a whole heap of sources that are not always reflective of how we are in our job or how we are as a friend. So Mhmm. It's a it's a complex, but also, you know, really interesting topic because this never used to be part of a career conversation. You know, this is still all very new in many instances where people are bringing their whole selves to the to the work. People are bringing their whole selves to their career conversation.

Adam Larson:

Yeah. Well, before it used to be you had to impress people at a in a certain office. Now your your brand is out there, and people's perception of you is perceived by anybody who has access to your profiles online. So it's a whole different world of where you're looking. Because before, you just had to be part of office politics and make sure you, you know, hobnob with the right people, and then maybe you'd get that promotion.

Adam Larson:

But now it's like there's so many other aspects. And a lot of times people say perception is everything. Perception can be reality. And whether it's happening or not, people's perceptions are an important thing. And whether you like it or not, you still have to be aware of people's perceptions.

Adam Larson:

You know, a lot of times people say, oh, I don't care about what people think about me. Well, you may not care what people think about it, but you should be aware what people think about you so you can change that if you need to.

Ai Ling Lee:

Yeah. 100%. I was just gonna say we're different to to different people.

Adam Larson:

Yes.

Ai Ling Lee:

And so this this need to be versatile and to realize that who you are to one person can be Mhmm. Completely different to another person. And so there's many layers in which, you know, we're not just this one dimensional, two dimensional widget. People can change and grow and develop, and so it's extremely complex when you start thinking about how would you describe me. Mhmm. You

Ai Ling Lee:

know, it really depends on who's describing you in one context. And so you could be the the bold, confident leader, you know, from a personal branding standpoint to someone, and then you could be the empathetic, listening, you know, this is like therapy podcast, you know, host to someone else. And those can have very different personality attributes or very different skill sets to 2 different people.

Linda Muneka:

Yeah. I think context is really key here. At the end of the day, I think there is multiple lenses. There's multiple viewpoints. I think there's a saying about you can be the the juiciest orange, but there's always going to be someone that doesn't like oranges.

Linda Muneka:

So fundamentally, it really comes down to it's you can never please everyone in terms of your branding and the how you are perceived. But at some point, you just gonna have to draw the line on the sand in terms of what is right for you From a morally, who do you want to be? Mhmm. Culturally, who do you want to be? From a skill set perspective, what skills do you want to have?

Linda Muneka:

I think all of those pieces play a huge part in terms of who you are as a person. Yeah. And, fundamentally, it's it's the imposter syndrome exists for everyone, but it comes down to really draw the line somewhere on the sand where it essentially will have you let you sleep at night and make you feel like, good. This was a net positive experience, a net positive date for you. That's all.

Linda Muneka:

Mhmm.

Adam Larson:

I read a quote back in August, and I had to find it real quick because I wanted to share it. Adam Grant, who's the author, he said, impostor syndrome, it says means I don't I don't know what I'm doing. It's only a matter of time till everyone finds out. But changing it to the growth mindset says, I don't know what I'm doing yet, but it's only a matter of time till I figure it out. So it's the it's it's changing that mindset from, hey.

Adam Larson:

I don't because there are gonna be new things constantly happening in our lives. So we have to change our mindset to say, hey. I don't know what this means, what how to do this yet yet, but I will know in

Adam Larson:

the future. And it's changing that from I don't know what I'm doing and it's only a matter of time before people, you know, expose me. It's like, well, I may not know what I'm doing yet, but I'm gonna figure it out as I'm going along. And that changes you from imposter to being having changing to that growth. And I thought that's really pertinent to what we're talking about.

Linda Muneka:

That's amazing, Adam. Thanks for sharing that. Here is a secret. Nobody really knows what they're doing fundamentally. So I think, yes, it's a little bit of a mindset switch and understanding that we're we're just all in that tube to figure this out, and we'll hopefully get there one day.

Linda Muneka:

But it's more of a journey. Yeah. That's powerful.

Adam Larson:

So let's say somebody's been listening to this conversation, and they've been applying all these steps and and really working on themselves. Let's say they get that job interview. They've been they've been trying to switch jobs or they've been looking for a job and they've been doing the work. They get that job interview. What should be their steps?

