Ask a Real Recruiter: Should I Use a Salary Calculator to Negotiate a Job Offer?
by JESSICA VANN
I think I blew my last interview by asking for too much from a nonprofit using a salary figure that I found through Google. My question is, when asked about salary requirements, is it okay to say a number and then mention that's the number you found on Salary.com or Payscale.com?
Still Figuring Out My Worth
Dear Still Figuring Out My Worth,
For many people, the dreaded salary question is the most nerve-wracking stage of the interview process.
Did you aim too high and shoot yourself in the foot? Or, did you aim too low, undervalue your worth, and leave money on the table?
You’re right to want to be prepared for the question, because if things are going well, you’re going to need to face it. So, let’s start with the question you asked:
Data aggregators, such as the two you mentioned, may be useful as one data point, but they shouldn’t be the only thing you consider. Even further, I wouldn’t recommend volunteering that your source is a salary calculator, as it could signal a lack of insight about your profession and the marketplace you’d be working in, as well as an inability to see the big picture.
Which brings me to understanding the big picture. And I’d actually like break this up into two parts because I think it often goes overlooked in most tactical advice on this topic:
The Big Picture Within Your Own Life
Market data is one approach. But, at the end of the day, it’s what matters for you that should govern what you negotiate—provided you’re being realistic. Consider things like your cost of living, as well as the totality of how this job does or doesn’t makes sense for your life.
For instance, if the pay’s slightly lower, but it provides the work-life balance or flexibility you desire, that’s worth considering. What are the benefits or perks like? How about things like the culture or growth opportunities? In addition to salary, you’re allowed to negotiate for these things, too. (It could be easier for a company to give you an extra week of vacation than 10K more than they budgeted for the role.)
Only you know what would make you feel fulfilled and happy in your role, so take the time to really think about it.
The Big Picture Within the Company, Industry, and City
The hard question: Are you being realistic?
Understand that most positions have a salary range and your experience will likely dictate where in that range you fall.
For instance, are you on the more junior or senior end for a role of this type? Do you have relevant experience or are you more of a transitional candidate?
Moreover, what is the industry you’re applying to, is the company currently profitable, and what do the standard salaries look like based on your answer to those two questions? A Series A start-up is likely to have a very different compensation plan than a publicly traded and more established tech company.
Now, those calculators you mentioned can be a part of how you evaluate what standard is. But, in addition to that, I recommend speaking to your network (and even asking in informational interviews) so you can get a real understanding of what’s normal.
Understanding the above should help you go into the conversation with more confidence. And combining that with reading up on articles like this list of negotiation tips and this piece about knowing your worth should make this part of the process way less painful.
This article is part of our Ask an Expert series—a column dedicated to helping you tackle your biggest career concerns. Our experts are excited to answer all of your burning questions, and you can submit one by emailing us at editor(at)themuse(dot)com and using Ask a Real Recruiter in the subject line.
Your letter may be published in an article on The Muse. All letters to Ask an Expert become the property of Daily Muse, Inc and will be edited for length, clarity, and grammatical correctness.
Before a networking event filled with people whose names I need to remember, sometimes I will mouth out the names to myself right before I enter the room. It makes me feel silly and self-conscious, but it has always served me well.
And now, a new study published in Memory backs me up on why reading out loud is one of the best learning and memory tricks you can do to remember words.
Study: You’re more likely to remember words when you read them out loud
Researchers Noah Farrin and Colin MacLeod from the University of Waterloo in Ontario Canada recruited 75 students to take a memory test of vocabulary words. Two weeks before the test, the students recorded themselves saying the 160 words. Then on the day of the test, students prepared in four different ways: They read 20 of the vocabulary words silently to themselves, they heard someone else read 20 of the words in a recording, they heard themselves read the selected words out loud in a previous recording, or they just read the selected words out loud to themselves.
Then the researchers tested the students’ memory recognition by asking them to recall whether the words chosen for the test were words they had just studied or were words from two weeks prior.
Out of all the study methods, having the students read the words out loud to themselves was the most effective recognition tool, with students guessing the correct word order with 77% accuracy. Listening to the recording of themselves came in second place, while hearing someone else’s recording and reading silently came in last.
The most effective memory tool
The researchers suggested that reading aloud in the moment is the most effective memory tool because it’s giving your brain the most tools to remember information. The act of speaking aloud activates motor processing cues because your mouth is physically mouthing the words. Second, it also activates your auditory processing because you’re hearing the words, and in addition to hearing words, you’re hearing them in your own voice, which has been found to make information more memorable.
“This may well underlie why rehearsal is so valuable in learning and remembering: We do it ourselves, and we do it in our own voice,” the researchers concluded. “When it comes time to recover the information, we can use this distinctive component to help us to remember.”
Next time you need to remember some Very Important Contact’s name before an event, try speaking the name out loud.
Monica Torres is a reporter for Ladders. She is based in New York City and can be reached at email@example.com.
You’re considering a certain career path. So, in an effort to learn more about it, you gather your courage, heed that age-old career advice, and connect with somebody who already works in the sort of position that you’re interested in.
Yes, you put yourself out there. The hard part’s over right?
Not exactly. Making the most of that conversation involves more than just sitting down at that coffee shop corner table, staring nervously over your latte, and eventually spouting out an awkward, “So… tell me about what you do.”
In order to get the insights you’re so eager to get your hands on, you’ll need to ask targeted and smart questions. Like what? Here are seven you should absolutely have in your back pocket.
1. “What Attracted You to This Career Path?”
Of course, it’s best to dip your toes in and start with the basics.
Kicking off your conversation with a question like this one will give you a greater understanding of what initially drew that person to this sort of position—which provides some necessary context as you move into the rest of your discussion.
2. “What Previous Professional Experiences Have Helped You Most in This Role?”
In a similar vein, don’t be afraid to dig into that person’s professional history. It’s always helpful to understand how somebody arrived at this current point in his or her own career.
Perhaps a specific certification has really given that person a boost in this position—meaning it’s something that you’d also want to look into. Or, maybe he needs to rely on a skill set he didn’t anticipate.
That’s all handy information to have as you consider making a move yourself.
3. “What’s Something That Would Surprise People About Your Day-to-Day?”
You might think that you know everything there is to know about that particular field. But, you’d be surprised—getting a peek behind-the-scenes is always incredibly enlightening.
Maybe everybody assumes she spends her days out in the field—but, her role actually requires a ton of desk work, for example.
Using a prompt like this one will empower you to find out more about those lesser-known parts of a specific position.
4. “What’s One Thing You Wish Somebody Would’ve Told You Before Going Into This Field?”
Sticking with that “surprise” angle, it’s worth digging more into that person’s head to find out what personally shocked him or her about that role.
Whether it’s the fact that he had no idea how much he’d need to rely on his math skills or he didn’t anticipate needing to collaborate with so many different departments, there’s bound to be some element of that job that was unexpected.
5. “What Are Some of the Biggest Rewards of Your Position?”
Of course, the goal of your conversation isn’t to just uncover any surprising or negative parts of that position. You want to find out what that person loves as well.
Perhaps the income can’t be beat or she loves that no two days are the same. Or, maybe the work is fulfilling and rewarding, and she knows that her work is contributing to the greater good.
Finding the right job for you involves finding one that lines up with your own values and priorities. So, it’s smart to touch on the most positive pieces of that role to see if they match up with your own ideals.
6. “How Would You Describe Somebody Who Would Excel in This Career?”
You’re eager to not only discover whether that type of position is what you’re looking for, but also if you’d be a reasonable fit for that sort of role.
The person that you’re meeting with will obviously have some valuable insights into what it takes to succeed in that job, and it’s worth asking how he or she would describe a qualified candidate.
If he or she touches on skills and competencies you already have? You’re well on your way. If not? At least you’ll know what you need to work on in order to present yourself as a seamless fit.
7. “What’s Most Important to Prepare for a Role Like Yours?”
Ideally, you’ll walk away from that conversation with a handle on your next steps. To get some actionable information that you can walk away with, end your conversation with a question like this one.
Is there a certain certification you need to get? A class you should take? Experience you have to have? Other people you should reach out to?
Find out what he or she recommends to help you adequately prepare for that job, and you’ll have leveraged that conversation to actually take steps forward.
When you’re considering a certain career path, informational interviews are an enlightening tool to lean on—provided you’re prepared to ask the right questions.
Make sure to use the seven included here, and you’ll maximize that coffee date—with as few awkward pauses as possible.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, self-development, and the freelance life. In addition to writing for The Muse, she's also the Career Editor for The Everygirl, a columnist for Inc., and a contributor all over the web. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her rescued terrier mutt or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.
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Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah, Happy Holidays and a very safe and Happy New Years to you and yours!
Job interviews are a stressful situation where the stakes are high for you to deliver and impress. When you’re on edge in these make-or-break scenarios, it’s all too easy to put your brain on autopilot and blurt out unrelated nonsense that may have your interviewer scooting away.
To prevent that, we rounded up some of the best psychological mind tricks to get you in the confident and prepared headspace you need to ace an interview:
1) Act like you’ve already gotten the job
To act confident, you need to visualize the finish line and embody the heart and soul of a winner. That’s the technique Capital One human resources executive Meghan Welch told Business Insider successful candidates have used.
It helps if you’ve done the legwork to back this confidence up. Acting like you’ve got the job means you have solutions to questions interviewers bring up. That means preparing beforehand on questions interviewers can ask you, asking your friends to do mock interviews with you, and reading up on the company itself. When you’re that prepared, it will come through in your body language.
When you’re acting as if you already have the role, your interviewers start to see you as a colleague more than one more candidate. For interviewers, Welch said this energy comes off as: “I am super excited about the problem you are talking about right now and I have a whole bunch of ways I would love to solve it.”
Of course, you want to channel the energy of a successful job applicant, but you don’t want to go overboard with it and cross the line into cocky delusion by telling your interviewer: “See you Monday!”
2) Hire-me body language means mirroring your interviewer
How you deliver information can be as revealing as the information itself. Fidgeting hands, drumming fingers, and flailing gestures do not convey hire-me vibes, they expose your nerves. One of the easiest social cues to increase your hiring chances is making regular eye contact with your interviewer. Body language experts have found that when someone looks you in the eye, it indicates confidence, authority, and presence.
Maintaining eye contact is basic body language knowledge. A more advanced class to take is consciously mirroring the tone, posture, mannerisms, and energy of your interviewer. Social psychologists call this the “chameleon effect” and have found that the mirroring increases your interviewer’s chances of liking you and smooths over interactions.
So when your interviewer leans back, you lean back, too — but subtly. (You don’t want to look like an actual mime.)
3) Match what you wear to what you want to project
The colors of what you wear to the interview signal what kind of person you are before you even open your mouth. A 2013 CareerBuilder survey of 2,000 hiring managers and human resources professionals found that colors act as mood rings — and blue was the best color you could wear to look professional.
Here are the qualities the managers in the survey associated with each color:
Although orange signals creativity, it was also the color least liked by managers, with one in four reporting that it looked unprofessional.
4) Be yourself
You want to use these psychological tips to enhance the qualities you already have — interviewers can tell when you’re being phony, and you’ll be penalized for it. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that candidates who have a strong drive to self-verify and present themselves authentically have a higher likelihood of success.
“In a job interview, we often try to present ourselves as perfect. Our study proves this instinct wrong,” the study’s lead author Dr. Celia Moore said. “Interviewers perceive an overly polished self-representation as inauthentic and potentially misrepresentative. But ultimately, if you are a high-quality candidate, you can be yourself on the job market. You can be honest and authentic. And if you are, you will be more likely to get a job.”
Monica Torres is a reporter for Ladders. She is based in New York City and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. @MoniFierce
by Maureen Harrington
Networking used to be organic. You went to a gathering of like-minded people in your community, or to lunch with individuals the host thought might like to get to know each other. Now it’s a job. Get to the right event. Meet the right people. Make that contact and follow up. And while there are plenty of stories of the ways people have wowed an executive with a memorable opening line or a particularly creative approach, there are far more networking fails than networking unicorns. There’s a fine line between innovative and inappropriate. Here’s what not to say when networking.
1. “I didn’t think there would be people here that I would actually want to talk to.”
The primary rule of thumb is “Be prepared. Be aware. Be wary.” Know why you’re going and the general purpose of the meet-up. Be alert to the people and the surroundings. Is everyone there in a suit and tie, talking about crunching numbers? Be wary of saying something that might be misconstrued, or is just idiotic. Listen first. Ask questions first. Don’t spout off, before you know who you’re talking to.
2. “Are there any job openings at your company because my boss is the absolute worst.”
Never, ever trash your boss — present or past. I don’t care if your employers have been Frank Underwood and Miranda Priestly. Just don’t go there, even if you’re asked. This is the time to play it safe. Lots of smiling and evading are called for. Often times you don’t know who’s asking you or why. And for goodness sake, don’t bring it up yourself.
3. “My friends Zuck and Sheryl are meeting me for dinner after this…”
Be careful about name dropping. Again, you may not know the other person’s opinions or experiences with the name you’re dropping. And this goes for name dropping well-known figures or just acquaintances. If unbeknownst to you, it’s her ex-brother-in-law who got her into Exxon stock, she may not be too happy to hear about your close relationship.
4. “That reminds me of this one time when I was at Oxford…”
Some over-eager job seekers wedge their college or grad school into all conversations, especially if it’s a big logo institution. Be careful. People may be impressed. Or, they may be irritated, laugh at your expense or assume you’re the pretentious person you appear to be. Modesty is a good policy when you are networking, at least until you get a sense of your room.
5. “When I think about immigration, taxes, and healthcare, I just think…”
Politics and religions. EEEEH. You may want to steer clear of both of these until you get the lay of the land. Dumping on Obama at a Dem heavy event is obviously not too smart, but then neither is trashing Trump when you have no idea of someone’s background or POV.
6. “Can you believe that new show on Scientology? That is so…”
Religion is the same situation. Don’t start conversations by making fun of an individual or a group’s belief system. Humor at networking events can be filled with landmines. You just never know.
7. “If you ask any of my managers, they’ll tell you I’m a truly disruptive innovator and…”
Don’t use outdated, over-used and badly applied clichés. These are sure to get eye rolls: Think out of the box. Disruptor. Game-changer. Break down silos. I have the bandwidth. Push the envelope.
8. “Can you get me a job at…”
While speaking directly is important in business, being this direct is downright presumptuous and rude. When networking, it’s risky to ask for a job from a new acquaintance. It’s just as risky to request a reference, especially if you’ve just met the person. Networking should yield a mutually beneficial relationship, not an Aladdin and the genie arrangement. Your wish is not their command.
9 best practices that can ensure video interviewing success.
by: Andrew Trechsel, Senior Associate, Healthcare Practice, Witt/Kieffer
Employers and recruiters increasingly are using video technologies to facilitate early stage interviews with executives and other professionals. While many job candidates are comfortable being on camera, they can benefit from more preparation prior to remote interviews. Here are some best practices that can ensure video interviewing success.
Test your technology. At least an hour before your scheduled interview, make sure everything is running smoothly. This includes a strong Internet connection, sufficient battery, up-to-date software, and clear audio and video. The last thing you want during your video interview is to have connectivity problems. Also, clean the camera lens to ensure a clear picture.
Dress professionally. Remember that this is still an executive-level interview and that a suit (and tie for men) is expected. Avoid patterns and colors that are distracting or can be manipulated by the technology.
Consider camera placement. Choose a solid surface and position your computer or tablet so the camera is at eye level. This will ensure your interviewer is not looking directly at the top of your head or up your nose. Also, make sure the camera is an appropriate distance from you. You want the interviewer to be able to see from the top of your head to about mid-torso.
Think about the backdrop. In an interview you are the focal point, so make sure there is nothing distracting or unprofessional behind you. If you are doing the interview from home, make sure there is no dirty laundry or scattered toys or unusual artwork—anything that will take interviewers’ eyes off of you and give a negative impression. Ideally, a plain wall is best.
Establish proper lighting. With the background in mind, choose a location that has good lighting. To illuminate your face, you may want to put a lamp directly behind your computer/tablet. Adjust for dimness or brightness and make sure not to wear jewelry or other shiny objects that could catch the light and be distracting.
Find a quiet spot. Choose your setting wisely. Candidates have done video interviews from the airport or a coffee shop, with people walking around and talking in the background, which can obviously distract. If you are doing the interview at home, find a room with a closed door and ask any other members of the household not to interrupt you. Get pets as far away as possible so that barking poodles or cute kittens are not part of the interview. If you are interviewing from the office, make sure your employer is aware of your intentions and it is a place you can speak freely. It goes without saying that it is not acceptable to use your employer’s time and technology to look for another job without consent.
Look directly at the camera when speaking. It is natural for us to want to look an interviewer in the eye, but if you stare at your screen and your camera is above, it will appear as if you are looking down. When speaking, stare directly at the camera (which should be at eye level).
Monitor your body language. Remember that a lot of communication is nonverbal. When listening, nod your head to show understanding, and don’t forget to smile. Leaning forward slightly can show you are interested and engaged. Avoid crossing your arms and leaning back.
Pause when necessary and consider pace. Video interviewing can be difficult because it limits some of the natural cues we get when meeting in person. Account for transmission delays. Before you begin speaking, wait until your interviewer has finished asking a question or commenting. Also, remember it is important to pace yourself with your response—not too fast or slow, and make sure those listening to you are following along.
Interviewing for executive roles always requires a great deal of preparation. Video interviewing requires additional time and forethought. However, the preparation in the short term can pay career dividends in the long run.
Andrew R. Trechsel is a senior associate in Witt/Kieffer’s Healthcare practice, based in the firm’s Emeryville, CA, office. Trechsel identifies leaders on behalf of hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers, and related organizations across the country.
by Richard Moy
Your first few weeks at a new job can be exhilarating. It’s often fast-paced and full of brand new things that can reignite a spark that you lost. After all, that might’ve been your reason for looking for this new gig in the first place.
But, it can also be overwhelming. And when you look at all the meetings on your calendar, you might think that your goal is to survive it. You can always go back and re-learn anything you missed this week, right?
And in a lot of ways, that’s true. Nobody expects you to master everything you learn during your first month, especially when it comes to understanding the finer details about your company. But there is an important question you should ask in every meeting you have (when it makes sense, of course):
How can my work make your life easier?
You might be thinking, “I barely know where the coffee machine is! How can I think about helping anyone else right now?” And that’s totally fair. But on my first day at my current job, my boss suggested that I set up meetings with everyone on my team and ask each of them this question. It was terrifying, and if I’m being honest, I really didn’t want to do it. But I didn’t want to disappoint my new boss more, so I got over my fear and piped up.
And when I did, I was pleasantly surprised by how it went.
Some people had really strong opinions. Others told me that they hadn’t even thought about it, but appreciated that I opened the conversation with that question. But what I ultimately learned was that your intro meetings don’t have to be a one-way street.
As much as you have to learn, it’s important to remember that you were hired to bring something different to the table—and you can do that as early as your first week on the job.
Again, I’m not going to pretend that this won’t be uncomfortable. I also understand that in some meetings, this will be seen as completely out-of-context. But when the opportunity presents itself and it feels like the next natural thing to say—challenge yourself to say it.
And then, before you worry you’re putting too much on your plate, know that you can respond with, “That’s really interesting to hear, once I’m completely onboarded, I’d love to find more time to discuss how can I start making this happen.”
I know. Asking this question might not make your first month any easier, but it’ll make the exact right impression on your new team. Not to mention, it’ll set you up to prioritize your tasks correctly. So take a deep breath and do it!
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.
What do you give thanks for?
We give thanks for the career group leaders who give their time to help us.
We give thanks for the organizations that allow us to meet in and use their facilities.
We give thanks for the speakers who share their knowledge to help us with our job search for free.
We give thanks for the opportunity to network and meet new people.
We give thanks for the opportunity to help others in their job search.
We give thanks for the support our family and friends provide.
We give thanks for the opportunity to spend more time with our family during our job search.
We give thanks for the opportunities we have living in the USA.
We give thanks for the next great opportunity that awaits us in the future.
We give thanks.
What do you give thanks for?
Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving from CareerDFW and CareerUSA.org.
With the insecurity surrounding the job application process, having to pick between two offers is certainly a good problem to have. But it can be a problem, nonetheless.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when weighing offers from each employer.
What do I remember from the interview?
Monster career expert Vicki Salemi told the site about clues to think about when deciding between offers.
“Weigh any red flags that emerged during the interview. Was the boss checking emails while you were speaking? Or did the interview last until 7 p.m. and was the office was still full of people working?…Candidates often overlook one of the most important and intangible factors—their boss. How well did you get along with that prospective manager? Did you like him or her?” Salemi told Monster.
Also think about if you’ll want to be associated with this employer — and its culture — for the rest of your career, no matter where you go.
(This might be a little premature, but say you choose the offer from the place that ends up not having best company culture: Here’s how to distance yourself from it in future interviews.)
Will this job help me get what I want in work and life?
While pursuing bigger and better salaries with every new job — plus the need to scale the corporate ladder — you can get wildly off track when it comes to your career and your life.
Work shouldn’t be your everything, but as what you really want slips out of focus, you might find it hard to say no to things that will just benefit you financially. But it’s important to remember where you ultimately want to be, and find people along the way who can help you get there.
What will my paycheck and benefits look like?
While money isn’t everything, the need for the perfect side hustle is all too real at times, so you’ll want to get a job that helps you and your family work toward increased financial stability.
But don’t forget about benefits— what insurance does your employer provide? Will you be able to keep saving for retirement?
Consider where you want to be financially, and to what degree this job can help you move forward.
How long is the commute?
Spending a whole lot of time on a train, bus, or in a car to and from work translates into higher transportation costs for you, so figure out what you’re willing to spend — and how long you’re willing to sit.
Will I be able to move forward professionally here?
After all, you don’t want to be employed by a company where promotions aren’t even an afterthought.
Working somewhere that provides training, no matter what professional stage you’re in, and gives you chances to eventually take on increased responsibility is key.
Do I believe in what the company stands for?
With the need for meaning at work, you can use this as an opportunity to finally land a position where you feel (at least somewhat) fulfilled.
Think about it: Do you care about the company’s ultimate goal? What about the work you’d be doing?
Whether you’ll be working remotely or in an office, you’ll be spending a significant portion of your workweek on assignments, so you want to care about how that ties into the company’s overall vision.
What is there to do outside of work?
Chance are, you already know if you currently work near this potential employer.
But this question becomes especially important to think about when moving to a new city. That being said, make it feel like home by joining clubs, groups, and being open to spontaneous social opportunities.
Jane Burnett is a reporter for Ladders. She is based in New York City and can be reached at email@example.com.
We all know what ghosting is when it comes to dating—men and women have long pulled a disappearing act—but did you know that you can get ghosted during a job search too?
“Ghosting is the absolute worst for job candidates,” says millennial career expert Jill Jacinto. “The not knowing is frustrating: similar to dating, you’re left asking yourself, are they into you?”
“I have spoken to numerous people who said they would much rather get told the job was filled then wait eternally for an answer,” Jacinto says. ”Employers are often overwhelmed with job applicants and many time do not have the resources to reply to everyone that applied,” Jacinto says. “Other times they might want to wait and see if their top choice accept. They also might want to make sure that they have you in the background of their pick was less than stellar.”
Glassdoor: What does ghosting look like to a job candidate?
Jill Jacinto: Ghosting in the job search process would mean that the hiring manager has not gotten in touch after a job interview.
Glassdoor: Why might an employer ghost a job candidate?
Jill Jacinto: They may be overwhelmed looking for a popular job posting and can’t get back with everyone or they may feel that the job candidate just isn’t the right fit for the position.
Glassdoor: If a candidate has been ghosted after an interview, what are three things he/she can do to still try to get the job?
1. Send a thank you card. You should send a handwritten thank you card after an interview. This opens the door to further communication with the hiring manager.
2. Take the initiative and follow up. If the company seems to have vanished into thin air, don’t give up quite yet. Get in contact with them. If they don’t email you back don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call them directly. The manager may just be so busy they haven’t had time to respond to an email but would be willing to speak with you on the phone.
Glassdoor: What are three ways a job candidate might prevent being ghosted?
1. Ask this question: Do you have any hesitations about moving me to the next level of the interview process that I can address? Maybe a story wasn’t clear, they don’t think you qualify in a certain aspect, or they don’t think you have the necessary experience. This will give you the opportunity to clear up any doubts and prevent them from ghosting you.
2. Find out what the next steps are and who you should follow up with. This will ensure you know their process and what to expect. This will also allow you to have the name and the number of the person you should talk to after the interview.
3. Set boundaries and get clear information on when decisions are set to be made and the position filled. This will help you manage your own timeline if you never end up hearing back.
In the end, “be persistent without being a pest,” says Jacinto. “Check in with your interview coordinator once a week and check offering new information the hiring manager might want to learn about you. For example, samples of a portfolio, updated writing samples, designs etc. Try to keep up the flow of conversation.”
by Amy Elisa Jackson
Between sizing up the job description and ensuring your resume is up to snuff, job seekers have got a lot on their plates. Wouldn’t you appreciate some insight into what a forward-thinking employer expects in its candidates?
Well, now we might just be able to help with that. Glassdoor recently surveyed 750 hiring decision makers (think: recruiters, hiring managers & more) across the U.S. and UK to find out what they thought were the most important skills for a candidate to have. And don’t worry, these are traits that anyone in any profession or industry can have.
Do we have your attention? Okay, here’s the scoop.
Results from the survey told us that nine in ten (88%) hiring decision makers agree that an informed candidate is a quality candidate. Because they know more and self-select for the positions that are right for them, informed candidates make the hiring process a lot easier. The 750 hiring decision makers at companies of all sizes across the U.S. and UK that we surveyed helped illuminate who a quality candidate – an informed candidate – really is.
Hiring decision makers that were surveyed report that an informed candidate is:
Sure, skills and experience matter, but according to HR insiders, a candidate who is knowledgeable about the company and is highly engaged is a must-hire. Your goal as a job seeker should be to stand out from the crowd for all of the right reasons, and at all of the pivotal moments, from application to negotiation and, ultimately, on the job.
Why do these traits matter to recruiters and hiring managers?
Because they want you to succeed at their company. The top benefits of hiring informed candidates, according to our survey results, are:
We’ve all heard the saying “time is money,” but perhaps there is no more applicable instance for this saying than in recruiting. According to research, it takes an average of 52 days to fill an open position, up from 48 days in 2011. And, $4,000 is the average amount U.S. companies spend to fill an open position.
All this means that recruiters and hiring managers are focused on making the best hire. The informed candidate is the best hire.
Glassdoor is a place where job seekers gather the information they need to find a job that fits their life – it’s the place you come to get more informed.
If you’ve got a job interview coming up or if you are eying your next career move, here are the steps you must take before talking to a hiring manager:
“Someone once gave me great advice early in my career – salary and benefits are important, but you also want to work for a company that matches your personal values,” says David Orr, Head of Talent Acquisition, North America at Sanofi US.” Before applying to Sanofi US you should learn about our company by researching our corporate and US websites. You’ll see how we keep the patient at the center of all we do, how we work to meet medical needs and what we offer to our employees when it comes to work/life [balance] and professional development. Knowing this will help you to understand if Sanofi is the right fit for you. You also need to have a good sense of self and understanding of where you want to go in your career. At Sanofi we offer great resources and programs to develop our employees, but ultimately the employee owns their future career path.”
When writing a resume, some folks subscribe to a “spaghetti on the wall” philosophy — throw everything that you’ve got on it and see what sticks. But to recruiters and hiring managers, it’s all about quality, not quantity. After all, with only about seven seconds to capture their attention, you want to make sure you get to the good stuff right away. Because of this, it’s probably a good idea to pare down your skills section from time to time.
Consider an artist’s portfolio, for example.
“Any serious practitioner will tell you that your portfolio is only has strong as its weakest piece. The same can be said of the skills you list on your resume — less is more,” says Aurora Meneghello, career coach and founder of Repurpose Your Purpose.
Wondering what exactly you should strike from your resume? Start with these seven items.
1. A Language You Only Studied in High School
Sure, you took French in high school for a few years, but are you really at a level where you feel comfortable holding everyday conversations with native speakers, or reading in that language? If the answer is “no,” it doesn’t belong on your resume.
“It doesn’t matter that you have basic or intermediate understanding of a language. Unless you have mastery of it, and can actually use it for work, leave it out,” suggests Meneghello.
In a worst-case scenario, your recruiter or hiring manager could be fluent and try to engage you in conversation — if they call your bluff, you can bet that you won’t be invited to move forward in the hiring process.
2. Basic Computer Skills Like Email and Microsoft Word
At this point, listing “email” or “Microsoft Word” as skills is almost equivalent to listing “reading” or “basic math”. They’re not differentiators — they’re expected.
“By adding [these] as a skill, candidates may appear to be trying to add ‘fluff’ to their resume, i.e., that they are grasping for anything to include because they don’t have enough relevant skills to list out,” says Peter Riccio, Founding Partner of recruiting firm Atlas Search.
One exception to this would be if you’ve honed a very specific practice using these programs, such as “[creating] an access database from scratch and [importing] data from Excel and other databases,” says career coach Mary Warriner. “Now that is worth mentioning in your skills section.”
3. Social Media (If You Haven’t Used It as Part of Your Job)
You might have thousands of Twitter followers, tons of Facebook friends and countless Instagram likes, but managing your personal brand and managing a company’s professional brand are two completely different things. Working in social media in a professional setting often requires much more than just posting engaging content — it often involves data analysis, experience with paid media and more.
“You may be awesome at posting pics of your friends and even sharing news about your current company; however, if you are not applying for a Social Media Strategist position, you shouldn’t mention your Facebook skills,” Warriner says. “Instead, review the job posting for the required skills and be sure to list the significant skills that you do possess.”
4. Soft Skills
This one’s a little tricky, because recruiters do love to see soft skills on your resume. However, they need to be demonstrated through examples rather than stated flat-out — saying that you’re a good communicator, for example, is useless without concrete examples to support it.
“The single most common mistake job seekers make is to list out soft skills on their resume — for example communication, multitasking, leadership, problem solving, etc. The message that sends to anyone reading the resume is ‘I may not have made clear what my soft skills are, so I’m listing them out just to make sure you see them,’” Riccio says.
Instead, demonstrate those soft skills by showing rather than telling.
“It’s so important to make sure that your soft skills are very clearly communicated in the body of the resume. For example, instead of listing ‘multitasking’ or ‘leadership’ as a skill, candidates should write ‘led multiple concurrent projects through to completion leading to x% ROI’ under the relevant position,” Riccio advises.
5. Exaggerations or Flat-Out Lies
Job seekers are often told to pepper in keywords from the job description to their resume. But if you don’t have one of the skills listed in the description, you shouldn’t include it in your resume just for the sake of mirroring the language. While you might think you can get away with it now, it will eventually come to light.
“If you are not an excellent oral communicator, don’t put that on your resume… If the job requires you to stand up in front of a group of people and deliver a message on a daily basis, you will probably fail miserably in that job,” Warriner says.
But that doesn’t mean you need to have every single skill listed in the job description to apply for a job — a good rule of thumb is that you should be an 80 to 90 percent match.
6. Outdated Tech
The preferred software and technology used in the workplace can change rapidly, but it’s important to stay on top of it nonetheless. Otherwise, you risk looking like you’re unable to keep up in a dynamic workplace.
“Companies are looking for sophisticated, flexible professionals who understand technology. By including technology that’s outdated in the skills section of your resume, it gives employers the impression that you’re skill set is stale and that you will have a much steeper learning curve,” Riccio says. “In a competitive market, employers want to invest people who have demonstrated an ability to learn quickly.”
So leave off things like coding languages that are no longer widely in use, outdated versions of modern software programs and other irrelevant technology.
7. Irrelevant or Joke Skills
This may sound obvious, but there truly are people who still list things like “expert-level guacamole maker” or “certified ping-pong champ” on their resume.
“Do not include skills that are irrelevant to the job you are applying for. I know I am amazingly proud that I make the best ‘award-winning’ cookies, but I’m in HR — I do not put that on my resume!” Warriner says.
Sure, there probably are a few recruiters and hiring managers out there who will find it funny or charming. But when you’re applying to a job, you don’t know who will appreciate that and who won’t — so it’s better to err on the side of professionalism.
Are you making one of these top five mistakes? Hint: You should worry more about being specific, than sounding impressive.
Recruiters know all too well that not all resumes are created equal. But while the weaker ones land in the rejection pile for lots of different reasons, there are some common themes. Here are a few resume mistakes recruiters say they keep running into.
MISTAKE #1: NOT ENOUGH NUMBERS
“Anyone can say they are results-driven or a great leader, but we want to see metrics,” says Nicole Hubmann, a recruiter at Webdam, the asset management platform owned by Shutterstock. “It’s the lack of metrics that stands out as a red flag, whether it’s on a resume or in a phone discussion.”
Job seekers may feel pressed for space or worry that there’s no single data point they could share about their work history that’s jaw-droppingly impressive. Don’t worry about being impressive, though–focus first on just being specific. “For example,” says Joe Shao, cofounder of talent-acquisition platform PerfectLoop, “I might read a line such as, ‘consistently exceeded sales quota.’ That’s forgettable. Then I jump on the phone and learn what they meant was, exceeded sales quota 220% in 2017, becoming the top salesperson in the company.’ That is much more compelling to me and hiring managers.”
If you don’t provide enough metrics, you may never even get to that phone screener where you can explain to a recruiter why they matter.
MISTAKE #2: BAD FORMATTING OR TOO LONG
Resumes need to look pretty–not because recruiters are interested in your aesthetic sense but because they care how you organize information. David Lewis, CEO of HR consultancy OperationsInc, runs through some of the most common offenders: “Font is too small. Font is too large. Oldest job listed first. Resume is too long.”
Hubmann explains why these misfires matter: “We are looking for candidates who want to be part of a winning culture that is results-oriented and performance-driven. A candidate who is self-aware enough to understand their impact is more likely to give concise, clear examples on their resume.”
MISTAKE #3: RELEVANT SKILLS ARE TOO HARD TO FIND
Kari Guan, a recruiter at the apartment rental finder Zumper, says that in weak resumes candidates typically fail to “list any experience that is translatable to the role they’re applying for. This might sound fairly obvious but it happens more than you’d think, and makes me think they didn’t read the job description.” In other words, explaining your top overall job skills is one thing, but highlighting the ones that make you competitive for a specific role is another thing entirely.
Guan says this is true even for entry-level roles, where candidates may not think they have much work experience that counts as “relevant.” Even then, she says, “If they’re a recent grad, I always appreciate including a note about a personal experience they’ve had that’s applicable to the role and I might not otherwise know about.”
Lewis adds that candidates sometimes do include relevant skills but don’t give them a place of pride, especially when it comes to technical abilities. Many forget to put all the technology they know that’s crucial to the role in its own dedicated section.
MISTAKE #4: THERE’S NO CLEAR NARRATIVE
Says Shao, “The thing that I see all the time is that candidates miss their chance to tell their most compelling narrative. It’s especially common for a certain type person who isn’t great at self-promotion. But it is a resume,” he says–“This isn’t an Instagram selfie at some party, it’s actually an appropriate time to brag factually. If you don’t, you might lose the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager.”
Many think the time to do that is in their cover letter, but the fact is that many recruiters don’t even read those. So you need to show how your experiences have built upon one another and that you’ve grown as a result.
“For tech, we are not seeking consultants,” says Hubmann. “Instead, we look for someone who has experience working with a team on an evolving product. Often, consultants produce an app or a website and then move on to the next project, never having to deal with the impact of their product on the customer or the company. We want someone who has been through the long haul with customers and understands the importance of integrity in the product.”
So make sure your resume is a clear story about your progression, and not, as Lewis puts it, “a summary of [your] career greatest hits, with mention of what occurred at the end in a smaller section.” And whatever you do, he adds, never list your oldest job first.
MISTAKE #5: IT’S SUSPICIOUSLY VAGUE OR JUST BORING
Sometimes resumes stand out for what they don’t say. Lewis says one hallmark of a crappy resume is that the dates of employment are either year-ranges only, like “2012–2014,” without any months, or leave off those dates altogether. That may be a sign that a candidate is trying to mask a history of job-hopping or a long stretch of unemployment.
But for Guan, vague, generic qualifications often mean passing up a candidate for another reason: “When the responsibilities they list are too general, there’s nothing that grabs me and makes me interested in learning more about the person.” Recruiters are people, too, and reviewing resumes can be dull work. If you can’t get them excited to find out more about you, they’ll find someone who can.
Rich Bellis is Associate Editor of Fast Company's Leadership section
You found the perfect job opportunity. Not only are you qualified for it, but also you love the company and are excited to join the team.
After you apply, don’t just hope to hear back. The best way to land your ideal job opportunity is to be proactive.
In fact, here at Job-Hunt.org we conducted a survey and found that 51 percent of employers and HR professionals say they do not consider candidates who don’t follow up after they submit an application. In other words, you’re more likely to be passed over if you don’t at least send an email to your potential employer.
Following up is just one aspect of your strategy. You need to build a strong online presence, as well. Our survey also found that 61 percent of employers and HR professionals agree managing your online reputation is important.
The best time to start is now. It’s important to develop an authentic representation of who you are as you search for jobs. By being proactive, you are ready to impress potential employers.
Here’s what you need to do to manage your online presence to stay competitive and earn your dream job opportunity:
Learn How to Optimize
Chances are when employers get your application they’re going to look you up. In fact, our survey found that 17 percent of employers and HR professionals say the first thing they do is search for the candidate on Google.
The good news is, you can influence what they find online. First, determine what keywords you want to rank for. These might be skills, certifications, and job titles. To rank for these in the results, start creating content online through a personal website, a blog, or another outlet like Medium.
When you create content, make sure you know the basics of search engine optimization (SEO). Essentially, search engines look for content that comes from a credible authority and delivers value to the user.
Keep in mind, our survey found 40 percent of employers only check the first page of results. Ensure you include relevant keywords so Google ranks your content high.
It also helps to build a website with your name in the domain. This way, when they search your name, they will find your optimized website where you can include your current resume and a portfolio of your work.
Define Your Expertise
Being an expert can define your employee brand and make you stand out from the competition. In fact, our research found that 28 percent of employers say a candidate’s industry specific knowledge is the most important aspect of their online presence.
Think about what you want potential employers to know about your industry knowledge.
For example, if you work in marketing, define what specific domain you are an expert in. This could be paid advertising, social media marketing, or another field within your career.
When you look at your past experiences, highlight the skills and accomplishments that are associated with and demonstrate your expertise. This way, you can use your knowledge to inform others.
Continue to Educate
Once you know what strengths you want to promote, develop a content strategy that allows you to continually educate your audience. When you deliver value on a consistent basis, you can become an industry thought leader.
Employers like to see various kinds of content. Our survey found that the forms they consider to be the best quality are online courses, instructional articles, and ebooks.
As you continue to optimize your content and build a body of relevant work, you can earn more followers. Creating various forms of content to educate others shows employers you’re creative, passionate and an effective communicator.
Join Groups Online
As you prove your expertise and educate people in your industry, your professional network becomes invaluable. In fact, our survey found that 38 percent of employers said they consider professional organization memberships to be a requirement in candidates.
However, just joining these groups is not enough. Stay engaged with other members, attend events, and meet people.
Bottom line: employers want to see you engaging in your industry, sharing ideas, seeking out learning opportunities, and staying informed.
Our survey found nearly one out of 10 employers said candidates who comment in LinkedIn groups increase their chances of getting contacted for an interview. Furthermore, 13 percent of employers consider commentary in industry chats, through outlets like LinkedIn groups or Quora answers, to be high-quality content.
Publicly commenting helps show that you’re interested and passionate about your industry and excited to offer your insights to others. Dedicate some time throughout the week to connect with others and stay engaged.
Your online presence is an ever-evolving project. As your career progresses, share your new skills and what you learn. This will not only help you earn your ideal job opportunity, it will also keep you learning and growing as a professional.
How are you managing your online presence and pursuing your ideal job opportunity?
