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How to give constructive feedback in a job interview, the workplace or anywhere you want to get someone's attention.

Photo by Charles Deluvio

In Constructive Criticism or Compliments: Which Builds Your Brand Better?, I explained why constructive criticism is such a smart personal branding tool when used properly, and commenter Bruce Bixler responded beautifully in showing us how:

I liked the outline [of the article] but what is missing is specific example(s) of how a constructive criticism can or should be worded constructively.

I use personal examples of my everyday experiences. And believe me there are a lot of examples of constructive criticism to choose from. (Self deprecating criticism there.)

In itself, Bruce's comment is an almost textbook-perfect example of well-delivered constructive criticism in addition to being a personal brand-boosting blog comment.

Here's how to construct your own.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll. The formula for perfect constructive criticism

It goes something like this:

  1. Credibility-building introduction
  2. Compliment (optional)
  3. Criticism
  4. Suggested improvement
  5. How to follow up with you

Let's take a deeper look.

1. Credibility-building introduction

The idea is that for your criticism to be taken seriously, the recipient needs some proof that you actually know what you're talking about. And if you're constantly trying to build your personal brand – as you should – you'll want to give proof.

You could use your personal tagline, but the key point is that however you introduce yourself, it should be related to your upcoming criticism.

If the person you're contacting already knows you, this becomes optional.

2. Compliment (optional)

"I don't want constructive criticism, I want adulation" Tom Hardy in admirably frank interview: http://tinyurl.com/lbbqun?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

— James Spackman (@blackpooltower) June 23, 2009

The main reason to include a compliment here is to ‘lighten the blow' and create balance i.e. flatter the recipient a little bit to raise their spirits before you bring them down again.

As someone who likes receiving constructive criticism, it is more likely to raise my spirits than a quick compliment, especially a formulaic, inauthentic one, which is why I would prefer not to receive one here.

However, as I mentioned in the earlier article, most people do not like receiving criticism at all, so feel free to use a legitimate compliment when you think it will help.

3. Criticism

I like constructive criticism from smart people -Prince in a 2009 interview

The main body of your message.

If you're giving an opinion, say so.

If your criticism is based in fact, give your source.

Avoid any judgements of the person and concentrate on the focus of your reaction (e.g. their blog post, their report, etc.), unless of course the focus is the person themselves.

And overall, do not use any negative adjectives, adverbs or expressions because they increase the chances that the recipient will become defensive and not listen, leaving a negative impression of you and defeating the whole purpose of your message in the first place.

4. Suggested improvement

Too often, constructive criticism is delivered without any solutions in tow, leaving the recipient even more frustrated because now they know there's a problem but they might not have a clue how to fix it or they would have avoided the problem initially.

Suggesting ways to best take your criticism into account makes it easier for the recipient to do so, as you map out a possible solution for them.

For example:

  • If you mentioned a source for your criticism, then quote a suggestion from that same source
  • Explain what works for you, as Bruce demonstrated in his comment above
  • Share what you've seen work well for others

5. How to follow up with you

If you've done everything well up to this point, your recipient will not only take your advice, they will also understand that you're a person whose advice is worth taking, and will want to know where they can get more.

Giving the criticism live and in person? Now's a good time to present your business card.

Giving the criticism online? Make sure that whether over email or social media, anyone who's impressed by your criticism will be able to find you via the related social profile, brand-building blog or website.

I originally published a version of this article on the Personal Branding Blog.

Question of the article

Why did you vote the way you did in the poll? Tell us in the comments. Here it is again:

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

What others are saying

Design Job Interviewing Protip: After you answer each question, ask “was that a good answer?” You should also repeatedly ask if the interviewer thinks you are doing a good job at the interview — this establishes your desire for constructive criticism.

— Mitch Goldstein (@mgoldst) March 14, 2019

Bonus: How to Take Criticism

How to Take Criticism | Art of Manliness - YouTube

READ NEXT: 7 Reasons Constructive Criticism Hits Hard (and Well) or What motivates more: positive or negative feedback?

Subscribe to JobMob via RSS or and follow me on Twitter for more results-boosting ideas for your job search.

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Key lessons that worked for me on how to conduct a job search.

Photo by Chunlea Ju

This a guest post by Yehoshua Paul.

Over the past year, I have managed to become very familiar with job hunting (this was in Israel).