Adam Larson:

Like, what are some steps that they should take to prepare for that and be ready to be memorable in that interview? They've been they've been working hard at it. And what what what are those next steps?

Linda Muneka:

Yeah. In the context of, say, personal branding Mhmm. And in the context of how you want to come across, I think it starts off with a little bit of a self evaluation based on, again, like what we just said, is identify really what are the characteristics that your brand is and it represents. I think it's about once you know really what your what your end goal is, how you want to come across and help bridge that gap as much as possible. And in order to do that, it's by leveraging really a combination of thought leaderships and peer testimonials to really help you to craft that narrative, whatever it may be.

Linda Muneka:

So in other words, what's important to your personal brand and and what's important to your value proposition is how you're a team player. Say we're in an interview setting. You want to showcase that you're a team player. You want to showcase that under a fast paced environment, you work very well with your peers. Utilize some real life experience for a time where you had to help your team in achieving this greater goal, whatever it may be, during a very stressful time can be really, really helpful in crafting that, again, narrative and telling that story and and showcasing your brand, which should be something that happens fairly organically, but you're in a very not organic setting of an interview.

Linda Muneka:

And on the other side, you'll if being an expert of your knowledge and, let's say, property accounting is part of the brand that you want to showcase from a skill set, hard skills perspective, then you really want to weave in some thought leadership and how, again, you've utilized this theory and utilized this methodology to help you on a day to day basis on your last position. So, again, it's back to the putting some intentionality in terms of how you can portray this brand during this very nonorganic interview setting that will require some some thought process and some intentionality behind that.

Ai Ling Lee:

Yeah. I mean, I'd say that getting the job interview, first of all, the first thing I would do is celebrate that because that is a huge win in itself. Mhmm. And, you know, there are some people that are just generally very lucky to get job interviews by the nature of the industry and the career and the the the level that they're at in the market. You know, there are just certain jobs that have more demand and certain jobs that don't.

Ai Ling Lee:

So for those that are listening that are having a hard time even getting that interview and are sending out applications and just don't know why, all I would say is don't give up. Right?

Adam Larson:

Mhmm.

Ai Ling Lee:

But when you say, hey, we've got a job interview, I emphasize the celebrate because you wanna think strategically, what was it that got you that interview? You need to know, as much as you can, what was it in your skill set or your experience that piqued the interest of the decision maker who said, I wanna meet this person? Because if you can go into an interview knowing that, you've already you're you're already halfway there. Because what you're doing is you're finding where your leverage and where your value add is before you even walk in the door. So whether that's a conversation with the recruiter that submitted you in or someone in HR that has called you to confirm that, you could say, hey.

Ai Ling Lee:

Curious. Mhmm. What was it about my experience that caught your eye or caught the eye of the hiring manager? What was it that got me the interview? I always liked that feedback.

Adam Larson:

Mhmm.

Ai Ling Lee:

Right? And that is a huge advantage for people who can walk in and already know what it is that the person is interested in knowing more of versus people who just who just show up and don't know that insight. Right? And everything Linda said about intentional preparation, I mean, this is

Linda Muneka:

Mhmm.

Ai Ling Lee:

80% of a successful interview. Right? You you you don't wanna show up to an interview not having investigated the people you're meeting, the company, the culture, you know, the people they've hired before. Look at the company in LinkedIn and see what type of patterns can you see with who they've hired, what type of experience, school, degrees, ex you know, certifications they've got. Try to network and research within professional boundaries, of course, but try to find out as much as you can.

Ai Ling Lee:

who do you know that knows this person? What do they like? What type of interview style? What kind of questions are you going to expect? Because it's all about the preparation.

Ai Ling Lee:

Because preparation will give you the confidence, first of all, which you need in the interview because everyone gets nervous in an interview. Yeah. Right? And the more preparation, the more you walk in and you say, I have prepared for this to the best of my ability. Number 2, preparation gives you the ability to answer questions before they're even asked.

Ai Ling Lee:

And so then you can start the conversation at the midpoint. Right? You can you can go further in a conversation than somebody that hasn't because you can walk in and you can already offer up questions and answers in the first 5 to 10 minutes, and that gives you the precious time that other people are spending answering basic questions. That gives you that extra time to network and build rapport and to talk about things beyond the interview. You know?