Susan P. Joyce, is an online job search expert and owner and publisher of Job-Hunt.org, the guide for a smarter, safer job search. Connect with Susan on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Don’t ever say, “My last boss was terrible.”
BY LILLIAN CHILDRESS
The hiring manager has already sifted through resumes and decided that they want to meet you. Now it’s your turn to make an impression. And, unfortunately for you, every sentence you utter during the job interview is going to be a part of that impression. The best way to prepare for potential embarrassment? Know what’s off limits.
Avoid these 11 statements next time you’re up for a job, and you’ll be well on your way to wowing your interviewer.
“THAT’S A GREAT QUESTION!”
While this phrase may be a great addition to social conversations, it’s not something an interviewer needs to hear. Instead of sounding surprised that the recruiter asked a question, remember that you’ve prepared for this interview. Plus, the questions they ask are almost always from a preset list. Playing the game of flattering your interviewer is tricky, and should be used sparingly. Get straight down to answering their questions.
“WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE ROLE, AGAIN?”
Any questions showing your lack of research into the company, the job description, or the industry itself show that you haven’t adequately prepared. Preparing for a job interview is like preparing for a final exam–you need to know your stuff. There’s no doubt it’s important to ask your interviewer questions, but the questions you ask should be targeted toward information you can’t find online: what the company culture is like, how the values of the company play out in day-to-day business, etc.
“I’VE ACTUALLY NEVER DONE THIS TYPE OF JOB BEFORE, BUT . . . “
If you have a lack of experience, your resume will show it. There’s no need to further underscore your lack of qualifications. In fact, the interview is your chance to creatively connect the dots between your resume and your decision to apply for the job. It’s where you’re able to tell the interviewer why you’ll be a perfect fit for the job, even if that’s not what it looks like on paper.
“I REALLY CAN’T IMAGINE ANYONE MORE QUALIFIED THAN ME”
Self-aggrandizing during an interview only serves to hurt you in the end. Since you haven’t seen the resumes of the other applicants, there’s no use in overtly comparing yourself to them. What’s important to learn is the art of the subtle comparison. “We all have room for improvement, so be honest with yourself: How would an interviewer see you as compared to other candidates?” writes personal brand expert Brenda Bence. The key is being able to talk about the things that make you special–not just saying that you’re special.
“MY LAST BOSS WAS TERRIBLE”
Absolutely no griping about your last company allowed, unless there’s some really special circumstance. Complaining about how you didn’t get along in your last work environment is detrimental on two levels. First, it shows your lack of ability to cope with a challenging situation and move past it. Second, the last thing your interviewer wants is for you to be talking trash about their company or employees in the future. Obviously, it’s important to talk about past challenges you’ve faced on the job–but critically evaluate, don’t complain.
“THIS WILL BE A GREAT STEPPING STONE TO MY NEXT CAREER MOVE”
While this may be the exact reason you want this job, it’s not a savvy move to share with the interviewer. Hiring managers are generally looking for someone who will display a long-term commitment to the company. Instead, career expert Lynn Williams recommends asking questions about your opportunities for advancement in the company. This shows, according to her, “that you mean to stay with the company and let them benefit from your developing skills, knowledge, and maturity. You’re not just showing commitment, but long-term commitment.”
“I DON’T KNOW”
There’s always a better way to respond to a question you’re unsure of than saying, “I don’t know.” Of course, it’s always important to be humble and not make up what you’re not sure of, but this is where your communication skills come into play.
“I DON’T HAVE ANY QUESTIONS FOR YOU”
Having questions prepared for your interviewer is almost as important as being able to answer the questions they throw at you. The questions you ask are an opportunity to display the deep knowledge you have of the company.
“THAT’S A REALLY NICE WATCH YOU HAVE ON!”
Attempts to flatter your interviewer will most likely fall short–especially in relation to appearance or material possessions. If you really must compliment the interviewer, make it related to something you know they’ve done in the business, or even talk about a move the company made that you admired.
“UM, SO, LIKE, I REALLY, UM . . . “
As in any situation where you want to sound confident, intelligent, and collected: Cut the filler words. This is also another reason to practice what you’re going to say out loud, beforehand, so you’re not searching for your words when you’re in the real interview.
“DO PEOPLE GENERALLY LIKE WORKING HERE?”
Don’t try to beat around the bush. Ask specific questions about company culture and team morale, and be direct. The best way to get the down low on what’s happening in an office is to talk to current or former employees there.
by Emily Moore
Hunting for a job is hard work. In between researching companies you want to apply to, drafting your application materials, and networking, it can be a huge time suck. So it’s not a surprise that many people try to shave off time and effort where they can — it’s all about working smarter, not harder. But unfortunately, some of the corners people cut don’t just reduce the amount of time they spend searching for a job — they also reduce their chances of actually getting a call back from a recruiter.
Case in point: drafting a one-size-fits-all resume. Once you’ve created a resume that you’re really proud of, it’s tempting to blast it out to all of the jobs you apply to. But doing so is a missed opportunity, says Michele Moore, certified career coach at Ama La Vida.
“Employers are not interested in ‘vanilla’ candidates and genuinely appreciate when applicants take the time to highlight the reasons they are a perfect fit for the position so they can more easily spot these individuals and move them to the next stage of screening,” Moore says. Because of that, “you should absolutely tailor your resume to suit the company, industry, location, and other parameters of the role.”
The good news? You don’t need to completely start from scratch. The most recent final version of your resume can serve as a template — things like your contact info won’t change, but there are a few specific fields you want to customize. Here’s what Moore recommends.
When customizing your resume to a particular opportunity, “this is probably the best place to spend your time, reflecting on the vacancy description and pulling out of it key words and phrases that align with your talents. Then make sure your resume includes these words and phrases,” Moore says.
Not only is this critical in making sure that recruiters and hiring managers know you’re the right person for the role — it’s critical for the computer scanning your resume as well.
“This is particularly important when today’s Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs) use these items to auto-screen applications in the early rounds,” Moore says. “Without including some of these crucial skills, your resume may never even make it to a recruiter or hiring manager.”
Work History / Experience
Experience comes in at a close second for the most important area to update with each company you apply to.
“Similar to [skills], the precious real estate on your resume should be used to hit on only those things that are pertinent to the job description,” Moore says.
Depending on how many different positions you’ve had over the years, you may be able to omit certain jobs entirely if they’re not applicable to the role you’ve got your eyes on. But if you do have to pull from just a handful of prior work experiences, make sure that you highlight how those past positions have prepared you for the one at hand.
“You may be very proud of your banking background, but if you are applying for a position in the hospitality industry, this may not be as relevant as some other areas of your resume. Speak to your strengths and try to link transferable skills when attempting to move from one field or industry to another,” Moore recommends. “For example, in the above instance, speak about how you served clients at the bank in a way that ties into the priorities of a hospitality-based employer.”
When it comes down to it, skills and work experience are what matter most — but it’s nice if you can give recruiters and hiring managers a glimpse of who you are outside of those areas as well. For that reason, adding an Additional Experience section that highlights volunteer work, hobbies, and interests is often a good idea.
“Personal sections of one’s resume (like outside hobbies or interests) have fallen out of vogue in the last few years, but this is one area where you can really differentiate yourself, particularly if you have done things outside of work that speak to the company’s core values,” Moore says. “For instance, if a company has an active corporate responsibility program, your work with that local literacy program or homeless shelter may show them that giving back is also important to you and you will endorse and espouse these values on the job.”
Okay, you’ve got me — this isn’t a part of your resume, but it’s worth bringing up that cover letters, just like resumes, should be tailored as well.
“Outside of your resume, use your cover letter to demonstrate your understanding of the company, its mission, and its vision. Do your homework and explain why you are interested in working for the firm and why you believe you would be a great fit in specific terms,” Moore shares. “Overused or trite phrases that may be found in any cover letter will simply be overlooked and not give you those extra points you may need to get a call.”
Will tailoring your materials to each position you apply to be a little bit more work? Yes. But will it pay off in the end? Absolutely.
“Personalizing your resume… is not only a good idea, but also becoming more necessary in today’s job market where there is keen competition for great entry-level roles,” Moore shares. “Even if you don’t see the opportunity to tailor your skills or experience (or don’t have much experience yet), there is always something that can help you stand out from the rest. Even things like your location, availability, interests, educational aspirations, or personal attributes can help you land a great job!”
You’ve aced “Tell me about yourself.” You’re cool as a cucumber when asked, “Why do you want to work here?” And you laugh in the face of “What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?” You’re way past Interviewing 101, but there’s a tricky subset of questions that you may not have mastered yet: behavioral questions.
Behavioral interview questions require you to pull a specific moment from your work history to explain and expand on, and they can be one of the hardest ones to tackle — interview questions are tough enough, but coming up with an example on the spot makes it all the more difficult.
To give you a head start, we pulled out a handful of behavioral interview questions from our list of the top 50 most common interview questions. Get ahead of the game by learning how to answer them and preparing anecdotes in advance!
1. Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
Resist the urge to talk about that time you won your office softball league playoffs or how you got a 4.0 in your hardest class in college. To really nail this question, you should “share a story that is as close as possible to the job you are interviewing for, and that best showcases your strengths and approach to work,” says Aurora Meneghello, career coach and founder of Repurpose Your Purpose.
“Describe an instance where there was a problem, state the impact of that problem, and how you were able to solve it. Share the results beyond your immediate solution. For example, if you created a new onboarding system for new hires, share why the company needed one, what was the impact of not having an onboarding system, how you went about creating one, and how, one year later, there is less churn, employees are more efficient, etc.,” Meneghello says.
2. Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
One of the oldest tricks in the book is for candidates to respond to this answer by sharing a ‘mistake’ that’s actually a positive attribute, such as “I work too hard’ or “I care too much.” But be warned: recruiters can usually see right through that.
At the same time, though, “you should avoid talking about a colossal failure. The mistake most people make is that they either try to dodge the question, or they give an example that is detrimental to them; you are still there to sell yourself and prove yourself as a valuable asset, after all,” says Steve Pritchard, HR Consultant for giffgaff.
Instead, “try to think of something that happened a long time ago. More importantly, focus on the lessons you learned and how you carried these lessons forward to ensure you didn’t repeat the mistake,” Pritchard recommends.
3. Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.
When answering this question, make sure not to cast blame on others for whatever predicament you ended up in. Even if they had a hand in it, you don’t want to sound like you’re not a team player or don’t take responsibility for yourself.
“Keep your focus on what you did, and describe the circumstances in a neutral manner. Stay away from examples of difficult bosses or coworkers: although all of us have experienced something like that, an interviewer has no idea whether you are correct in your assessment, or merely projecting your own faults onto others,” Meneghello cautions.
“For example, you could talk about having to build a project with a fraction of the budget your competitors have, and how you were able to use grassroots techniques to overcome that obstacle. For your story to make the biggest impact, make sure to describe vividly why it was so difficult: the bigger the problem you solved, the bigger your impact!” she says.
4. Give a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.
Before you get caught up in sharing your accomplishments, take a step back. Because in order to convey to an interviewer how you went above and beyond, you need to first define above and beyond.
“Candidates often botch this question by failing to give a brief backstory. Before you can showcase how you went beyond the role, you have to first set the parameters of the job,” says Executive Coach Tim Toterhi. Try to describe what the context of the task was, the goals, and what was specifically expected of you.
“It is best to pick a project which paid off for the company; perhaps you stayed for two extra hours on several occasions to make sure everything was completed well ahead of schedule and to a high quality, or maybe you volunteered to pick up the work left over by a colleague who resigned,” Pritchard says. “Whatever the example, it should demonstrate a can-do attitude and a willingness to get involved and go the extra mile for your company.
5. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
Again, in this situation, blaming or bad-mouthing someone isn’t the right route to take. It will only make you look deflective or petty. Who knows? You may even be unknowingly disparaging your boss to someone who knows him or her.
“Especially if you’re interviewing within your current industry: the world is very small. The person you complain to, might attend church services with, or be married to a relation of your boss,” says success strategist Carlota Zimmerman. Rather, “the emphasis here is how disagreeing with your boss forced you to take initiative and to put the company first, ahead of your frustration and disappointment.”
“Ideally, you want to make it clear that you and your boss maintain a civil, respectful, maybe even close relationship. You want to demonstrate your empathy for your boss… and your belief in achieving the company’s mission statement,” Zimmerman adds.
6. What are some of your leadership experiences?
Don’t get caught up in just listing every leadership role you’ve ever had — think about the ones where you truly made a difference. “Anyone can rattle off the manager positions they’ve held or the volunteer work they performed, but the leadership is measured on impact,” Toterhi says. “People should be changed (for the better) for having interacted with you. And, if you’re lucky, you should be changed as well.” And if those experiences are related to the work you’ll be doing, all the better.
In addition, you’ll want to make sure that your experiences as a leader demonstrate proactivity.
“Never give examples of a time leadership was thrust upon you; this sounds like you are reluctant to take on responsibility and have to be made to do so,” Pritchard says. “You should demonstrate your ability to build a harmonious team and create a positive working relationship with the people you lead.”
And, of course, that teamwork should ideally lead to results.
“Someone who is a leader is able to demonstrate the ability to get others to want to get on board with the direction the team is going. Think of an example when you were able to get coworkers or direct reports on board with an idea that had a successful outcome,” advises April Klimkiewicz, career coach and owner of bliss evolution.
Older job seekers should sell their comparative value.
Many candidates carry outdated assumptions into their job search. One of these is the fear that age discrimination is so ubiquitous as to be paralyzing. "No one will want to hire someone old like me," is a common excuse for inaction and defeatist procrastination. In fact, organizations throughout the economy are increasingly turning to older workers to address talent gaps and skills deficiencies. Far from being a debilitating limitation, extensive life and work experience can be competitive advantages in a job search when the seeker knows how to leverage and position them.
Every generation complains that the one that follows "doesn't get it." What most of these employers mean is that the younger workers have yet to attain the characteristics that more seasoned talent can offer. Recruiters and managers can take a chance that a young employee will grow on the job or they can shortcut the process by hiring for maturity in the first place. The older job seeker, therefore, needs to remind the recruiter or manager of these virtues during the contact and interview stages.
Maturity has many connotations, but at its core refers to the ability of people to act correctly, effectively and ethically in a myriad of situations. Mature people understand the "big picture" and leverage their life and work experiences to intuit what is important and what is less so. Older workers have often quite literally "seen it all before" when it comes to scenarios with employees, customers and other constituents. While some younger people are wise beyond their years, most have not seen enough diverse circumstances to truly qualify as mature.
The older job seeker will model a centeredness and seriousness of purpose that a skilled interviewer will recognize immediately. During interviews, it is wise to offer illustrations of situations where your maturity was instrumental to achieving organizational goals. Experience, even in a seemingly unrelated field, breeds confidence and maturity in the older candidate.
An experienced job seeker can communicate in no uncertain terms that he or she will be at work early and among the last to leave; and that they understand that personal toughness is a virtue worthy of emulation. The older candidate will have prepared anecdotes from his or her career and life to emphasize their reliability under any circumstance.
Older workers rarely expect to be promoted within the first few weeks of a new job. They understand the importance of building credibility and paying dues. Mature individuals contribute first and seek reward after having proven themselves. This sense of realism extends to job tenure and compensation as well. When reminded, employers love the idea of workers who know the value of their work and are less likely to change jobs for a small raise or title change. Experienced workers have had truly bad bosses in the past and they know that a manager who is perceived as unreasonable by the young team members might be no big deal relative to other "true nightmare bosses" of the past. In addition, older workers know that having an exacting supervisor can be a prime opportunity to grow and improve on the job.
Mature job candidates should find ways to communicate that they understand and live by a code of "old-school values" like loyalty, appreciation and dedication. By being ready with anecdotes and supporting evidence for their value, these job seekers will shine in comparison to their younger colleagues.
Efficiency and Focus
Older workers tend to have less drama in their lives. They come to work to, well, work. Where there is sometimes a biased perception that older people lack energy and focus, these concerns are easily dispensed by the effective use of body language, eye contact, firm handshakes and insightful and observant conversation.
The job market can be intimidating for employees who are on the back half of their working lives. Our popular culture and major media can at times worship youthfulness to the apparent exclusion of the more mature. When one considers what organizations need to succeed, however, it is clear that employers and candidates alike need to retune their thinking.
With national unemployment at historical lows and yet workforce participation also low, it is time for older workers to rethink their assumptions and come back to work. American companies and other organizations will only be able to reach their goals if they think logically and with an open mind about their talent needs. It is left to seasoned talent to know their worth, sell their benefits and reap the rewards of their tenure.
Peter A. Gudmundsson is the president & CEO of Hire-Maturity LLC, a company that helps employers engage with high quality talent that is mature, experienced and capable. Until recently, Gudmundsson was CEO of RecruitMilitary, a company that conducts over 100 career fairs in more than 50 cities, manages the largest veteran online job board and published Search & Employ magazine in digital and print formats. Most of Gudmundsson’s career has been dedicated to leadership in media, education and intellectual property-intensive businesses including the Dropout & Truancy Prevention Network, Design Guide Publishing and Primedia Inc. (KKR’s media company). Gudmundsson is a regular media contributor and has appeared on CSPAN, multiple television and radio programs and has published opinion pieces in Forbes, The Washington Post, The Hill, The Christian Science Monitor and many other periodicals. Gudmundsson is also the author of The Veteran Hiring Leader’s Handbook and Not Done Yet: A College to Career Transition Guide for Parents. A former U.S. Marine field artillery officer, Gudmundsson is a graduate of Harvard Business School (MBA) and Brown University (BA in History with Honors). Follow him on Twitter @pagudmundsson or connect with him on LinkedIn.
Experience and work history aren’t the only things that can set you apart from the competition on your job hunt. Impeccable interview skills can be the winning attribute that you have that others don’t. And like the saying goes, “It ain’t over ’till it’s over.” That means you have many opportunities to show a recruiter or hiring manager that you’re the perfect candidate for the job.
Here are four signs that your interview skills are better than the rest:
1. You are proactive during each portion of the interview process.
Much like dating, the job search is now a mutual selection process, with both employers and candidates opting in when it comes time to sign an offer. You’ve got to be proactive every step of the way to ascertain whether this company and job is the right fit for your life. To do that, every interaction has to be useful and beneficial for you to make that ultimate decision.
Informed candidates are curious, so you’re asking any and all questions to get the best picture of the company, the team and the role. From inquiring about next steps, to team work styles, to transportation options, to asking for email addresses for thank you notes, these interactions show how engaged you are as a candidate and leave a lasting impression on employers.
Here are some unique ways to be proactive during each portion of the interview process:
2. You are equipped with anecdotes that “show instead of simply tell.”
One of the first things I learned in journalism school was “show don’t tell.” That means that it’s better to provide an anecdote or scenario to describe what I’m writing rather than just simply write about the action. Show your skills and experience through concise, clear and compelling anecdotes.
Instead of telling a hiring manager that you led a team of 4 in your last job, lend an anecdote or story about what you learned from leading that team or how you empowered them to contribute to the business’ bottom-line. Rehearse 3 or 4 good anecdotes about your past work or educational experience that “show not just tell” why you’re a uniquely informed candidate.
Anecdotes are the perfect way to answer prompts like:
3. Little, if anything, catches you off guard.
There’s a big difference between being a know-it-all and being prepared. Your goal in an interview is to appear confident in your skills and interest in the company, not to be cocky. Therefore, you should rarely be caught off guard by an interviewer and, thus, stand out from the crowd.
One employer said, “An informed candidate is someone that knows about the company — that’s done research and that has read the job description, [who] understands the opening so that when you’re contacting them, they’re essentially meeting you half way. It also shows me that that person is motivated because they are doing the work they need to do.”
Because you’ve browsed dozens of interview questions that are asked of candidates applying to the specific role that you are, you have prepared in advance and over time will prevent last-minute cramming. The result? A confident candidate.
4. The interviewer comments on how well-informed you are.
A recruiter or hiring manager paying you a compliment by noticing how well-researched and responsive you are is the ultimate sign that your interview skills are better than the rest. They’re impressed by your questions, amazed you caught that corporate announcement last month, wowed by what they’ve heard about you from your references and mentions that they want to introduce you to others that are not on the interview loop. All great signs.
Remember, it’s not only about what’s on the resume or cover letter that will land you a new gig. It’s about being proactive and engaged at every step of the job search process. Sure it’s time-consuming and it feels like a full-time job, but anything worth having is worth the energy.
Online searches are being used more often to weed out potential candidates.
While job applicants are used to being told to ditch the beer pictures on Facebook, more than half of U.S. companies now are less likely to interview a candidate who has no online presence.A national survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder found that more than 57 percent of employers are less likely to interview a candidate they can’t find online. The majority of companies will dig through social profiles, but find it even more suspect if they see nothing at all.
“Most workers have some sort of online presence today — and more than half of employers won’t hire those without one,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “This shows the importance of cultivating a positive online persona. Job seekers should make their professional profiles visible online and ensure any information that could negatively impact their job search is made private or removed.”
The survey included a representative sample of more than 2,300 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes in the private sector. Cyber-vetting, the practice of researching potential candidates online, is becoming one of the primary ways companies find the right match for an open position.
Jason Eckert, director of career services at the University of Dayton, has seen his share of social media faux pas committed by students looking to land a job after graduation. He’s also seen students land positions because of their social media skills.
More than 70 percent of employers will use social media to screen candidates before hiring, a significant increase from the 11 percent of companies who practiced cyber-vetting in 2006. It’s become so important to employers that 30 percent of human resource departments have an employee dedicated to check social media profiles.
Eckert recalled one student in particular who had a job offer revoked after the employer saw his profile picture on Facebook. “He made his Facebook profile picture a very unflattering picture of himself dressed very scantily and drinking alcohol,” he said.
Approximately 54 percent of employers acknowledged finding content on social media that caused them not to hire a candidate for an open role. Because of that, UD’s career services department talks to students about social media do’s and don’ts — and they encourage students to create a LinkedIn profile for employers to look at.
“It’s having a professional presence,” he said. “It’s illustrating you’re part of the professional culture of 2017. I still see instances where young people are making mistakes online, but that number has decreased compared to four or five years ago.”
Doug Barry, president and CEO of Dayton-based BarryStaff staffing company, said job seekers should be aware of what their goals are online. Applicants should make sure they’re digital brand doesn’t contradict the values or messages of the companies they’re trying to work for.
““Be smart about it,” Barry said of a person’s online profile. “Employers are looking for reasons not to hire you.”
“On the flip-side,” he said, “employers are making a mistake if they’re not hiring people for not having a digital profile. A lot of people don’t want to live in the digital world. It’s not a bad thing to be a private person. I would caution employers looking negatively upon that.”
Katie Sturgis, director of talent acquisition for Dayton-headquartered CareSource, said the company does have a social media policy to remind employees that they represent the company online and in person. CareSource still hires people who don’t have an online presence, but Sturgis said social media can be a “first impression” for companies to get to know candidates.
“A tool we utilize on a daily basis is LinkedIn,” she said. “I think the key is providing accurate and up-to-date information. Candidates need to realize this is their opportunity to represent themselves out on social media.”
Employers are also using social media to monitor their own employees. More than half of employers use social networking sites to research current employees. Thirty-four percent of employers have found content online that caused them to reprimand or fire an employee, according to the survey.
Melissa Spirek, full professor of media studies at Wright State University, said companies use digital information to determine the ability of the candidate to fit the culture — and they also use personal data posted online to learn information that would be illegal to ask in an interview.
Such information can include a candidate’s martial status, age, even sexual orientation.
Spirek’s advice to job applicants: “They should ask themselves, ‘What is the potential cost of posting this message?’”
By the numbers
70: Percentage of employers who use social media to screen candidates, up from 11 percent in 2006.
57: Percentage of employers who are less likely to interview a candidate they can’t find online.
54: Percentage of employers who acknowledge not hiring a candidate based on their social media profile.
Although the job market is way better than it was just a few years ago, it’s still no picnic trying to find a job that is a match for both your skills and the culture you want in a career. After all, it’s about more than just filling a ROLE for you, you want to find a place where you can grow, plant your flag and build the base for your future endeavors.
That’s a lot of pressure on every resume you send out, every cover letter you write and every interview you go on. We’re compiling some of the best advice for candidates out there on the internet in the hopes it will help you during your job search and beyond. After all, many times we find ourselves on both sides of the interview desk as our careers progress.
Navigating the ATS.
There are a lot of articles aimed at recruiters and HR professionals around how to maximize investment in the Applicant Tracking System but someone seems to have forgotten to tell APPLICANTS the ins and outs of navigating an ATS successfully. Consider this rectified!
An Applicant Tracking System is the little sorting robot who matches your resume to the job openings to which you applied. If your resume is formatted incorrectly or it cannot see the parallels between your resume and the job posting, it could send you a rejection letter before your resume is ever seen by human eyes. This is one of the reasons that so many jobseeker focused posts will encourage you to call after submitting a resume, include a cover letter and ensure you receive a receipt of your submission. Because like nearly all robots, ATS are prone to making mistakes a human might not make.
For jobseekers, consider the following to ease the pain of applying via this as-yet-undisrupted method:
Use phrases and terminology from the actual job posting.
While not a foolproof method to ensure you’re getting seen by a pair of human eyes, it gives you a better chance than most. Even the most basic SEO knowledge can help you here, since many systems rely on semantic or phrase search, meaning it may not realize that InDesign proficiency means you understand and can work with the Adobe Suite. Being a marketing manager in your past role may not match up with business development coordinator unless you use phrases and titles the computer can match together easily.
Have your stuff together.
Many ATS are older, which means if you accidentally hit the back button or take too long when building your online application, you might get kicked off and all your progress is lost. While companies SHOULD pay attention to their candidate experience (that’s YOU) and try to make it as painless as possible, on the backend, many of these systems are duct-taped together to try and form a complete system, which means changing one can bring the whole house of cards down. So until that issue is fixed, remember to have all your documents ready and waiting when you sit down to apply for that dream job.
In days past, we told candidates to look up the teams and hiring managers on LinkedIn and check Facebook reviews, but today’s candidates have even more inside information to gain! From Glassdoor and FairyGodBoss to Comparably and Kununu, there are reviews on companies, teams, hiring managers and even interview experience. It’s that last bit that can come in handy when you are interviewing for a company. Get the inside scoop from people who have aced the interview (and those who haven’t). Another great place to research is Quora!
Of course, all these come along with the same advice you’re used to hearing, like ensure you have a receipt from your submission. No matter what your recruiting friend tells you, a cover letter is still appreciated by the majority of recruiters and thank you emails (not handwritten notes) are noted by hiring managers. If you can get past the ATS, and you spend the time to truly look at both the posting and the career site or FAQs page, you have a much better chance of making your way into the job of your dreams!
Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, a full service marketing and advertising agency serving the HR and Recruiting sectors. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the recruitment and talent space.
Headlines abound whenever Facebook or Google introduce a new feature or product. Recently, both rolled out similar services for job seekers, but don’t expect these tools to take all the work out of landing your dream job.
Here’s what the two Silicon Valley giants are offering. Google will aggregate listings from five major job sites to display in search results. On Facebook, companies can post jobs and contact and track applicants. The social media site will also push relevant jobs into users’ news feeds.
Both companies want to keep people on their websites longer and serve paying customers (i.e., advertisers and businesses). For the individual job seeker, these launches tout added convenience -- but to what purpose? Being able to blast out resumes to more companies from a single site may feel better quantitatively, but it’s potentially worse from a qualitative standpoint.
If you want to build your career and not just find a job, developing your professional network will be far more valuable than uploading your resume to every listing site on the internet.
Where to start
Just do it: Put yourself out there, don’t dismiss anyone as unhelpful and be gracious to everyone you meet. You never know who may connect you to a great opportunity. Rather than view your network as a bunch of people you may eventually be able to “use,” approach it as a chance to meet interesting, diverse people who will expand your world and introduce you to new experiences, whether they be jobs or not. Don’t limit yourself to the short-term goal of finding a job; invest in relationships that you can carry with you for years to come.
Certainly, networking can be daunting when you’re early in your career and don’t have a lot to show for yourself. And especially if you’re shy, it may be even harder to initiate conversations with people you barely know who are older and more experienced. The truth, however, is that many of us genuinely enjoy using our successes to help someone else who shows promise and ambition. I encourage my peers to become mentors all the time, so they can see how rewarding it is to get a youthful perspective and use their experience to further someone else’s career.
How to grow it
LinkedIn is a great place to connect with potential mentors as well as people who might be looking to hire. You can also visit the pages of companies that interest you and find names of people in the department where you’d like to work. But just like blindly sharing your resume won’t guarantee results, you need to do more than send strangers invitations to connect online. Craft a personalized message to each person explaining your goals, why you consider this person a role model, and why you deserve a half-hour of their time.
You’re also going to have to approach people in the real world. Step outside your comfort zone, attend industry functions and meetups, and request informational interviews with people in roles to which you aspire. The worst that can happen is they say “no, thanks” or don’t respond. I’m in my college’s alumni database and have indicated I’m open to hearing from recent grads seeking advice. Your school very likely has a similar network for finding established professionals in your target field.
Continuing education is another avenue for meetings others involved in your industry -- both teachers and fellow students. Ask where others have worked, how they found their jobs and whether they’d be willing to make introductions for you. Connect online to see who else they know.
And, while you don’t want to turn every fun activity into a professional networking session, keep your eyes and ears open when you’re socializing too. There might be someone in your book club, church or spin class who knows someone at your dream company. As long as you’re respectful and not overbearing, it can’t hurt to let people know you’re looking for career help.
How to use it
Above all, remember you are asking people to give you something: their time, their advice, their support. You’re asking for a favor, so be gracious, patient and receptive, whether they’re in a position to offer you work or not.
Listen more than you talk. Be curious, open-minded and flexible, rather than having a fixed agenda and set of expectations. If you’ve had a good first meeting but aren’t sure where to go from there, ask if you can continue to check in with them occasionally and seek their guidance when you’re prepping for important interviews. See if they’ll keep you in mind for an internship or even a freelance project.
Walking away from a networking meeting or informational interview without a promise is not a failure. You’re building relationships and your career, not job hunting. This is the beginning of a conversation that could last for years if it holds value for both of you.
Lisa Haugh has more than 15 years of experience leading legal and HR functions for a range of startups and mature companies. At Udemy, she heads up all legal and human resource functions, including all hiring, training and diversity efforts. She received her BA from UCLA and her law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law.
In today’s competitive business environment, it may seem nearly impossible to stand out. But many people have managed to step out of the shadows by opting for a strategy primarily used by businesses themselves -- branding.
Personal branding is the key to giving yourself an advantage both in your current job and when you search for a new one.
Your personal brand is something that follows you around whether you want it to or not. It’s something that exists even if you don’t bother to cultivate it. From job to job, the way you present yourself professionally matters, and it is instrumental in establishing yourself as a valuable leader.
What exactly is personal branding?
Understanding the ins and outs of personal branding is obviously the first step in the right direction. The concept can be simply defined as the method of marketing yourself and your career to improve relationships with managers, colleagues and clients. Turning yourself into a brand helps you manage how you’re viewed and how much trust you can establish in your career. It involves creating a distinct voice, image and ethical standard.
But, it’s also something that takes consistent work over the course of your career. That is to say, you can’t write a particularly excellent blog post one time and expect that to carry you through the rest of your life. On top of that, just generally having a social media presence is no longer enough to qualify as a personal brand.
Building trust with those around you.
Trust isn’t something that flourishes naturally on a wide scale. It’s something you have to cultivate, and the best way to do that is with a unique personal brand. When it comes to who consumers trust the most, it’s almost always individuals. Corporate branding may technically be more visible, but it’s almost universally seen as less trustworthy. In fact, brand messages are shared 24 times more often if the originator of the message is an individual.
Clearly, you can use your personal brand to build trust as long as that brand reads as authentic and sincere.
Finding a niche.
One of the most valuable facets of a personal brand is discovering your niche. It can be difficult to stand out if your area of expertise is simply “marketing.” If you try something more specific, you can magnify yourself and your skills. Although your target demographic may be more narrow, you are more likely to connect with that audience. I have spent most of my career focusing on Wikipedia. May not sound exciting, but it has helped me stand out as a go-to person for those in need of a Wikipedia page.
Becoming a thought leader.
While becoming a thought leader might not be at the top of everyone’s to-do list, it can happen if you establish yourself in a niche. Whether you are writing articles or participating in interviews, a portfolio of helpful information and advice will propel you to thought leader status. Again, this is all about building trust with valuable and actionable guidance.
In order to become a respected intellectual in your field, you have to know what you’re talking about, offer genuine counsel and really mean what you say. Done well, personal branding can walk side-by-side with personal development and career success.
Mike Wood is an online marketer, author and Wikipedia expert. He is the founder of legalmorning.com, an online marketing agency that specializes in content writing, brand management and professional Wikipedia editing. He is a regular contributor to many online publications where he writes about business and marketing. Wood is the host of the Marketing Impact podcast and author of the book, Wikipedia As A Marketing Tool.
WRITTEN BY: Forbes Coaches Council
Top business and career coaches from Forbes Coaches Council offer firsthand insights on leadership development & careers.
Networking is crucial for career building. There's a lot that rides on the good recommendations of others, from a simple reference on a resume to having your name passed on to an interested party who's looking for someone with exactly your skills. But networking is also challenging. Taking the wrong approach when meeting people can leave a negative impression, or worse — none at all.
Below, 11 experts from Forbes Coaches Council talk about what they see is key to a good networking pitch, including being concise, connecting emotions, doing research and demonstrating empathy. Here's what they advise:
1. Develop Your Elevator Pitch
Before networking events occur, take time to memorize and develop your elevator pitch. Be clear about the types of people you help and what you do for them. Understand your personal brand and what makes you unique and different, then share this in a positive way. Let the other person go first, and show genuine interest in what they have to say. Show genuine care and concern for others. - Rebecca Bosl, Dream Life Team
2. Do Your Homework
Before attending an event where you will meet new people, study the host organization, mission, board and members. This will help you build conversational rapport and avoid a situation where you seem to be "selling yourself" in an unsolicited pitch. Remember to be yourself and appeal to new acquaintances as "people first." - LaKisha Greenwade, Lucki Fit LLC
3. Listen More Than You Talk
Start by building and fostering relationships where you do more listening than talking. Learn about the needs of others, and identify ways to align yourself with their requirements. By demonstrating clear value, you won't need to conduct hard sales or pressuring networking tactics to get people to hear you out. Listening to learn puts others first, helping build trust to secure investments. - Adrienne Tom, Career Impressions
4. Find Commonalities Between You
Look for information about their work, or something you both care about. Bridge that to how meeting with you will benefit them. Commenting that you liked their article doesn't incentivize them to meet with you. Instead, say that you have published a similar article. A great pitch lies in finding the commonalities between you and creating a feeling of connection, even before you've met. - Jessica Sweet, Wishingwell Coaching
5. Be Relatable: It Makes You Interesting
Your pitch should strike interest in someone you meet to make them want to know more. Don't just tell them everything you do, ask them about what they do and weave what you do into the conversation. Don't talk about money. Focus on impact. Whatever you say should place you in the position to be remembered by the person you are connecting with. - Maleeka T. Hollaway, The Official Maleeka Group, LLC.
6. Share A Story That Triggers Emotions
While everyone else is busy sharing forgettable facts and figures in the same old snooze-worthy style, captivate your audience by sharing a relatable story that pulls at their emotions. Stories make people feel things. And given that 90% of purchases are based on emotions, the story-centered networking pitch always wins. - Stephanie Nivinskus, SizzleForce Marketing
7. Be Authentic
Be you, and be authentic. People can see fakeness from a mile away, and we all get turned off by it. In order to be authentic, notice all the things you say to yourself about who you should be and what a "successful professional" should say, do and want. Then, practice communicating an introduction versus a "pitch," without all those "shoulds." If you feel more alive and free, you are on the right track! - Susanne Biro, Susanne Biro & Associates Coaching Inc.
8. Have A Consistent Message
There have been so many times when I've met someone in person and been impressed, but then when I looked them up on LinkedIn, their brand did not align in both places. The key to a great pitch is to be consistent across all mediums, both in-person and digital. Start by identifying who you are and what your goals are, then build a consistent message that aligns with your identity and goals. - Brendan P. Keegan, velocityHUB
9. Be Specific
Be painfully specific about what you do, for whom you do it and why they like having it done for them. If you're not specific, people don't know how to connect with you or how to help you, let alone hire you! Most importantly, remember, as Mike Wien of the Specific Edge Institute says, "Specific does not mean exclusive." - David Taylor-Klaus, DTK Coaching
10. Offer A Call To Action
The key is in getting others to take action. Give something away for free that they value, so you can stay in touch and build value. It could be a free sample, a white paper, an ebook, a webinar, or an open house invitation. It's low risk for them and something that will add value to their lives. Once you've said your benefits-focused elevator speech, always end with a call to action. - Sandi Leyva, Sandra L Leyva Inc.
11. Have An Answer To The 'So What' Question
Reflect on your elevator pitch, and ask yourself what you would say if a person said "Sounds great, but so what?" Your ability to explain the bottom-line benefit or impact of your value proposition is key to crafting a pitch that connects all the dots so the reader will never ask "So what!" - Virginia Franco, Virginia Franco Resumes
You went through the numerous rounds of in-person interviews. You established great rapport (and—dare you say—even a friendly bond) with your potential new boss. You had reached the final stages of the hiring process and you knew it.
All that was left to do was wait for the decision. So, when an email finally appeared in your inbox, you eagerly clicked it open.
Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends. You skimmed the first couple lines until your eyes tripped over that one sentence you dreaded seeing: “Unfortunately, we decided to move ahead with another candidate.”
Your heart sinks into your shoes and you’re caught between either crying or throwing something (or maybe a little bit of both?). And, in the midst of the flurry of emotions, you’re also reminded of this: You need to find a way to politely respond to that brutal rejection email.
Wait… Why Reply at All?
I know, it’s tempting to slink off into a dark corner and pretend the whole thing never happened. Getting the old “thanks, but no thanks” is humbling enough, without having to swallow your pride, paste on a smile, and write something friendly and professional in return.
But, rest assured, it’s important that you indeed do draft a response after being rejected.
Why? Well, for starters, it’s a great way to demonstrate your professionalism, establish the grounds for a continued relationship, and—in some circumstances—even open the door for future opportunities.
Think that sounds impossible? Just read Muse writer Sara McCord’s story about how a rejection transformed into another offer, and you’re sure to be humming a different tune.
Even further, responding to the rejection gives you the opportunity to ask for feedback, which is valuable information you can use to continue improving and making progress in your job search.
Alright, you get it. But, now comes the hard part: actually drafting that cringe-worthy, ego-deflating email.
Now sure how to pull it off? This template can help.
Thanks for letting me know about your decision.
While I’ll admit that I’m disappointed I won’t be able to work as part of the [Company] team, it truly was great to meet you and learn more about the great work that you’re doing.
I’m excited to keep following [Company] as the team [name a current company goal], and I’ll keep an especially close eye on [project/development you discussed in your interview].
Thanks once again for the opportunity, [Name], and I hope our paths cross again in the future. I’m wishing you and [Company] all the best moving forward.
Now, the Final Step
Another wise thing you can do after hitting “reply” on that rejection email? If you haven’t already, request to connect with the hiring manager or department leader on LinkedIn—making sure to include a brief and personalized message along with your invitation about how much you enjoyed meeting him or her and mentioning that you’d love to stay in touch.
That message could be short and simple like this:
I really enjoyed meeting you during my interview for [role] with [Company]. I thought I’d connect here so we could keep in touch.
Wishing you the best,
Whether it leads to something down the road or not, you’ll at least know that you handled the bad news well and did your best to keep the lines of communication open.
Nobody wants to receive a rejection email, much less respond to one. However, hitting “reply” on that dreaded message is actually a wise move.