Most of the people I know who are looking for work rarely do everything they could to find work. Many of them are doing things wrong and some stuff which in retrospect should have been done differently.

Primarily it is the difference between being passive to active while not being overly aggressive.

Don’t be lazy, work is out there. Get up and find it.

I am not a guru, and the lists below are far from comprehensive, but I think they will help you find the work you need so badly. These tips worked for me.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

While job hunting, you should…

1) Talk to people

Friends, family, employment agencies, outsourcing companies, professionals in your field… if no one knows you are looking, then no one will think of helping you.

Use LinkedIn and professional networks. Get in touch with all the people who can help you with your search.

2) Prepare a portfolio

In some fields, having a portfolio is a basic requirement. In others, a work portfolio can be used to greatly impress potential employers.

3) Polish your resume

If you don’t know how to do it yourself, approach someone who does know resumes. It is better to spend money on a professional resume than to have it overlooked by a potential employer.

I got really sad I didn’t get the job at IKEA but then yet again I spelled objective wrong in my resume no one wants to hire a dumbass

— 𝔊𝔢𝔯𝔞𝔩𝔡𝔦𝔫𝔢 (@geraldiiinnneee) July 3, 2019

4) Sign up to jobsites

Top job boards will deliver potential jobs directly to your inbox. They can tell you where to look for work, and help focus your search.

Many sites also offer you valuable tips that can help increase your odds of success.

5) Visit job fairs

Job fairs are good places to meet potential employers, make a personal connection, and gather contact information that can’t be found in job ads. You’re looking for work, they’re looking to hire.

While job hunting, you shouldn't…

6) …Rely on others to do the work for you

Whether it's an outsourcing agency, friends, family, or the person you met the other day who swears he knows someone who is hiring, you are not their sole concern. Continue searching. Call them occasionally to stay in touch, help them help you find a job, but don’t rely exclusively on your contacts.

7) …Overly rely on any one person

There is no reason for you to work with only one employment agency, seek help only from a single friend, etc.

The more people who can help you, the greater your chances are of finding work faster.

An employment agency told someone I know that she had to re-send her résumé because it was in PDF. They needed it in Word. Why? Pray tell. Do they want it appearing weird or do they want to make unauthorized edits?

— Jack Yan 甄爵恩 (@jackyan) April 12, 2019

8) …Rely on people with competing agendas

Keep control of your job hunt. If two employment agencies are bidding for the same job at a company and both send in your resume, the company will avoid the headache of dealing with them and move on to the next candidate.

9) …Send your resume to the wrong people

Why would a law firm be interested in hiring a programmer?

You want to target companies, and early in your search.

10) …Overly focus your search

If you narrow your search so much that you ignore all the other attractive options out there, your job search will be harder than it needs to be.

11) …Ignore following up

What's better: call tomorrow, or wait a month/year/never? It matters.

12) …Stalk recruiters

Don't follow up 5 times a day, people are busy. If they say they’ll get back to you, give them a chance.

A3: Step 1) Apply for the job Step 2) follow-up with #Recruiter/#Hiring Manager via email Step 3) don't stalk #jobhuntchat

— East Side Staffing (@EastSideStaff) February 16, 2016

13) …Gloss over job requirements

It's a best practice to only apply for jobs you qualify for, but first make sure you actually do qualify.

14) …Apply halfheartedly

Have you ever sent a blank email with your resume attached? Or sent an email cover letter while forgetting to attach your resume?

While job hunting, you should have…

15) Started looking the moment there were rumors of massive layoffs

16) Made sure another job was lined up before quitting your existing job which you hated

17) Asked your boss whether your contract was going to be extended before it expired

18) Made sure your work was above and beyond the accepted standard

What others are saying

Career Hunt - 6 Keys to Career/Job Hunting Success - YouTube

Question of the article

Which of these job search tips stands out to you, and why? Something you never thought of? Something you completely disagree with? Tell us in the comments.

About the Author

Yehoshua Paul is a freelance Technical Writer. Since July 2009 he has worked at 5 high-tech companies – individually and as part of a team, employed and freelance, full time and part time, and always busy.

This article was part of the 4th Annual JobMob Guest Blogging Contest, which was made possible thanks in large part to Gold Sponsor, Jason Alba of JibberJobber.

Subscribe to JobMob via RSS or and follow me on Twitter for more key real-world job search tips.

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