Ai Ling Lee:

And so it's like a head start. It's like starting a 200 meter race at the 150 meter mark. And so I think so many people think that in interviews about the performance, and it is, but what's what's behind the performance is the fact that you've been talking about yourself. Your resume has already been updated. You didn't spend the week, you know, researching basic questions.

Ai Ling Lee:

You set the week networking and getting really specific insight to the company that you're meeting, and you're showing up with very tailored, targeted, intentional answers, not generic ones that you think work across all of the board all all across the board.

Adam Larson:

Mhmm.

Ai Ling Lee:

that I think is a difference between, you know, absolutely crushing the work to do the best that you can for an interview. And somebody who's just generally, I know how to interview, and we all know the basics. You know, don't be late, wear professional clothes, show up on time, have a you know, be prepared for the strengths and weaknesses. Like, this is all stuff that we we learn somewhere along the way. But I think in this day and age, if you wanna stand out, the competition is fierce.

Ai Ling Lee:

And if they're interviewing 5 people and you're 1, you wanna be the one person, the only one Mhmm. That stands out because of the things that you've done that the other 4 haven't. You know? And and if you're not gonna get the job, let it only be because you weren't the most qualified and not because you weren't the most prepared. Because you can control how much you prepare for the interview.

Ai Ling Lee:

Yeah. You know? So I think the step I would take would be everything that Lindt has covered, you know, the intentional preparation, the methods, the research, knowing your industry, knowing the company, but your preparation started way before you even applied to the job. Mhmm.

Ai Ling Lee:

know? And understanding your brand, understanding your skills, your your resume is relatively updated, and you know that this this conversation is going to be a result of months in the making. Yeah. You know? So I I think it's just a skill set that people inherently should always have, the ability to talk about myself, the ability to to learn about someone else.

Ai Ling Lee:

It's a professional networking experience where you are being scrutinized for a job. Mhmm. But it's also networking. You're also, you know, connecting and building your network and You know?

Linda Muneka:

Yeah. And, like, to to piggyback on that, I the challenge, I think, with the interview process in general is that I don't think anybody's really born with the skill set of being able to interview well or being able to really talk about themselves in a in a very succinct manner. I truly, truly believe this is one of those practice makes perfect scenarios, where the more you talk about yourself, the more you interview, the better you are going to be at it. But I absolutely love everything you said about celebrating the fact that you got an interview to begin with. That means that on paper, again, all things equal, say, this is just a standard application.

Linda Muneka:

You they certainly believe that you have the skill sets to be successful and to be a value add for the company. Mhmm.

Ai Ling Lee:

Yeah.

Linda Muneka:

And that to me is worth celebrating. And once you show up, the that exercise is really just more about how you differentiate yourselves from everybody else that they are meeting.

Adam Larson:

Mhmm.

Linda Muneka:

Because they also believe they could do the job. Mhmm.

Ai Ling Lee:

Yeah. And I

Linda Muneka:

think the the key here that you said that I though I personally will take away because I truly believe in it as well is specificity around your preparation.

Adam Larson:

Mhmm.

Linda Muneka:

You can have very, very generic preparation in terms of what is your biggest strength, what is your biggest weakness. But, again, professional interviewers have seen it all. So it's really more just about how you be how you stay more specific with Vivint that's aligned to the position, that's aligned to the company culture. Moreover, go go a step further and make it aligned to the person that you are talking to. And I think all of those, again, unfortunately, don't come organically.

Linda Muneka:

They require a little bit of pre Yeah. A lot of prework in some cases.

Ai Ling Lee:

I'll add, you know, one more thing here on this is is there's just 3 big questions you have to think about.

Adam Larson:

Mhmm.

Ai Ling Lee:

Right? The 3 big questions are, you know, do you have the skills to do this job? Mhmm. That's number 1.

Linda Muneka:

Right?

Ai Ling Lee:

And so you have to attack that first. How can I showcase the skills that show my ability to do this job? Number 2 is, do you have the personality, and is a culture match going to be a good fit? And so that's these are not one-sided questions. These these are for both parties to consider because you don't wanna you you don't wanna work for a company who whose culture doesn't fit your style.

Ai Ling Lee:

Right?

Adam Larson:

Mhmm.