I know—easier said than done. Fortunately, using this template will make it that much simpler to craft a professional and constructive message in return. It might still sting, but at least you can rest assured that you’re polite and respectful until the bitter end.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, self-development, and the freelance life. In addition to writing for The Muse, she's also the Career Editor for The Everygirl, a columnist for Inc., and a contributor all over the web. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her rescued terrier mutt or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website. http://www.katboogaard.com/
Whether you are well into your career, or have a gap in your employment, it can be tough to decide what to include on a resume. This is especially true when you reach a point where you question whether your work experience happened too long ago to include on your resume.
Most people are looking for a straightforward answer or rule that tells them exactly how many years is too far back to include on their resume. However, career experts and coaches say there’s no hard-and-fast, right answer.
We spoke with Michelle Aikman, NCRW, co-founder and Director of Adventure Learning of Cerno, to discuss just how far back your resume should go.
The rule of thumb
The standard rule people will often hear is that any experience past ten years is not relevant and should be kept off a resume. But, Aikman points out that there is no hard and fast rule that applies to everyone because some people don’t have work experiences that lead them to what they want to do next.
“My rule of thumb is to consider how important the experience is to convey your ability to do the job and whether it is absolutely critical that you communicate your qualifications or past experiences with a timeline attached to it,” says Aikman.
If the experience still applies, regardless of when it occurred, Aikman says you should still put it on your resume.
“As long as it gives the employer enough information to understand it, it opens the door for you to talk about that experience,” she explains. “It might not be recent, but is still relevant.
It’s all about relevancy
When it comes to placing old work experience on your resume, Aikman says to focus on relevancy. If you did something in high school or college that is more relevant to what you are trying to do than other recent experiences, then Aikman says you absolutely should include it because it adds to your qualifications.
For those with a large gap in their employment, filling out a job application or going to an interview might be nerve-wrecking if you’re worried an employer will notice how far back your resume goes. But if you accomplished things in your personal life that you are proud of, you can find ways to showcase those accomplishments on your resume as relevant experience.
For example, if there is a gap in your employment because you had to care for a family member or loved one, you can explain what you learned or accomplished through that experience in a way that showcases the relevant work to the job you are now applying to. Maybe that experience taught you how to manage another person’s life–so you can showcase why you’d be a great assistant or general manager.
“It just comes down to pulling out the relevant words to describe what you did,” says Aikman. “It may mean you need to be skilled in how you present the information, because you may not be able to use the language you used before. Think about how you can communicate this experience using language that will resonate with the employer.”
Translating old experiences
Moreover, not only is providing relevant experience important, but it’s also important to translate the experience for your future employer. Aikman says you must come to terms with the challenges you are facing while unemployed, but showing the employer why you are motivated and want to work for them.
“The cover letter is a really good place to explain this,” advises Aikman. “It’s important that you provide details on why you are trying to transition right now because employers tend to get nervous about why you are unemployed or haven’t been hired yet.”
Aikman explains this is a significant issue for many people with a large employment gap and that many career services centers or professionals are not able to help because they don’t know how to.
Go beyond the resume
Unfortunately, a stigma still exists around being unemployed. When you are looking for a new job, the standard process of filling out an online application or dropping off a resume isn’t always enough. Aikman advises that those in this situation should be more pro-active in reaching out to employers by attending networking events and building relationships with other professionals.
When it comes down to it, Aikman says you just have to communicate to the employer that the experience you have, regardless of when it occurred, does make you qualified for the position
“You have to believe in the resume for it to work. I think anything can go on a resume, it’s just how you communicate it using the right language,” she says.
by YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR COUNCIL
You’re doing everything right in your job search—following instructions down to every last detail, crafting the perfect cover letter, tailoring your resume. But you’re not hearing back.
Why? You’re not the only one following the instructions and your materials are probably getting lost in the sea of other qualified candidates. Hiring managers receive loads of applications, and if you want to stand out, you sometimes need to take the road less traveled.
To help you out, we asked seven successful entrepreneurs from YEC to share their best unconventional job search tactics to land the role of your dreams.
1. Don’t Discount the Informational Interview
When I was 21, I started a podcast that involved reaching out to people with the jobs that I wanted and interviewed them about how they got to where they were. It turned out that setting up those informational interviews was a huge key to building relationships that would lead to landing my first job. Insider tip: Don’t ask for the job or bring your resume. Instead, make it about them and their experiences.
—Allie Siarto, Allie Siarto & Co. Photography
2. Send a (Personalized) Cold Email
I recently hired someone who wrote me a passionate email about their desire to join my team. The email came out of left field and was unrelated to any particular job openings at that time. The reason I gave the person a shot is because, by sending me a well-written message packed with enthusiasm, they showed their tenacity, creativity, and optimism—all qualities I value when looking for new talent.
—Mark Krassner, Expectful
3. Notify Your Network
Let your friends and network know that you’re open to new opportunities. Curate a list of people you trust and reach out to them about your openness to exploring new roles. Ask them to recommend opportunities and companies to consider.
—Adelyn Zhou, TOPBOTS
4. Solve a Problem
I once hired someone for a position I didn’t know we needed. He contacted me and (politely) pointed out a weakness in our operations, then showed me how we could solve it at a practical cost, thus improving our services. I was so impressed he took such care to study our business that I knew we needed him onboard. So, if you’re fond of a company, demonstrate how they’d be better off with you.
—Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net
5. Get Your Face Out There
A very unconventional approach nowadays is getting a job the old-fashioned way (seriously, it works). If the company’s local, find out where they’re going to be and approach them first. Maybe it’s at a job fair, networking event, or industry conference. Put yourself out there, introduce yourself, and you’ve already taken the steps to standing out among the countless online job applicants.
—Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
6. Stay on Top of Social Media
Many companies will share open positions on their social channels to find potential employees within their followers. Candidates who come from their followers are already familiar with their business and more likely to share the same aesthetic as the brand.
—Bryanne Lawless, BLND Public Relations
7. Leverage LinkedIn for a Coffee Date (or Two)
One strategy I recommend is reaching out to the hiring manager or an employee on the team over LinkedIn. Ask for mentorship or career advice, but never ask for a job. Build a relationship over several meetings. Impress him or her with a great attitude and enthusiasm for the industry, and maybe the perfect opportunity will present itself.
—Terry Kim, NexGenT
Ilana Gershon - Harvard Business Review
How do you get a job these days? The answer often involves networking — it isn’t what you know, it’s whom, we’re told. But what does that mean? After all, we’re connected to many people, in countless ways. So who can actually help? What kinds of relationships should we try to use when we are looking for a job?
If you go to job-searching workshops — and I went to more than 50 in the course of studying the contemporary hiring landscape in 2013 and 2014 — you will be told weak ties are the key. Weak ties are the people you know, but not terribly well: your child’s teacher, or the friend of a friend you happened to meet at a party. This advice originated in a groundbreaking study by sociologist Mark Granovetter in the early 1970s. He interviewed 100 white-collar workers who had switched jobs in the previous five years and discovered that weak ties helped many of them find out about their next job.
Weak ties were important for one simple reason: Your strong ties (colleagues, family, and friends) probably knew about all the same jobs that you did. Granovetter discovered that you were more likely to hear about unknown job possibilities from the second cousin you ran into at a wedding, or from the former neighbor you saw in the supermarket parking lot. Of the people in Granovetter’s study who found out about a job opening through word of mouth, 83.4% said they found out through a weak tie. In the early 1970s it became clear that the most effective way to find a job through networking was to be in touch with as many weak ties as possible.
I set out to learn whether that was still the case. After all, Granovetter’s study was done decades ago, long before we all started using the internet. If the technologies that help us look for a job have changed in significant ways, I reasoned, it’s likely that the ways we get information about jobs have also changed. I had to find a way to replicate Granovetter’s study in some form to see which networking ties matter in today’s media ecology.
I located a great source: A weekly meeting held by an organization for white-collar job seekers in the Bay Area, a portion of which was dedicated to successful job seekers telling their stories — on film. While it’s not a duplication of Granovetter’s study, watching 380 success stories collected from 2012 to 2014 allowed me to conduct a fairly comparable study.
So, are weak ties still the key? No. Of the 141 people who said they thought networking had helped them, only 17% reported that a weak tie did the trick. Workplace ties, however, proved to be more useful. More than 60% of the storytellers reported that someone they had worked with in the past helped them find their next job. These weren’t always coworkers — former bosses and former clients helped, too. But what job seekers found most useful were people who could talk knowledgeably and convincingly about what the applicant was like as a worker and colleague.
That’s a dramatic change from the 1970s, and the most obvious driver is our wildly altered media ecology. When Granovetter conducted his study, the major challenge in finding a new job was learning that the job existed in the first place. In the 1970s people found out about jobs through newspaper ads, “help wanted” signs, or word of mouth. Nowadays, that’s the easy part: People learn about jobs because they find job ads online, search listings on corporate sites, or are contacted by recruiters. That has led to a new problem: Too many people are applying for the same jobs. The hard part now, as most people know, is standing out from the pack — having your résumé noticed in a large pile, or finding some way around a clunky applicant tracking system. Hiring managers face the same problem, having to sort through hundreds of applicants with the limited tools of application software, résumés, and cover letters. In these moments, what those hiring value most is a strong recommendation from someone who actually knows the applicant as a worker and can assure them that the person will be a good hire.
While these connections are important, it’s important to note that they may not change one of the most problematic results of networking: relatively homogenous workplaces. Granovetter himself noticed that even if people were getting jobs through weak ties, networking wasn’t changing the makeup of companies. After all, if no one of color or from a working-class background was hired into an office, there were fewer people to spread the word that the job existed in the first place. Nowadays, the problem is more of an implicit bias in how recommendations function — people tend to recommend their former coworkers whom they liked working with. Relying on workplace ties doesn’t solve the problem of how networking creates barriers to creating a more diverse workplace; it just shifts the locus of the problem.
Practically, since recommending someone for a job is such an important part of hiring — and a way people with different backgrounds and perspectives can be excluded from workplaces — it has become a significant ethical decision. Everyone involved in hiring decisions should think carefully about who is being recommended and why. And for the job seeker who is networking, don’t give up on weak ties entirely — 17% of them still have good odds. Ultimately, however, workplace ties may hold more weight. The kinds of networks that your workplace allows you to nurture matter not only to your present working conditions but also to what jobs you can get in the future. The best way to increase the likelihood of getting the job you want later may be to treat your colleagues well at the one you have now.
Ilana Gershon is an associate professor of anthropology at Indiana University who studies how people use new media to accomplish complicated social tasks such as finding a job and breaking up. Her new book is Down and Out in the New Economy: How People Find (or Don’t Find) Work Today.
We all have weaknesses and have experienced times of failure–but how we overcome those shortcomings often says a lot about our personalities and work ethics. Despite the lessons learned, our flaws are not always something we want to talk about, especially in a job interview.
Regardless, it’s wise to be prepared for those dreaded questions in any interview, such as, “What are your weaknesses?” and “Tell me about a time you failed.”
Job interview coming up? Consider the following to help you answer such questions about your failures with growth areas.
Research common interview questions
Though it’s not always on their list of questions, many interviewers want to assess how a candidate deals with setbacks. If an interviewer asks you to tell them about a time you failed, don’t let shock or panic set in. If you’re not able to come up with an example of your failures or weaknesses, it can signal an interviewer that you lack self-awareness or do not handle criticism well.
Moreover, one of the reasons interviewers ask this type of question is to see how well you think on your feet. If you prepare ahead of time with some examples of times you failed or a mistake you made in a previous job, you’ll be ready to answer the question immediately, which tells the hiring manager that you came to the interview well prepared.
Get honest input from a colleague
If you’ve stayed in touch with a co-worker that would know one of your weaknesses, or was there when you failed at work, reach out to get their advice. Talking through a previous failure with a co-worker who was impacted by your failure or witnessed it can give you some helpful perspective that might come in handy when you have to talk about it in an interview.
Ask the co-worker how they felt you handled the situation or why they think you made the mistake in the first place. This might give you some closure on what happened too. If you always just viewed the mistake as a time you failed, maybe now you understand the lessons you truly learned from it.
Reflect on your mistakes and failures
Nobody is perfect, so there are times where you failed or made a mistake in your last role. You know what they are too; you just might have buried them because you don’t like to think about those mishaps.
Taking the time to reflect on your mistakes helps you identify your areas of improvement, which isn’t a bad thing. In fact, if you’re able to talk about your failures during an interview, it shows that you are a mature person who has grown since making that mistake. This also shows the interviewer that you are someone who values learning and finds benefits in challenging yourself.
When you take the time to actually reflect on your mistakes, you find an honest answer about your failures. Having a keen sense of self-awareness is important for any job, so if you’re able to give a good, mature answer to a question about your failures an interviewer will notice that you are a person of integrity.
Talk about what why you failed
When you give your example of your failure don’t just say, “I lost a huge client for my company and my team failed as a result.” All this does is tell the interviewer that you made a big mistake. Instead, go into the details to show that you actually understand why you failed.
For example, if you lost the client because of your communication skills or because you couldn’t beat a competitor’s price, explain that. The more you can show that you learned from the mistake, the better you can communicate to the interviewer that, despite this previous failure, you won’t make that same mistake in this job because you understand what went wrong.
Rehearse your answer
No matter how much you prepare, you could still draw a blank during the interview when this question comes up. Limit the chances of this happening by practicing.
Give a friend a set of random interview questions to ask you; knowing that one of them is “Tell me about a time you failed.” Even though you know it’s coming, when it finally comes up, see how well you handle being asked this question on the spot.
Preparation is key for acing an interview and by rehearsing your responses, you’ll be more likely to walk into your interview confident and ready for any curveballs that might come your way.
The hiring manager might’ve hinted you’ve got it in the bag. Don’t take them at their word.
BY DON RASKIN
You’re walking out of your job interview and playing everything back in your head. Maybe it’s for your dream job, maybe it isn’t–but you feel great. You think you really nailed it. Now you all there’s left to do is sit back and wait for an offer.
It never comes. Weeks later, you realize something must’ve gone wrong. Either the competition was a lot steeper than you’d imagined or (gulp) you choked and just didn’t realize it. More than likely, something went wrong at the last step of the process.
This is more common than you might think. Lots of candidates get really far along in a drawn-out hiring process, only to lose out on the offer at the very end. Here are three of the more common mistakes job applicants tend to make despite thinking they’ve nailed an interview, only to wind up surprised when that offer never arrives.
1. YOU MISSED THE REAL REASON FOR THE FINAL INTERVIEW
After several rounds of interviews, you’re brought in one last time to meet the most senior member of the team. At this stage, many candidates think that all they really need to do is stick to their script–it’s gotten them this far, so why switch it up now?
But it’s a mistake to continue presenting yourself exactly the same way you did in the earlier rounds of interviews. What you might not realize is that the criteria by which you’re being judged changes the farther into the interview process you go. In earlier rounds, hiring managers might be checking up on specific hard skills you’ll bring to a job. They’ll probe your past experience to make sure it’s a fit.
But once a prospective employer decides that your technical requirements match the needs of the open position, they’ll start judging you on a different set of skills. So if you’re called back in for a second or third time, be careful how you interpret the questions you’re asked. The same one you heard in the first round–for instance, “What’s the biggest asset you think you can you bring to the position?”–may call for a much different answer.
If you answered that question with your technical know-how earlier on, you might want to use it later on to sell your soft skills (here are a few tips for doing that in the midst of an interview). Leadership, communication, and interpersonal abilities tend to be bigger decision factors late in the interview process. How well you present them might determine whether you get an offer.
2. YOU WAITED TOO LONG TO FOLLOW UP, OR SOUNDED TEPID ONCE YOU DID
Your job interview went so well that the hiring manager wrapped up by strongly suggesting that you’d hear back soon with an offer. So you leave and wait. But the company goes silent–you hear nothing back and can’t figure out why.
Chances are you took those surefire signs of their interest to mean your work was basically done. You were smart enough to remember to follow up with a thank-you email–but what kind of thank-you was it, and when did you hit “send”? Companies will assume you’re considering more than one opportunity, so if you’re lukewarm or late with your follow-up, they might guess that your interest is flimsy and make an offer to a candidate who seems more eager. (Some might even infer from that how passionately you’ll pursue your job once you’re hired.)
No matter what the company tells you in that final interview, you can’t stop acting like a candidate and start acting like an employee until an offer letter is in hand. Your post-interview follow-up can be as important as the impression you make in the interview room. No matter how far along you get, send an email to the team you interviewed with expressing your continued enthusiasm for the job–and do it that day. It’s your last chance to sell your candidacy and reiterate why you’re the person they can’t live without.
3. YOU WERE SLOW HANDING OVER YOUR REFERENCES
References are an insurance policy for many employers. They just don’t feel comfortable making a job offer without talking to people you’ve worked with in the past. When you leave the interview and the interviewer asks you to forward your references, it may sound like a late-in-the-game formality. But even if the request didn’t sound urgent, you’ve got nothing to lose by treating it that way. Once you walk out of a successful interview and the company asks you for references, you need to supply that information within 24-48 hours.
The main reason candidates are often slow to pass along references isn’t because they shrug off their importance, though. It’s because they wait too long to line them up. If you start calling around at the end of the interview process, a solid week may pass before you secure three great contacts who are willing to vouch for you, bring them up to speed on the position, and send their contact information.
While you do that, many things might happen. Someone within the company asks for the job, or a new candidate comes in and wows the hiring manager who’s waiting for your references. Maybe a higher-up raises a budget concern and the company decides to split the job responsibilities among current employees, then stops looking to fill the opening (trust me, it happens all the time). The point is, you need to strike while the company is high on you and hot on filling the role. Slowing down the process by making them wait on references is a simple way to kill your chances in the homestretch.
These mistakes are easy to fall into because things have gone so well through the rest of the interview process. Never let your guard down or assume you’ve got it in the bag. Keep trying to impress until the offer is yours.
In previous jobs, and now in my role as a managing editor at CNBC, I've conducted dozens of job interviews.
I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly, and I'm constantly amazed at the basic things that candidates screw up.
The No. 1 thing that can ruin your job interview is surprisingly simple: Displaying low energy.
I've seen it plenty of times myself and have heard it from many different hiring managers. While it can be hard to define what exactly "low energy" means, here's what it typically looks like:
It comes down to a simple truth: If you don't clearly want the job, it's near impossible to persuade someone to give it to you.
Kate White, the former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, underscores this point in her career advice book "I Shouldn't Be Telling You This." After years of analyzing why some candidates dazzled and others disappointed, she realized the ones she liked seemed excited to be there.
"There's even a little bounce to their step when they walk into the room, and you may sense that bounce even when they're sitting in the chair talking to you," she writes. "They want the job, and they're not afraid to show their passion."
White says too many people tamp down their enthusiasm because they're nervous or worried about seeming unprofessional, and it's the worst mistake you can make. "Here's what you must remember: It's the hot tamale who wins the day, not the [candidate] who's as cool as a cucumber," she says.
What can you do to make sure the interviewer sees how much you care? Start by smiling wide and sitting on the edge of your seat with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Come prepared to talk about why you're a great fit and what you've achieved in the past. Ask lots of follow-up questions.
Energy is contagious. If you show that you're excited about the job, the hiring manager is much more likely to be excited about you.
Other articles that this article refers to:
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Congratulations! You got the job. Now for the hard part: deciding whether to accept it or not. How should you assess the salary as well as the other perks? Which publicly available information should you rely on? How should you try to get a better deal? And what’s the best way to decline an offer if it’s not the right job for you?
What the Experts Say
When an employer extends a job offer to you, he has, in essence, “fallen in love with you,” says John Lees, the UK-based career strategist and author of The Success Code. “He has psychologically committed to you, and it is a critical moment.” According to Lees, “you have more leverage” to shape your job description and improve your salary and benefits package “right after you are made an offer than you do in your first two years of employment.” Still, evaluating a job offer is not always straightforward — especially since you may not have the luxury of comparing it to others. “Step back and think expansively about your objectives,” advises Jeff Weiss, president of Lesley University and author of the HBR Guide to Negotiating. “Think about the offer in terms of your development, your quality of life, and the variety of the work you want to do.” No job offer will be perfect, so a big part of the evaluation requires you to “think about the trade-offs you are willing to make.” Here are some ideas to help you figure out if the job is right for you.
Shift your mindset
First, you must recognize that receiving an offer represents a “new and different phase” of the job search process, says Lees. “The purpose of the interview is to get the offer,” he says. The next stage is about weighing that offer and then negotiating with your new employer. “Pause, you are starting a new chapter.” Bear in mind that even though the job is yours if you want it, you must “continue to be enthusiastic” in your dealings with your prospective manager, says Lees. “By sounding critical or suspicious or by questioning something about the offer, you are sending a negative signal,” he says. “It sounds as if you’re uncertain that you want job.” That may indeed be the case, but it’s not the message you want to send to your would-be manager. “Employers need to feel that you are committed.”
Next, you need to think about what matters to you in both your professional and private life and then “assess the offer” against these metrics, says Weiss. “People tend to focus on the dollars, but it is useful to ask, “What is of value to me?” After all, money is only one component of career satisfaction. “Very often it comes down to, ‘I would rather make X amount of money and be excited to go to work in the morning, than make X plus 10% and hate my job,’” he says. Below are the most important components to take into account as you assess the offer.
Even when the money on offer is enough to live on, you need to figure out if it’s an amount worthy of your knowledge and skills and whether it’s in line with the local market. Look at the financial package on the whole. The key question, says Weiss, is “What is someone with my competencies and experience in this role and in this city paid?” Databases and job search websites, such as Glassdoor, Indeed, Ladders, and Salary.com are a good starting point, but Lees recommends talking to recruiters and headhunters and others in the industry. “Find anyone who knows the sector and the range,” he says. As part of your detective work, you must also devise “a good argument for why you are in the top 10-15% of that range.” But usually there is only so much wiggle room. “You must have a backup plan if there is no flexibility on money in terms of what other areas you want to push back on.”
It’s also important to think about whether you will “derive job satisfaction,” from the offer that’s on the table, says Lees. To answer this question, you need to know the “kinds of activities you want to be involved in and the skills you want to use” as a professional. Ask yourself questions like “Do I want to lead a big team, supervise only a few others, or have zero management duties? Do I want to be in front of clients? Do I crave autonomy? Do I want lots of international travel — or no travel at all? What kinds of projects do I want to be engaged in? And what kinds of professional tasks do I want no part of?” Then see how well the offer matches up against the responsibilities you’re being asked to take on. “Also, look at what you will be doing, what success looks like, and what benchmarks you’ll be judged against,” he says. Having a deep understanding of what’s expected of you is critical for deciding whether you do indeed want the job, he adds. Think hard about whether the “the job is achievable and whether you feel you are going to be able to hit the targets set out.” If the answers are no, it may be that the role is ill-conceived or not for you.
You must also “do your due diligence,” on the organization and its people to make a sound judgment on whether you will enjoy working there, notes Weiss. Ask yourself, “Is this a place where I will be happy? Where I will be challenged? And where I will thrive?” To answer that, Lees recommends “working the phones, reaching out to your contacts and LinkedIn network,” and asking questions. “What is the organization like? How long do people stay? Find out what happened to the last person who did the job.” You will not be able to negotiate or change the organization’s culture, of course, but it is helpful to know beforehand what you’re getting into. It might make sense to do a trial run at the company during the evaluation stage. “Say, ‘I really want to learn more about this organization. Can I spend a few hours with the team?’ That’ll give you a sense of what your colleagues are like, what it would be like to work there, and where the bodies are buried.”
Flexibility, vacation, and other perks.
For many employees, vacation time and the ability to work flexible hours are an increasingly valuable perk. While health benefits are typically standard issue, additional paid time off may be negotiable. If flexibility is not an explicit component of the job offer, you can broach the topic in the negotiation stage, says Weiss. But bear in mind that “things like that are much easier to raise when you’ve made yourself invaluable,” and have been working in the job for a certain period of time. That said, it’s important during the evaluation stage to find out whether current employees are afforded such benefits. Get a feel for how a request for flexibility might be received by senior management. “If you are a perfect match for the job and it’s a tight market, you have a lot of leverage,” says Lees. But if the market is more fluid, you may have little leeway.
“You must also assess your walk-away alternatives,” says Weiss. Even if you don’t necessarily have other job offers in hand, you need to consider other possibilities. “Think about the offer in terms of the cost and benefit of starting the job search process all over again, of staying in your current job, or of waiting to see what other offers materialize later down the road,” he says. If nothing more, this exercise is useful in helping you realize that you have options.
Devise your plan
Once you have “determined the most important elements of the offer that you would like to change,” you need to “decide which cards you are going to play and the sequence of how you will play them,” says Lees. Formulating your negotiation strategy requires creativity, says Weiss. If you are dealing with an intermediary — an HR administrator or a recruiter, for instance — remember to “not only make requests, but also arm that person with questions, information, and ideas.” Come at it from the “perspective of joint problem-solving.” He suggests saying something like, “The salary you’re offering is great, but I want to keep developing in this role. I can imagine some possibilities that might make the job more palatable such as having access to a mentoring program, a rotation program, or an educational allowance. Which of these might be possible?’”
Be tough but cheerful
The rest is “classic negotiation,” says Lees. “You want to maximize the cost of the things you are prepared to accept and minimize the things you’re asking for.” Demonstrate that you’ve undertaken a thoughtful evaluation. For instance, you might say, “I am quite happy with the role and responsibilities, but I would like to work from home one day per week.” Seek to come across as a “tough but cheerful negotiator,” he says. “Go into the deal-making with your eyes open,” he adds. “You can’t negotiate everything, and once you’ve agreed on something you can’t go back on it,” he says. Adds Weiss: “It’s not what you ask for; it’s how you ask for it. Be well-prepared, respectful, and constructive. You want to be seen as someone they want to work with.”
Say no (politely) if it’s not right
Ideally there will be some give and take in these negotiations, but if “you keep coming up against a ‘no’ for everything you ask for, that demonstrates inflexibility” on the part of your prospective employer, and that “could well be a management style you don’t want to live with,” says Lees. Heed red flags. “Pay attention to your internal monitoring system,” he says. “If due diligence tells you that you should not take the job, listen.” Besides, there is no shame in declining a job offer if it’s not the right fit. “As long as you turn it down politely with one or two good reasons — it will not stretch you enough or you want to work in a different sector — you shouldn’t feel bad about it,” he says. And yet, you should “always leave the door open,” says Weiss. “The people you are dealing with are your potential customers, potential advisors, and perhaps even your future employers. Be respectful.”
Principles to Remember
Think about what you want out of your job and use that as a framework to determine the elements of the offer you would like to alter
Be selective about what you push back on
Employ classic negotiation techniques by maximizing the cost of the things you are prepared to accept and minimizing the things you seek.
Be critical or suspicious when questioning something about the offer.
Neglect to consider your walkaway alternatives.
Ignore red flags.
If your instincts and due diligence tells you that you should not take the job, listen.
Case Study #1: Do due diligence on salary considerations and be open to making trade-offs
Two years ago, Jane Chung was contacted about a job as a project manager at Los Angeles-based AltaMed Health Services Corporation. At the time, Jane was a consultant and counted AltaMed among her clients.
When Jane got the offer, she was instantly pleased. “The initial base salary was around 20% higher than my salary at the time,” she says. “Normally, I would’ve been tempted to accept immediately, but I knew that I needed to do a more thorough calculation of the complete offer package.”
Jane’s first order of business was to do a careful, comprehensive evaluation of the money. She used publicly available information from Glassdoor and Indeed to get a sense of the specific title’s market average. She also talked to recruiters and other people in her LinkedIn network to determine her worth. “I make it a habit, whether I’m actively job searching or not, to use my personal network to inquire about other companies’ paid time off allowances/policies and flexibility in work schedule,” she says.
From her due diligence, she learned that going from the private sector to a non-profit health system would mean a significant reduction in bonuses. “I recalculated my total current pay to be inclusive of benefits and bonuses, and factored in the increased scope and responsibility of this new position,” she says.
Next, Jane reflected on whether she would be happy working at AltaMed. “My primary motivation for pursuing a position was because of the mission of the organization to provide healthcare to disadvantaged and under-served communities,” she says. She was already familiar with and impressed by the organziation’s’s culture, dynamics and senior leaders.
And there were other perks. “I also knew the company observed a corporate shutdown during the holiday season, which was a plus for me,” she says.
She then formulated her negotiation plan. A recruiter was acting as a go-between, and Jane made sure to “ask a lot of questions” while continually “expressing genuine enthusiasm for the offer.”
Her first request was for a higher base salary, and while AltaMed did comply, the second offer still didn’t meet her goal. So she next asked the recruiter if other elements, such as paid time off, were open for negotiation. Unfortunately, “she said that wouldn’t be possible because of the company’s strict adherence to the PTO formula based on years served,” Jane recalls.
Still, the move “did help the recruiter know I was committed to this position and that I was also open to negotiating other elements,” Jane said. She asked once more if the company could sweeten the offer and it responded with another small base salary increase plus a signing bonus. So she took the job.
Today Jane is in the middle of a new job search as her project is tied to federal funding that is due to end in September of this year.
Case Study # 2: Prioritize what’s important to you and formulate an approach
A few years ago, a recruiter approached Andrea Molette Bradford, a marketing executive who has worked for Coca-Cola and Sprint, about a vice president position at a large retail company based in a different city.
Andrea was eager to make a career change and excited about the job. “The recruiter provided invaluable information about the company and coached me during the interview and the offer process,” she says. “However, I kept in mind that the recruiter was hired and compensated by the company; therefore, I did not expect him to prioritize my best interests.”
The offer arrived, and it was pretty good. She was pleased with role and responsibilities, starting salary, health benefits, bonus payment, and stock options.
But there were still some things that Andrea wanted to change. “Whenever I consider an offer, I always write down what I want, in priority order. I never share this list, but it is my north star in negotiations.”
Her first priority was more vacation time; the second was a later start date. “I wanted to push it back so that I could close out my home and have time to move and get settled in my new city,” she says.
She then formulated a plan for how she’d approach these requests. The thrust of her message was that she was satisfied with the bulk of the offer but wanted to maintain the number of weeks of holiday that she had in her current job. “I also told my boss that traveling makes me a well-rounded professional, and I need that vacation time in order to see people and things outside of my backyard.” She also explained that she had relocated before and knew how important it was to allow “adequate time” for the transition.
Andrea strived to come across as reasonable and positive during the negotiation. She secured the additional vacation and, although her prospective boss wanted her to begin work earlier, Andrea ultimately prevailed. “The hiring manager pushed hard on [the start date], but I think he understood that it was important to me, and I only came to the table with two requests.” She says she made the right decision to take the job.
Today Andrea is an independent consultant. “I am always open to great opportunities,” she says.
Rebecca Knight is a freelance journalist in Boston and a lecturer at Wesleyan University. Her work has been published in The New York Times, USA Today, and The Financial Times.
This question’s frequently a field on job applications, and it’s asked by recruiters and hiring managers alike. If you’ve ever applied for a position, you’ve come across it. And unlike other inquiries that allow room for interpretation, this is one that can only be answered factually, right?
Technically, yes. This isn’t something you want to be dishonest about—even if you fear that the number you give will be the one you’re offered (and not a dollar more). Because this is a common concern for many, I reached out to a few career coaches and touched base with The Muse’s own talent acquisition manager, Lauren Roberts, for advice on how to navigate this classic interview question.
Muse Career Coach, Theresa Merrill, advises people to be honest about their current or past salary. Misrepresenting anything about your work history in an interview or on an application is “unethical,” and therefore unadvisable. She explains: “There’s a high probability that the truth will come out, and then you’re done. You’ve lost all credibility, trust, and, most likely, the job offer.”
That said, Merrill tells clients to avoid sharing these details at all costs. As does career coach Antonio Neves. Both Merrill and Neves recommend doing your research and knowing what the range is for similar roles (and if you’re stuck on how to get started on that, this guide to figuring what you’re worth is indispensable). Remember that the company has budgeted for this role, so it’s OK to turn the question back around and ask, “What’s the salary for this job?”
Neves says to let them know that you’re knowledgeable on the salary range of the position. And Merrill counsels, “If you get to the point where you feel you must give them something, provide a range—not a hard number.”
Although Merrill notes that many companies are “seeking to pay you what you’ve previously been paid,” Roberts says that most organizations are aware that what you’re making now isn’t where you want to stay if you make a move.
She adds, “I think it’s fair to say that even if the recruiter only asks you what you are currently making, you can follow up by providing both where you’re at now and where you’d like to be to give them a sense of your expectations.”
Like Merrill and Neves, Roberts recommends researching the fair market value of the role. The bottom line is that lying about your current salary isn’t a good idea, but not directly answering the question with one hard figure and instead demonstrating your market research is acceptable.
If your fear of revealing your salary stems from worry that your offer will reflect that amount and no more, it’s totally reasonable to set your expectations higher and make it known from the start what you’re looking for. You just don’t want to go nuts and quote a number that’s not at all within the range of that role.
As Merrill explains, “If you give a number too high, that’s not in line with the job role, you may remove yourself from consideration.”
And you’re way too skilled, and you’ve worked way too hard to knock yourself out of the running by shooting too high. Instead, do your research and go after what you’re truly worth.
Stacey Lastoe is the Senior Editor/Writer of The Muse. She started writing short stories in the second grade and is immensely grateful to have the opportunity to write and edit professionally. Her work has appeared in YouBeauty, Refinery29, A Practical Wedding, Runner's World online, and The Billfold among other publications. She enjoys running and eating in equal measure and lives with her husband and dog in Brooklyn. All three of them are avid New York Mets fans. Say hello on @stacespeaks.
by Emily Moore
When you finally score an interview, it can feel like a huge deal. And to you, it is! It’s the first big step towards finally getting the job of your dreams. To recruiters, however, it’s all just a part of the daily grind. After all, professional recruiters often conduct hundreds, if not thousands, of interviews per year.
Now, that’s not to discourage you or suggest that recruiters don’t care about you. The point is, though, that they go through the interview process a lot more often than you do — so when you give what you think seems like a well thought-out, unique, and interesting response, they may have already heard it a few times that week alone. If you truly want to stand out in their eyes, you need to avoid these cliché answers and dig deeper into what kind of information they’re *really* looking for.
But which interview responses are the worst offenders, and what should you say instead? We reached out to a number of recruiters, HR professionals, career coaches, and other experts to hear their thoughts. These are the seven answers they advised job seekers to avoid at all costs.
Q: Tell me about yourself.
A: Details of your family life, medical history, or professional flaws.
Why It’s Bad: “Avoid ANYTHING personal that will be held against you in the interview or if you are hired. There are topics such as health and family that the employer should not bring up (because it’s illegal.) You should avoid these things too. Also, don’t bring up your shortcomings. If you are invited to interview, the interviewers believe you can do the job. Be confident and believe in yourself,” says Devay Campbell, Career Coach at Career 2 Cents.
What to Say Instead: A narrative that outlines your work experience thus far, why it’s relevant to the current position, where you want it to take you and, if you have time left, a couple short details that shed light on who you are as a person, such as interests and hobbies.
Q: Tell me what you know about the company.
A: Very obvious details, like their industry, or avoiding a straight answer completely.
Why It’s Bad: Failing to research the company that you’re applying to suggests to the interviewer that you either don’t truly take it seriously, are lazy, or just don’t have common sense. “If [candidates] are unprepared to answer this question, the likelihood of them securing a position with a company shrinks dramatically,” says Dave Lopes, Director of Recruiting at Badger Maps. “Even fifteen minutes of browsing their website will prepare the candidate to answer this question adequately.”
What to Say Instead: Describe things like the product/service the company provides, their target market, and their business model, among other publicly available, business-critical information.
Q: What’s your greatest strength?
A: “I’m a team player.”
Why It’s Bad: “[The] answer is too broad- no specifics about your unique qualities,” says Laura MacLeod, HR expert and consultant at From The Inside Out Project®. “EVERYONE should be a ‘team player’- so what makes you special? Feels forced and inauthentic- [like you’re just] spouting a phrase you think HR wants to hear.”
What to Say Instead: “Be specific about HOW you collaborate with co-workers and connect with other departments to produce the best product [and] WHY you think it’s crucial to develop these connections and develop relationships. Give examples from previous work experience,” MacLeod advises.
Q: What’s your greatest weakness?
A: “I work too hard/I’m a perfectionist.”
Why It’s Bad: “This answer comes from candidates who are trying to share something they perceive as a strength, cloaked as a weakness. Who wouldn’t want an employee whose biggest flaw is being too driven or striving for perfection?” says Mikaela Kiner of UniquelyHR. “The problem is that the candidates who provide this answer are unwilling to admit to their real areas of development. We all have them — I want to talk to people who know what theirs are, and are actively working to improve.”
What to Say Instead: “Candidates should be honest. By the time we’ve had a few jobs, I think each of us knows what we need to work on,” Kiner says. “Be ready to honestly share something you need to develop, how you know / who’s given you feedback, and what you’re doing to get better. The ideal answer demonstrates a willingness to be self-aware, and also that you’re a continuous learner.”
Q: Where do yourself in five years?
A: “I see myself doing this job still.”
Why It’s Bad: “A lot of interviewees say this because they believe it shows a great deal of loyalty and commitment to the company, making them the perfect hire. However, what this actually does is suggest a lack of ambition. Employers don’t want to know that you will want to be in the same position five years later, they want to know what you will do to develop yourself and the company,” says Steve Pritchard, HR Consultant for Ben Sherman. “[This] is your opportunity to showcase your ambition and drive. Five years is a long time, and to suggest to a potential boss that you don’t see yourself progressing at all in that time shows a distinct absence of zeal.”
What to Say Instead: “Candidates who truly want the job will know a natural progression… can occur in that role, but a bit of extra research couldn’t hurt,” Pritchard says. “Research the various departments within the company and see where there may be opportunity to branch out. Explain to the interviewer your goals; how would you like to grow within the department? More to the point, ultimately, how would you like to help grow the department and indeed the business? What skills do you possess that help you to achieve this? Naturally, you want your employer to believe you will be a loyal worker who won’t jump ship in the next couple of years. At the same time, though, you should be giving them an explanation as to why you are worth keeping for five years in the first place.”
Q: Why do you want to work here?
A: “Because I need a job.”
Why It’s Bad: You might think this candid answer could come off as funny or refreshingly honest, but make no mistake: If you don’t give a real reason why a company should hire you, they won’t. There are almost always plenty of other candidates for them to choose from.
What to Say Instead: “To answer this correctly, you must [do] research on the company and have [an] answer about the things they believe in, new products or [initiatives] or where they are going,” Campbell says. A few better answers? “You are a leader in the _____ industry and I want to be aligned with an organization [that’s] on the cutting edge and leading the pack,” “[your] mission of ______ is aligned with my personal values,” or “I am excited that you… just introduced (or will be introducing) ______ to [the] market. You are doing great things and I am certain I can learn and grow here,” advises Campbell.
Q: “Why should I hire you this for this position?”
A: “Because I’m passionate about it.”
Why It’s Bad: “Being passionate does not help you stand out from other candidates,” says Natasha Bowman, Chief Consultant at Performance ReNEW and author of the upcoming book You Can’t Do That At Work! 100 Common Mistakes That Managers Make. “A more unique, appropriate response would be to specifically align your background with that of the organization.”
What to Say Instead: “Demonstrate your ‘passion’ by discussing quantifiable results you’ve obtained for other organizations,” Bowman says. “How active [are you] in industry trade organizations? What measures do you take to develop yourself outside of the workplace?”
Utilize the resume real estate between your contact information and work experience wisely.
If you're not familiar with the term "career summary," it's those few lines or bullets at the top of your resume directly under your name and contact information that tell an employer who you are. Some call it a career profile or executive summary, among other things.
Before we go on and talk about what it is, let's talk about what it's not. It is not an objective statement. There is a very important distinction between the two. If you've been in the workforce for a long time, you're probably more familiar with an objective. That's old news. An objective would tell an employer what you were looking for. Employers now receive so many job applications that they expect you to do a bit more work to tell the employer that you are what they are looking for.
Here are some examples of strong career summaries for three different backgrounds. They do not have to be in sentence format; some people prefer to use bullets and that's OK. Keep it short and simple either way, as a long career summary will likely not be read.
