SPEAKER’S CORNER: Eileen Strong Shares her 5-step Plan for Job-Search Success

By Frances Chaves
Confidence is the Key to Landing Where You Belong
Eileen Strong knows how difficult it is to project confidence during a frustrating job search. She has a T-shirt that says: “I know that when one door closes, another one opens up… But man, these hallways are the pits.” It is impossible to hide a negative self-attitude when doing your elevator speech, networking, or interviewing. Yet, confidence and optimism are the key to making the most positive impact possible and ensuring that you land where you belong. To stay on top of negative self-talk and nurture your self-confidence, Eileen recommends these practical steps.

  • The power of your mind will get you through this transition period. Reinforce the belief that you are marketable, credible, and have great skills. If you believe it, so will your listener.
  • “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is the present.” Remind yourself that each day is a new day with new opportunities. This could be THE interview, THE connection, THE moment.
  • Focus on your skills and avoid “negative words.” You are not unemployed, you are a consultant.
  • Build self-confidence with a 60-second Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) exercise. Breathe deeply, press your thumb to your index finger, and say with conviction, silently or out loud, “I choose to be in control, feeling focused, confident and positive… it’s ok with me.” Repeat four times using the fingers on your left hand, and four times with the fingers on your right hand. Practice this “psychological reinforcement vitamin pill” a MINIMUM of once in the morning, afternoon, and evening.
  • Daily writing is a cathartic, healing practice that sends positive messages directly to your subconscious. Your self-attitude will improve as you RECOGNIZE, WRITE AND RELEASE your successes. In five sentences, list why you are marketable and unique. Include one or two great things that happened today. When you accomplish job-search targets, record them.
  • “Four-square” breathing helps overcome nervousness. Inhale to the count of four, hold your breath to the count of four, and then exhale to the count of four. Repeat this process four times.

2. CREATE A UNIQUE, DIFFERENT AND CREDIBLE STATEMENT for your peers, networking individuals and potential employers.

  • Use the power of the Five W’s and know WHO you are, WHAT you have to offer, WHERE you can go, WHY you are an asset, and WHEN you can bring it (and show them how you will benefit their team).
  • Grab the listener’s attention; open with a memorable line that has impact. Include an adjective or adverb that describes you in a unique way. Eileen’s first sentence: “My name is Eileen Strong of Strong Incentives…I show you how to speak with clarity, credibility and confidence – Strong Incentives delivers powerful results.”
  • Use pauses to hold the listener’s attention. Incorporate Eileen’s “One-Feature-to-Three-Benefits Ratio:” for each of your positive features, list at least three benefits that will result from hiring you.
  • Add a personal note explaining why you offer your service/skills and why a long-term relationship with you would be valuable. Incorporate a personal story.


  • PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, in front of the mirror, for a friend, to your pet.
  • Keep your body language open. Don’t cross your arms; don’t rattle coins in your pocket; lean in to your listener, but don’t get too close.
  • Project your voice; change the pitch, the pace, and the volume to avoid a boring monotone.
  • Be careful about telling jokes because they might fall flat.
  • People love the sound of their name so use it to build chemistry. If they aren’t wearing a name tag, “anchor” their name in your memory with a mnemonic device, such as a rhyme or noting a distinctive article of their clothing.
  • If you are nervous making eye contact, stare at or between your listener’s eyebrows.
  • When speaking to more than one person, scan the group and engage with everyone.
  • Avoid repeating figures of speech like “I’m so excited” or “This will be really cool” or “You know what I mean.”
  • Eliminate “ahhs, errs and umms.”
  • Practice public speaking by joining Toastmasters: http://www.toastmasters.org/


  • Remember it is not about YOU; it is about THEM.
  • By listening well, you will answer well and be MEMORABLE.
  • Asking questions and showing genuine interest builds rapport.
  • People love to talk about themselves. Get their business card, learn from it and inquire about their business. Then, if they ask what you do, or it is appropriate, share information about yourself or deliver your elevator speech.


  • As younger people have shorter attention spans, keep your statement short and memorable, ideally under 20 seconds. Be sure to answer the 5 W’s and then edit, edit, edit. Touching on a fear they might have and then demonstrating how you can solve that problem can be especially effective.
  • When younger listeners text while you are talking, this is not reflection of your lack of value. It is simply their “modus operandi.” Eileen recommends staying silent until they finish texting, then continue with your statement. You may say, “What I have to share with you is important, which is why I chose to wait until you finished.”

Last but not least, OWN YOUR PRESENTATION. Make it yours! Believe it and feel it. Your listeners will respond to your enthusiasm and confidence in your services and skills.
Bio: Eileen Strong of Strong Incentives is an internationally recognized speaker and presentation coach and author of Who Stole My Confidence? – 7 Rock Solid Steps to Take Yours Back!, she has presented to the F.B.I., the U.S. Army, The National Guard, Mennen, Miller Beer, Heublein, Mirro, Bolinger, and others.
Reach Eileen through her website, http://www.strongincentives.com, or by email: eileen@strongincentives.com

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