Ai Ling Lee:

And so how will you showcase that in the interview? What will you bring to the conversation to answer those 2 questions? I can do this job, and my personality aligns with your culture, whether the culture is fast paced, dynamic, competitive, hustle culture, or is it a bit more traditional, low key, even keeled, family you know, like, whatever the brand is of the company, how does that align with your skills? But the third question is all about your willingness and motivation. Because you can do the job.

Ai Ling Lee:

You might have the great personality that aligns with the culture. But if you don't have the motivation, you don't want it. You're not coming to the interview saying, this is what I want. This is what I'm gonna do. I drive.

Ai Ling Lee:

Then people are going to be questioning your motivation, and she seems perfect. Right? He seems like the right fit, but he didn't seem that excited. So these are the 3 major buckets when in any interview, any good interviewer or any good any experienced hiring manager is gonna be looking for those three things.

Adam Larson:

Mhmm.

Linda Muneka:

Right?

Ai Ling Lee:

And if you can cover that in the first five minutes, again, you have more of an ability to control the interview. Mhmm.

Linda Muneka:

And I

Ai Ling Lee:

think the traditional interview is that the candidate shows up and has no power, and the interviewer has all the power. And your job as the candidate is to just answer the questions. But I I don't agree with that. And I think with Linda and I, we we've coached thousands of candidates in interviews in our career, and so much of it is that the candidate has a lot of ability to influence the direction of the interview based off of your preparation, based off of your level of experience and confidence, even just showing up to the interview saying, I can do this job. Right?

Ai Ling Lee:

This person this is my personality, and it seems that it aligns with your culture of ethics and culture, the way that it seems to be at your company. And this is this is the dream. This is what I'm motivated to do. This is how I show Mhmm. How excited I am, how enthusiastic I am.

Ai Ling Lee:

If you could show that in the first five minutes, you've already covered a lot of the questions and concerns that an interview usually takes 30 to 60 minutes to cover. Yeah. So I think that for me is is just kind of the the takeaway. If you're thinking, you're setting up an interview, if you're if you've got an interview lined up, really work to prepare those 3 buckets, and I think you're gonna be in a really good position. Mhmm.

Adam Larson:

It's almost like the the interview itself is the top of the iceberg. Mhmm. It's just the tip top that's showing above the water, but the preparation for the interview is everything underneath that you don't see underneath the water. That's kind of the image I got as you guys are both describing everything you need to do to prepare for an interview. It's like, the interview is just the part where you're in the room with the person talking.

Adam Larson:

Everything else happens beforehand, the stuff you don't see, and that's the key component that you can't forget. You can't just show up an interview having spent 5 minutes on the person's Definitely don't. Do that. Yeah. Well, this has been a great conversation.

Adam Larson:

We could probably talk for hours on these subjects, and we could there's so many other things we could cover. We could unpack things that we've said, but, you know, I just wanna thank both of you for, coming on the podcast today. It's been wonderful speaking with you, and I look forward to having you again in the future.

Linda Muneka:

Thanks for having us, Adam. It's a pleasure.

Ai Ling Lee:

Thank you, Adam. This has been Count Me In, IMA's podcast providing you with the latest perspectives of thought leaders from the accounting and finance profession. If you like what you heard and you'd like to be counted in for more relevant accounting and finance education, visit IMA's website at www.ima net.org.

Creators and Guests

Adam Larson
Producer
Adam Larson
Producer and co-host of the Count Me In podcast
Ai Ling Lee
Guest
Ai Ling Lee
Ai Ling Lee has over 10 years of recruiting experience within finance, accounting and financial services across various international cities including San Francisco, Boston, and Shanghai, China. In her current role as Vice President, Ai Ling supports Robert Half’s finance and accounting permanent placement practice group for North America, implementing operational best practices, coaching and development and technology adoption with the goal of retaining talent.
Linda Muneka
Guest
Linda Muneka
As a Vice President for Robert Half’s management resources practice group, Linda’s experience across financial services, technology and procurement helps drive her teams’ execution strategy. She supports cross-functional and regional operations through focusing on high-impact inputs and value, a strategy that has allowed her to scale small teams at triple-digit growth rates and support large teams to maintain seven-figure books of business.
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