"Award-winning executive assistant with over 10 years of experience directly supporting senior federal government executives. Employs exceptional analytical and problem-solving abilities to deliver strategic plans and improve processes. Adept at change management and strategic communications."
"Expert project manager with 12 years of experience in health care nonprofits leading program development, community outreach and the design and delivery of educational content. Acknowledged for event management skills and ability to inspire teammates."
"Versatile statistician with 20-plus years of experience in health care, pharmaceutical and market research firms, developing creative solutions to complex research questions using SAS and other tools. Recognized for communication ability, concise writing skills and for proactively tackling challenging problems."
What are the key elements of each of these?
Description. The opening line is a summary of each person's background. It indicates their profession or role, how many years of experience they have and the industry or industries in which they've worked. If you've won awards, don't be afraid to say so right off the bat! This is not something everyone has under his or her belt, so it will help you stand out. Just make sure you also list your awards in a separate section of your resume under work experience. Even if you don't have awards to speak of, use words like "expert," "versatile" or "accomplished" to describe who you are. Depending on the job you are applying to, you can also change the title (e.g., "executive assistant" to "administrative assistant").
Demonstrate Value. Your first or second sentence should tell the employer the value you bring to them. In the second example, we understand the person has experience leading program development, community outreach and the design and delivery of educational content. The employer will immediately understand this person can use those same capabilities on the job with them.
Here's how to figure out what to include. Look at the job requirements – often called "minimum qualifications" or "basic requirements" across several job postings that you plan to apply to. What are they looking for? Hopefully there is a common thread, but if not, create several career summaries to fit each one and give you some practice. The first sentence is likely to stay the same for each, but the value you offer may change. Also, maybe instead of the term "community outreach," they use the term "external relations." Make those changes, because an applicant tracking system (ATS) will look out for specific terms. In other words, be sure to tweak your career summary to align your background with the job requirements.
Separate Yourself. In the second and third examples, you see the words "acknowledged for" and "recognized for." Another term you may wish to use is "known for." The goal of this part is to state why you are unique. In other words, what makes you different from your colleagues? Think about what you've noticed over time as well as feedback you've been given by managers or peers. This gives you a key opportunity to address some of the job requirements from a posting, as well. If the requirements state "strong writing skills," "proactive" and "problem-solver," and that describes you perfectly, you might use a sentence like the final one in example three above.
The bottom line: You need a career summary, and it should be specific rather than filled with cliched words and phrases. It should cover what you personally can bring to the employer and be aligned with a posting's job requirements. Taking these steps to build your summary will enable you to be leaps and bounds ahead of the crowd.
Marcelle Yeager has been a blogger for On Careers since March 2014. She is the president of Career Valet, a premier provider of career services that helps launch people to the next level of their career. Marcelle also co-founded ServingTalent, a recruiting agency that places military and Foreign Service spouses in jobs. Prior to starting these ventures, Marcelle worked for over 10 years as a strategic communications consultant in Washington, D.C., and overseas for over six years. She holds an MBA from the University of Maryland. You can follow her companies on Twitter @careervalet, @servingtalent, Facebook (Career Valet, ServingTalent), or connect with her on LinkedIn.
Ever since I’ve started working at The Muse, I’ve gotten cornered by people at social gatherings who whisper in my ear, “Hey, I’m looking for a job, I heard you can help.”
I typically respond by pulling the person into a back alley, opening up my trench coat, and asking if the person’s looking for fully-tailored resumes, or cover letters with witty openers—or, for an extra cost, offer letters that only need their signature.
Just kidding. The lighting in back alleyways tends to be horribly unflattering.
Instead, I typically respond with something about letting their network know they’re looking, since that’s the best way to get their foot in the door. To which they almost always say, “Oh, that’s nice, but I’m trying to keep this pretty low-key right now.”
I get it. When I started my last job search I did the same. I had this fantasy of waltzing into dinner and announcing the news to my friends and family that I landed this amazing new position.
They’d say, “I didn’t even know you were looking.” And I’d casually reply, “Oh, it just fell into my lap.” Then they’d all simultaneously think, “Wow, Jenni must be really good at what she does to leave one great company for another.” Then I’d say something fancy like, “Next round is on me, old chaps.”
How did that fantasy play out in real life?
I got a few interviews, zero offers, and eventually laid off. The good news is that being unemployed left me with no choice but to confront two truths:
I was unhappy in my current situation.
I needed help.
These facts are easy for me to type out now, but they felt so hard to admit when everyone else around me appeared to be thriving in their careers. No one else I knew needed help from their network, so why did I?
However, as soon as I started being honest about my situation, the opportunities started rolling in. Turns out people want to help you! But they can’t if you don’t clue them into what you need.
Think about it: Have you ever turned to a friend in the middle of a conversation about The Bachelor and said, “Hey, would you like me to proofread your resume?” or “My cousin’s company is hiring if you’d like me to connect you two.”
That means that rather than trying to pull this off all by yourself, tell your friends, tell your former colleagues, and tell your family. While you don’t want to shout it from the rooftops (mostly because that’s a wildly ineffective way to communicate), you should clue your network into the fact you’re looking. It’s honestly as easy as sending this “Help me find a job” email.
The majority of the interviews I went on after being laid off came from friends-of-friend leads. Leads I never got before I lost my job because no one knew I wanted them. And the position I ended up getting at The Muse? That “in” came from a former manager’s friend.
So, if you’re serious about looking for a new role, stop treating it like a stealth mission. You’re not in the CIA (unless you are, and in that case, you do you). You’re just someone who’s looking for a new opportunity—and who’s smart enough to know it’s a lot easier to find it when other people are keeping an eye out, too.
By Pattie Hunt Sinacole
Q: I have been told repeatedly to “follow up” after an interview. But how? Should I mail a thank-you note? Snail mail seems old-fashioned. Do I send an email? Or place a phone call? What do you recommend? I have had more than one recruiter ask me to “follow up” with them? But honestly I am not sure what that means. Thank you Job Doc.
A: Following up after an interview is essential. Candidates who follow up after an interview demonstrate interest and show a commitment to the process. Alternatively, candidates who do not follow up are perceived as less interested or less serious about the job opportunity.
I recommend candidates ask about how to follow-up before the interview ends. For example, Marie is interviewing with ABC Company on Tuesday, February 14th. Before she leaves the interview with Tamara, the hiring manager at ABC Company, one of her final questions should be: “Tamara, can you explain to me the next steps in the selection process?” Marie will hopefully learn more about the process. Marie might learn when they hope to fill the role, how many interviews are part of the process and how many other candidates are being considered at this point. This is helpful too because it can set expectations as to how long each step might take. If a company explains that they intend to ask candidates to interview two or three times at ABC Company, then that may take several weeks. If a company explains that they expect to have a decision by Friday February 17th, that is a very different timeframe. Marie can also ask “how do you prefer that I follow up with you?” Tamara may offer several options – by phone, with an email or she may offer a specific date. When we handle recruitment for our clients, I will often ask a candidate to email me by a certain date.
Additionally, always send a thank-you note. Email is typically the best way to send a thank-you note. Make sure you email it within 24 hours of an interview. In the email, you again want to reiterate your interest. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate professionalism and can serve as a sample for your writing skills.
Your career history will pack an even bigger punch with these dynamic words.
Caroline Zaayer Kaufman
Your resume isn’t a place for modesty; it’s a chance to show companies all the awesome things you’ve done—and what you can do for them if given a chance. Take the opportunity to liven things up a bit. Weak, vague or overused verbs can actually diminish the excellent work you did at your last job, so choose words that more accurately reflect what you do.
“It’s critical to choose active, industry-appropriate action verbs,” says Linda Hollenback, a brand and career strategist who owns Philadelphia-based Hollenback Consulting. “Well-chosen lead action words make the difference between highlighting your skills and undermining your contribution.”
To help your credentials pack the maximum punch, Monster created a list of strong action verbs to make your resume more powerful.
Action verbs for communication skills
Instead of: talked, led, presented, organized
Use: addressed, corresponded, persuaded, publicized, reconciled
You can present data and lead meetings all day long, but does that mean you actually got your point across to an audience? Simply saying that you talked to other people doesn’t prove that you achieved your goals.
Stir the interest of a hiring manager by using words that have a bit more personality than the usual suspects. That might encourage him or her to want to meet you in person.
For example, instead of saying you “organized” an off-site meeting, say you “orchestrated” an off-site meeting. And instead of “leading” the meeting, perhaps you “chaired” the meeting.
“‘Persuaded’ is another great verb to use,” says Christina Austin, founder of New York City–based ExecBrands, a career-branding firm, “as it highlights a candidate’s ability to influence others.”
More precise words can also add a touch of formality to your actions, she says. Words like “addressed” or “corresponded” can carry more weight than a generic “wrote” or “spoke.”
Action verbs for organizational skills
Instead of: organized, ordered, filed
Use: catalogued, executed, monitored, operated
Did you organize a project, then walk away? Probably not, so choose words that express how you organized and followed through with a project to completion. For example, “executed” says that you saw it through to the end.
“By focusing on the task rather than the purpose or significance of the task to the organization, a job seeker may limit the perceived value of his or her experience,” Hollenback says. Instead of “filed account paperwork,” she suggests something more descriptive of your purpose, such as “monitored client accounts.”
Action verbs for management skills
Instead of: led, handled, oversaw
Use: consolidated, appointed, delegated, established
Leadership experience is excellent for a resume. However, just saying you “led” a team is not nearly as powerful as saying you “established” a team, which indicates you took the lead to create something new.
“A word like ‘oversaw’ hints that someone is supervising work on a high level, but not necessarily participating in a project actively,” says Andy Chan, co-founder of Prime Opt, a Seattle-based career-coaching center. Pick words that reflect the true nature of your contribution. For example, “Established a nine-member productivity team and delegated operational tasks to three junior managers.”
Each of these verb choices combines to give the hiring manager or recruiter an impression of your work style—just be sure to avoid repeats. “Multiple repetitions of an action word reduces the word’s impact and makes for a boring read,” Hollenback says.
Grab your dictionary or thesaurus if you’re feeling stuck, and when you’re done, be sure to have a trusted friend or colleague read over your resume to make sure it reads properly. And if you need more help, get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster's partner TopResume.
Too many job seekers make the interview process more complicated than need be, thinking they need to do something special to stand out. Actually, you want to focus on the simple over the extraordinary -- nailing basic interview etiquette and typical interview questions. You want to treat the interview like a conversation, not an interrogation. You want to relate to the other person, develop a connection and have a back-and-forth dialogue.
Here are 10 easy-to-follow tips to stand out in your next job interview:
Start Your Interview In The Lobby
The interview starts before many job seekers realize the interview starts. When you check in at reception, your demeanor with the person at the desk is often reported back to the interviewer. If you’re ready with the name of your interviewer and time of your meeting, you appear organized. If you sit with good posture in the lounge area, you exude poise. Start your interview behavior as soon as you enter the building.
Be Excited From The Start
An important part of your interview demeanor is your level of enthusiasm. As a recruiter, I empathized if a candidate was nervous and I tried to put them at ease, but I was always impressed by the candidate that I didn’t have to care of, that was comfortable in a meeting and especially that seemed excited to be there. Many candidates will be qualified – you want to be qualified and excited for the job.
Be Poised From The Start
As you walk from Reception to the interview room, are you grasping for your coat, your bag, your phone, your portfolio, your water, and all with one hand so you keep the other free for a hand shake? You don’t want to look overwhelmed or clumsy at the outset. You know your interviewer is going to come out and call for you. Yet, many candidates are surprised when the time comes and then flail around for all their things. Don’t make me call a U-Haul to help you move your stuff! Hang your coat, and put as much as you can in your bag so you only have one item to carry.
Minimize Nervous Habits
When you sit down with your interviewer, ground yourself with your feet planted on the floor and your hands on your lap or on the desk. If you tend to shake your knee up and down, cross your legs. If you like to twirl or tap a pen, don’t keep a pen in your hand. You know what your nervous habits are, so seat yourself in a way that minimizes these behaviors.
Prepare Your Introduction
You know the interviewer will ask you about yourself – Tell me about yourself or Walk me through your resume or What are you working on currently? Set your introduction in advance so you focus on the most relevant skills and experiences related to this job. If you have multiple jobs, you don’t want to bury your interviewer in unrelated details – pick out what s/he specifically should know to realize your fit to the job at hand.
Prepare Your Stories
Similarly, you know the interviewer will want to check your qualifications for the job. S/he might pull out items from the job description and ask you to give examples of when you did these things. S/he might describe attributes or skills the company wants in this role and ask you to prove you have these. S/he might share a current project or responsibility the new hire will be tasked with and ask how you’d handle it. Prepare the stories from your career that you know are relevant to the job. Use the job description as a guide for what skills, experience, and attributes you need to highlight. Sure, the interviewer might add something that wasn’t revealed in the job description, but this doesn’t happen often. If you prepare against the job description, you’ll be ready for a vast majority of the questions.
Have Questions To Ask
The interview is a two-way exchange. Many interviewers leave time for questions, and use the questions you ask as an indication of your interest in and knowledge of the role. If you have no questions, you’re not interested or you didn’t bother to research the company or role. Next!
At the end of your interview, thank the interviewer for his or her time. Reiterate your interest in the role. Ask about next steps so you’re clear on when and how to follow up. Don’t be so relieved that it’s over that you just run away without ending strong.
Place Cues For Yourself Where You Can Easily See Them
Given all the responses that you need to prepare (your introduction, various examples of your skills, experience and attributes, questions to ask, your strong close) and behaviors you want to model (sit up straight, don’t tap your pen), you might want to give cues to remind yourself so you don’t blank out on anything. Bringing a sturdy notebook or leather pad to take notes is always a good idea so you remember any helpful information you learn in the interview. This is also a good place for cues to remind yourself. If you think you may forget an example, say a financial analysis you did in your last role, write “Financial Analysis” in big letters so you remember to mention it. If you tend to rush out of an interview, write “End Strong” in big letters to prompt you to say, “Thank you, I want to reiterate my interest in the role. What are the next steps?” Placing cues is also something you can do during Skype interviews (position post-its strategically around your webcam so you can see your cues but still make eye contact).
Finally, don’t forget to smile throughout your interview. Smiling relaxes you and the interviewer. It also helps you appear friendlier and develop that connection. If you can even just remember to smile at the opening hand shake, smile at the first question and smile at the close, then you have built in at least three smiles for your interview.
Remember that the interviewer wants you to do well –when an opening is filled it means less work (no more interviews) and help is on the way (you’ll be taking on the work). In this way, you can relax knowing the interviewer is on your side. You can also relax knowing that a good interview is a few simple steps and well within the reach of any job seeker willing to do a bit of preparation.
I am the cofounder of SixFigureStart career coaching. I have worked with executives from American Express, Goldman Sachs, Condé Nast, Gilt, eBay, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. I'm also a stand-up comic, so not your typical coach.
An analysis of 350,000 messages found the best way to end an email if you want a response
I've always thought of obsessing over your email openings and closings as a bit like obsessing over your outfit — not worth it.
As long as you don't do something outrageous — say, sign an email to your CEO with "xoxo" or show up to a job interview wearing a clown costume — you'll be fine with whatever you choose.
I was wrong.
According to a new analysis from Boomerang, an email productivity app, different email sign-offs yield different response rates. And woe to the unappreciative emailers among us: The analysis found that the best way to end an email is with gratitude.
Specifically, results showed that the most effective email sign-off is "thanks in advance."
For the study, Boomerang looked at closings in over 350,000 email threads from mailing list archives in which, they wrote in a blog post, many emails involved "people asking for help or advice, hoping for a reply."
Then they picked out the eight email sign-offs that appeared over 1,000 times each and figured out the response rate linked to each sign-off. Here's what they found:
"Thanks in advance" had a response rate of 65.7%
"Thanks" had a response rate of 63%
"Thank you" had a response rate of 57.9%
"Cheers" had a response rate of 54.4%
"Kind regards" had a response rate of 53.9%
"Regards" had a response rate of 53.5%
"Best regards" had a response rate of 52.9%
"Best" had a response rate of 51.2%
The average response rate for all the emails in their sample was 47.5%.
The Boomerang blog post also cites 2010 research from Adam Grant and Francesca Gino, which found that participants who received an email from a student asking for feedback on a cover letter were twice as likely to help when the email included the phrase, "Thanks so much! I am really grateful."
Interestingly, three separate etiquette experts previously told Business Insider that "best" is the most appropriate way to end an email. And one such expert said that "thanks" is "obnoxious if it's a command disguised as premature gratitude."
The Boomerang analysis didn't measure how recipients felt about the sender — just whether they responded. It also didn't measure the power dynamics at play. Maybe your boss signs their emails "best," and they always get an answer.
Bottom line: If you want a response to your email, it can't hurt to end it with an expression of gratitude. Thanks for reading!
Getting the best possible salary is important, but consider other forms of reimbursement.
If you don't ask for what you want, the answer will always be no! This is especially true when it comes to salary negotiations. However, you can also negotiate other elements of a job offer, such as a signing bonus, training reimbursement and sometimes the amount of vacation time. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of negotiating, follow the tips below and build your confidence.
Research salary ranges. You should conduct company research before you walk in the door for your first interview. Technically, you should have researched salaries before you applied for the job to ensure your range was appropriate. Most job postings will not include salary information. In order to get an idea of what the job is worth and what other people in similar roles make, do you due diligence. This means using multiple sources. Use salary calculators such as Payscale.com, Salary.com, Glassdoor.com or LinkedIn's salary tool. But don't stop there. Talk to recruiters in your field and geography. Network with people who are in your field of work to understand what the going rate is. Use as many of these options as possible to develop your desired range. Remember, your value in the marketplace is based on how much the employer is willing to pay, the value of your skills and what your previous employer paid you.
When to negotiate. You technically can't negotiate a job offer until you have one. You should avoid getting into a detailed discussion around salary or attempt to negotiate any condition until you have a job offer. Mentioning your desire to work from home during the interview could sour the deal. And don't try and negotiate on the spot. Ask how long you have to consider the offer and schedule a time to provide your answer. Remember, accepting a job is a major decision and you shouldn't feel pressured to accept an offer.
Negotiate with enthusiasm. If an employer doesn't think you want the job, it could hurt your chances of negotiating, or worse, could lead to the offer being taken off the table. Tell the employer you are interested in the job and why. And be sure to smile.
Negotiate with the right person. The person who extends the offer may not be the person with the power or authority to negotiate. Every company has a different set of procedures. It is important that you know who has final budget approval for the job. While human resources may be the ones who extend the offer, they may not have the ability to negotiate.
Use company research and inside information. During the interview and through networking conversations with company insiders, you may uncover some valuable information. Perhaps you learn that the company has negotiated vacation time for certain employees or lets some of the team work from home once a week. You might be more likely to negotiate those things if there is already a precedent in the company or department. Use the information you uncover to your advantage.
What things can you negotiate? There are many elements to a job offer. Here are some things you may want to consider:
Negotiate salary first. It's important to prioritize what you want to negotiate, and don't be greedy. Negotiate salary first and if you secure your desired salary, be willing to compromise on other items you want to negotiate.
Convey confidence. Your body language, tone of voice and words you use should convey you believe you are worth what you are asking for. And remember, the company has invested significant time and manpower interviewing you. They don't want to start over.
Get your offer in writing. Once you have reached a final agreement on the terms of the offer, be sure you ask for it in writing. You will want this before you begin your first day of work. Managers can change and policies can shift. You want to protect yourself in case anything changes.
Hannah Morgan provides actionable job search and career guidance. She is passionate about keeping up with the latest job search trends and social networking strategies. Hannah has been featured in numerous national media outlets such at Money Magazine, Huffington Post and USA Today and is listed as a top resource by some of the biggest names in the careers industry. Hannah is the author of “The Infographic Resume” and co-author of “Social Media for Business Success.” Besides contributing to U.S. News On Careers, she also writes articles for her own site Career Sherpa.
Stop obsessively fine-tuning your resume and do this instead.
DANIEL BORTZ, MONSTER
Job searching may be at the bottom of your "fun-things-to-do" list—but that might just be because you’ve hit the "job search wall." It happens to the best of us, and it’s pretty common. But it can be reversed!
"Looking for a job is a universal source of anxiety," says Steve Dalton, author of The 2-Hour Job Search: Using Technology to Get the Right Job Faster. It’s also intimidating, he says, given that there’s a seemingly endless number of job postings at your fingertips.
That’s the irony: While you have great access to job openings, having too many options can make the job-search process seem overwhelming. Monster asked career experts for their advice to avoid job-search burnout. Here’s what they said can turn those feelings of fatigue back into excitement.
1. ADJUST YOUR MIND-SET
"It’s all about how you look at the job search," says Danny Rubin, millennial career coach and author of 25 Things Every Young Professional Should Know by Age 25.
Instead of thinking of applications as a total time-suck, he says, consider them the next (and necessary) step to scoring a job at one of your dream companies. With every application you submit, you’re that much closer to landing "the one," because it’s a numbers game.
So if you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of job applications, focus on the end result instead—getting that killer job offer.
2. STEP AWAY FROM YOUR COMPUTER
When you’re job searching, you spend a lot of time at the computer—like, some serious screen time. While looking for and applying to jobs online is important—and most likely the way you'll find your new gig, too much of it could drive anyone crazy.
Drag yourself away from your laptop to meet people who work in the field face-to-face. That way, you'll start meeting people who work in your industry, and you can start doing your homework to find the right fit for you. When you get home, research the companies where your new connections work to read employee reviews and get a deeper sense of what the company is about.
"You don’t always need to go to conferences or formal industry events to meet people," says Chip Espinoza, author of Millennials@Work: The 7 Skills Every Twenty-Something (and Their Manager) Needs to Overcome Roadblocks and Achieve Greatness.
He suggests starting with alumni networking events, which can be a fun way to reconnect with people you went to school with while talking about your job search—like mixing business with pleasure.
3. DITCH THE ELEVATOR PITCH
A well-honed elevator pitch can be a great way to explain who you are and what you do, but sometimes you’ve got to go off-script to shake things up. The key to building relationships is establishing trust and likeability; so don’t always feel pressured to sell yourself when you meet new people.
"Hearing an elevator pitch can make people’s defenses go up," says Dalton.
So instead of immediately answering the question, "What do you do?" try to see if you have shared interests outside of work, or any common links so that you can get to know the person you’re talking with on a less formal level.
4. DON’T SPEND DAYS FINE-TUNING YOUR RESUME
Hiring managers have short attention spans. In fact, some only spend a few seconds looking at an applicant’s resume.
"They’re trying to get back to their real work as quickly as they can," Dalton explains.
Rather than devoting a ton of time to perfecting your resume (psst—there’s no such thing as a "perfect" resume), "put three to four hours into updating it, but make sure it’s error-free," Dalton says.
5. WRITE A SKELETON COVER LETTER
It’s okay to use a template for cover letters to help speed up job applications. However, you’ll still want to tailor each letter to the specific company and position. To do so, Espinoza recommends customizing the first paragraph, incorporating language from the job posting.
Keep cover letters brief. (In many industries, a half-page letter is sufficient.) "Tell hiring managers the information that they need to know upfront," says Dalton, adding that if you have an internal referral you should mention it in the first sentence.
Also, "the shorter the cover letter, the less chance there is for grammatical errors," says Dalton.
6. CREATE AN ONLINE PORTFOLIO
If you’re applying for jobs where you need to submit samples of your work (think writing, graphic design, or advertising), don’t waste time attaching multiple documents to each job application. It’s cumbersome, and hiring managers don’t like having to download multiple attachments, says Rubin.
One solution: Create a free or low-cost professional website on Wordpress, Carbonmade, or Contently, where you can house your portfolio, and include the URL on your resume.
7. PREPARE THREE GO-TO INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
During most job interviews, you have an opportunity to ask the recruiter or hiring manager questions. The good news: You don’t need to exhaust yourself by trying to come up with unique questions for each interview. Dalton recommends these three:
What’s your favorite part about working here? "It doesn’t require the person to have to sum up the company culture," says Dalton. Simply asking "What’s the culture like?" often leads to a generic answer.
How do you think the market will be different three years from now? "You’re asking for the person’s expert opinion and that shows respect," says Dalton.
If you had to attribute your success to one skill or trait, what would it be? "You’re essentially asking the person why they’re good at their job, which is flattering," Dalton says.
5 Minutes Early Is On Time; On Time Is Late; Late Is Unacceptable
I have a magic pill to sell you. It will help you make more money, be happier, look thinner, and have better relationships. It’s a revolutionary new pharmaceutical product called Late-No-More. Just one dose every day will allow you to show up on time, greatly enhancing your life and the lives of those around you.
All joking aside, being late is unacceptable. While that sounds harsh, it’s the truth and something that should be said more often. I don’t care if you’re attending a dinner party, a conference call, or a coffee meeting - your punctuality says a lot about you.
Being late bothers me so much that just thinking about it makes me queasy. My being late, which does occasionally happen, usually causes me to break out into a nervous sweat. The later I am, the more it looks like I’ve sprung a leak. Catch me more than 15 minutes late and it looks like I went swimming.
On this issue, I find myself a member of a tiny minority. It seems like most people consider a meeting time or deadline to be merely a mild advisory of something that might happen. I’ve been called uptight and unreasonable, or variations prefaced with expletives. In a world that feels perpetually late, raising the issue of punctuality isn’t a way to win popularity contests and I’m ok with that.
There’s a reason we set meeting times and deadlines. It allows for a coordination of efforts, minimizes time/effort waste, and helps set expectations. Think of how much would get done if everyone just “chilled out” and “went with the flow?” It would be the definition of inefficiency. It’s probably not that hard to imagine, considering just last week I had 13 (yes, I counted) different people blow meeting times, or miss deadlines. It feels like a raging epidemic, seemingly smoothed over by a barrage of “my bads,” “sorry, mans,” and “you know how it goes.” The desired response is “it’s all good,” but the reality is that it’s not okay. Here’s what it is.
As I said earlier, I’m occasionally late. Sometimes a true emergency happens, or an outlier event transpires. When it happens, I try to give a very detailed account of why I was late, apologize profusely, make sure the other person knows that I take it very seriously, and assure them it won’t happen again.
Paying attention to punctuality is not about being “judgy,” or stressed. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It makes room for the caring, considerate, thoughtful people I want in my life, whether that’s friends or colleagues. Think of how relaxing your life would be if everyone just did what they said they’d do, when they said they’d do it? A good place to start is with yourself and a great motto is something I was taught as a child:
“5 minutes early is on time. On time is late. Late is unacceptable.”
Brent Beshore is the founder and CEO of adventur.es. Connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.
5 Steps to Rock Any Networking Event
A great face-to-face connection can help you jump start the career you've always wanted.
Not everyone loves bobbing in and out of a strange crowd with a bundle of business cards in one hand and a plate of cheese in the other. Approaching people you don’t know while trying to build connections can be awkward. Nevertheless, the fact remains: a face-to-face connection can help you to build professional relationships and, in minutes, jumpstart the career you’ve always wanted.
Whether you’re looking for a partner, a client or an employer, networking events can make a real difference. Not only can it help you grow professionally, it can also do good for your personal life.
However, as the saying goes, it only takes a second to make a bad first impression. Before you go out to one of the many networking opportunities available to you throughout the year, it’s important that you hone your approach. Here’s how:
1. Get there early.
You know that saying about being fashionably late? That may apply to house parties and bar excursions, but little else. If your biggest fear is getting stuck in a corner with your plastic cup and a business card while everyone else chats away, be an early bird.
Ditch any notions you have about being a cool kid and get there before the party starts. Networking events can be a bit daunting, especially if you’re going alone. You’re more likely to avoid getting lost in the crowd if you jump in while the group is small, and meet new people as they arrive, one at a time or in pairs.
2. Wear your conversation starter.
First impressions are everything. In just a quick glance a person can make an opinion about who you are based on your appearance and how you carry yourself. While a well put together look is key, consider heading into your networking event with a piece that will help you stand out.
Avoid drowning in a sea of black and navy blue outfits by adding a pair of fun shoes or unique earnings. Make sure you appropriately express your individuality within the context of your situation. If there’s a dress code or dress expectation, make sure you follow the rules accordingly. You definitely don’t want to leave an impression that you’re gaudy or unprofessional, but remember, this is supposed to be fun!
3. Don’t get sucked in by negativity.
Negative Nancies always have time to show up at a networking event. They’ll rag on anything from the economy and job market to your business and career prospects. While you should do your best to dodge these people as much as possible, know that running into them will happen.
Never feel pressured to engage with a negative person, especially at a networking event. Instead, do your best to turn the conversation around with constructive comments. If the person shows no sign of changing their attitude, politely move on. This may sound weird, but kids are the best networkers out there. Not only are they extremely upbeat when making new friends, but they also are unafraid and excited when they approach their peers. If our kids can do it, so can we.
Similarly, don’t go and be the one whose name tag reads, “I’m Nancy Too.” Be sure to hold positive conversations only. If you’re feeling down about work, consider this a prime opportunity to find new positions. Shift your lament onto hopes for a new position and the amazing skills that you have to offer.
4. Research, research, research.
Tactical networking practices work best when you’ve come prepared. Remember, networking events won’t go on all day. You’ll have a small window to make an impression on a large group, so help yourself out by doing research ahead of time.
Start by knowing who is hosting the event. They’ll likely have a limited amount of time to talk but remember they’re the ones who brought in all of the people you’re networking with. At the very least you’ll want to introduce yourself.
Your biggest priority should be having an understanding of the guest list. Typically, events will post the guest list online ahead of the function. Use the list as a way to make note of the people you will definitely want to make connections with. If your host has a team, reach out to co-hosts or assistants to help make introductions with guests beforehand.
Lastly, don’t forget to utilize social media. Learn to recognize the faces of those who you’re most interested in talking to, and make sure to target them first before you get lost investigating where everyone is getting the chocolate samples.
5. Pretend your business card is money.
You might have an unlimited amount of business cards, but there’s no way you have as much brain storage. Before you go and make your business cards rain on your networking event, consider that successful networking requires genuine connections. You wouldn’t go to Target and throw your money at every item you could buy. Don’t do that at an event. Don’t be Blackjack Betty.
Instead, take some time to evaluate where your card is going. Use the event to make real exchanges with others -- listen as much as you speak (ideally more) and really listen. Understanding a person’s passions will help you to build the relationships you came for. Aim to offer your card to people you’ve spent time talking with, whose passions you understand and whose goals align with your own, and vice versa. You’re more likely to have a successful follow-up with them later.
Andrew Medal is a street geek and entrepreneur. He is the founder of web and mobile development shop, Agent Beta, amongst a handful of other startups. Recently, he's been helping the California Education Department solve the student and job problem through technology.
It can feel awkward to ask a recruiter or an HR person "How much does this job pay?" There is no reason it should be sticky to talk about compensation.
The most responsible and talent-aware employers lay out the pay rate for their open positions. Either they mention the pay range in the job ad or they tell you as soon as they contact you about the job, "Here's what the job pays."
There is no reason to withhold salary information apart from a desire to be cagey with applicants.
If a recruiter, HR person or hiring manager can find out what you earned at your last job before they tell you how much they've budgeted for the position, maybe they can bring you on board at the bottom end of the pay range -- or even below it.
That is unethical, and it's bad business, but there is a lot of unethical behavior and a lot of bad business in the hiring process almost everywhere you look.
When a company recruiter or a third-party recruiter contacts you about a job opening that might be a good fit, it is always appropriate to ask them "What is the pay range for the position?"
If they say "I don't know" or "That is still being decided," get off the phone or end the email correspondence with them, because they are lying. Nobody recruits for a position without knowing the pay range -- it would be absurd to do so.
If you reach out to an employer and they invite you to a job interview, you can go to the interview without establishing the pay range because you contacted them. You can meet them and decide whether you want to continue the conversation. They will also decide whether or not to keep you in their interview process.
Don't go back for a second interview, however, until you know that your salary target and their salary range overlap. When someone from the company sends you an email message or calls you to set up the second interview, broach the salary topic this way:
You: Sally Jones!
Martin: Hi Sally, this is Martin Van Buren from Angry Chocolates. Our team really enjoyed meeting you last week and we'd like to invite you to come back and meet Margaret Hamilton, our Director of Quality, next week. Will Thursday afternoon work for you?
You: Thanks, Martin! I will have to check my calendar to see whether Thursday could work. In the meantime, is now a good time and are you the right person to sync up on compensation? I want to make sure we are in the same ballpark salary-wise.
Martin: I can talk about compensation with you. What are you earning now?
You: In this job search I'm focusing on roles in the $50,000 range. Is this job in that range?
Martin: Yes, it is. This position is budgeted in the high forties or low fifties so we should be in good shape.
You: Excellent! Let me check my calendar really quickly.
The talent market is shifting fast. Employers need smart and capable people like you. Candidates who know their value and who will stand up for themselves are more valuable to employers -- but only to employers who care about talent.
Some employers talk about talent but it's all talk and no action!
You get to decide which manager to work for and which organization to invest your time, energy and brainpower into. Choose wisely. Not every company deserves your talents.
Only the people who get you, deserve you!
Liz Ryan is CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap. Follow her on Twitter and read Forbes columns.
Time for a change?
Are you looking to find the 21st century opportunities that will allow your career to soar?
Navigating job changes can be tricky business, and it can be overwhelming to try to keep up with the pace of change. The Department of Labor has a number of tools to support you through the process.
My Next Move is a web-based interactive tool from the Labor Department for new job seekers, students and other career-explorers to learn more about their career options. Users can:
Though My Next Move is intended to assist all jobseekers, it may be especially useful for students, young adults and other first-time workers as they explore potential careers based on their interests. The new tool complements the department's "mySkills myFuture" site, which is designed to help those with previous work experience match existing skills to new occupations.
This website allows users to search for jobs by occupation, by industry and using the "O*NET Interest Profiler," which matches an individual's interests with suitable occupations by asking 60 questions. Since 2001, the department's Occupational Information Network, or O*NET, has used a 180-question version of the profiler that can be printed out or downloaded to a personal computer.
Each occupation that a user selects has an easy-to-read, one-page profile, including information about what knowledge, skills and abilities are needed; the occupation's outlook; the level of education required; technologies used within the occupation; and similar jobs. In addition, each occupation page includes direct links to local salary information, training opportunities and relevant job openings.
Making a great first impression in a job interview can be the difference between getting an offer and getting passed by. And according to research, you may only have a few moments.
People make snap judgments about each other within one tenth of a second, a Princeton University study shows. In a blink of an eye, hirers draw conclusions about your likability, trustworthiness, competence and aggressiveness.
And, the study suggests, those first impressions stick: Hirers quickly begin to expect you to conform to the ideas they've just begun to form about you. If you seem familiar and friendly, you could get an offer. If you seem sloppy or overly aggressive, you could be overlooked.
To make those first few moments of your job interview count, follow these rules career experts say are crucial:
1. Dress the part
"Your wardrobe should be clean, pressed and well-fitting," says Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume. "The goal is to look like you belong at the company."
The career expert suggests job candidates do some investigating into the job's dress code by asking around within your professional network.
"Do some reconnaissance online and with your professional network to determine the company's dress code," she says. "If the organization is laid-back, dress as you believe they would for an important meeting with a client."
2. Arrive on time
Nobody wants to look or feel rushed at an interview. Being punctual will help you relax.
"I recommend arriving 15 minutes before your scheduled interview so you have time to register with reception, complete any paperwork, use the restroom to freshen up," Augustine says. "Get your bearings before the interview begins."
3. Pay attention to body language
The goal in a job interview is to appear "confident, professional, and friendly," Augustine says. A firm handshake, a smile and eye contact are crucial to that.
Not making eye contact makes you appear nervous, says career coach Becky Berry. "Keep your head up."
4. Sound professional
When people are nervous, they have a tendency to raise their voices a bit, studies have shown. Resist the urge, experts say.
"We tend to tighten the vocal chords when we are tense, and the high, sometimes screechy sound does not sound powerful," says Patti Wood, a body language expert and author. "Bring down your voice."
For more tips on how to appear confident, check out body language tricks to exude confidence. http://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/14/7-body-language-tricks-to-exude-confidence.html?slide=1
By Sammi Caramela, Business News Daily Contributor
As they say in the business world, it's all about who you know.
Sure, hard work and an impressive resume help, but having connections and possible referrals are often crucial to landing the job of your dreams. In fact, according to a study by recruiting software Lever, referred applicants are almost 10 times more likely to be hired than candidates who aren't referred. Of candidates who aren't referred, only 1 in 100 is hired for every position on average, compared with 1 in 16 for those who are referred to the company and 1 in 22 for those who are recommended by an agency. "For some time now, talent acquisition teams have been increasing their focus on proactively sourcing candidates and encouraging employee referrals," Sarah Nahm, CEO and co-founder of Lever, said in a statement. "[Our] findings prove that those efforts are worthwhile, and paying off."
Other key findings Lever highlighted in the study include:
> The size of a company correlates with its hiring ratio. The smaller the company, the greater the hiring efficiency. For example, Lever found that companies with fewer than 100 employees have an average of 94 candidates for every open position, while companies with more than 1,000 employees have an average of 129 candidates for every open position.
> The average candidate goes through 4 hours of interviews. Although it depends on the position, candidates spend an average of nearly 4 hours interviewing for a job. Candidates for technical jobs spend the most time interviewing, at 5.5 hours on average, while sales candidates spend an average of only about 3 hours interviewing.
> It takes an average of 34 days for a candidate to be hired. However, larger companies tend to take longer. The average hiring time for companies with more than 1,000 employees was 41 days.
> Recruiters consider nearly half of candidates "underqualified." Cold applicants who apply without a connection are the most likely to be seen as underqualified (52 percent). On the other hand, just 22 percent of proactively sourced (referred or headhunted) candidates are considered underqualified.
Building your referral path
So what can you do to ensure you stand out as a capable applicant?
1. Create a soft referral for yourself.
You can take matters into your own hands by reaching out to others for help. Leela Srinivasan, chief marketing officer at Lever, advised candidates to "think as broadly as you can about potential connections you have into the organization." Ask yourself if you know anyone, even just briefly, who can potentially offer a referral.
2. Search for first- or second-degree connections on LinkedIn.
If you find yourself empty-handed after considering possible connections, turn to the company's LinkedIn page, click "see all employees" and check if you have any first- or second-degree connections.
"If you have a first-degree connection, reach directly out to them, explaining why you're interested in working for the org[anization] and asking if they can refer you," Srinivasan told Business News Daily. "If you see a second-degree connection at the company, click on their profile to figure out how you're connected, and see if there's a mutual connection who might be able to give you a warm intro."
According to Srinivasan, many companies have referral programs and offer incentives to employees who refer candidates. You may be surprised by how eager your potential connections will be to refer you.
3. Establish a legitimate connection.
If all else fails, think about possible ties you can make with the company — for example, any positive experiences you've had.
"Try to establish a legitimate connection, even if it's experience-based," Srinivasan said. "As a candidate, your object[ive] is not to game the system. On the other hand, if you come to the table with authentic examples of times when you've exhibited a particular value that the company champions, those could come in handy during the process."
Additionally, it helps to show your curiosity about the company's culture and values. Don't be afraid to ask questions and show that you've done your research.
The Lever report collected data from more than 4 million candidates, across 999 companies that use Lever, from August 2015 to July 2016.
Sammi Caramela is a senior at Rowan University with a major in writing arts and a double minor in journalism and psychology. She is President of Her Campus magazine and I Am That Girl at Rowan, and contributes to other writing platforms on and off campus. She expects to graduate in 2017 and continue her freelance work with Business News Daily. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at sammisays.org
How cool would it be to have an X-ray into the head of the person who controls your career fate? To understand exactly what a hiring manager at your dream company is thinking when she’s picking which lucky candidate she’ll bring on full-time?
Well, until CAT scans start to pick up hiring decisions, that day may still be far away. But in the meantime, let me at least give you a glimpse into the typical interviewing process so you can get a sense of the main criteria hiring managers use to make those decisions.
How Humans Evaluate Each Other
Even though your potential boss has the fancy title of “Hiring Manager,” at the end of the day, she’s just a human being. Which means that contrary to all that time you’ve spent obsessing about brainteasers, she doesn’t actually care how many tennis balls could fit in a 747.
Instead, she’s going to size you up the same way that all humans size each other up: By getting to know you for a few minutes and then making a snap judgment. It’s really not that different from meeting someone at a party, making some chit-chat, and then getting a gut feeling that either says: “Mm…I like talking to you. Tell me more!” or “Umm…I think I need to go to the bathroom. Will you excuse me for a second (a.k.a., the rest of your life)?”
But where does that gut feeling come from?
One Psychology theory suggests that these flash judgments are really based on two data points:
1. Warmth: Do I like you?
2. Competence: Are you good at what you do?
In other words, we ultimately reduce everyone we meet into four buckets:
1. Warm + Competent
2. Warm + Incompetent
3. Cold + Competent
4. Cold + Incompetent
Any guesses which of these buckets your hiring manager is more likely to pick?
Let’s look at her inner monologue for each:
How to Get Picked
So clearly, your goal is to get into that top-left quadrant: warm and competent. But how do you do that?
The trick is to not only focus on coming up with specific answers to questions that may be asked. But to also focus hard on how you answer those questions. Because, as you’ll see, warmth and competence judgments aren’t definitive evaluations but mere perceptions. And while you can’t change who you are, you absolutely can change people’s perceptions of you.
As an example, let’s take that old interview chestnut: “Tell me about a time you influenced a team.”
A standard answer might go like this:
“OK, so there was this time that I had to work with a bunch of people on a project. Some of them weren’t that easy to work with, so I really had to influence them to do a better job. Which was super tough because they weren’t that motivated. But after I talked with them, they started doing way better. So that’s how I influenced my team.”
The person listening would most likely think the following: This person is both cold (it feels like she’s throwing her teammates under the bus) and incompetent (wait a second, what did she actually do here—does she even know how to work with other people?).
While there’s a lot more to this person’s story, this snap judgment from a hiring managers
makes it clear just how quickly interviewers can rush to evaluate a candidate.
But it also illuminates the importance of how we tell our stories. Because now consider this same story told a second way:
“OK, so there was this time that I got to work with a bunch of people on a big project—the launch of a new website. I was nervous about it because we all came from different departments—sales, marketing, and engineering. So the first thing I did is I got to know my engineering colleagues better by setting up coffees with each person and learning about their backgrounds and goals. And then, when we ran into a situation where the engineers weren’t making as much progress as we had planned, I was able to reframe the new website around their own goals. Seeing the connection between their personal ambitions and our team mission really seemed to light a fire under them. And the result was that we not only hit our deadline, but we actually launched two weeks early.”
Again, same exact high-level story. But notice how the telling of it changes the candidate from cold to warm (“Nice—I’d want to grab coffee with her too!”) and incompetent to competent (“Wow—she knew exactly what to do and got the results to prove it”). All through subtle techniques like:
> Using specifics: Instead of focusing on the boring abstract, the candidate brings her story to life through details: a new website, falling behind, coffee chats, a clear result
> Being self-aware: Instead of needing to stroke her own ego, the candidate shows she’s human and likable by admitting to her nerves
> Going step-by-step: Instead of glossing over the meat of the story, the candidate draws a clear connection from the challenge to her response to a specific outcome
I updated my LinkedIn profile and it's made a huge difference in my job search. I am employed but I'm looking for a better opportunity.
Two recruiters contacted me because of my new and improved LinkedIn profile. One of them was kind of a jerk. He demanded my salary information right away. I told him my salary target, but he said that wasn't good enough.
He said he needs to know what I'm earning now. I told him it wasn't a good fit and I got off the phone.
The other recruiter is awesome. His name is Mike. He has two job opportunities that may be a good fit for me.
We've talked on the phone twice and we're supposed to meet in person next week. Mike asked me to send him my resume and I did.
It's ironic because Mike told me he was very impressed with my LinkedIn profile, which I re-wrote in a human voice following your instructions a month ago. He liked the human voice in my LinkedIn profile well enough to contact me, but when he got my resume he said "It's too conversational."
When I sent Mike my Human-Voiced Resume he said his clients don't want to see resumes that use full sentences.
He wants me to re-write my resume in that zombie style that I just evolved out of a month ago. Should I do it? I firmly agree with you that only the people who get me, deserve me!
Congratulations on your re-branding and your new partnership with Mike!
A recruiter is a partner in your job search. You get to decide which recruiters to partner with, if you partner with any of them.
If Mike has strong relationships with his clients, then I recommend that you revise your resume and send Mike what he's looking for.
He knows his clients. Some employers are on the ball and excited to meet a candidate with a human voice in their resume, and others are not.
If Mike knows that his clients would love to meet the real Nora but would be freaked out to meet you via your Human-Voiced Resume, then follow Mike's instructions. If you trust his judgment, then it makes sense to go along with his instructions.
You are smart to think about how far you are willing to bend to get a new job. It's one thing -- a relatively minor thing -- to revise your resume in accordance with a recruiter's wishes.
However, what if the next instruction you get from Mike is to lower your target salary expectations?
What if Mike tells you that you have to take online tests and supply his client with free work in order to be considered for employment?
I hope at that point you will say "I like you, Mike, but I don't like you enough to lower my standards!"
Every job-seeker has to have a floor beneath which you will not sink. If you do not establish standards for your job search (and for any recruiter who represents you), you will waste countless hours and brain cells.
You don't need to contort yourself into pretzel shapes to get a job. The right employer -- and the right recruiter -- won't expect or require you to crawl over piles of broken glass to get a job.
You can make your expectations and requirements clear to Mike right now, at the beginning of your relationship.
You can tell him "Mike, I'll be happy to revise my resume and send you a version that uses sentence fragments, even though I don't like that communication style.
"I will be as flexible as I can in meeting with employers when it works for them, but I can't be all that flexible because I am working full-time. I know that you are dealing with me on one side of the desk and your client on the other side, but I need to let you know right now that I am not desperate. I have a job already. My brand is important to me, and the way I am treated during the recruitment process is extremely important to me, too."
Way too many job seekers submit to horrendous treatment from recruiters and employers because they think that's just the way things work. That is not the way things work!
No one can mistreat you during your job search without your permission.
Listen carefully to Mike's response when you tell him that you will disappear from his life and his candidate roster the minute you feel the chill wind of candidate abuse blowing in your direction.
Not all employers deserve you -- and not all recruiters do, either!
All the best to you --
Liz Ryan is CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap. Follow her on Twitter and read Forbes columns.
For years we’ve heard that hiring managers and recruiters will spend five to ten seconds reading your resume — and no more.
Of course, you cannot really read a resume in five or 10 seconds. I’ve read tens of thousands of resumes over the years and I still read resumes every day.
It takes time, and if you advertised a need for candidates, then you should have the time. If you don’t have time to read the resumes you receive, you shouldn’t be recruiting!
However, managers and recruiters are famous for “reading” resumes in a single glance. They may not even scroll down the screen to see the second page of your resume. That’s shameful, but it’s reality.
On the other hand, recruiters will reach out to you if they find your LinkedIn profile and think you might be qualified for a job opening they’re trying to fill.
Now the shoe is on the other foot. The recruiter needs you, or they wouldn’t take the time to contact you. When you talk to a recruiter on the phone, it’s your turn to screen them the same way they screen job-seekers like you.
Some recruiters will get you on the phone and immediately start asking questions about your background. You can stop them cold and say “Let me ask you this: have you seen my LinkedIn profile?”
If your LinkedIn profile is up to date, they are wasting your time by asking you questions your LinkedIn profile has already answered.
If the recruiter is pushy with you and says “Yes, I’ve read your profile but I have to ask you the questions on my list” politely hang up the phone.
Recruiters cannot earn a dime without candidates like you. If a recruiter reaches out to you — intruding on your busy day — and can’t take the time to prove his or her value to you by answering your questions before launching into a mini-interview, they cannot help you!
You must vet the recruiters who call you. You get to decide who will represent you to employers. Don’t choose someone who is rude or pushy! Choose a recruiter who respects you and your background, as well as your time.
When a recruiter contacts you, don’t start answering their questions about your background right away. They haven’t yet earned the right to ask you any questions.
You have questions of your own that need to be answered first!
Ask the recruiter whether they have a specific job opportunity they are working on — one that you might be qualified for. If they are simply trying to add people like you to their database, that’s a good reason to get off the phone quickly.
If they have a specific job they’re working on, ask them the basics: where is the job located? What is the general outline of the role? What is the rough salary range for the job? Every good recruiter can answer these three questions. If a recruiter won’t play ball, say goodbye.
Employers are having trouble finding great people to fill their job openings. On top of that, most medium-sized and large employers have broken recruiting systems.
Their recruiting processes are so slow and cumbersome that good candidates drop out of the pipeline. That’s one reason so many employers work with recruiters. The recruiters keep the process moving!
A good recruiter in your corner is a fantastic asset, but as in any profession, there are more unsuitable recruiters than top-notch ones around.
Invest the time and energy to screen every recruiter you talk to before agreeing to share your resume with them or to allow them to represent you.
You are not just a bundle of skills and certifications. You are a talented professional that employers would be lucky to recruit. Remember that only the people who get you, deserve you!
Liz Ryan is CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap. Follow her on Twitter and read Forbes columns.
Not every employer will pay for training to get you ahead but they all notice when you're falling behind.
by John Boitnott
To maintain a strong career trajectory, professionals need continuing education. Whether it means learning about the latest technology or mastering a new skill, with the right training, employees can boost their resumes and remain competitive. Thanks to the Internet, consumers now have access to an endless array of free courses, on almost any topic they need to learn. Here are eight free tools that can help entrepreneurs connect with the online learning opportunities they need.
1. YouTube videos
Consumers use YouTube to watch old TV commercials and cat videos, but they may not realize the site is filled with tutorials on a wide variety of topics. Prospective students can search for classes by topic or subscribe to specific channels like those hosted by Bloomberg Business, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Entrepreneur. YouTube is also a valuable resource for learning how to use software, from popular solutions like Microsoft Office to more obscure software specific to an industry.
ALISON brings free courses in everything from entrepreneurship to psychology, making it the perfect resource for pursuing various interests. Courses are self-paced, with assessments helping students gauge what they’ve learned. At completion, students can download a learner record that shows all of the courses they’ve passed. Courses are offered at both diploma and certificate levels to help students build a resume.
With courses from the world’s top universities and colleges, Coursera can help entrepreneurs get certificates from respected institutions. Lectures and non-graded materials are free, with financial aid available for courses that come with graded assignments and certificates. Entrepreneurs can learn more about popular topics like data science and machine learning or study basic business skills.
Udemy bills itself as an online learning marketplace, with more than 40,000 courses. Not all of the courses are free, but a search of free courses on the site reveals pages of free courses on topics such as web design, iOS programming, and SEO. For personal development, Udemy has free courses on painting, photography, goal setting, and more.
With courses from Harvard University, MIT, The University of California Berkeley, and other universities, edX is the only leading Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) provider that is both nonprofit and open source. Students take free courses in subjects like supply chain management, data analysis, healthy living, and Linux. In addition to study materials and instructors, edX provides unique learning tools like game-like labs and 3D virtual molecule builders for hands-on learning.
6. MIT OpenCourseWare
Known for its research and education in science and engineering, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has a top-notch reputation. MIT OpenCourseWare brings some of the school’s courses online, with free lecture notes, videos, and exams from the school’s instructors. Students can choose from thousands of courses in the fields of business, engineering, science, and more.
In addition to providing courses, FutureLearn offers a community of learners, with students communicating with each other to enhance the experience. There are numerous free upcoming courses, including many covering business-related topics. The site’s workplace learning program gives businesses the tools they need to managing training for all of their employees in one place.
For Apple device users, iTunes has a wide variety of courses available for download. Professionals can search iTunes for the subject they need or browse through this list of free courses offered through the platform. Through iTunesU, instructors put together their own classes and offer them to consumers, including participants like Harvard and Stanford universities. While some of these classes can be found elsewhere, Apple device owners may find it easier to search for the classes they need where they can download them directly.
Professional development courses can be a great way to improve efficiency and boost a resume. With so many courses available online, professionals can take these classes in their free time, often on their favorite mobile devices. Interested students should first determine the courses they’re interested in taking and search one of the above platforms for an affordable option that fits their unique learning needs.
John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.
Matt Lindner, Chicago Tribune
Is the cover letter a lost art when it comes to applying for jobs?
"Electronic application processes make it easier for many candidates to apply, which sometimes means many more applications need to be sorted through before decisions are made," says Andrea Alaimo, director of human resources at Chicago based logistics firm Redwood Logistics. "That may be a reason that cover letters don't hold the same value they used to. Today, we see a small fraction of total applicants also include cover letters"
"Cover letters are becoming less of a requirement and more of an option," says Parker McKenna, a human resources disciplines panelist for the Society for Human Resource Management. "Many recruiters or hiring managers aren't reviewing cover letters if they feel they have gotten a full understanding of the applicant's background by reviewing the resume alone."
Not only are hiring managers glossing over the cover letter, job seekers in many cases are omitting it altogether.
"Only a small percentage of applications we receive include cover letters, perhaps 10 percent," says Tracy McShane-Wilson, executive director of talent acquisition at accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP.
Nationwide, just over half — 55 percent — of all job applicants include a cover letter when applying for a position, according to a recent survey from job board CareerBuilder.
But those who omit a cover letter, or submit one with an obviously halfhearted effort, could be missing out on an opportunity to set themselves apart from the crowd.
"You can generally tell when a candidate is very interested in a particular position and/or the organization, as they will take more time to delve into why the role and/or organization fits well within their own professional goals and passions (in a cover letter)," says Valerie Keels, head of D.C. Office Services for Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance.
The cover letters that hiring managers are getting, by and large, aren't exactly blowing them away.
"Many that we see are generic and thus not that valuable," Alaimo says.
"Letters that only state the obvious, such as the position applied for and advising that a resume has been submitted doesn't generate much interest from the hiring manager," Keels adds.
But a well-written cover letter could be the difference between getting your foot in the door and getting one of those dreaded generic response letters from a company telling you that those in charge of hiring are impressed with your qualifications but have decided to pursue other candidates at this time.
A Grant Thornton spokesman says the company is on pace to hire an estimated 2,500 people this year, a figure that includes interns as well as entry-level and more experienced hires.
McShane-Wilson says she'll receive anywhere from 50 to 100 applications per job posting, on average.
"The number of applicants has increased significantly over time, due to the greater availability of information about open roles through job sites and social media, as well as the much greater ease with which candidates can submit applications," she says. These technology developments have allowed us to vastly expand the potential pool of talent and have greatly increased our candidate traffic."
Given the amount of competition, McShane-Wilson and other hiring managers say putting a little effort into composing a thoughtful cover letter could go a long way.
For one, it tells a hiring manager a lot about how passionate you are about the position you're applying for.
"If you are the type of person that is thorough, fully engaged and takes the time to write a cover letter, then you're probably also the type of person that cares about making sure it is well-written, informative and persuasive," McShane-Wilson says.
Alaimo says she's not the only person involved in the hiring process, and thus not the only one candidates have to impress if they want to make it to the next round of the hiring process.
Including a cover letter tells her and her team a lot about a candidate's most basic communication skills.
"In the end, each hiring manager determines how important mastery of the written word is for the role they are seeking to fill, but confirming good written communication skills can only help our review of a person's total communication skills, from traditional writing skills to our current-day, often-instantaneous technology-based communications methods," she says.
Matt Lindner is a freelancer.
Executive Resume Writer and Career Strategist at www.virginiafrancoresumes.com.
These clients come through my doors all the time: smart, achievement-laden professionals, rusty where job searching is concerned. Many have not been in the job market since before the recession and others have never needed to job hunt — until now. Most have heard through the grapevine what it takes to successfully land a job.
As an executive resume writer who has helped thousands to navigate the job search landscape, I can attest that while some of these job search truths are true to some extent, others are simply unfounded. Perplexed? You are not alone.
#1: I Must Apply Online To Get An Interview
The Reality: In my experience, the online application process may work for some, but usually does not work for most. This is because many things can occur between the time a posting appears and when you apply.
From budget freezes to managers going in another direction to someone having the inside track before the posting even gets published — it will be tough to get a response no matter how perfect you are for the role.
The Workaround: Regardless of whether a job posting is viable or not, online advertisements do serve a positive purpose. They can reveal which corporations appear to have budgets for hiring, and they provide a bit of insight into the corporate culture. They are an ideal starting point for networking — which in my experience yields a far greater return on your job search efforts than responding to roles via a portal ever would.
Use these postings to identify which companies to target and to locate decision makers or connections you may have within these organizations. Get started with outreach and see it where it leads you.
#2: My Resume Must Have Keywords To Get Noticed
The Reality: If you pepper your resume with a bunch of industry keywords your resume may make it past applicant tracking software but will probably end its journey as soon as it gets before a human. Why? A resume must tell the story of how you are a perfect fit for the role. No amount of keywords will accomplish this without context or an explanation of how you performed your role and how you succeeded.
The Workaround: Include a "Skills" section in your resume that allows a reader (and the machine!) to quickly scan core skills in which you are highly proficient or even an expert. Use the rest of the resume to tell the reader about your achievements and proud moments — which in turn will allow them to figure out what you can do should they hire you.
#3: Recruiters Will Find Me As Long As I Have A Completed LinkedIn Profile
The Reality: A LinkedIn profile that is at "all-star" status (check where yours is by going to "Edit Profile" and looking in the top right corner of the screen) will absolutely rank more highly in searches than one where key sections have been left blank. However, in a highly saturated or competitive industry, a complete profile alone will not likely give you the advantage you need.
The Workaround: In my experience of writing LinkedIn profiles and guiding clients on this platform during their job search, the more active and engaged a client is on LinkedIn, the more likely they are to be contacted and the shorter their job search will be.
This can be accomplished by reaching out to first-degree connections, connecting with second- and third-degree connections, and sending a note to those who have viewed your profile. Additionally, spend a few minutes each day liking and sharing content of interest within your targeted industry.
While Technology Will Continue — People Don't
There’s no doubt the job search landscape has changed — thanks in large part to technology. What hasn’t changed, however, is people.
At the end of the day, people still respond to people — whether through a strong case articulated on paper or in person. In other words, the powers of outreach and networking will continue to trump other forms of job hunting for years to come.
"Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.
I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2017 but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.
By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher."
Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah, Happy Holidays and a very safe and Happy New Years to you and yours!
You have received a job offer, now what.
How do you evaluate the offer? Did the offer letter or email include everything you need to know to consider the offer...have you thought of all the items that you need to consider about the offer to make a good decision.
The link below will open an excel spreadsheet that was put together by David S. (around 2008) when he was trying to make a decision to join a small company (about 35 employees). David had always worked for much larger companies. David did take and offer and was glad he did. The smaller company did not offer all the perks some of the larger companies that he had worked for in the past, but he was able to be more involved and do different things at the smaller company.
Click here for the Offer Evaluation Template This will download the Excel file to your computer.
Be sure to read the comments in the any of the excel cells that have a red triangle in the upper right corner.
Also the Excel file will have two tabs, both have the same information, just in case you mess one of the sheets up, the other will still be available, or just download the file again.
Career Coach | Speaker | Lawyer. If you’re ready to find your purpose and uplevel your career visit www.CrystalMarshCoaching.com .
If you’re navigating the job hunt, surely you’re taking some time to revamp your resume. If that’s the case, one of the questions that you might have is whether or not you need an objective statement on your resume. The objective statement is basically a few bullet points saying what you’re looking for — a short, targeted statement regarding your ideal job.
The long and the short of it is that no, you don’t need an objective statement. Most hiring managers find them too generic to add value. Your resume should be limited to one page for most people with less than 10-12 years of experience, and two pages for those with more. That means that means that every centimeter of that page is valuable real estate that you don’t want to waste with information that is not going to make you more valuable to a potential employer. Skip the objective statement!
What you may consider instead would be an resume summary. A resume summary is a good idea if you (a) have an extensive work history and want to put highlights front and center, or (b) you’re making a big career transition and need to create a clear narrative for the potential employer that they may not be able to discern as readily on their own. A summary allows you to present your personal brand in a clear way to potential employers. If you think that a summary may be a good fit for your resume, you’re going to have to do some introspection to make sure that you create a summary that is meaningful.
Here are a few steps to help you do that:
Step 1: Have a Clear Direction
You want your summary to be clearly directed towards the type of role that you want — you need to emphasize the skills and experience the most directly relevant for your ideal job. Ask yourself:
- Which skills do you most enjoy using?
- What results and/or accomplishments best highlight your strengths?
- What do you want to be known for?
Step 2: Research your target industry
You want to have a strong understanding of the industry that you want to be in so that you can better anticipate the top needs.
- What are the top trends in your industry?
- What problems are you best able to resolve?
- What would make you a unique asset?
Step 3: Paint the picture
Now that you know what your skills are and what is most vlued in your industry, connect the dots for the potential employer. Write 4-6 bullets with clear, specific, pithy statements with a focus on how you could add value based on results and accomplishments.
- What are your biggest selling points?
- What is needed in your target industry that you have?
Here’s an example:
Retail sales manager with 5+ years experience with strengths including customer services, sales, and negotiation. Successful in developing strategies resulting in over 30% increase in new customers over 12 month period.
The example above is great because its both clear and concise. As soon as the hiring manager picks up the resume with this at the top, they know the type of person they’re looking at. This can be persuasive and provide just the punch needed to put you at the top of the list of potential candidates.
Visit www.crystalmarshcoaching.com for more advice on how to best navigate your job hunt — because you deserve to earn money, doing work you love!
The internet is brimming with interview tips — those for the seasoned job market vet, and those for the young men and women entering the workforce for the first time. By now, everyone knows the basics. You need to show up on time, for example, and run a comb through your hair. Practice keeping your body language in check, and have your resume and cover letter in tip-top shape.
Everybody knows that stuff. Interviewers expect it. Show up late or look like a slob? You might not even get through the door for your scheduled meeting.
But what about some of the lesser-known tips and tricks? Are there some still scant talked-about job interview tips that you can use to gain an advantage over the toughest interviewer? There are, and you can see them on the following pages. Whether you’re in a powerful position with many employers swooning after you, or trying to gain the mental edge by figuring out when you should schedule an interview, these tips should help you get that job.
1. Everything is negotiable (sometimes)
If you’re a top-caliber candidate, employers are going to want you — and that means that they may be willing to bend and twist to get you on the payroll. Remember that everything is negotiable, given you’re in a position of power. Typically, you will go back and forth over salary, and leave it at that. But you can start making all kinds of demands — additional vacation days, ability to work remotely, free bus pass, etc. — and see what you can get. Of course, if your skill set is a dime a dozen, you could be laughed out of the office.
But it never hurts to ask!
2. Opposition research goes both ways
You can bet that your interviewer is digging up the dirt on you, so you better be damn sure you’re researching them, as well. With so many resources available to you these days (Glassdoor, PayScale, etc.), there’s no reason you shouldn’t have some valuable intel going into an interview. You can look up the person you’re meeting with on LinkedIn, for starters. And check out the company’s background and common gripes from past employees. Take the time, and go in with a mental dossier prepared.
3. Craft and use a narrative
“Tell me about yourself” is an invitation to take your interviewer on a journey. A journey they won’t forget, and that they’ll remember when it comes time to trim the list of candidates. Don’t just list off the things on your resume when an interviewer asks about your past. Use the chance to weave a narrative, or build yourself a story — a story about a guy or gal who is hungry, can pick up new skills, and who has many accomplishments under their belt. You don’t need to be Tolkien, but this is a method that will help you appear more confident and accomplished.
4. Take your nonverbal weaknesses seriously
You know that you need to dress to impress when you go in for an interview, but your nonverbal communication goes much deeper than what you’re wearing. Hiring managers are turned off by anxious, nervous candidates. Though you’re not going to be able to rid yourself completely of those feelings, the ability to manage and control yourself will get you a long way. Watch your body language, of course, and you can even take measures to help keep excess sweat at bay with certain articles of clothing.
5. Timing is everything
There actually is a perfect time to schedule an interview, and though you’re going to be subject to the whims and schedule of your interviewer, try and aim for a specific day and time: Tuesday, around 10:30. Seriously, there’s scientific evidence to back this up. If you can’t make that work, then try for a time that you know you’ll be the most alert and ready to go. If you’re a morning person, try for an earlier appointment, for example.
There are numerous ways to turn the table on a hiring manager, and using some of these tactics to the best of your ability can and will help you land the job.
Most professionals build their network over time through proximity — people from your business school study group, or colleagues from your current company or past jobs. You may have a few outliers in the mix, but unless you’ve been deliberate about your networking, the vast majority of people you know probably work in the same field or industry as you. It may seem innocuous, but that inadvertent myopia can put you at serious professional risk.
First, if your network has become too narrow, you limit your options in case of a career change, or a downturn in your company or industry. If coworkers are the only ones you know well, and you find yourself in the midst of layoffs, there’s no one to turn to for outside assistance.
Additionally, you’re more prone to groupthink if you’re not exposed to diverse perspectives and points of view. As Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam has written, you need to have a balance of both “bonding capital” and “bridging capital” — i.e., relationships based respectively on your commonalities (bonding) and relationships built across differences (bridging). Relationships with those like you may feel more natural, but it pays to push beyond your comfort zone. Indeed, research shows that companies with more diverse boards enjoy better financial performance.
Dan, a senior professional I interviewed for my first book, Reinventing You, realized that he hadn’t invested enough in his own “bridging capital.” He had spent a decade at a large technology company, rising to become an engineering director. But it occurred to him that his entire professional network consisted of people from that company. Given the vagaries of industry disruption, he became concerned.
He embarked on a networking campaign that forced him to meet each week with people outside the company, including executive recruiters, venture capitalists, startup entrepreneurs, and more. His connections allowed him to move to an exciting new job, and immediately prove his value thanks to the industry insights he’d gained from meeting with so many people.
To diversify your own network, here are four strategies you can follow.
Inventory your existing connections. First, take an inventory of your current network. Who are the 5-10 people you spend the most time with? Next, make a list of your “outer circle” – the 50 or so people who matter the most in your professional life. Do a quick scan to evaluate the professional diversity of your network, noting whether they’re inside or outside your company, and whether they share your profession. If your network is weighted more than 70% in any direction (e.g., 85% of your closest contacts are fellow marketers), it’s time to think consciously about how to diversify. Identify past colleagues or friends that you enjoy who are in different fields or work at different companies, but whom you haven’t spent much time with. Take this as your cue to reach out and propose getting together; they’ll often welcome the invitation.
Put networking on your schedule. Part of Dan’s success in broadening his network outside his company was his decision to make networking a deliberate part of his weekly routine. As an introvert, he’d previously eschewed most networking events. But when he realized his circle had become dangerously small, he committed to regular breakfast meetings with new colleagues. Networking is never “urgent” and will often be the first activity jettisoned when things get busy at work, but it’s essential to prioritize it by putting it on your schedule.
Ask for recommendations. Almost everyone’s network is overweight with people like themselves – so take advantage of this fact, and if you’re looking to diversify your professional relationships, ask the people who are outliers in your network to recommend people they think you should meet. You could say to them, “I’d like to know more angel investors, and you’re really plugged into those circles – who else do you think I should connect with? Would you be willing to make an introduction?”
Don’t look for immediate returns. Some people end up with a narrow network because of inertia, but others don’t extend themselves because they just don’t see the potential for return. If you work in finance, it’s true that making friends with a filmmaker is less likely to add to your bottom line than spending time with someone in your own industry. But you have to play the long game. People — including you — may change careers, and that connection may prove helpful down the line. Additionally, you can’t predict who will be in someone else’s network; that filmmaker may have gone to high school with a CEO you’d now like to do business with.
The best reason to build a professionally diverse network, however, isn’t about what you’ll get out of those relationships. It’s to fulfill personal curiosity and develop yourself as a person; professional or monetary ROI is a happy coincidence. For several years, I’ve been hosting 8-10 person dinner gatherings of interesting people from a mix of professions. It didn’t seem relevant that one of my friends was a comedian, and another a comedy promoter, until I started doing standup performances and was able to access helpful advice that saved me time and frustration.
It’s easy to coast through life only connecting with people like ourselves — but by expending the extra effort to increase our “bridging capital,” we’re gaining access to new insights and creating more “career insurance” for ourselves by broadening the ranks of people who know, like, and respect our work.
Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist and professional speaker who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She is the author of Reinventing You and Stand Out.
What do you give thanks for?
We give thanks for the career group leaders who give their time to help us.
We give thanks for the organizations that allow us to meet in and use their facilities.
We give thanks for the speakers who share their knowledge to help us with our job search for free.
We give thanks for the opportunity to network and meet new people.
We give thanks for the opportunity to help others in their job search.
We give thanks for the support our family and friends provide.
We give thanks for the opportunity to spend more time with our family during our job search.
We give thanks for the opportunities we have living in the USA.
We give thanks for the next great opportunity that awaits us in the future.
We give thanks.
What do you give thanks for?
Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving from CareerDFW and CareerUSA.org.
Peter Jones, The Job Network
While job searching, you want to make sure you’re coming across as the best and freshest person for the job. Here are 8 warning signs you need to update your resume.
1. Too much history
Get out of the past. You don’t need to list every single position you’ve ever had, just the most recent and relevant ones. This is the first thing hiring managers look at on a resume. Make yours sing. If you’re going back 10 or 15 years? Consider de-emphasizing that content and focusing instead on the good and grabbing most current stuff.
2. Too much text
Format your resume to be reader friendly and to give the hiring manager the information they need most as quickly and as pleasingly as possible. Avoid long paragraphs and big sentences. Keep it short and snappy and keyword heavy.
3. Too long
Keep it to a page, unless your field demands something different. Make sure that a potential hirer can see what you need them to see in six seconds—which is sometimes all the time you get. Tailor your resume specifically to the job you’re applying for, and leave the rest of the content on your standard or generic document for other positions where it might be more relevant.
4. Wasted address space
You don’t need to give out your personal snail mail address, unless otherwise specified. Current resume etiquette maintains that all you need in the way of contact information is your name, phone, and email. Anything more just wastes valuable space and could make you appear hopelessly retro.
5. Your home number
Business line or cell, please. Who even has a home number anymore? This isn’t 1990. Plus, you want to set up boundaries. Do you really want recruiters calling while you’re sitting down to dinner with your kids?
6. No links to social media
This is necessary nowadays. Add a link to your Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook profile. LinkedIn at the very least. But do make sure you’ve double-checked your profiles before linking them, and scoured for any inappropriate or inflammatory content!
7. Career objective
This is way out of fashion, takes up valuable space, and bores the recruiter to tears before they even get to the part where you list your qualifications. Write a brief professional summary instead—two or three sentences that synthesize your strengths and experience and show why you’d be a unique and ideal fit for the position and the company.
8. “References upon request”
This is a way outdated and redundant thing to include. Obviously you’ll provide references if requested. Take that sentence out and put something more valuable in its place.
Within seconds of meeting you, people are already making judgments about your personality.
Are you hireable? Or dateable? How about friendable?
And while it's technically possible to reverse a bad first impression, it's not easy. So you'll want to put your best face forward.
To help you out on that front, we checked out "How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less" by speaker and author Nicholas Boothman. The book highlights a key strategy for making a trusting connection with your conversation partner while greeting them.
The best part? The whole process takes just four seconds. Read on to find out how to become instantly likeable.
Step 1: Be open
Boothman says you'll want to open both your body and your attitude.
In terms of your body language, Boothman says you should aim your heart directly at the person you're meeting. Don't cover your heart with your hands or your arms. And if you're wearing a jacket, unbutton it beforehand.
It's equally important to cultivate a positive attitude. While you're greeting the person, Boothman says you should feel and be aware of that positivity.
Step 2: Make eye contact
Boothman says you should be the one to initiate eye contact, and let your eyes reflect your positive attitude.
If you feel uncomfortable making eye contact, he suggests a strategy for getting used to it: When you're watching TV, note the eye color of the people on camera and say the name of the color in your head. The next day, do the same thing with every person you meet.
Just make sure to look away at some point — one recent study found that most people preferred eye contact that lasted about three seconds. And no one in the study preferred eye contact that lasted longer than nine seconds.
Step 3: Beam
Boothman advises being the first one to smile. You'll send the message that you're sincere.
Research also suggests that smiling when you meet someone in a happy context is a useful way to get them to remember you.
But keep in mind: If you're employing this strategy in a job interview, consider letting your smile fade after the initial meet-and-greet.
In one study, researchers asked college students to role-play job interviews. They found that students who played candidates for the position of newspaper reporter, manager, and research assistant were less likely to get the hypothetical job when they smiled — especially during the middle of the interviews.
Step 4: Say 'hello'
Whether you say "hi," "hey," or "hello," or use another salutation, you should sound delighted to be making this person's acquaintance.
Next, you'll want to extend your hand. Make sure to give a firm handshake, which generally creates a more positive impression.
When the person you're meeting gives his or her name, try to repeat it a few times. For example, you might say, "Sara. Nice to meet you, Sara!"
If you're meeting multiple people and can't shake everyone's hand at once, Boothman says it's possible to conduct a "hands-free" handshake. Do everything you'd normally do while shaking someone's hand — point your heart in their direction, say hello, and smile — but don't extend your hand.
Step 5: Lean in
There's no need to fall over into the person you're meeting.
Boothman suggests an "almost imperceptible forward tilt" to show that you're open to and interested in what the person has to say.
Are applicant tracking systems and resume-filtering technologies hindering your job search? Here's how to beat them.
By Sharon Florentine
You've got all the right skills. Your resume shows a clear progression of advancement through your career, with a long list of accolades and accomplishments. You work well with others, but can excel independently. You've solved problems and increased revenue for your last few employers. You interview well -- or at least you would if you could get an interview.
So what's the problem? You might be at the mercy of an applicant tracking system (ATS) and resume-filtering module -- technology that scans incoming resumes for job-specific keywords and "grades" them on a scale of 0 to 100. If your resume isn't scoring high enough, you could be excluded before your application ever makes it before human eyes.
There are a few ways to get around these solutions, the first one is aimed at circumventing the resume-filtering module that might be unwittingly screening you out, according to Rick Gillis, job search strategist, consultant, speaker and author of Job! and Promote! Your work doesn't speak for itself. You do. Gillis encourages his clients to use these "guerilla" tactics to give them a better shot at landing an in-person interview and a job by making just a few quick formatting tweaks.
"Yes, we're gaming the system. Really, we're leveling the playing the field. I know that my clients can land jobs if they can get past the machines and can prove themselves in person. That part of the job search and interview process is up to them. But as a consultant, it's my job to help them make the difference between getting that phone call, creating that touch point, and moving forward," Gillis says.
First, and most importantly, there are some hard-and-fast rules, even in these guerilla tactics, Gillis says. Do not lie, do not misrepresent yourself or your skills, and do not claim experience, traits or knowledge that don't represent you, he says.
"One thing clients ask me is, 'If I see a job and I meet most of the criteria, but not all, should I even bother applying?', and I tell them that a job description posted by a hiring company is a wish list. These companies would love to have 100 percent of these qualities and skills, but if you have 70 percent to 80 percent, go ahead and apply. But don't you dare put anything in your resume or your application that you can't speak to in an interview. Sure, you'll get past the machines, but you'll be branded a dishonest, deceitful and untrustworthy person, and you'll never land a job, there or anywhere," he says.
That said, most legacy ATS use a resume-filtering module that scans and grades resumes, with points given for each match in keywords and terms between a resume and a job posting, Gillis says. Because many recruiters and hiring managers are strapped for time, they'll often set the software to scan only the first page of your resume, so it's critical that all relevant keywords appear on that first page, Gillis says. The best way to do this is to keep a running list of keywords relevant to the jobs you're seeking, and that include jargon, lingo and industry-specific language and add to those the keywords from the job to which you're applying, and place them in 8-point font at the bottom of your resume. That's all there is to it.
"Keep a running list of your generic keywords that you use with your peers. Whether you're a journalist, an attorney, an IT professional or a plumber, there are terms and language that are specific to your industry; that shows you're an "insider." If the terms are not already on your resume, you must artificially insert them, and the best way to do this is putting them all in a separate section at the bottom of the resume. Remember, you're not doing this for the humans, you're doing this for the machines that will 'see' your resume first," Gillis says.
That includes keywords that aren't job-specific, Gillis says. Don't forget to include terms that might give you an edge, including your geographic location, your education and other more personal identifiers that are included in the job description; "college degree preferred" and "southwest Houston" are just as much keywords as "senior Java engineer" or "database administrator," he says.
Another trick: have a short-form and a long-form resume, Gillis says. The short-form resume should be accomplishments-based, and should avoid fancy charts, graphs or graphics, that can often be kicked back by legacy resume-filtering modules, Gillis says. It should include a header, a "seeking statement," and, if possible, you should use the name of the company in this statement. Why? Because within Taleo, one of the most popular ATS packages, the solution automatically gives applicants points for using the company name in the application, Gillis says.
"If you use the company name once, the Taleo system will give you a point. If you use it twice, you get two points in their system. If you want to see how it works, they're very open about the process; Taleo even has videos on YouTube that show how they eliminate candidates who don't know how to play this game," he says.
In addition, include your most current skill sets and four -- only four -- accomplishments, each with a net result: revenue generated, deadlines met or exceeded, money saved, for example. Each should include the name of the company for whom you worked, your title, dates and your role. And that's all, he says.
"All the extras, all the other details, should be saved for your long-form resume. That's where you can include charts, graphs, pictures and other elements. The short-form's the job-seeker's equivalent of when Oprah says, 'We're going to take a break, but when we come back, I'll teach you how to get $1 million!' You're not going to change the channel now, are you? This is what you're doing -- this is how you're playing the game. You want the hiring manager to call you and say, 'I am looking at your resume, but I would love to see more information,' and that's why you have a rich, robust long-form resume. Then you can say, 'Great! I will send you my long-form resume and some additional information, and we can set up an in-person conversation,'" says Gillis.
Of course, this assumes that you're missing out on interview and job opportunities based on resume-filtering technology's shortcomings, says Todd Dean, chief marketing officer and co-founder of mobile employment platform Wirkn. There's always the chance you're just not a fit for that role or within that company for cultural reasons.
"Sometimes, ATS and resume-filtering technology seems like it doesn't work in your favor because if you need to game the system, you might not be a good fit anyway. Sure, perhaps you can land an interview or even a job, but most companies' culture works like an immune system in that, if you're going against the cultural grain, the entire system can turn against you and you'll quickly burn out or be let go -- that's a waste of your time and the company's time," Dean says.
If you want to make sure you're landing in a job and at a company where you can thrive, you can work on beefing up your networking skills and generating referrals from friends, family and former colleagues at organizations that are appealing to you, Gillis says.
"The majority of jobs nowadays are found as a result of networking, so there's a great chance your professional network will be the source of that next touchpoint. Don't neglect networking and social media," he says.
Recruiters and hiring managers do research on candidates before they reach out to gauge interest. Leela Srinivasan, CMO, recruiting and ATS software solution company Lever recommends that candidates do the same for hiring managers and recruiters. They should work to find out which ones work with companies and roles they would be interested in. You want to make yourself as enticing as possible to them and up the chances they'll see you as a fit and reach out for an introduction before you even have to deal with an ATS solution, she says.
"The best recruiters do a lot of research up front, before they even reach out to a candidate, to understand what skills, experience, passion and interests a person has as a human being -- not just a resume that matches. The object of the game is to make yourself a person of interest, a known entity. Once a recruiter has those data points, they are the most determined people on the planet, and they will politely and persistently reach out until they get a response, to start a two-way conversation," Srinivasan says.
Knowing how recruiters and hiring managers work can help you apply this strategy to your own job search, she says. Identify what companies you'd want to work for, what particular roles you'd be ideal for, and then what experience, skills, passion and interests match up with those available at the company, she says.
"You're looking for an in with an angle of relevancy. Then, within that broader scope, try and determine if there is a particular manager, recruiter or other person currently at the company you could get in touch with. If you have a specific company and/or role in mind, you should look at this as a long game, not a specific one-off shot at a job," Srinivasan says.
You also can try and engineer a referral, as most companies today find their highest quality hires come on the recommendations of their current workforce. LinkedIn is a great resource in these cases, Srinivasan says, because it shows you wider connections than just your first-degree friends, family and colleagues.
"So much of hiring today is about companies trying to bring in the best and brightest, rockstar talent, and in many cases, employees are incentivized for referring new hires. So, look around and apply the broadest possible lens to the connections you have at the company. Do you know someone who knows someone? Did you see a manager or an executive speak at a conference, or read a particularly eye-catching blog post? Anything that gives you a reason to connect is great," she says
This story, "4 tips to get around resume filtering" was originally published by CIO.
Sharon Florentine — Senior Writer, CIO.com, Sharon Florentine covers IT careers, women in technology and diversity, as well as software, Agile, cloud tech, data center and security topics. She has written for CRN, eWEEK, Channel Insider and CIOInsight, among others. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MyShar0na.
This little-known feature could help you connect with more people on LinkedIn through your phone.
BY J.T. O'DONNELL Founder and CEO, CareerHMO.com
I was recently speaking to a group of 700 project managers at a conference. The title of the presentation was, "Your Network is Your Net Worth: The Power of Super-Connecting." My goal was to teach attendees how important it is today to make networking a daily habit. In a time when every job is temporary, we're all businesses-of-one that must pay attention to the direction and momentum of our careers at all times. Otherwise, we could get blind-sided with an unexpected life event (layoff/firing, dying industry, relocation, etc.), and find it hard to bounce back.
Customize those connections for a 60 percent lift in acceptance.
Since LinkedIn is currently the number one professional networking platform online, it shouldn't surprise you that a large part of my presentation focuses on how to leverage LinkedIn on a daily basis to build a powerful network. You don't have to spend hours on the platform. If you know how to use it properly, you can get a lot done in just a few minutes each day. I've personally grown my network and have over 1.3 million followers on LinkedIn as a result of maximizing my efforts. Now, I enjoy showing other professionals how to become "power users" of LinkedIn by teaching them some hacks for success. Specifically, one of the techniques I outline is the importance of customizing your connection requests. When inviting someone to connect with you on LinkedIn (especially, someone you don't know), it's vital that you delete the default text and replace it with something that will help the person understand and appreciate the reason for your invite. Nothing screams, "I'm a lazy networker," more than the auto-text. At my company WorkItDaily.com, we've studied the impact and found that only 20 percent of the people you ask to connect with will respond to the default text. But that number jumps to 80 percent when you master this connection customization technique. Which means, taking that extra minute out of your day to tailor your invite can have a big impact on your ability to build your network. However, there is a glitch to this if you use LinkedIn's mobile app...
LinkedIn's mobile app trap.
At the end of my session, I invited all the conference attendees to connect with me on LinkedIn using the technique I taught them. Shortly after the session, I got stage-rushed by a bunch of attendees who said, "I went to connect with you on the mobile app and it didn't give me the chance to customize the request! It just sent the default one -- what did I do wrong?" They'd done nothing wrong. I'd failed to explain in my session that LinkedIn's mobile app works differently than the desktop version.
On a desktop, it's easy to customize the connection request. You can go to the person's profile page and use the "connect" feature. However, when you visit a person's profile on the mobile app and hit the same "connect" button, it automatically sends the default text invite. What most mobile app users don't know is before you hit "connect" in a person's profile in the app, you need to hit the three tiny dots in the upper right corner of your phone screen which produces a set of options that includes customizing the connection request. This little-known feature could help you dramatically increase your connections requests when using the app.
What to do if you sent the default text by accident.
If you're reading this thinking, "Dang, that's why that really important person didn't accept my request," don't worry. You can always message the person in the app and explain you sent the default invite by accident. Just be sure this time to use the opportunity to explain why you are seeking to connect. This will (hopefully) prompt the reader to check out your profile, which will invite them to accept your request to connect.
LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool and its app makes it even easier for us to form good daily networking habits. But you must learn how to use it properly, or the ROI on your efforts may suffer. For me, it's all about teaching people to work smarter, not harder on LinkedIn.
Is a group you attend missing? Send an email with all the details to webmaster@CareerDFW.org
Between Jobs Ministry (BJM) is a free, Christ-centered support ministry of NorthWest Bible Church, open to all job seekers. We provide encouragement, information, networking assistance, spiritual guidance, and training sessions in a Christian setting. Meetings are on Wednesday mornings, 8:30am-12:30pm [Exceptions: We do not meet on/near major holidays, during our Vacation Bible School (June 22), or during “Camp In The City” (August 10)]. Check-In for first-time participants begins at 8:30am. Northwest Bible Church, 5503 Fellowship Lane, Spring TX 77379. For more info go to http://www.nwbc.org/betweenjobsministry or check out the Yahoo Group at https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/betweenjobsministry/info
FENG - Houston - Welcome to the Houston Chapter of FENG. The FENG is a very senior level "circle of friends". Members have typically been Chief Financial Officers, Controllers, and Vice Presidents of Finance, Treasury, Tax, or Mergers & Acquisition, as well as other financial disciplines. The basic purpose of our organization is to create the opportunity for you as a senior financial professional to network, share job leads and friendship with your peers in the financial community. Membership in this group is open only to members of FENG. Membership in FENG is approved by Matt Bud, Chairman of the FENG. Please be aware that the membership information on The FENG-Houston Chapter website is provided solely to facilitate networking. The dissemination of any business related information or the solicitation of members of The FENG by telephone, e-mail or regular mail for any purpose other than networking requires the prior written approval of Matt Bud, Chairman of The FENG. Matt may be reached at: MattBud@TheFENG.org or (203) 227-8965 if you have any questions about this policy. https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/FENG-Houston/info?referrer=FirstColony_SugarLandNetworkingGroup
First Colony_Sugar Land Networking Group - Working together with God's help to create a positive place for job search, and networking to attain gainful employment in the respective carreer fields, in an ever changing world. Together with the Love of God in our hearts and doing his will. Light your path with him and he will show you the way. Seek and ye shall find. For more info go to https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/FirstColony_SugarLandNetworkingGroup/info
Houston Career Initiative - The Houston Career Initiative is a non-profit career support group meeting weekly on Monday mornings (with the exception of holidays) from 9 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at the Power Center, 12401 South Post Oak Rd., Houston, TX 77045. For directions or more information about the Houston Career Initiative please call 713-723-6837 ext. 8638. Membership in this Yahoo group is restricted to persons that have attended at least one free workshop. For more info https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/houstoncareerinitiative/info
JFS Employment Services - Finding a job in these hard economic times can be stressful. Jewish Family Service offers free assistance and employment workshops to help displaced professionals seeking jobs. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact Laura Alter at 713 667 9336 or email@example.com. Or go to http://www.jfshouston.org/employment_services/
Meetup.com - for more info go to http://www.meetup.com/cities/us/tx/houston/career-business/
POST WRITTEN BY Forbes Coaches Council
Getting a second interview means you’re perceived as having the right skills, but the company wants to get to know you better. They want to dig a little deeper into your background and also assess if you’d be a good fit culturally.
But this is also a perfect time for you to get to know them better as a potential employer and determine if they are the right fit for you.
How can you best prepare? Below, nine members of Forbes Coaches Council offer their professional advice:
1. Just because this is your second interview doesn’t mean it will be with the same people as round No. 1. This means you must keep the key points that have gotten you this far front and center — but add additional detail in the form of specifics and stories that bring these talents to life for your audience. - Virginia Franco, Virginia Franco Resumes
2. The first round is about technical ability: Can you do the job? Round 2 is about fit: Do you want to do the job and do they want to work with you? Find out in advance who you will be interviewing with. Connect on LinkedIn LNKD +0.05%; see who and what you have in common. Seek to build rapport and have a conversation beyond the job. Ask about their experiences at the company. Show them you will fit right in. - Michelle Tillis Lederman, Executive Essentials
3. The first interview is typically the “sniff” test and a further review of your resume. Now, be ready for behavioral-based questions from more than one person. Panel interviews are becoming increasingly popular, as it saves a great deal of time when all of the decision-makers are in one room. Write out specific scenarios, print multiple copies of your resume, and research “panel interview etiquette.” - Jada Willis, Willis Professional Services
4. Let’s assume you’ve done your research and prepared answers to possible questions. Now get ready to perform! Rehearse by yourself and with others. Have short, clear, compelling stories that illustrate what you’re talking about and link directly to what your employer needs. Be interested in your audience. And before you go on, relax, breathe and prepare to have fun. - Sally Fox, Engaging Presence
5. Prepare to determine if you want to “hire” them. Consider what you want out of the job, your work style, needs, etc. Ask questions to assess if their needs complement your needs and talents, which will also demonstrate you are a mature, reliable employee. It’s best to not accept a job for a boss that likes to be “very involved” (micromanage) if you like to work independently. - Julie Kantor, PhD, JP Kantor Consulting
6. Create A Strong Foundation - A successful second interview builds on the foundation of a strong first one. Remember to ask meaningful questions about the role and abilities necessary as well as the culture and personalities of the team. Learn what has worked and what has not worked in the first interview. This will give you the opportunity to build on this foundation and share how you will enrich the team with your skills and adaptability. - Michelle Braden, MSBCoach, LLC
7. Build A Greater Understanding Of What They Are Looking For - It’s not an audition. You’ve convinced them you can do the job; now show them you can create connections. Be curious. Deconstruct the questions that were asked in the first interview to find hidden messages about who they are looking for. With greater understanding of the role, do more in-depth research on current trends that will inform how you can take the role to the next level. - Tanya Ezekiel, CareerCoach.com
8. Help The Interviewers Visualize You In The Role - Research the company, team and role by requesting information from the recruiter, hiring manager and LinkedIn connections. Ask about the strengths and challenges of the team, the team culture, and three big areas that should be a focus for this position. Then, in your interview, communicate your 90-day plan to leverage strengths, tackle opportunities for growth, and how you will achieve the team’s goals. - Anu Mandapati, IMPACT Leadership for Women
9. Plan With Knowledge And Interest - A second-round job interview usually entails meeting with multiple people and possibly executive partners. Prepare by adequately learning who the interviewers are, garnering knowledge about the work they do, the projects they have led, and having a list of at least two questions to ask each interviewer. You want to be engaging and knowledgeable about the company to impart your keen interest. - Wendi Weiner, JD, NCRW, CPRW, CCTC, CCM, The Writing Guru
For job seekers, a resume is a vital tool to get them noticed by potential employers. This document is used to convince them that you’re perfect for the job on offer. But most resumes get a quick skim before they are tossed to one side, even if the job candidate may be the right fit. Hiring managers are often swamped with resumes so it’s impossible for them to carefully assess every single one and most of them are swiftly discarded. Here are five reasons why your resume may fail to garner a closer look.
#1 Your job titles are vague
You may have loved your job title of “code ninja” at your previous company but understand that the person who reads your resume first may not know what the heck that is; if you’re applying for a job as a developer, your resume might be placed in the reject pile.
Quirky job titles are fun but they have no place on a resume. Not only do they fail to adequately convey what you actually did in that role, but they may also have negative connotations that you’d want to avoid. It’s okay to change your official title at your old gig to something that is easier to recognise.
This isn’t just a problem isolated to whacky job titles. Even something like ‘Content Manager’ can be confusing to people who are unfamiliar with this type of role.
There is only one way to make your job titles sound less wishy-washy: add context. How do your previous roles relate to the one that you’re applying for now? Include a snappy sentence next to your title to explain this.
#2 You use a one-size-fits-all resume
Putting together a resume is hard work so it’s understandable why you’d want just create a generic document that you can re-use for every job application. Unfortunately, that simply doesn’t cut it anymore.
Every company has different requirements and they can often be very specific. What you need to do is study the job listing carefully and tailor your resume to match the requirements. According to recruitment agency Staff Masters:
“This means writing an objective statement exclusively for the job, revamping your bullet points to highlight your applicable qualifications, and maybe even restructuring the format to ensure the most relevant information is at the top of the page.”
#3 Your resume is ugly
You can have the best experience and skills for an advertised job but if your resume isn’t visually appealing, you’re never going to get a chance to prove yourself.
Fonts and layouts matter. Word vomiting on a resume isn’t going to get you your dream job.
Here’s some advice from career expert Dena Bilbrew on how to make your resume look better:
“You have to make your resume visually appealing to get the employer’s attention. Print out your resume and hold it up at arm’s length. Are you drawn to your own resume? Would you read it? Would you call yourself for an interview? If you’re not drawn to your own resume an employer won’t be either.
“To make it visually appealing spread things out and take up the entire page so that there’s not a lot of white space. Enlarge your headings so employers can navigate through your resume quickly and find the information they need. Try putting lines in between each section also to make them “pop.” Also bold your job titles and degrees — not the company name or school attended.”
Recruitment agency Windsor Resources suggests using one font for your entire resume to keep the look of the document consistent. Please avoid using Comic Sans. Please.
#4 You didn’t include keywords
Hiring managers are usually inundated with resumes so they will often use specialised software to scan documents for keywords that are relevant for the role that is on offer. The software will automatically toss resumes that don’t contain enough keywords.
It’s in your best interest to include these keywords whenever you can in your resume, but how do you find out what they are? According to Staff Masters:
“Find these keywords by carefully reviewing the job description, highlighting terms and phrases used multiple times throughout the copy. Work them into your resume a few times in a manner that sounds natural and flows smoothly.”
#5 You don’t ask for help
It’s hard to spot mistakes or shortcomings in your own resume. You’ve probably spent hours slaving away on it and you’re completely over looking at it again.
It’s time to recruit help from a friend or somebody you trust to assess your resume. According to job advice blog The Muse:
“Send your resume to a friend, and ask what roles he or she thinks you’re applying to, based on what she sees. If she says something completely different, you know you have some work to do. And before you say ‘But wait — my friend knows nothing about my work!’ remember that the first person reviewing your application might be a recruiter, an assistant, or someone else who doesn’t know the ins and outs of your field. So a set of unbiased eyes might be even better than an industry insider.”
by Will Brooks
The single biggest challenge in hiring salespeople is one that is both logical and emotional in nature. The logical part of the challenge is that having someone in place is better than having no one at all. This is a false position to take, however, when you take a look at what a bad sales hire can cost you:
The emotional side of the challenge lies in the danger of hiring someone you like regardless of their proven level of competency. Couple this with the often-used mirror test (the old method of being able to fog a mirror and you have the job!) and you can imagine the problems this causes.
Using thoughtful and thought-provoking sales interview questions is a way around this, though. That’s why I’ve come up with 30 sales interview questions you can use to determine if you’re next sales candidate is a fit for your organization, your product, your team and your culture.
Not all of these might be applicable to your specific open sales position, but I urge you to use them as inspiration to develop those that are. Enjoy!
Sales Interview Questions
Use these questions to determine if your sales candidate is a future superstar…or simply someone who will fill a seat. Finding a candidate that is a perfect fit for the position will benefit all parties involved, and will result in an employee who is highly interested, engaged, and motivated to do their job well.
Will Brooks is COO of The Brooks Group, a sales training, sales management training and sales assessment company based in North Carolina. Contact Will at 336-615-8835 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are organizations / websites that help Veterans:
Allies In Service - https://alliesinservice.org/ - Allies in Service's vision is that our community of service members, veterans, and their families has access to quality health care, education, safe and affordable housing choices, and meaningful employment. Allies in Service's mission is to identify and support veterans who need assistance in the areas of employment, housing, education, and health care. We partner with veterans, employers, community and other veteran support organizations to educate and enhance the quality of life of our veterans. Our services are free to veterans, their spouses, and our community partners.
American Job Center (Career One Stop) - https://www.careeronestop.org/site/american-job-center.aspx - American Job Centers can help you look for work and offer job search workshops, free computer access, and more.
Cohen Veterans Network - https://www.cohenveteransnetwork.org/ - At the Cohen Veterans Network, we seek to improve the quality of life for veterans, including those from the National Guard and Reserves, and their families. CVN works to strengthen mental health outcomes and complement existing support, with a particular focus on post-traumatic stress. Our vision is to ensure that every veteran and family member is able to obtain access to high-quality, effective care that enables them to lead fulfilling and productive lives.
Department of Labor - Veterans Employment and Training Services (VETS) - https://www.dol.gov/vets/ - VETS serve America's veterans and separating service members by preparing them for meaningful careers, providing employment resources and expertise, and protecting their employment rights.
Hiring our Heroes - https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/hiring-our-heroes - Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities. Check the website for job fairs across the country.
Institute for Veterans and Military Families - https://ivmf.syracuse.edu/ - The IVMF is committed to advancing the post-service lives of America’s service members, veterans and their families. Supported by a world class advisory board and public and private partners, our professional staff delivers unique and innovative programs in career, vocations, and entrepreneurship education and training to post 9/11 veterans and active duty military spouses, as well as tailored programs to veterans of all eras. The IVMF also provides actionable and national impacting research, policy analysis and program evaluation; and works with communities and non-profits across the nation to enhance service delivery for the 22.5 million veterans throughout the United States and their families.
Military Housing Guide - Rent to own is a new concept in real estate that's helpful for veterans who want to buy a home but don't have the traditional financial ability
Texas Veterans Commision - http://www.tvc.texas.gov/ - Our purpose has always been to act as the state appointed advocate of Texas veterans as they attempt to secure the benefits rightfully earned in exchange for their service in our nation's armed forces. Most states have a Veterans Commision...check with your local workforce office.
Texas Veterans - http://www.texvet.org/ - TexVet is an Initiative of the Texas A&M University Health Science Center and The Texas Department of Health and Human Services
Veteran's Guide to Starting a Small Business - https://www.fundera.com/resources/veterans-guide-starting-financing-small-business?nocache#business%20idea - An in-depth guide for veterans who are interested in starting their own business.
U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs - https://www.usa.gov/federal-agencies/u-s-department-of-veterans-affairs - The Department of Veterans Affairs runs programs benefiting veterans and members of their families. It offers education opportunities and rehabilitation services and provides compensation payments for disabilities or death related to military service, home loan guaranties, pensions, burials, and health care that includes the services of nursing homes, clinics, and medical centers.
U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Employment Services - https://explore.va.gov/employment-services - A diverse employment resources page for veterans who are looking to enhance their education, skills, and careers.
You know it's coming. The interview is close to wrapping up and you sense it's on the tip of their tongue and then – just like that – the interviewer politely asks you, "What questions do you have for me?"
Cue the crickets.
Well, with the proper preparation and cheat sheet (yes, it's totally OK to refer to your notes as you speak), you can demonstrate you've done your homework while making the most out of this valuable question and answer session. After all, you're evaluating the company just as much as they're evaluating you as a potential fit. You absolutely must ask a few questions, but instead of asking throwaways like, "When are you looking to fill the position?" (Here's a hint: as soon as possible, as in yesterday), dig deeper and you'll get a stronger, clearer picture of the job and employer. Here are five questions to ask your interviewer that will give you valuable insights into the company and your prospective new role.
Why do you like working here – besides the people? This is a great go-to question to ask every single interviewer. Let's begin with the end in mind: They're all going to tell you they enjoy working there because of the people, so remove that from the table. Answers can be across the board – one person says great benefits, another loves the challenges and learning opportunities – you name it.
You may start sensing a pattern of similar answers or they could each be completely different; all you need to do right now is listen and enjoy hearing their answers. Feel free to dig deeper – for instance, if someone says they've enjoyed the opportunity to grow and get promoted, ask about their previous roles and how their boss noticed they were ready for that next level.
Is this a loud or quiet office? Granted, you should observe this facet of office culture as you're walking the halls, but go ahead and ask the question – chances are the interviewer will provide specific anecdotes about the office environment that will tip you off about whether or not it's a fit for you.
It's also a unique way to ask about how social the office is. Hopefully you identified the best type of environment for your working style prior to the interview, so their answer will have value to you. Perhaps you like a hybrid – a quiet office can bolster your diligent, focused side, but perhaps a midday dance party is just what you need – occasionally.
Why is this position available? While you don't need to necessarily ask this question of every single interviewer, you can ask the recruiter or hiring manager. They probably won't reveal if someone was terminated due to poor performance, but if they say the position is available because the department is expanding, that's an excellent indicator of growth. Or if someone was promoted internally, that's also a great sign of movement. If the position was created because two people were overworked, that too will give you insight into the inner workings of the operation and more importantly, what your future will potentially hold. Again, feel free to ask a follow-up question. If someone was promoted internally, for instance, you can ask, "How long were they in this position before they were promoted?"
This will provide you with insight to see if the person stayed in the role for eight years or only eight months. While it may be indicative of the individual performer, sometimes the interviewer will give additional information – say the person before them also got promoted internally – showing that yes, there's turnover in the group but there's also upward mobility.
How long has this position been open? Be selective about who you ask this to – again, the recruiter or hiring manager is fine. Your goal is to find out if it's been open for only a few weeks or a long period of time like six months – or more. If it's the latter, they may not necessarily be swift in making a hiring decision. This could also mean they just haven't found a suitable candidate yet (and if so, why not – are they being too picky?), meaning colleagues in the group are picking up the slack for quite a while until a new employee is hired.
I want to be rated excellent at year-end. Does your office have performance reviews? If so, how will my performance be evaluated and what do I need to do to exceed expectations? And if not, how will my performance be evaluated and is that directly tied to annual raises? It's critical to ask this set of questions for a variety of reasons. First, it shows you're ambitious and goal-oriented. Second, it shows you value performance as it relates to compensation and hope that they do, too. It also provides you with knowledge you need to truly succeed if you do start working there. Remember, a job interview is a conversation, and right now it's like you're a pre-employee. If you get hired, your role involves continuing the conversation – get on your boss's calendar and say something like, "During my last interview you mentioned interesting information about the three specific goals and action items I should aim to accomplish within my first six months. I'd like to schedule 30 minutes with you to flesh them out further so I can keep them top of mind."
Asking these questions will demonstrate your interest in the company, and will help you understand if it's a good fit for you moving forwards.
Vicki Salemi is an author, public speaker, columnist and career expert for Monster, a global leader in successfully connecting people and job opportunities. Utilizing empowering insights from her more than 15 years of experience as a former corporate recruiter, Vicki advises job seekers through regularly contributed articles to publications like Forbes.com, and in interviews with many top media outlets, such as NBC News and USA Today. More information can be found on Twitter @vickisalemi and @monster.
by Tanya Menon and Leigh Thompson
You’ve just landed an interview for your dream job. If you’re like most people, you’ll spend hours, perhaps days, preparing for that interview. You’ll research the company and industry, anticipate the questions you’ll be asked, and rehearse the perfect answers. You’ve probably followed all the interviewing best practices: be yourself, dress appropriately, focus on your strengths, don’t interrupt, and prepare questions in advance.
But, in spite of your careful preparation, your interviewer might not evaluate your skills, ability, and potential using an equally thorough process. Rather than carefully analyzing your resume and engaging in deep conversation, a busy interviewer might rely on split-second impressions. Indeed, psychologist Ellen Langer shows that just as people shift to “autopilot” during routine tasks such as driving to work, they may go through interviews and other spontaneous social interactions in a similarly automated fashion.
The problem occurs when people process information through what psychologists refer to as the peripheral route. When they follow this route, they go on instinct and use tidbits of information rather than the full arsenal of data they have in front of them. In fact, the vast body of research suggests that all of us are vulnerable, at times, to taking the peripheral route when our attention is somewhat compromised — perhaps because we’re rushed, tired, hungry, overwhelmed, stressed, or simply engaging in a well-rehearsed routine, like an interview.
How can you ensure that an interviewer sees you for who you are and your unique characteristics are noted? Through our research on how people form impressions about experts and how people manage envy, we identify four strategies to help you turn around an interview.
Disrupt the script. Although an interview may appear to be a spontaneous conversation, both the interviewer and the interviewee are often following preprogrammed scripts. The interviewer may have a standard protocol that they’re following — in fact, this is a best practice that ensures that each candidate is screened through the same process. They might ask standard questions such as, “Tell me about your previous experience” and “What you are looking for in a job,” or they might use a walk-through of your resume as the basis of their script.
As the interviewee responds with carefully prepped answers, they can quickly go from charming to robotic. When we’ve observed MBA students, their responses are almost too smooth. Sometimes, they answer too quickly, without even a pause to think about what was asked — revealing that they’re delivering a rehearsed answer rather than engaging in a conversation that feels genuine and interactive. Instead, pause after the interviewer asks a question — even if you’ve practiced a response. Listen for and reuse a few key words from the interviewer’s question in your own answer to signal that you’re building on the interviewer’s statement. By interrupting your own scripts and building on the discussion, you can make the conversation flow more organically, allowing the interviewer to process information more deeply. One of our managers shared another technique he used to disrupt the script by stating, “Let me tell you what’s not on my resume.” That got the interviewer’s attention, since the interviewer stopped mindlessly looking at the resume.
Make a personal connection. Whether it’s discovering that you attended neighboring small town high schools or both visit the same vacation spot, these off-script moments are more likely to lead to an interpersonal connection. This is due to the mere connection effect: If you can find even one point of commonality in few moments of interacting, you can shift from outsider to insider in the interviewer’s mind. As an insider, you’ll receive the benefit of the doubt, as compared to an outsider who’s quickly judged and dismissed. One manager described how she scans an interviewer’s office for any photos or pictures and asks about them: “So, you’re a Blackhawks fan?”
Then, try to get beyond surface similarities. Demonstrate that you share their higher-order goals. Leigh once hired someone because her question was, “What does it feel like to have written a book?” That question showed that she was passionate about research and writing — the very same goals that motivated Leigh. If you’re in tech, you might ask how the interviewer felt leading a cutting edge project; if you’re in sales, ask how they managed to win over a particularly tough customer.
Become a partner. If you’re dealing with an antagonistic interviewer who has automatic negative assumptions about you, a “connection” may be nearly impossible. In our research, we’ve observed how psychological threat, like people’s insecurities and envy, affects their judgment. Perhaps they just don’t like the people who’ve typically held your position. Or maybe they’ve read your vita and view you as competition. The threatened interviewer focuses only on your weaknesses and perceived slights, leaving you to meet impossible standards.
In response, try this strategy that we’ve drawn from the research of Dr. Abraham Tesser. Rather than focusing on common goals that could elicit a threatened response, highlight your distinctive talents — skills in unique areas that don’t undermine the interviewer’s expertise. Then, show how your expertise benefits them, opening up the potential for partnership. For example, when one junior consultant works with potential clients who are industry experts, he’d frame his expertise in a nonthreatening way: “I clearly do not have the decades of experience in the industry that you do, but I am a supply chain expert, and this has allowed me to achieve cost savings for each of the companies I’ve worked with as a consultant.” Rather than suggesting that he knew more than the client, he framed it as knowing something different — which could help the clients showcase their existing expertise rather than replacing it.
Call out the elephant in the room. A benevolent but busy decision maker might have formed negative beliefs about your potential for reasons that they are uncomfortable talking about or, perhaps, are not even aware of. We suggest surfacing these unconscious perceptions and making it comfortable for people to address the taboo issue. Communicating about the potential objection reveals self-awareness and courage, and it also creates an opening so you can provide the clear evidence to dismiss it.
For example, one of our colleagues was from Korea and had a strong accent. “Will they notice?” she worried. Our response: “They’d have to be deaf not to notice.” We told her to be forthcoming and say, “I have an accent. I’m aware of that. Still, I’ve received top teaching evaluations. Here is what I’ve used to be successful in the classroom…” She got hired for the job.
Good jobs are few and far between, and you’re paying both a financial and emotional price if you have the credentials but aren’t getting opportunities because of quick judgments. The toughest interviewer to crack is not the one with the tough questions but the one who’s operating on automatic assumptions. The recommendations we’ve suggested will help you get past the quick impressions, and steer the interview in your favor.
Tanya Menon (email@example.com) is an associate professor of Management and Human Resources at the Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. Her book with Leigh Thompson, Stop Spending, Start Managing: Strategies to Transform Wasteful Habits (Harvard Business Review Press), is forthcoming this year.
Leigh Thompson is the J. Jay Gerber Professor of Dispute Resolution and Organizations at the Kellogg School of Management. She is the author of Creative Conspiracy: The New Rules of Breakthrough Collaboration (HBR Press, 2013) and coauthor of Stop Spending, Start Managing: Strategies to Transform Wasteful Habits (forthcoming, HBR Press, 2016).
If you’re like most people, you either (a) hate phone interviews or (b) don’t take it as seriously as a face-to-face interview. The truth is that phone interviews are incredibly important, because without doing well there, you’ll never get the chance to interview in person. With the right preparation, you can learn to hate them a little less and practically guarantee yourself the invitation to interview on-site.
Follow these 7 phone interview prep tips to ace any phone interview:
1. Set up your call at a good time for you.
You often have choices about when to schedule your call. It only makes sense to schedule it when you’re most alert—if you’re a morning person, schedule it early. If it takes you a good few hours to become your best, schedule it for the afternoon. If they call you and it isn’t a good time for you, let them know that it isn’t the best time (no need to tell them why) and ask to reschedule. Just don’t wait too long to make that happen.
Hint: Make sure that when you do set it up, you leave yourself a cushion of time after the call, in case it goes especially well and runs long. Some phone interviews stick with a time limit of 10-15 minutes, but others go 30-45 minutes or longer.
2. Pick a quiet spot to talk.
There’s nothing like being on the phone in a noisy public place to signal that you aren’t taking this call seriously. Instead, do the interview at home, in a room by yourself. You want no distractions.
3. If you can, use a landline.
Bad reception can ruin your call. I say play it safe and use a landline.
4. Research the company.
Some job seekers think phone interviews are basic information sessions, but you’ll make a much stronger impression if you already know everything you can about the company before your call. You’ll ask better questions and give more impressive answers to their questions.
5. Dress for the interview.
It’s easy to be tempted to stay in your pajamas for this call, but it’s better to wear work clothes. Our clothes do affect how we behave, and you need to be all business.
6. Make sure you’re physically comfortable and relaxed.
Eat, drink, take a bathroom break, and take a few moments to breathe and relax before your call.
7. Prepare ‘cheat sheets.’
Since they can’t see you, this is the perfect opportunity to have out in front of you a printed out resume, notes on the company, questions you want to ask, and words and phrases you want to use in your phone interview answers. This is one of the few advantages of a phone interview, so make the most of it. Just spread them out in front of you so they can’t hear you shuffling papers. Make sure you also have blank paper with a pen to take notes.
It’s important to do as much pre-interview prep as you can. You will never get another chance to make a first impression with this company. How you do now will affect whether or not you get the face-to-face interview, and it can bias them to like you even more before you set one foot on site.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Career Coach – Peggy McKee is an expert resource and a dedicated advocate for job seekers. Known as the Sales Recruiter from Career Confidential, her years of experience as a nationally-known recruiter for sales and marketing jobs give her a unique perspective and advantage in developing the tools and strategies that help job seekers stand head and shoulders above the competition. Peggy has been named #1 on the list of the Top 25 Most Influential Online Recruiters by HR Examiner, and has been quoted in articles from CNN, CAP TODAY, Yahoo! HotJobs, and the Denver Examiner.
Three questions worth asking to get a sense if the job, and manager, is right for you.
Most people assume that a job interview serves the sole purpose of being an opportunity for the employer to evaluate a potential employee. They see it as a one-way street, but it's really not. The interview is not only a chance for an organization to get to know a candidate better; it's an opportunity for a prospective employee to become more familiar with a company.
You may think that simply means you should be listening closely and looking around to see what the office environment looks and feels like. But you can and should take a much more active role in the process. Even as a prospective employee, you are allowed to ask difficult questions that will give you a better idea of the place you may end up working in. It's not just a test of you; you are permitted to test them. What kinds of questions should you be asking?
How did the position come to be open? This is extremely important. You may learn something that you were not expecting. On the other hand, the interviewer may dodge the question by saying something generic like, "Steve got a unique opportunity he couldn't pass up." If you're having separate interviews with more than one person, ask each person the same question. When you get different answers from people, you'll know that something may be up, and this is a pretty clear red flag. Even if everyone gives you the same generic response like the one above, try to obtain more information. Ask, "Where did this role end up taking him?" You can either infer something from the answer you get, or it may just become clear that there's more to the story than they're letting on.
You don't want to find out after you start working that your manager is extremely difficult to work for. Asking this question of the people who work for your prospective boss may yield different answers than what human resources or a recruiter tells you.
What is the best part of working here, and what would you change if you could? This open-ended question could go in many directions. You'll get an even better sense of the company if you ask several interviewers this question. Whatever their answers are, you should come away with a fairly good idea of how you align with their organization. You may hear about a benefit the company offers that you weren't yet aware of, or something positive about your potential manager. By digging in for a negative aspect of working there, you'll get a sense of what you may be up against, and from there you can decide whether that's okay with you or not. It could be a deal breaker for you, or what they say may not bother you at all.
There are certain aspects of a job that would annoy some people but not others. Everyone is different. This gives you a snapshot of what is going on there and whether you are okay with it or not.
What does success look like for someone in their first year in this role? This should give you an idea of your manager's or colleagues' expectations. Bonus: It shows you are confident and results driven. It's an important question because you may learn quite a lot from the answer. Perhaps you'll be able to figure out if you are expected to work ungodly hours. It also may give you a sense of what your boss is like and how they manage their people. If their answer is vague and disengaged, it may be a sign that it's not of the utmost importance to them, and you may have trouble down the road achieving the milestones and promotions that you expect.
While you may get a hot air answer, you will likely be able to tell if success and development is important to your potential boss. If the answer is specific to the job, you're probably in good hands. If it's generic, that could be a negative sign.
Unfortunately, many people will put a spin on answers to these questions. However, interviewers do not always expect these types of questions, so you may get some good, honest or inferable insights into the job and your boss's character. Beyond the answers, look for other positive and negative signs during the interview.
Did your potential boss answer the phone or respond to an "urgent" email during your interview? Unless it was a family emergency or they are a doctor who needs to save someone's life, it could wait. Did they politely listen to your questions and actually respond to the questions asked? If so, that's a sign that they're in tune with the people who work with and for them. If not, you may want to work for someone else.
Marcelle Yeager is a blogger for On Careers. You can follow her companies Career Valet and Serving Talent on Twitter (@careervalet, @servingtalent) and Facebook (Career Valet, ServingTalent). You can also connect with her on LinkedIn.
by Natalie Severt - Resume Expert at Uptowork
As a job seeker, having a LinkedIn profile is no longer a matter of choice. It’s a necessity.
Well, for starters, everyone is on LinkedIn - job seekers, recruiters, CEOs, that weird guy next door, your mom - everyone.
Okay, but what if you're not looking for a job right now.
Well, you don’t have to be actively looking for a job to use LinkedIn. In fact, if you optimize your profile and engage with the platform a job could come looking for you.
And that job could be THE job.
People are getting great job opportunities on Linkedin every day. Some of the opportunities are not available anywhere else.
So, if you want in on all of the job goodies, you need to get on LinkedIn, max out your profile, and engage with other users.
This guide will help you optimize your profile so that it becomes an easy and exciting find for recruiters in your field.
NOTE from CareerDFW: To go to any section of the guilde go to https://uptowork.com/blog/optimize-your-linkedin-profile
Table of Contents:
On the Job with Dana Plowmnan
There are lots of reasons a person could have trouble putting together a descent resume. You may have a gap in employment; you are trying to switch careers or professions; or you have been a stay-at-home mom the past few years.
The good news is that resumes are changing to reflect skills more than job history. Your skills that apply to the job can be just as valuable as experience. Resumes are now reflecting non-paid positions such as volunteerism, continuing education classes, parenting, hobbies and sports. These newly non-paid positions help fill the gap between employers. By adding skills that transfer from daily life to a new job position give employers a better understanding of who they may be hiring, as well as your interests, values and experiences.
Here are examples of five transferable skills you may want to include in your resume:
Communication: writes clearly and concisely, speaks effectively, listens attentively, openly expresses ideas, negotiates/resolves differences, leads group discussions, provides feedback, persuades others, provides well-thought out solutions, gathers appropriate information, confidently speaks in public
Interpersonal Skills: works well with others, sensitive, supportive, motivates others, shares credit, counsels, cooperates, delegates effectively, represents others, understands feelings, self-confident, accepts responsibility
Research and Planning: forecasts/predicts, creates ideas, identifies problems, meets goals, identifies resources, gathers information, solves problems, defines needs, analyzes issues, develops strategies, assesses situations
Organizational Skills: handles details, coordinates tasks, punctual, manages projects effectively, meets deadlines, sets goals, keeps control over budget, plans and arranges activities, multi-tasks
Management Skills: leads groups, teaches/trains/instructs, counsels/coaches, manages conflict, delegates responsibility, makes decisions, directs others, implements decisions, enforces policies, takes charge.
Dana Plowman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
10 Phone Interview Tips to Get to the Face-to-Face
Best telephone interview tips
Before you get to go to the face-to-face interview, you’ll probably have to go through a cheaper, easier (for them) phone interview to prove you are worth the time, trouble and expense of a longer conversation. Here are the top phone interview tips to make sure you get your chance to prove your worth in person.
1. Concentrate on your voice. Sound confident, express yourself clearly and think about sounding like someone who looks and acts professional. Without body language, professional attire and your physical demeanor, the interviewer only has your voice to judge you by and how you handle yourself verbally.
2. Have all of your notes in front of you. You should always have your resume, cover letters, names of references, and key points you want to add right there at your disposal.
3. Prepare for interview questions. Know what kind of questions you will be asked in this short format interview before they call. Remember, this is not the same as a face-to-face interview and the questions are likely going to be more general. They are probably looking at your resume as they speak to you and verifying the information through questions like, “Tell me a little about your experience.” (However, you still have to prepare for this interview to avoid making interview mistakes.)
4. Watch your language. Avoid using sarcasm or making jokes in which your body language and facial expressions are required. They cannot see you and what may seem funny to you with your quizzical expression may not go over well at all with the person who cannot see you on the other end of the line.
5. Stand up while you talk. Your posture and movement will affect your enthusiasm and your voice will project better.
6. Focus on the interview. Don’t busy yourself with other things in your environment. Just because they can’t see you doesn’t mean they won’t be able to tell you’re distracted.
7. Use a landline to avoid having any issues with poor reception. If you have to use a cell phone, be sure the phone interview is set up for a time when you know you will have access to a quiet place that is guaranteed to have a good signal. There should be minimal distractions and outside noise such as barking dogs, nearby construction or the beeping of car horns.
8. Never use your speakerphone. We often talk on speakerphone to keep our hands free to drive or do other things. This level of distraction is not what you need during an interview that is your gateway to a face-to-face meeting with a hiring manager.
9. Don’t get too chatty or talk yourself in circles. The interviewer is likely taking notes as you speak and may not be focusing on responding to all your points. These silent moments are not your cue to continue babbling on. Be comfortable with the silent moments and allow the interviewer to make the next move after you have finished answering the question completely but concisely.
10. Ask for the next step, just like you would in a face-to-face. When the interview is wrapping up, let them know what times and dates you are available for a face-to-face interview. You will be able to get an immediate impression about how you stand at the end of the phone interview if you ask this. It commits them to deciding if they want to proceed with the process or not and will give you idea about how they felt about the conversation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Career Coach – Peggy McKee is an expert resource and a dedicated advocate for job seekers. Known as the Sales Recruiter from Career Confidential, her years of experience as a nationally-known recruiter for sales and marketing jobs give her a unique perspective and advantage in developing the tools and strategies that help job seekers stand head and shoulders above the competition. Peggy has been named #1 on the list of the Top 25 Most Influential Online Recruiters by HR Examiner, and has been quoted in articles from CNN, CAP TODAY, Yahoo! HotJobs, and the Denver Examiner.
Congratulations! You got the interview for your dream job. You’ve researched and prepared and feel ready to meet the hiring manager, discuss your resume, and learn more about the position. Remember, you need to ask just as many questions to the interviewer about the role, team, company, and organizational structure in order to have the best understanding of the opportunity. And more importantly, you can determine if the organization, office environment, and company culture are the right fit for you just by walking through the door and looking out for these four warning signs during the interview process:
1. The hiring manager or interviewer is not prepared to interview you.
It is evident that he or she has not even reviewed your resume yet or prepared any relevant questions to learn more about you and your background. If he or she is just printing your resume as you both sit down for the interview, you should be extra ready for the question, “Tell me about yourself.” Also, meetings and conference calls do run late, but if the hiring manager or interviewer is serious about speaking with you, he or she should not keep you waiting for more than five to ten minutes to start your conversation.
2. Employees, including management and leadership, are not interacting with each other in the office.
Are the majority of people behind closed office doors? For those individuals you can view in open spaces, are they all solely focused on their laptops and tasks or are some having friendly conversations with each other? Check out how the hiring manager or interviewer engages (or not) with others while walking with you to and from the interview room. Is he or she friendly to everyone (from the CEO to the receptionist)? Does he or she know people by name? Or is he or she barking orders and acting rude or unprofessional?
3. Take a look around the entire office space.
Can you see yourself sitting there every day for over eight hours a day? Does it feel warm and inviting? Or does it seem cold and unwelcoming? Is the décor modern and hi-tech or is it unclean and have stained furniture and carpeting? Are there visible advertisements for company social events or volunteer opportunities to promote community and networking? Is there a noticeable place for people to informally gather for lunch or coffee? Or is everyone eating at his or her own desk?
4. You cannot begin to imagine yourself commuting to and from this particular office.
If you can’t imagine spending 40+ hours a week working there, for that hiring manager, in that job, with this company, then that is the biggest warning sign of all. This may be your dream job, but you also need to be totally comfortable with all aspects of your “life at work” while you are in the office and not just the work you are doing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Jennifer Malach is a Certified Executive & Career Coach with over 20 years experience in the professional services and software development industries including 17 years with Accenture, a global management consulting, technology, and outsourcing company. She has extensive experience in recruiting, interviewing, hiring, coaching, training and developing talent to promote their learning, retention and advancement. Jennifer has also led, managed, and mentored teams across North America.
Did you ever apply for a job that you were certain you were perfect for...and then hear back nothing? The lack of response may have nothing to do with your experience, and everything to do with how you’re presenting it on your resume.
These days, recruiters receive thousands of resumes for desirable positions. Because of these enormous numbers, 98% of job-seekers don’t make it past the original resume screening, according to Robert Meier, President of Job Market Experts.
So what is the secret to getting your resume to be the needle in the haystack that gets discovered? It’s all about keywords.
Here’s how keywords work: To manage the vast troves of responses they receive, recruiting departments build databases of resumes using their Application Tracking Software. They navigate through their database by searching for specific terms that relate the job they’re hiring for. These terms are known as keywords.
Since Fairygodboss is committed to helping our community get ahead and land the jobs they’re seeking, we reached out to two experts to get the inside scoop on keywords and help you understand how you should use them on resume.
“Keywords are an essential part of how we sift through the thousands of resumes we receive,” said Jenna Mucha, Talent Community Manager for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
“Keywords bring up your ‘relevancy score’ in most HR/recruiting software programs,” says Christy Childers, Global Employer Brand Manager for Dropbox.
So how can you use resume keywords to your advantage to land the interview and the job? Here’s some advice from Jenna and Christy:
1. Adapt your resume for each company you’re applying to
“You should absolutely adapt your resume for each job you’re applying to,” said Jenna. “Review the job description and incorporate keywords directly from it.”
What kinds of keywords should you include? Well, of course you want to use ones that are essential to the role - such as “quantitative” or “customer service.” Choose keywords directly from the job description, especially those mentioned more than once. “But also check out similar job postings from other companies,” suggests Jenna. “That way you can anticipate or include terms that go beyond the posting. You should even check out the LinkedIn profiles of other people who are in similar roles.”
Here’s a great tip from Christy: Don’t overlook things that you think are obvious or implied in your background. “Some people think Microsoft Excel is a given in today’s environment. However if the job description lists Excel one or more times (and you indeed have substantial experience with it), you need to include ‘Microsoft Excel’ on your resume. Also keep in mind that a computer doesn’t know that ‘Microsoft Office Suite’ includes Word, Excel, Access, etc., so you must use these keywords exactly as you see them in the job description.”
That said, you should definitely not incorporate keywords if they don’t accurately describe you. Honesty and fair representation must come first.
2. Use keywords throughout your resume
The box for keyword relevance is not checked when you simply add the keyword to a “skills” section on your resume. Your keywords should be thoughtfully woven into your background bullets, ideally in several places throughout your resume.
“This provides credibility, but also increases the relevancy based on the way the software performs searches,” according to Christy. Also, she told us, “remove company jargon….While staying true to your past experience, it’s okay to change the specific job title to ensure you’re using one that is used more widely.”
3. Ditch the objectives statement
While a “summary statement” is key for your LinkedIn profile, both our experts agree there is no need for a summary on your resume. Jenna told us that the summary statement really isn’t useful to recruiters. If you’ve built your resume coherently, it should be crystal clear to recruiters what skills and traits define you.
“Keywords are important,” says Christy, “but quantifying your experience alongside those keywords to add credible context and to differentiate yourself is equally as important.” This is not just an exercise in copy/paste. You’ll need to substantiate why your background represents the skills that the keywords call for.
Some great advice from Christy on how to quantify your experience:
Instead of listing ‘excellent negotiation skills,’ try adding some context to prove it such as ‘demonstrated excellent negotiation skills which resulted in an 80% close rate and #1 Account Executive in the Western US Region.’ Or for those who aren’t in obvious data driven environments, use the results of a project to demonstrate your skills: in lieu of ‘attention to detail,’ you could instead include an example such as ‘demonstrated attention to detail in launching the first-ever global leadership development program from start to finish improving internal promotions by 35% across 3 continents.’
5. Apply “beyond” the job
Once your resume ends up in a company’s database, Jenna tells us that it can often surface for other open positions. That means you should incorporate keywords that come up in verbiage about the company itself. For example, some companies pride themselves on “innovation.” For others, “team-player” or “collaborative,” is important.
And there are some keywords that work well for almost any job or position.. “Results-oriented,” “motivated,” “launched,” “team-player,” etc. There are some great online resources for these types of keywords. Note: there are also some keywords you should stay away from, such as “synergy” or “go-getter.”
Of course, great resume keywords are not a substitute for a great work background. Ultimately, though, if we can all have a better understanding of how our resume is being evaluated, we have a much better chance of getting to present that background in an interview. Huge thanks to Christy and Jenna for helping give us the inside scoop.
Career Assessment Tools & Tests: Assessments for Students, Job-Seekers, Career-Changers
Help envision and plan your career, job, work future with these self-assessment and career discovery tests.
What if you’re not sure of what kind of job or career you want? Not sure what to do with your life? Need some career direction? Spend some time here and take one or more of the following self-assessment tests to give you a better idea of your attitudes and interests as they relate to possible career choices.
Click on the link for the article https://www.livecareer.com/quintessential/career-assessment
The Ultimate Guide to Building a CV
When applying for a job, it is vital that you have prepared a professional Curriculum Vitae (CV) that conveys your academic qualifications, employment background and key skills to your potential employer. Many candidates underestimate the value of a strong CV and, as a result, they significantly hinder their chances of acquiring their preferred job. Irrespective of whether you have just finished your academic studies or whether you have worked in your preferred field of industry for several years, your CV needs to present a bold and clear message to your potential employers. This is where the following guide can help. From explaining the key elements of your CV and learning how to explain a gap on your CV, to demonstrating a step-by-step guide on how to write a competent CV, this valuable resource will equip you with all you need to know in order to successfully represent yourself via your CV thereby substantially improving your employability prospects.
Clck on the link for the full article https://www.how2become.com/resources/ultimate-guide-to-building-a-cv/
When it comes to compensation, salary negotiation is the one area women often neglect. Though if you have ever effectively negotiated a salary in your favor, you know how exhilarating it feels to receive what you are worth. If you have ever found out that a colleague is receiving a higher salary than you, as a result of negotiating, then you know how terrible it feels to know that you possibly undermined receiving a higher salary.
Salary negotiation is difficult for women because it is often seen as an uncomfortable conversation. For many women, the process of negotiating is as unenjoyable as “going to dentist”, whereas men tend to describe it as “winning a ballgame” or a “wrestling match”.
Read the entire article at https://www.goodcall.com/career/salary-negotiation-tips-women/
8 of the Worst Things to Say When Networking
Most networkers try to be on their best behavior and be compelling. Many fall short or worse offend with phrases like these.
BY KEVIN DAUM
In some ways, networking has recently changed. It used to be reserved for gatherings and parties, but today networking can happen online as well. With all the increased communication and casual aspects of the Internet, knowing the safe and effective things to say is challenging at best.
At worst, people can miss the mark with a comment and even offend the very people they are trying to impress. Ignorance, confusion, and nerves often lead people to make major verbal mistakes that cannot be undone. If people slow down and think about their comments, they probably can avoid committing an unnecessary faux pas.
In case you don't have the time to think carefully before opening your mouth or typing that next message, you might want to memorize eight of the worst things to say during networking that you should avoid at all costs.
Swearing used to be for bars and sports arenas, but these days it is tolerated more in business. That said, don't be so quick to throw off your favorite four-letter word at every chance you get. You have no way of knowing how the other person will react. Some people might find the use of such words as aggressive, especially if the delivery is not well-handled. Moreover, it might make you look unprofessional and lacking in discretion. Keep the swearing limited, unless you really know the audience or live in New York City like me.
2. "I'm struggling..."
The moment you start talking about how things are not going your way, you project a sense of insecurity. Networking is about opportunities for growth and value, not desperation. People don't want to engage with more needy people. Rather than discussing your failures, engage people with your aspirations and desires. That will transmit a sense of drive that is very attractive to others.
3. "Can you get me a job?"
Unless someone offers right away, requesting employment puts others in an uncomfortable, awkward position. They may not know you well enough and you are asking them to put their reputation at stake. Use networking to begin conversations and relationships that will show off your value. If you are truly worthy, the time will come to discuss how to get you aboard.
4. "What's in it for me?"
It's good to have self-interest, but leading with it shows you to be selfish and uncaring. Look for mutually beneficial opportunities and show that you can put others first in a way that brings value to all. People want to work with partners, not hoarders.
5. "Here's my card."
By pushing your card, you are imposing yourself on others with the expectations of continuing the conversation. Most of the time they will simply be polite and forget you. Instead, ask for their card and if you can contact them. Then send them something relevant and of value so they have reason to re-engage.
6. "That idea doesn't make any sense."
The last thing most people want to hear is that their idea sucks. If you don't agree with it and think they are down the wrong path, ask them questions that will help lead them to the same conclusion. This will allow them to reflect on the conversation and feel that they have obtained value from talking with you.
7. "I'm drunk" or "I'm a little tipsy."
People may like to party, but they trust those who can show self-control. If people are privy to your state of inebriation, they will take you less seriously and you will wind up making a mockery of yourself in an environment that you were hoping to conquer.
A little silence can make you look smart. Total silence will make you go unnoticed and unmemorable. Try to engage people in pleasant conversation at the very least. Failing to inspire people will at least give you the opportunity to analyze what works and doesn't work in a social setting so that you can inspire the next person that you meet.
Here is a link to a a very good article about "The Go-To Guide to Understanding Your Job Offer and Benefits Package"
If you’re looking for a job, you might want to create an ‘elevator pitch.’ It is a brief explanation that summarizes who you are, what you do and why you’d be the perfect candidate – you’ll want to be able to reel off your pitch at any time, especially with people who might be able to help you get your dream job.
However, it can be really hard to condense all your experiences into a 30-60 seconds speech!
Let Me Give You Some Do’s And Don’ts Of Writing A Great Elevator Pitch:
1. Decide what kind of work you’re looking for
Unless you can clearly explain to someone the type of a job you’re interested in, nobody will be able to help you find it. You need to know what your goals are. And if you’re looking for a job that is different to what you’re doing right now – you need to tailor your pitch accordingly. E.g. if you want to be a web designer, emphasize the web design work you’ve done, rather than talking about your current job which might have nothing to do with what you’re looking for.
Also, write down your skills and accomplishments relevant to your target position. Then delete everything that’s not relevant to what you’re looking for – be specific.
2. Structure your pitch and tailor it to the audience
A good pitch (and this relates to your resume and cover letter, too!) should answer three questions: Who are you? What do you do? What are you looking for?
Here is an example of what your pitch might start with:
“Hi, I am Karen Smith. I am a Brand Marketing Manager with 10 years of experience in the travel industry – I’ve worked for companies including Expedia and Thomas Cook – and I am looking for opportunities in London.”
You’d then use the next several seconds to briefly mention some details about what makes you stand out – and what your specific skills are that could help a potential employer.
Also, focus on the needs of your audience, not yours (just like in a job interview:-) You’ll only be successful if the person you’re talking to understands it. So don’t use a lot of jargon when talking to someone from outside of your industry but also don’t explain simple terms to a professional in your industry.
It is important your read your pitch out loud and practice. You want to sound conversational, not like if you’ve memorized it by heart. Release your pitch and ask someone for feedback. If your friends don’t understand what your key points were, your speech still needs work.
4. Prepare a few variations
It is a good idea to prepare a few variations of the speech – if you only have 20 seconds, your speech would be different to when you have a couple of minutes. Make sure you master a few key talking points and you can then tailor your speech for particular occasions.
What About The Don’ts Then?
1. Don’t sound boring or make people wonder about what is it that you do
Ask yourself what problem you solve rather than what you DO. For example, instead of saying I am an interview coach, I could say I help professionals get hired, promoted and paid more faster than they would on their own. You might want to include some number and concrete details – this will make you more memorable.
2. Don’t undersell or oversell your skills or experience.
If you undersell yourself, people won’t know how you can help them so they won’t be able to recommend you to people who might be able to offer you the job. On the other hand, if you oversell yourself, people then won’t take you seriously.
3. Don’t sound too salesy
Yes, you want to sell yourself – but you don’t want to sound like a typical used car salesman.
Hope these help!
If you need help in creating your elevator pitch and getting clarity on what your unique selling points are, apply for a complimentary consultation to see if working together is right for you: www.TalkwithMargaret.com
About the author - Margaret Buj is an interview coach who has been helping professionals get hired, promoted and paid more for over eight years. She is also a qualified Personal Performance & Corporate and Executive Coach and can help you with developing confidence and the attitude that will make it easier for you to get any job you want.
1. Demonstrate that you have done your homework on the job and the organization/company.
More often than not, if a candidate failed to show that he or she had done their due diligence and knew more than the passing person on the street about who we were, what our values were, and what our mission was, they were eliminated early. I can clearly recall one individual who was the perfect candidate for the open position on paper—but he blew the interview because he had failed to research us so that he could speak plainly to the challenges we were facing. Failing to do your homework on the company or organization and the position for which you are applying is unacceptable.
Want to make the right impression? Know the names of the decision makers in the company. Understand the job beyond the job description. Demonstrate that you have taken more than the 30-minutes before the interview to learn about the company or organization, and you know what it does along with what it values. That extra effort will make the right impression on the members of the group who are sitting before you.
2. Dress the part.
I am an admitted a bit of a fuddy-duddy about appearance, so it will come as no surprise that I think we live in a day of casual attire that has run amok completely. Don’t fall into the false trap of feeling that you should show up for your interview the way you might be expected to dress for the job. Gentlemen, please wear a clean suit or nice dress trousers with a conservative blue blazer. Your tie should be understated, and your shirt should be clean, crisp, and either white or light blue. You can dress with flair after you get the job, not before.
As for ladies, wear a suit or nice dress that isn’t too short and doesn’t have a low neckline. Pumps are optional, but shoes should be well polished and not overly worn. Open toes and sandals are not recommended. Stockings may be optional depending on the time of year, but I would recommend that you err on the side of caution and wear them. Makeup and hair should be done but not over-done, and the same goes for jewelry. Got a nose ring? Leave it off for the interview unless you are applying for a job where such an accessory would be an asset…and you know what that might be, I suspect. Understated and professional, however, is the look I would recommend for most junior executive positions or even entry level business openings in a more traditional company.
3. Arrive on time with the right materials in hand.
Being late is not acceptable. Don’t know where you are going? Then go early and find the building. If you get there an hour early, then go to a Starbucks or local eatery to hang out and prepare a little more. Don’t arrive for the interview itself any earlier than 10-15 minutes. Be prepared to wait. There may be others ahead of you, and the panel may be running behind. The materials you should bring with you include extra hard copies of your resume on nice paper, business cards, and a portfolio carrying a legal pad upon which to write notes as you need to.
Bring your questions written out, as well, for later in the interview. Otherwise, you run the risk of forgetting the questions and wishing you had written them down. If you are asked to prepare a presentation, make sure ahead of time that all of the equipment you might need for it will be available. Don’t assume anything. Ask to make sure that you will have what you need to make your presentation shine.
4. Demonstrate good manners and excellent interpersonal and social skills throughout the interview from the moment you walk in the door until you leave.
Social grace is something you may need to practice, but you cannot afford to underestimate its value when you are in an interview, especially when it is a group interview. In a group or panel interview, you are trying to impress anywhere from 4 to 10 or 12 different people who will have different expectations and will be looking for various things. You need to handle the pressure with as much poise and grace as possible. Look everyone in the eye but use eye contact appropriately. Being too intense can be off-putting as much as letting your eyes flit all over the room and above the heads of the members of the panel.
The same goes for an appropriately firm handshake. Practice if you aren’t sure about the quality of your handshake. Use the pressure you would use on a doorknob of a closed door. Grip slightly, but not too hard. Release and move on. Shake the hand of every person—man and woman—in the room. Make eye contact while shaking their hand. If you are good with names, try to remember them as they are introduced to you. If not, don’t fret. They really won’t expect you to remember all of them, especially if it is a large group. You do want to remember the names of the most prominent leaders in the group, however. While answering individual questions, don’t just look at the person who asked the question (although you want to look at them while they are asking it), but look at each member of the group around the table while you answer the question.
5. Be prepared to ask quality questions at the end.
Believe it or not, it isn’t just the questions that you answer that are important in your job interview, but it is also the quality of the questions that you ask that can separate you from the pack. Demonstrate that you have done your research, and you understand exactly what the job entails…or ask about parts of the job description that you aren’t quite sure about…to show that you are a cut above the average candidate. From back in my days as a member of the interview panel, we were always most impressed with the candidates who asked us excellent questions, and that does not include when are vacations and what is the salary range. Questions about the more challenging aspects of the job or what qualities or characteristics a successful candidate would need to demonstrate to be successful in the job are the types of questions that will make you different. Those questions demonstrated that we were talking with someone who had done their homework.
Group interviews are hard on you because they can be nerve racking. You will feel that you are juggling many balls in the air at once, and the truth is, you are. Some jobs require them, however, so you need to learn how to manage your nerves—and your social skills—during a group interview. You want to leave a lasting impression, after all, and you want to make sure that it is a good one.
Kitty Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT is a former educator turned Career Transition and Job Strategy Coach specializing in working with teachers who are experiencing the painful symptoms of job burnout. She also works with mid-career professionals from all walks of life who find themselves at a career crossroads either by chance or by choice. Learn more about Kitty at TeachersinTransition.com or at Boitnott Coaching.com.
Clients often ask me how they can improve during interviews. That’s a pretty big topic!
Certainly we need to be mindful of our body language, our tone of voice and all that goes into presenting ourselves as an enthusiastic solution to the employer’s needs.
We practice our answers to standard interview questions just like we studied for tests in school. And while it’s important to come up with good wording for our answers, today I want to focus on a tip for creating a more positive verbal presence.
It’s knowing when you may be talking too long. Hey, we’ve all been in conversations where you just wish the other person would run out of breath and be quiet. We all know that person — the one who never shuts up. Some of you remember the television show “All In The Family.” Don’t be an Edith Bunker!
During interviews, it’s easy to talk too long. After all, you’re probably a bit nervous. You want to make sure you’re giving the employer the best and most thorough answers you can.
In our culture, during everyday conversation we cut each other off all the time. While doing so too soon can sometimes be perceived as being rude, it is a very common occurrence. After all, when we’ve heard enough, it’s time for the other person to talk.
The problem is, during interviews the employer will often remain silent until you’ve completed your answer. And you, expecting to be cut off, fill that space with more and more verbiage.
So how can you get a sense for when to wrap up? Try these tips in everyday conversation so they’ll become second nature during stressful interview situation.
Look for the other person to nod their head as you’re talking. This probably signifies they are following what you’re saying. If they sit like a statue without facial expression, try pausing for a couple of seconds. That’ll usually encourage them to acknowledge they’re dialed in to what you’re saying.
The second level of response is when you pick up on an audible sound, such as “Hmmm” or some other sound. This tells me to begin wrapping up because the person is more strongly signifying they get my point.
The final level of response is when the employer speaks by saying such words as, “OK, I understand, that makes sense, right, sure, I’m with you.” By the time you’ve heard any of those words, there’s a great chance the other person has shut down listening and is ready to speak. You may feel you have plenty more to say, yet they’re not ready to listen. Same thing happens when talking in detail to young children. You have all this “wisdom” to impart, but you’ve already lost ’em.
Therein lies a problem. Sure, you know you need to wrap up quickly, lest you talk yourself out of the interview and job. But how can you anticipate when they’ll start with the, “OK, right, sure, etc.?”
My advice is to keep an answer short, then conclude by asking a question. For example, if I’m asked about an accomplishment, I’ll want to state the situation, my actions/activity, and the result in a concise manner. Then say something such as, “As you might imagine, there’s much more that went into that project. I’m happy to give you more detail if you’d like.” By asking such a question, it allows the employer to redirect you to a specific portion of the accomplishment. As well, if they’ve heard enough, and they simply say, “No, I’m good. Thanks,” then you should be glad you stopped when you did.
Perhaps later in the interview you can go back to provide some of that additional detail you didn’t get the chance to earlier on.
Remember, sometimes less is better. Especially when you’re getting clear signals the employer understands you and is ready to move on.
As always, if you’re a professional and could use some help with your job search, my center’s services are free. Contact me at the address below. Good luck!
Randy Wooden is a longtime Triad career consultant and the director of Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina’s Professional Center, in partnership with the NCWorks Career Center. You may reach him at email@example.com or at (336) 776-6822.
By: Piper Kerrigan
There are so many career options and everyone has different skill sets and interests. If you do not have a bachelor's degree, don't sweat it. There are plenty of opportunities and thoughtful careers to be had. Hopefully these eight professions can get you thinking about possible opportunities that will fit you and your lifestyle.
Home Care Aid
Being a home care aid is a career that encompasses many different skills. As an aid you perform tasks like cooking, cleaning, driving/transportation, and more. This career is a good choice if you are interested in helping people who are unable to perform their day to day tasks. You will have the chance to get to know and assist people who are sick, disabled, or elderly, with a gentile and personal touch.
This is another career choice that has many different options and directions you can go in. Whether you want to work in a large business, a casino, a hospital, or pretty much anywhere that requires additional security personnel. To be a security guard you do need to acquire a license. There are different requirements to get licensed as a security guard in different states. Some are more stringent than others, but most require little education, or even just a high school diploma along with some specialized training. As a security guard you need to be able to understand the law, as well as the company policies and be able and willing to enforce both.
By becoming a massage therapist you will be able to treat clients by soothing muscles and relaxing tension. You will be able to relieve pain, help heal injuries, and just provide an overall relaxing and serene atmosphere to heal and improve your client's body, and muscles. Massage therapy is another career that in many places requires a license or certification.
If you enjoy working in an office setting and are good with organization and communication then becoming an administrative assistant could be a good fit for you. One of the benefits of this career is that you can choose a field that you enjoy and immerse yourself in what you find interesting. Your job may vary based on where you are working, but overall you will be assisting people and answering questions and concerns that arise from the client or patient.
If you have always had a knack for technology and computers then you can definitely become a web developer. There are many classes that instruct you on the dos and don'ts of coding and web development. If you are overly enterprising, you may be able to learn all of these skills from youtube and forums, but there are also classes you can take that will teach you the many different facets of the internet and gain knowledge and experience in the web development niche.
Cosmetologist or Hair Stylist
Everyone has a favorite hair stylist, if you are into cosmetology then you can be the person giving people their awesome new looks. To get started you can take classes from a cosmetology program or beauty school. This career is ideal for outgoing people who are good listeners, because everyone like to confide in their hair stylist, but there are also many other career options available to cosmetologists.
If you want to consider being a sales representative, your job would be to persuade prospective clients to buy your product or service. Sales is a key component for most companies, so you can choose what field you enjoy the most and learn and grow within that area. A lot of the way a company performs comes down to how well their sales representatives operate.
Becoming a nurse requires a diploma from a nursing program. You can start with an associate’s degree, or even a certificate, and always have the option to obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree later. One of the many benefits of becoming a nurse is that there are always job opportunities. If you like caring for people and don't have a problem with a hectic schedule, becoming a nurse could be the best choice for you.
What other awesome careers can you think of that do not require a bachelor's degree? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org .
About the author: Piper Kerrigan is a professional baker and freelance writer. She enjoys researching current affairs, the outdoors, and snuggling her kitten.
LILY ZHANG for The Muse
Let's be honest: When it comes to applying for jobs, the "it can't hurt" benchmark is often the deciding factor over whether or not to do something. Sending a cover letter? It can't hurt. Finding your interviewer on LinkedIn? It can't hurt. Sending a thank-you note? It can't hurt.
Or can it?
Actually, yes, it absolutely can. Here are just a few scenarios in which sending a thank-you note might hurt your chances of landing the job.
1. It's full of typos
If you're really serious about a job, you probably had your resume and cover letter reviewed by a couple other people before you hit submit. But even the most careful job seeker can make mistakes during the high that comes after a successful interview. Don't blow your carefully crafted image, and double-check to make sure that your thank-you note is typo-free.
2. It's a week late
Another good impression killer is sending your note in late. Thank-you notes are the most effective when you send them ASAP or at least within 48 hours of your interview. If you want to leave the impression that you're only mildly interested in the position, then go ahead and take your time. If not, then send it immediately. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.
3. It's generic
You might think that going through the motions and sending a generic thank-you note is better than sending nothing, but you'd be wrong. Hiring managers get excited when they find exceptional candidates who are really excited about the job. And sending a boring thank-you note that could have been addressed to anyone? That's an easy way to shatter your image.
Oh, and don't think you can just write one spectacular thank-you note and send it to all the different people you interacted with during the interview. Many companies request that thank-you notes get forwarded to HR so they can be attached to a candidate's file. Having the same five notes on file probably won't help you land the job, so take the time to actually personalize some aspects of your message. It's worth it.
4. It's just a way to talk about yourself more
Did you forget to mention that one time you did something that was extremely relevant to the job you're interviewing for now? Think the thank-you note is the right place to share this relevant experience? It might be okay to mention it briefly, but it's definitely a mistake for you to transform your thank-you note into a second take of your interview. Thank-you notes shouldn't be long, so you don't really have a lot of space to, you know, thank your interviewer — let alone share another story. If you must do it, make it brief.
5. It's inappropriate
You don't have the job yet, so don't get too chummy in your note. No matter how sure you are that you nailed the interview, your best bet is to remain professional throughout the process. (That means no nicknames, no sarcasm and definitely no cursing.)
I've gone on and on about the various ways sending a thank-you note can hurt your chances of getting the job offer, but naturally the biggest thank-you note blunder would be to not send one. So, please send a thank-you note after your interview — just make it great.
About The Author
Lily Zhang serves as a Career Development Specialist at MIT where she works with a range of students from undergraduates to PhDs on how to reach their career aspirations. When she's not indulging in a new book or video game, she's thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.
Use these months to get a leg up on the competition.
Just like that, the year is already halfway over.
Instead of trying to figure out how it's already June, let's face the facts: In January you probably decided this was – check that, is – your year to make a significant change in your career – whether it's a leap to the next level or boost in your income. Yet here you find yourself midyear, still toiling away in the same position, barely tolerating things like a toxic environment, boring projects and stagnant pay.
It may feel tempting to postpone your job search endeavors until Labor Day because you think there are less open positions in the summer, but that will likely become Thanksgiving, then the December holidays and before you know it, another new year. Don't let this be you! Countless job offers are indeed extended at this time of year. And if you need more convincing, here are five specific reasons why you should keep your job hunt thriving during the summer months.
It's the perfect time to re-assess your job search efforts. While you shouldn't convince yourself that it's okay to spend the whole summer "thinking," the slower pace of things provides a great opportunity to take a step back and evaluate your efforts since January. What has been effective? What hasn't been working? What can you tweak? Take stock of your elevator pitch, update your resume with any new titles or skills you've developed and ensure your social media profiles are crisp and professional. By conducting a self-audit, you'll be able to make slight changes that will enhance your search through the rest of the summer, and year.
You're getting ahead of the competition. Consider this: There's a significant decrease in online application submissions between June and Labor Day. For recruiters, this is tough, but it's great news for job seekers! During the summer, recruiters have less resumes and cover letters to review. Simply put, you'll have less competition for the jobs you want.
Sure, it may feel challenging to keep the job hunt going while you're planning a vacation or enjoying those summer Fridays, but you need to keep your eye on the prize. Instead of waiting until September to resume your job search, this is the perfect time to refocus on your New Year's resolutions. As long as you stay on top of your job search – even if it's just with coffee meetings or informational phone interviews – you'll keep developing your prospects and in turn, be ahead of other qualified job seekers. They snooze, they lose – and you ultimately win.
Scheduling interviews can feel easier. During the summer (depending on your industry and when your busy season is) you may notice a slight decrease in your workload. When the weather starts to warm up, lighter dress codes and more opportunities to work remotely can lead to a more relaxed feel in the office.
As a result, you may have more freedom to take those informative networking phone calls and meetings on your personal time. Instead of feeling like you're sneaking out of the office, you can confidently pursue conversations about the next step in your career. That way, you can focus on impressing whoever you're meeting with instead of feeling paranoid about your cover being blown at the office.
Networking may feel more casual. If you tend to find traditional, professional networking situations like conferences challenging, the summer presents excellent opportunities to ramp up your job search. Barbecuing with neighbors? Great! Most of them probably have useful advice and several contacts they can share with you over a burger. Playing in a summer softball league? Excellent! Grab a beer afterwards and get to know your teammates – and their professions.
Plus, summer conversations in general tend to lend themselves well to breaking the ice – whether you're talking about the local weather forecast or summer vacation destinations, striking up conversations may feel less forced and more organic when they're simply that: casual conversations between regular people – that just so happen to lead to talking about your professional goals, of course!
You can gain perspective on your current job situation. If you were anticipating a promotion this year, has it happened? What is the timeline and what are the skills you need to hone before it can become a reality? Also, evaluate your compensation. What are your financial goals – with your current salary, will that increase be easy or difficult to achieve over the next three years? If you're feeling a little too comfortable now, remind yourself why you were steadfast in your decision to leave your job in January. Revisit those underlying reasons and instead of tolerating a mediocre raise, force yourself to face the facts.
The longer you stay in your current role, the longer your financial goals will fall short of your desired compensation. As you're searching for a new job, think about the challenging situations you continue to face. Instead of just accepting them, use them to come up with talking points for your next interview. For instance, perhaps you encountered a new colleague who seems to constantly undermine you. Stressful, yes, but it will serve as a robust example to share during interviews when you're asked how you navigate working with difficult people!
Look at the summer as a time to re-evaluate your job-searching efforts and kick the hunt into high gear. Stay the course and you'll create momentum that lasts well into Labor Day and beyond.
Vicki Salemi is a career expert for Monster, a global leader in connecting people to jobs. She utilizes her more than 15 years of experience in corporate recruiting and human resources to empower job seekers with insights and firsthand knowledge from the halls of HR. A public speaker and consultant, Vicki is the author of "Big Career in the Big City,” and former creator/host/producer of MediabistroTV's "Score That Job."
When you’re looking for a new job, there’s a lot that can go wrong, from formatting your resume improperly to being tripped up by questions during the job interview. Watch out for these 10 common mistakes job applicants often make.
10. Not Starting Your Job Search Soon Enough
The biggest mistake is not looking for a new job soon enough. You should keep looking for a new job, even if you have one you like and perhaps don’t want to quit. Start your job search at least 18 months or so after starting your new job. Gone are the days of pensions for decades of employee loyalty or people staying at one job for more than a few years. Whatever your job, stay on your toes so you’ll be ready for your next job search.
9. Responding to Want Ads and Job Boards
Online job boards can help you find the keywords for your resume and criteria companies are looking for. But for landing a specific job? They’re not usually so helpful, and are more often a waste of time. Be careful, because sometimes they’re not even legitimate job ads. You’re better off reaching out to your network—perhaps using LinkedIn—than spending a ton of time applying to online job listings.
8. Sending Unsolicited Resumes
If you’ve found a company you’re interested in working for and the contact information for someone who works there, that’s a great thing. But don’t just send your resume out of the blue (“Hey can you find me a job at your company I’d be a fit for?”). It’s one of the most common job search mistakes you can make. Ask your contact for advice before applying for a position normally there—if they offer to pass along a recommendation or your resume, that’s great. But let them decide to do it or not.
7. Not Keeping Your Job Search a Secret
In some cases, it might make sense to tell your boss you’re thinking of leaving—if your manager might be willing to change the things that are bothering you. But this depends highly on your boss, and in most cases, you should keep your job search under wraps. You can make your search private even if the company checks up on employees. Make sure you change this LinkedIn setting before you start updating your profile for the job hunt.
6. Not Cleaning Up Your Online Profiles
Most people are aware that potential employers check candidates’ social media profiles, and yet many applicants still get rejected because of their poor online profiles. Sometimes it’s not over inappropriate content, but other things like poor communication skills or sharing information about previous employers. Spruce up your social network profiles, and make sure there’s nothing posted there that might put you in a bad light.
5. Sending Generic Resumes
It might seem like too much work, but you should tailor your resume for the job and your profession. Remember that both hiring managers and computerized screening systems look to see if your resume matches the position. Use the keywords from the job listing in your resume. A service like Resunate can help or just create resume templates to avoid sending out the same resume everywhere. Know the key words that are best for your field.
4. Showing Up to the Interview Unprepared
You’ve got to ace the interview to get the job, but according to hiring managers, too many job applicants aren’t prepared for things like describing situations where they’ve succeeded or failed—or don’t even look interested. Watch your body language, come prepared with questions for the company, and be ready to respond to the most common job interview questions. Here’s a job interview sheet that can help you prep. Also, get to the interview about 15 minutes early, not too early.
3. Not Researching the Company
This was a biggie when I asked hiring managers what they wished job applicants knew. Know the company’s narrative before you apply: their pain points, values, and industry trends. This will help you figure out if the company is a cultural fit for you, and it will also show your interviewer that you really care about the job and your potential future at the company.
2. Not Using Your Network
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” rings true to a great extent. Your contacts—and the people they know—are your best source for a new job, since the majority of jobs aren’t even advertised. In some industries, such as computer security and management consulting, networking matters even a great deal more. It’s awkward to reach out to people when you’re looking for a job, but someone in your network could be a great referral. You could use a trade show to network your way into a new job, the LinkedIn “back door” method, or just, you know, pick up the phone or send an email. If you haven’t talked to a reference in a long time, just be transparent about why you’re reaching out.
1. Underestimating Your Worth
Even when the job market is tough, you shouldn’t automatically accept any job offer (unless, perhaps, you’re in dire need of a job right now). The only way to make sure a job offer is fair is to know how much your skills and experience are worth. Know what salary to ask for in a new job by using a salary search site like PayScale or Glassdoor. That way you can avoid lowball offers and negotiate your salary. You should have a minimum salary you’d be willing to accept, and aim for getting a higher salary and/or better benefits than you’re currently getting. The biggest salary negotiation mistake is not doing it, so don’t be afraid to negotiate. Remember that you have and will be earning your income.
Networking events can be awkward but are still the best way to meet people who can help your career. Here's how to make them less painful.
"Would you like the opportunity to network with some of the most influential professionals in your field?" asks the latest invite to hit your inbox. Of course you wouldn’t—networking totally sucks, you remind yourself as you scroll down looking for that minuscule "unsubscribe" link.
It’s true that networking events are often pretty unpleasant. But it’s also true that if you’re looking for a new job or trying to pitch your business, there’s still no substitute. Getting a bunch of professionals in the same room for a couple hours, handing out drinks, and letting them mingle is still one of the surest ways to make the connections you need to get where you’re trying to go.
If you can accept that fact, you can network effectively—even if that’s something you usually hate doing. These five tips can help you make your next networking event a minimally painful and actually useful experience.
1. STOP FIENDISHLY SWAPPING BUSINESS CARDS
Some people at networking events will literally shake your hand with one hand and proffer their business card with another. Don’t be that person. This is not a baseball card convention, and you don’t win a prize by collecting the most business cards.
Instead, when you meet someone, say hello, shake hands, then mention something that has nothing to do with your work—leaving your business card in your pocket. The point isn’t to become a walking version of your resume, it’s simply to start getting to know people.
As Mary Olson-Menzel, the head of an executive search firm, tells Fast Company, having three solid conversations is better than walking out with 30 cards in your pocket from people you barely met.
2. SHARE STORIES, NOT JUST FACTS
Eventually, most networking-event conversations will swing back toward something work-related anyway, even if you start them off more casually. But handled the wrong way, that’s exactly where they might end:
Your new connection: So what do you do?
You: I work at a small branding agency, [name of the agency that your new connection hasn’t heard of]. What about you?
Them: I’m a sales VP for a pharmaceutical company.
You: Oh, how long have you been there?
Them: About four years. You?
You: Coming up on two.
Them: Cool, cool . . .
Wow, scintillating. You could’ve found that out on LinkedIn. Worse still, you’ve just confirmed that your professional roles have apparently nothing to do with each other. Now you’re scanning the room for other people to go talk to.
Instead, when someone asks you what your job is, tell them that and also what you did previously. You don’t need to recap your entire career trajectory. For instance, I might say, "I’m an editor at Fast Company, and before that I worked in book publishing and later covered the industry." This way you won’t just be talking about your jobs (sharing data), you’ll be talking about your careers (swapping stories).
That makes for better conversation, which is an upside all by itself. But there's another benefit, too: People now change careers, not just jobs, more rapidly than ever, so there’s a decent likelihood that you’ll discover more overlapping experiences this way than if you just stick to discussing what you currently do.
3. ASK WHY AND HOW
People love to talk about themselves, including you. So try and pull back, giving others the floor. To do that, Stand Out author Dorie Clark says to ask open-ended questions. "'How long have you lived in New York?' is a decent question," she writes, "but 'Why did you move to New York?' is likely to yield a much more interesting answer, and new conversational directions."
Not only does this leave more room for the person you’re talking with to talk about themselves, it also gets back to moving from facts to narratives. To do that, you need to guide conversations toward cause and effect—toward understanding someone’s motivations. Ask things like, "How did you get into that role?" or "What made you decide to leave?"
4. BRING A BUDDY—BUT NOT A POSSE
Arriving solo to a networking event can be intimidating. Chances are you’ll have to break up an existing conversation in order to find somebody to talk to. So show up with a friend or colleague, just don’t drag in half your office.
Trios, at least in my experience, are more flexible in networking situations. You’re free to approach somebody on your own while two friends chat nearby (but can retreat to them if need be), or else a pair of people can easily strike up a group conversation with your circle. If it’s just you and a friend, though, now you’re the duo that someone else needs to interrupt.
Whatever your exact numbers, one obvious benefit of being part of a small group is that you wind up meeting more people, but another is that it spares you from getting locked into fruitless one-on-ones that are hard to excuse yourself from.
5. USE YOUR OWN TIME WISELY
It’s important to know when to leave—and when to not go at all. There’s such a thing as networking malaise. Many such events take place after a long workday, and summoning the energy to socialize with strangers at that point can be a real chore. Dud events—and there will be duds—can feel like a real letdown, especially if you’re actively looking for a new job. That’s a frustrating process all by itself, so a string of what turn out to be pointless networking experiences might leave you feeling pretty dejected.
If you can tell after the first 15 minutes that there probably aren’t the right type of connections here for you, don’t stick it out. And if you get an invitation to something that looks only sort of maybe a little interesting, think twice. It’s okay to be equal parts discriminating and optimistic in terms of the kinds of get-togethers you choose to attend.
The flip side, of course, is knowing when to go the extra mile and turn what might be a regular event for other people into a networking event for you. Early in my career, while I was trying to work out an exit from book publishing, I hopped on a bus from New York to Washington, D.C., for a media company’s holiday party that a friend had invited me to. It was much more fun and relaxed than a purpose-built networking event, and I had two or three great conversations I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
That helped secure me a few more writing gigs, which at the time were worth their weight in round-trip bus fare. Best of all, not a single business card changed hands.
It’s a job seeker’s worst nightmare: You have the right experience and you’ve found the right role, but somewhere along the way, you make a mistake that disqualifies you.
Now that you’re sufficiently scared by that scenario, you should know that most of these impossible-to-recover-from mistakes are also totally avoidable.The trick is knowing about these costly—but all too common, and often well-intentioned—errors in advance, so you can be sure to sidestep them as you go through the process.
1. You Show Up Unprepared for a Networking Meeting
You don’t prepare anything because your game plan is to simply chat and connect so you can demonstrate that you’re not using your contact. However, if you have nothing to say about your job search, the other person will actually be really disappointed.
Here’s why: Coffee meetings cost your contact more than $4. And even if you treat him, they’re still not free. That’s because the other person has to build out time in his schedule to meet up with you (and if we all had free hours floating around, people wouldn’t be so obsessed with productivity hacks).
I’m not saying he’d rather be somewhere else: My point is that he made an effort to find the time to discuss your job prospects. (Translation: He believes in you and wants to help!) If you have no questions about his industry or work or not the slightest idea what you’re interested in, it’s a waste of his time.
So, while you can lead with small talk, also be ready to make the most of the meeting. This means bringing several questions about the other person’s work or career trajectory and at least one idea of a career path or skill you’re interested in exploring.
2. You Send Out Generic Job Applications
Compiling your materials is time-consuming. So, once you have an error-free resume and a cover letter that expresses your skills and interests, it’s understandable that you might not see the issue in sending that one perfected document out for every role you’re interested in. After all, could the tasks assigned to an engineer at one company really be that different than they would be at another? If you’ve already found the perfect way to sum up your sales experience, why shouldn’t you just stick with what you have?
While you can use one, killer template as a starting point, you’re not saving any time by skipping the customization step. That’s because generic apps are many hiring managers’ pet peeve—they figure that if you don’t have 30 minutes to create a specific application, they might as well not take 30 minutes to interview you. Or, even worse, because you’re not tailoring and using the right wording (even when you’re describing the exact right skills), you’re taken out of consideration because the person skimming this document doesn’t see what feels so obvious to you.
Along these lines, fake-personalizing (i.e., using find-replace to swap out the company and position name but otherwise keeping your letter the same) should also be avoided. Hiring managers can typically see right through this—and even worse you risk messing it up and including the wrong company name in your application!
So, take the time customize your application. If a job doesn’t seem like it’s worth the effort, that’s OK. It may be a sign that it’s not the right role for you anyhow.
3. You Act Like You’ve Already Been Hired in Your Interview
You hear so much about the importance of fitting in that you want to show you’re a match for company culture right away. So, you lean way back in your chair and crack jokes about the office, the perks, the people you’ve met already—really, everything’s fair game for a casual conversation.
You’re totally blindsided when you don’t receive an offer, because you thought you had developed a great rapport. The truth is that you may have, but at the same time, acting too comfortable comes off as cocky. It can worry the interviewer that this is how you’d approach all stressful or important situations. From there, she questions whether you’d be up to meeting with key stakeholders and representing the company in a serious light as well.
So, don’t act like a team member. Instead, act like a candidate who would be a good team member. And never make comments—no matter how offhand or how well things have been going—like you know you’re just going through the motions until they hire you. Treat it like an interview the whole way through by keeping your tone a tad deferential.
4. You Obsessively Follow Up
This one’s kind of a heartbreaker, because you could have done everything right and be the number one candidate at the end of an interview, but if you mess this up, you’ll undo all of your hard work.
It’s not fair when people characterize an overly aggressive follow-up strategy as sheer impatience. There are lots of well-meaning reasons why you might overdo it: You want to show how much you care; you need to know if you should put in two weeks notice; you have another offer on the table.
But, you have to remember that you don’t actually have the job yet, and so if you start pestering the hiring manager, you could lose your top spot. Remember, the application process is an audition, and there are times when you’ll have to play by the rules (even if the rules kind of suck).
Avoid any of these lines that scare hiring managers and use this template for following up on a job opportunity instead. Finally, if you don’t hear back right away, be sure to wait one week before checking back in.
Looking for a new job takes work, so the last thing you want to do is get in your own way. Along with focusing on what you should do, spend some time thinking about what you should be sure to avoid. That way, you can rest easy that you’re setting yourself up for success.
About The Author - Sara McCord’s column “Impress Me” explains how to make a better professional impression step-by-step. Her career advice has been published on Forbes, Mashable, Newsweek, TIME, Inc., and Business Insider. A Staff Writer/Editor for The Daily Muse, Sara has experience managing programs, building strategic partnerships, advising executive directors, and supporting a national network of volunteers. Catch up with Sara on her blog Grab A Latte or on Twitter @grabalatte.
You received a call confirming an interview with X company you applied for just two days back. Before you think that all you need is a knockout resume and a killer outfit, think again.
Nowadays, there's a step before the in-person interview: The Phone Interview.
Employers are increasingly opting for phone interviews to screen potential new hires. They want to be as sure as possible that you're a worthy candidate before they ask you to pay them a visit. It saves them time and energy.
So there you have perhaps five minutes to impress the hiring manager enough so that you get on to the next level, whatever that maybe - another phone interview, a Skype interview or an office interview.
And if this thought has your heart racing and palms get sweaty more often....
1) The biggest lesson for you — Getting nervous is only normal
Getting nervous is good. It means you care. So don't beat yourself up about it. Learn to channel your nervous energy into showing positivity and healthy levels of enthusiasm on the phone.
2) Look up on LinkedIn to learn more about the hiring manager
Find an online photograph of the person who is interviewing you. Search on LinkedIn or on the company's website. It's much easier to talk with someone when you know what he/she looks like. Also, at a time when you are not only anxious about talking to a stranger, but also stressed about trying to impress him enough to get hired, several questions can plague your mind - How will they act on the phone? Will they be friendly, or stern? Will they make small talk or talk strictly business?
You have to be able to quickly assess, within the first few spoken words, the interviewer's personality and adjust your demeanor accordingly. Here, it helps to know little about their interests, hobbies, work experience and fish out if you have something in common with them, so that at the time of the call, you are able to pick up the relevant conversation with him.
The day before the interview, practice asking your questions aloud and, while you're at it, rehearse your answers to some potential questions that the interviewer might ask you. ("What are your strengths?".... "Tell me about yourself... "How do you see this position contributing to the continued success of the organization?"
Google to find out everything you need to know about the company. This will demonstrate your interest in the company, and the job, and show that you're a highly qualified applicant. Also remember, phone interviews are great opportunity to find out more details about the job, the company, the work environment and the team, as job descriptions on public portals are often notoriously vague.
4) Take care of the basics
It's not a good idea to hear barking dogs, crying children or blaring car horns when you are giving an interview. Get everyone out of the house, or make sure to have an isolated room where you can lock the door. Your cell phone should be fully charged!
5) Treat it as an office interview
Researc says you're more likely to feel and sound professional if you look the part, so dress as you would for a face-to-face interview. Put a mirror on your desk to see your facial expressions when you talk. Remember to smile: You can't sound bored or uninterested if you have a smile on your face.
6) The best part - The invisibility factor!
Phone interviews are a lot like open-book tests. You can have all the information you need to know (about the company and the person conducting the interview right in front of you). Keep tabs open in a browser like company information, statistics, competitors etc in case you may need it.
7) Crisp and Concise answers are a MUST
You have less time to make a good impression. Avoid long-winded answers. Keep your responses to no more than three sentences.
And if you are not able to make it still, life doesn't end. This is what you need!
Most people head into job interviews prepared to sell themselves. Entrepreneur Dave Kerpen says that’s their first mistake.
“If you’re going into a job interview thinking I’ve got to prove myself, you’re forgetting that it’s not really about you—it’s about the other person,” Kerpen, founder and CEO of the social media marketing software company Likeable Local and author of the new book The Art of People, tells Quartz.
The Art of People functions as a kind of manual for professional friendliness, offering offbeat yet practical tips on topics like offering constructive criticism (he recommends sneaking negative feedback into a “praise sandwich”) and standing out at a networking event (he favors orange sneakers). Kerpen’s operating theory that it’s easy to form connections with people—so long as we’re considerate about who they are and what they want.
To that end, Kerpen advises job-seekers to flip the script in interviews: Spend less time obsessing about how you come across, and more time directing your energies outward. Here are some concrete tips to try out at your next big audition.
Before the interview
According to the psychological theory of emotional contagion, good moods really do spread. So going into your job interview in an upbeat state of mind increases the chances that your prospective employer will respond to you enthusiastically.
Kerpen suggests two ways to get the good vibes started. The first is to practice gratitude, which has been shown to increase people’s optimism and sense of wellbeing. One 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, for example, found that subjects who kept track of things they were grateful for tended to be in more positive spirits than both people who focused on negative events and people who kept more neutral records.
So on the morning of your interview, try jotting down a list of five or ten things you’re grateful for, or write a thank-you note to someone who’s recently done you a good turn.
“Gratitude is really powerful,” Kerpen tells Quartz. “It’s an almost drug-like concept that will put you in a better state of mind, and that will help your chances of getting what you want.”
Do something nice for someone else.
Performing a small act of kindness on the day of your interview will also help put you in a good mood, according to Kerpen. This could involve anything from giving money to a homeless person to making pancakes for your kids to helping a stranger carry her stroller down a flight of stairs.
Research shows such gestures make a big difference in our outlook. A 2015 study published in Clinical Psychological Science, for example, found that adults who performed minor kindnesses such as holding open a door or helping someone with homework experienced lower levels of stress.
Offering help to others also keeps the job hunt in perspective, Kerpen says. “They remind us that in the grand scheme of things, the interview is not so important,” he tells Quartz. “That takes the pressure off.”
Wear a memorable accessory.
Not everyone has to follow Kerpen’s lead and buy 29 pairs of orange sneakers. But he does recommend wearing a distinctive accessory to the interview that will set you apart from the other applicants. That could be anything from a colorful scarf to an unusual pair of eyeglasses. “It adds a nice touch to your personal brand,” he says. And if you happen to be up against a host of other applicants, wearing something unique could make it more likely that your interviewer will remember you later.
Always take the water.
People tend to form first impressions quickly, drawing on a variety of factors—some of which, such as our faces and voices, are beyond a job applicant’s control. So it’s important to do what you can to make a good impression, no matter how small.
One simple way to do this is to accept your interviewer’s offer of coffee or water before your meeting begins, according to Kerpen. “We often don’t want to put the other person out, so we say no thank you,” he says. “But when you have someone to your house and you ask for a drink of water and they say ‘No, I’m fine,’ that makes you feel uncomfortable and like you’re a bad host.”
The same principle applies in an interview, he says. “It’s a way for you to put the other person at ease.” And while it’s unlikely that a job applicant has ever been rejected simply for rebuffing a beverage, Kerpen points out that “there’s no downside.” At a minimum, accepting the water will give you a prop: you can gather your thoughts during the interview while taking a long sip.
Say the magic word.
Chances that are your first exchange with your interviewer will involve some variation of the question, “How are you?” Rather than opt for the usual response of “Good” or “Great,” Kerpen recommends going a step further with the word “Fantastic.”
Why the ultra-enthusiastic response? “Everyone wants to be around someone who’s fantastic,” Kerpen tells Quartz. “No one wants to be around someone who just says ‘I’m okay’ or ‘I’m tired.’” And the answer is bound to get your interviewer’s attention.
During the interview
Remember: it’s not about you.
Your goal in the interview should be to identify your interviewers’ vision for the job opening and figure out what you can do to the company accomplish its goals, Kerpen says. “People think they’re going to job interviews to talk about themselves, and that’s valuable,” says Kerpen. ‘But if you can get the person talking and getting inspired about their own visions and dreams, they’re going to love you.”
Mirroring is a psychological phenomenon in which people mimic speech patterns, gestures and nonverbal behaviors of others. Research has shown that people who use mirroring effectively tend to be seen in a positive, persuasive light.
The key, Kerpen says, is to do this naturally. For example, you might try picking up on a turn of phrase that your interviewer uses and repeating it in your question. This can demonstrate that you’re listening closely and validating your prospective employer’s perspective.
“That makes the other person feel like they’re being heard,” Kerpen says. And it’s particularly important in a job interview, when prospective managers are on the lookout for employees who have the ability to pay attention to (and remember) what they say.
Be transparent about your failures.
Kerpen admits that this is one of his more controversial recommendations. A lot of people head into job interviews feeling nervous that their employers will press them about a gap in their resume or a history of job-hopping. But Kerpen says that in his own hiring practices, he values people who are willing to discuss such matters straightforwardly.
“I want someone who is going to have made mistakes and learned from it,” Kerpen tells Quartz. He often sets the tone of the conversation by opening up about his own story of falling in love with a married woman. “We all make mistakes, and that’s not the problem. The problem is making a mistake and not learning from it, or covering it up, or pretending it doesn’t exist.”
While other interviewers may react differently, Kerpen says that transparency and a willingness to be vulnerable tend to be rewarded in the long run. “They’re really moving in their ability to help us connect with others,” he says.
After the interview
Offer heartfelt praise.
Don’t underestimate the power of authentic praise at the end of an interview, Kerpen says. “Letting people know how much you appreciated their questions and their company makes them feel good,” he tells Quartz. In fact, research has shown that receiving praise activates the same area of the brain–the striatum–that lights up upon receiving cash. So be sure to tell your interviewer a few specific things that you enjoyed discussing as you wrap things up.
Write a thank-you note right away.
Kerpen recommends bringing a blank card with you to the interview. When the interview is over, he says, you can just jot down your thanks in the lobby and leave the card with the receptionist.
“Extending a handwritten thank-you note afterward is a powerful way to differentiate yourself and stand out in a memorable way,” Kerpen says.
Once you’ve got the job
When the holidays roll around, you may find yourself stumped about what to give your new boss—or any other important professional contact, for that matter. Kerpen says you can’t go wrong with a bonsai tree.
“It’s thoughtful and memorable, and it lasts forever,” he says. But any unique, fairly inexpensive gift will do: A jar of honey branded with his company’s logo has also been one of his go-to gifts.
“It also lasts potentially for years, so whenever the person uses it they’re reminded of thoughtfulness and sweetness,” he says. “So it’s not a huge investment, but it makes a big difference in building your relationship.”
By Brittney Helmrich, Business News Daily Staff Writer
We all grow up with dreams of what we want to be someday, but landing that dream job isn't easy. Applying to jobs and going on interviews can be time-consuming and stressful. Plus, the companies you have your eye on may not even be hiring in the first place — or the right job for you might not even exist yet.
The good news is, it may be a challenge, but the stress of the job hunt doesn't have to stop you. If you go into your search fully prepared, you might just be able to turn your dream job into a reality.
Ready to take on the career of your dreams? Here's how to land the perfect job for you, according to business owners and career experts.
Know exactly what you want.
"Get extremely specific about what you're looking for. Instead of taking personality tests that provide broad [or] general career advice, get really specific about the type of career niche and respective job function and job title you want within a particular industry. So, for example, if you wanted to work in the travel industry, your career niche would be hospitality, [your] job function would be marketing and [your] job title would be hotel sales manager. This is important because hiring managers that are related to the job of your dreams will not hire someone who will 'take anything.' They want someone who is qualified, but also, they want someone who truly wants the particular vacancy they're trying to fill, not someone who lacks a clear career goal. Remember, if you don't know what you want, you'll probably never get it." – Kimberly Ramsawak, travel career strategist and founder, Tourism Exposed
Reach out to companies directly.
"Forget job postings. Find a fast-growing company whose mission you believe in. Reach out directly, and tell them how you can help. There is a whole layer of hidden job opportunities that never make it to a job posting. When a company is growing fast and staying busy, they might not even know they need you until you tell them." – Derek Szeto, CEO, Wirkn
Do your research.
"Research the company, research the interviewers [and] research the job. Really understand what this role is, what the company fit is and what the company niche is. Be able to showcase this research in the interview through strategic questions and specific details in the dialogue. It's the job of the candidate to fully understand the position, and then be able to explain why they are the right person for the job. Research has to be all-encompassing, and should include looking at the company Instagram or Facebook for pictures of company events, to take note of the dress code. Research as many people in the company as possible to observe their career paths and job functions." – Nadine Varca Bilotta, founding partner, CompleteCandidate
Rethink your skill set.
"Even though you may be interested in a complete career switch, many of the skills that you've built up in your current field will still be useful in your new one. Think about how you can position yourself to prospective employers by using these skills as indicators of your future capabilities and success. Don't forget to think about softer skills, like leadership, communication and teamwork; these are often just as valuable to companies as harder skills like programming and media management." – Sam McIntire, founder, Deskbright [See Related Story: 10 Dream Jobs You Won't Believe Actually Exist]
Use social media.
"Your personal brand is an incredibly powerful tool in landing the job of your dreams. While your résumé and cover letter are great places to tell hiring managers all about your abilities and past work, they're a little black and white. With social media and building your personal brand online, you can show instead of tell. Your personal brand can help distinguish you from others, showcase your personality and talents, and help you be seen as a credible and trusted resource in your industry. Building out your social presence can also help you grow your network and make it easier for relevant people to find you." – Lauren Friedman, head of social business enablement, Adobe
Build your network.
"Once you find something you are enthusiastic about, don't run to the want ads. Start talking to people in that world. This is easier now than ever because of the abundance of virtual communities. Getting near the people who love, and are enthusiastic about, the same things as you is the doorway to accessing opportunities and supporters who've been where you are — on the outside wanting to get in — and who know about the inside opportunities. In these communities and around these people, you'll learn the language, behaviors and idiosyncrasies that are particular to the profession or industry that interests you, which communicates to people you talk to that you've made an effort to learn their world." – Courtney Kirschbaum, career and life coach and founder, Original Experience
Show how passionate you are.
"Tell the hiring manager that this is the job of your dreams. If you act like this is just an interview or role like any other, the recruiter won't know how strongly you feel about the opportunity. Let them know why you're excited about this role using specifics. Your energy will likely be infectious, and your reasons could make you stand out from the crowd." – Sarah Connors, principal staffing manager, WinterWyman Contract Staffing
Send a thoughtful follow-up.
"Follow up after an interview. While it's good practice to send a thank-you email after an interview — though most people still don't do this — it's even better to follow up with a well-thought-out email thanking the interviewer as well as addressing some of the topics that came up during the interview. For example, was there a question about your skills that you couldn't answer well, because you just didn't have the experience? Or did you come up with a great idea that didn't hit you until after the interview? If you send a follow-up showing you spent the time to learn and improve, it would go a long way in landing the job." – Josh Rubin, owner, Creative California
Create the job yourself.
"Sometimes, the best way to land the job of your dreams is to try to create it right where you are. Take on passion projects at your current place of employment; find ways to learn new skills to incorporate into your work. Shine wherever you can, and people will take notice. Once you get the ear of top-level management, start to share your vision of how you see your career developing within the organization. They just might listen and give you the chance to go after your dream." – Michele Mavi, director of internal recruiting and content development, Atrium Staffing
Brittney M. Helmrich graduated from Drew University in 2012 with a B.A. in History and Creative Writing. She joined the Business News Daily team in 2014 after working as the editor-in-chief of an online college life and advice publication for two years.
Kansas City Area Job Area Support / Job Transition / Job Clubs / Networking Groups Calendar as of 12/1/17
Career Skills & Connections: Coffee Club
9:00-10:15 a.m. Meeting & 10:15-11:00 a.m. Networking, Mondays
5801 West 115th Street (Jewish Community Center), Overland Park, KS 66211
Cari Boasberg (913-730-1449), email@example.com
Catholic Career Roundtable
8:30-10:00 a.m., Saturdays
(CCR also holds weekly workshops for all those in transition, and conducts a monthly Alumni Day or Panel Roundtable with representatives from local companies who support our mission . Call for more information)
Good Shepherd Catholic Church
12800 West 75th Street, Shawnee, KS 66216
Phillip Morgan (816-582-1809), Dave McClain, Judy Bond
Church of the Resurrection: Job Seeker's Job Club
8:30-10:30 a.m., Fridays
13720 Roe Avenue, Leawood, KS 66224
Building C, Room C-136
Matt Dantzler, Jennifer Creagar (913-544-0739), firstname.lastname@example.org
Church of the Resurrection: Job Seeker's Prayer and Support Group
7:00-8:30 p.m., Thursdays
13720 Roe Avenue, Leawood, KS 66224
Building B, Room B-213 (2nd Floor)
Elizabeth Allen, email@example.com, www.cor.org
Cornerstone Presbyterian: Job Search Support Group
10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Thursdays, Library Conference Room
Covenant Chapel Presbyterian Church, 13300 Kenneth Road, Leawood, KS 66224
Larry Lee, 913-897-2229, firstname.lastname@example.org
Holy Trinity Catholic Church: Career Transition Ministry (CTM) Group
Noon - 2:00 p.m. every second Wednesday of the month
7:00-9:00 p.m. every fourth Thursday of the month
9201 Summit, Lenexa, KS 66215 - Quigley Center, 2nd floor Cafe Rooms (Southwest Entrance - Look for door with "Cafe" above it.)
Judy Ambler, 816-225-8610, email@example.com, www.htlenexa.org
Kansas City - Area JD’s in Career Transition - A job search group for lawyers
7:00 p.m., Meets 2nd & 4th Fridays - Contact Faith for meeting location.
Faith Brennan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kansas City Metro Networking Job Club
Online Job Club, www.kcjobclub.com
Maureen Reintjes, 816-591-9559, email@example.com
Kansas Works / Workforce Partnership: Mature Workers Roundtable (50+ years old)
1:00-2:00 p.m., 3rd Wednesday of the month
8535 Bluejacket Street, Lenexa, KS 66214 (There are also offices in Leavenworth & Wyandotte)
Molly Turney, 913-577-5919, firstname.lastname@example.org
St. John LaLande Catholic Church
9:00-11:00 a.m., 1st Wednesday of the month. (Or by appoitments on other days)
805 Northwest R.D. Mize Road, Blue Springs, MO 64015
Steve Kwasiborski, 816-443-2103 (Church), email@example.com
www.kansascityjobseekers.com - A calendar of job search resources, networking events, and job listings (Internships, Marketing / Social Media, Web / Graphic Designer) in the Kansas City area. Published each week by Mark Van Baale. Sign up at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the weekly calendar.
www.npconnect.org/CareerCenter - Find your nonprofit opportunity. Nonprofit Connect is your career headquarters offering one of the premier nonprofit position information portals on the web. On any given day, over 200 openings are posted on JobLink, InternLink, VolunteerLink, and BoardLink, which receive an average of 150,000 page views per month.
www.1millioncups.com - 1 Million Cups is a free national program designed to educate, engage, and connect entrepreneurs. Developed by the Kauffman Foundation, 1MC is based on the notion that entrepreneurs discover solutions and network over a million cups of coffee.
Every Wednesday morning at 9:00 (CST), at the Kauffman Foundation, 4801 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, MO, two local entrepreneurs present their startups to a diverse audience of their peers, mentors, educators, and advisors.
On the first Wednesday (only) of each month you can view a live-streaming video conference of 1 Million Cups at the KU Edwards Campus (Regnier Hall, 12600 Quivira Road, Room 156, Overland Park, KS). During the other Wednesdays of each month, you will have to go to the Kauffman Foundation location to attend this event.
www.CareerUSA.org - "Giving you the tools you need to land your next great opportunity"
Network After Work (Kansas City) is America's premier face-to-face business networking company with monthly mixer events. Meet executives and professionals for new opportunities You’ll make great connections in a relaxed and upbeat atmosphere while expanding your network of contacts to fuel your career or business goals. For more information and the meeting schedule, go to: https://www.meetup.com/Network-After-Work-Kansas-City-Networking-Events/. Cover Charge - $15.00.
The #1 thing an employer is looking for on your resume…
Can you guess what it might be?
A title that matches the position they need? A certain school? Perhaps their alma mater? The name of an impressive past employer?
Wrong. Wrong. And wrong. Sorry. The most important thing an employer is looking for on your resume, whether they’re the recruiter or the hiring manager, is…
More specifically, return on investment.
No matter what industry you’re in, or where your expertise lies, every hire is an investment of time and money. Every employer wants to see a return on that investment and they want it to far exceed the amount invested.
If you think this only applies to hiring sales people or executives, think again. Every position brings value to the company that can be measured monetarily. How else would they be able to determine your salary or justify you on the books?
To make sure you show ROI on your resume, you have to understand the bottom line returns the employer is seeking for the posted position.
How Do I Affect The Bottom Line?
It’s easy to see how sales positions affect the bottom line simply because that role is to literally bring money in to the company. But every position plays a role in generating revenue.
A Facilities Admin keeps track of utility bills, orders supplies, and sends bills to Accounting.
Accounting pays the bills, the electricity stays on, and the office supplies get delivered to employees.
Having electricity and supplies enables those employees to do their work.
That work includes sales, distribution, fulfillment, consulting, and all the other functions that actually bring cash into the company.
So, the admin’s work is necessary for the company to have revenue.
How Do I Show ROI On My Resume?
Most often an employer is filling a position in order to solve a problem, make money, save money, and/or increase efficiency. Making sure you can show your value in that area requires a few steps:
1. Understand the job description
2. Research the company
3. Identify the “pain point” the position needs to address
4. Create a compelling case that you solve that pain point.
Understand The Job Description
Reading the job description carefully is key to presenting yourself effectively. Not every job description is created equal.
Beyond the basic requirements, look for clues as to what the underlying need might be. Do they ask for expertise in specific systems? Chances are they’ve invested in an enterprise system but don’t have the right people to manage it. Does the description highlight a specific ability? They may want to grow their business in that area.
Understanding the job description goes beyond seeing the basics. Look for clues that identify the real need.
Research The Company
You know you need to research a company when preparing for an interview, but you should actually research before you submit a resume.
Questions you should be able to answer include:
What does the company do?
What industries do they serve?
Are they subject to government regulations, and if so which ones?
How large is the company? How many offices, employees, and/or customers do they have?
Identify The “Pain Point” The Position Needs To Address
A “pain point” is a buzzword in marketing used to describe finding your customer’s pain or the problem they need to solve. Your resume is essentially a marketing document, so understanding the pain point makes sense.
Look at the job description and your company research. Think about what you know about the job and the industry, and try to figure out what the real problem is that needs a solution. What is the thing that the hiring manager will tell the boss that they’ll get with this hire?
And don’t cheat and say, “We need to replace Bob.” Figure out what problems “Bob” was responsible for solving. What are the reasons for re-filling that position after Bob leaves?
Create A Compelling Case That You Can Satisfy That Need
Use what you’ve learned to understand what the job description requires and what the company’s true pain point is.
To get attention and win you the interview, your resume must make the persuasive and compelling case that you can solve the problem and produce an ROI that is higher than your competitors for the same position.
Update your resume with quantified accomplishments, action-verb descriptions, and clear and relevant experience. Create powerful number-backed examples of how you’ve satisfied the need in your past experience and produced results for past employers.
And show me that ROI.
Because people typically don’t leave jobs they are happy with, potential employers want to know what your reason was for leaving your last (or current) job. Is there an issue with you that will cause them to regret hiring you?
Overall, it’s important that you keep this answer positive. Anything negative that you say will make it seem like YOU are negative. So, say what happened, but with as positive a spin as possible.
The Ideal Answer
Of course, the ideal answer is that you were very happy and successful where you were, but this opportunity was just too good to pass up (because it’s a perfect fit, because it is such an exciting opportunity, and so on.)
If You Were Laid Off In A Group
All layoffs are not the same, and employers are well aware of this. If your layoff was part of a mass layoff (as in 30% of the company/division/department), then say so. They will understand. The same thing goes for a smaller number of people, if it was an impersonal selection (such as a cutback of 10% and the last hired were chosen to leave). Any way you can show that it wasn’t a personal thing that targeted you is something you want to clearly point out.
If You Were Laid Off In A Smaller Group Of People (Or If It Was Just You)
If there’s any way to show that your layoff had very little to do with you or your job performance, then say that. Otherwise, your best bet is to offer references that can speak to your skills and character. The best reference is always going to be your most recent boss, but any past managers, supervisors, or bosses are wonderful to have. Other good references are past co-workers or managers you didn’t report directly to but worked with. (Don’t say this about your references in the interview.)
If You Were Fired
It’s never a good idea to act as if you weren’t fired if you were. Getting caught in a lie will be worse than being fired. Many, many people have been fired and recovered from it better than before.
Here’s how to be honest (yet positive) when answering this question:
“That was a bit of a bad situation that I’m embarrassed about. It wasn’t a good decision to take that job—[insert something here like, ‘it wasn’t a good fit’ or ‘I took it for the wrong reasons’]. I can only say that it was a brief, regrettable bump in the road of an otherwise great career. I hope you will speak to some of my references, including my former boss, Ann Smith, who can speak to my qualifications and my character.”
Never forget that references are powerful, and former bosses are the best references of all.
Always be sure to coach your references by telling them about the job you’re interviewing for, and even reminding them of some things you did or stories they could tell that you know would help your cause. This is a help to them, because it reduces the time they need to dedicate to it, and it’s a help to you because it will be a better, more targeted reference.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Career Coach – Peggy McKee is an expert resource and a dedicated advocate for job seekers. Known as the Sales Recruiter from Career Confidential, her years of experience as a nationally-known recruiter for sales and marketing jobs give her a unique perspective and advantage in developing the tools and strategies that help job seekers stand head and shoulders above the competition. Peggy has been named #1 on the list of the Top 25 Most Influential Online Recruiters by HR Examiner, and has been quoted in articles from CNN, CAP TODAY, Yahoo! HotJobs, and the Denver Examiner.
No Correct Answers
The best tool you bring into a job interview is comfort with yourself, not a set of practiced responses.
Stephanie K. Eberle
Experienced interviewers can tell within a few minutes of knowing you if you are delivering, verbatim, pre-prepared answers to their questions. It’s not just that memorization often results in a monotone, rushed answer. It’s that thinking about your fit ahead of time, instead of rehearsing answers, allows a more genuine, passionate answer in the moment.
The equation for getting your career of choice is simple: your interests, skills and values, plus the alignment of an employer’s desired skill set and cultural values and interests, equals fit. Communicating this fit begins early in the cover letter and CV/résumé portion of the job search process. Early on, employers want to know if you can do the job -- that is, are your skills and experiences close enough to those they seek. The interview, then, may delve more deeply into your skills, but it primarily assesses whether or not they want you to use said skills at their organization. In short, do they want to work with you?
The best way to get to know your future supervisor and colleagues is to have an honest conversation with them to assess fit on both sides. Yes, you are assessing fit, too. Most people do not approach interviews with such openness. As interviewees, we are constantly trying to guess which questions will be asked, aiming to come up with the “correct” answer. But, as with any new connection, there is no correct answer, only fit.
If we relate this to dating, it makes sense. If, on a first date, for example, the person sitting across from me asks if I want children someday, what do I say? If I like the person, and I sense that she wants children, I could lie and say yes, but our entire relationship from there on would be based on a lie and she will definitely find out eventually. So, the correct answer actually is the truth: “No, I don’t want my own children, but I adore my three-month-old niece.” The same applies to interviews. Being honest about where you see alignment gets you the job when the employer agrees with this alignment. If they don’t see the same fit as you, then -- as with dating -- it was never meant to be.
Of course, relaxing into a fit approach means you must accept that you may not get the job. But the difference between finding a job and your career of choice is huge. I propose that focusing on the latter throughout your job search yields better results. For example, applying to every job conceivably possible is likely to land you moderate fit interviews and, thus, a job. Applying to jobs you are mostly to very excited about from the start, however, increases likelihood of high-fit interviews and, in turn, your career of choice. In other words, you can spend your time searching for and applying for jobs or you can maximize your time and effectiveness by assessing your skills, interests and values; researching those of various organizations; and applying only to those places where you genuinely want to work.
The old adages still apply: if you aren’t sure, apply; if you are only about 50 percent qualified but passionate, apply. Who knows what could happen? Excitement about the position really can push you to the top, and interviewing does confirm if you want the job or not. But when you know you are not qualified or you don’t want the job, you do not put as much energy into preparation (so it is not even good practice). Excitement is hard to fake, and even if you successfully do fake it, neither you nor your employer will be happy for very long after you start.
I do not espouse letting it all hang out in interviews, per se. Rather, set a goal of being your best self. You do not need to tell your interviewer of your habit of wiping cheese dust on your pants after your Cheetos lunch. But you do need to consider who your best self is, what part of the self is relevant to your future employer and how to appropriately express it.
Take the example of the weakness question. Many employers stopped asking, “What is your weakness,” because they kept getting fake answers. Suddenly, everyone was a perfectionist with a compulsory need to walk the elderly across the street on their lunch break! The myth surrounding this question is that you have to give a fake fault. That’s not fair. As your future supervisor, I want to know what you are working on and, more important, that you are working on something. By the way, as my future employee, you want to know if I will be able to help you grow in that respect, as well. As an aside, being a perfectionist is not necessarily bad if it’s true. But please be honest about how it affects your work, and let me know how you are managing it. The latter part -- the managing it part is key.
People try to rehearse answers to possible interview questions for myriad reasons. One significant reason is a fear of being caught off guard and not knowing what to say. Naturally, that could also happen if you have not rehearsed the same questions they asked. Those situations can cause more anxiety, in fact, because interviewees have come in with a false belief that they have thought of everything. Further, it leads to not answering the question well because interviewees try to cram a rehearsed answer into a similar but different question. Somehow rehearsing answers keeps us from actually listening, and thus connecting, to our future employer.
When practicing interviewing with trainees, I recommend the following techniques:
Listen for the metaquestion. Interview questions have two parts: what is actually asked and why. The weakness question is not about your weakness. Interviewers want to know how you define weakness, how self-aware you are and if/how you actually manage failure. Keep this in mind, and after each question, take a moment to consider what the interviewer is really asking.
Consider themes. While you cannot predict which questions will be asked, you can assume that your future employer will ask an introductory question (e.g., “Tell me about yourself”) and a closing question (e.g., “Is there anything else we should know?”). He or she will also ask questions that address the themes of: teamwork, work ethic, supervisor style preference, field-specific skills application, personal/professional goals and work preferences. It pays to know trends in your field well, because these themes change by sector. Instead of memorizing answers to specific questions, clarify your ideas along these themes and practice articulating them to various audiences (your career counselor or coach, your parents, your dog, etc.)
Remember stories. One of the best techniques for getting out of a tangential rant is to give an example. Instead of memorizing answers, try coming up with several stories to illustrate your ideas and expertise along the themes above. These are easier to remember and allow you to be flexible when and in the way you tell them.
Practice getting stuck. Ask your practice partners to come up with crazy, sometimes irrelevant questions. This hones your ability to improvise and to be comfortable with yourself in the moment. This will also prevent the monotonous tone and rushed speech that memorized answers give. Instead of practicing specific anticipated questions, you are practicing answering questions in general -- an important distinction.
In fact, above all else, comfort with yourself is the best tool you bring into an interview. Bringing in shame from failure or defensiveness because of it builds walls between you and your future employer, and most people can tell when you are trying to fake your way through. Knowing what the interviewer across the table wants to know is very simple: they want to know you. To maximize your chances of landing your career of choice job, try spending time getting to know yourself first.
Stephanie K. Eberle is director of the Stanford University School of Medicine Career Center, which serves Ph.D.s, postdocs and M.D.s in the medical and biosciences. She is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of San Francisco.
All the prep work you do in advance of a job interview won’t help you come off as the best candidate for the job unless you can communicate effectively too! There are certain words and phrases that have a negative connotation when spoken. Know what they are before walking into your next job interview.
Here are tips on what you should avoid saying and how to keep communication positive regardless of what may be discussed or asked of you during the job interview.
1. “I’m A Perfectionist”
In the typical job interview, you’ll likely be asked about a weakness you have. While you probably don’t want to point out a weakness when you’re trying to impress, the answer isn’t to say: “I’m a perfectionist.” Everyone has a weakness, so think ahead about this and be ready to point out how you’ve overcome it or how you’re taking steps to improve on it. Employers want to see that you’re proactive and willing to overcome difficulties and challenges that come your way.
2. “I Don’t Know”
Your effort to come off confident is shot when you say “I don’t know” at the job interview. Yes there are tough interview questions that may come your way or questions that may require a bit more thinking, but that’s okay. Rather than saying “I don’t know” as the easy way out, set yourself up for more time to think through it in order to provide a smart response. You can repeat the question, then say: “That’s a great question! Give me a moment to think through this.” That’ll give you a little more time to come up with a quality answer than to just say: “I don’t know.” It also helps to demonstrate to the interviewer that you remain composed and in control of any pressure that may be put on you.
3. “My Boss Was A Micromanager”
You may be asked what you dislike about your current or previous job, but the job interview is not the time or place to talk bad about how you’re boss is a micromanager or how the company treats its employers unfairly. The focus needs to be on a challenge under the work environment and then how you improved the situation and overcame the challenge. This may be a point where you can also tie in how you’re looking to expand your knowledge and experience in a way your current employer is unable to help fulfill.
4. “I’ll Take Any Job I Can Get”
Coming off desperate is not appealing in many situations, especially for a job. Employers are looking for candidates who are confident and have the experience and skills to do well on the job. They are not hiring based on who is in most need of a job, so don’t play up the point that you’ll take any job you can get or that you were just fired and you’re desperate. That won’t sit well in terms of setting an impression that you’re the best candidate for the job.
5. “What Does Your Company Do?” Or “Where Are The Other Offices Located?”
Yes you want to express you’re interested and have questions for the interviewer, but please don’t ask anything that you should have already researched before you applied for the job. Asking questions like “What does your company do?” or “Where are the other offices located?” only informs the interviewer that you didn’t do your research to understand the company. Much of the information you’re looking for to these questions likely already exist on the company’s website.
As you can see from some of the examples above, a good interview can easily turn bad when the wrong things are said. Always stick to positive communication to help demonstrate your level of confidence and desire to improve as well as your ability to help the employer succeed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Don Goodman’s firm was rated as the #1 Resume Writing Service in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Don is a triple-certified, nationally recognized Expert Resume Writer, Career Management Coach and Job Search Strategist who has helped thousands of people secure their next job.
The hiring process is a collaborative effort for both the job seeker and employer. Typically, people are accustomed to seeing applicants initiate the conversation. They find the job posting, they tailor their applications, they reach out to hiring managers and hope to hear back.
But what happens when conversation is started from the employer’s end? Meaning, you receive the red-bubbled notification in your LinkedIn inbox, or you’re handed a recruiter’s business card and told to “be in touch.” To say the least, it’s a feeling that’s pleasantly unexpected and flattering.
Below are three next-steps to consider after you receive that “we want you” message from a recruiter.
Don’t make rash decisions
Remember the life lesson we were taught in elementary school: Think before you act. Although it may be tempting, don’t prepare your interview attire, or toss the recruiter’s message in the trash just yet.
When something happens unexpectedly, it’s natural for people to respond without thinking it through. Hearing from a recruiter for a job you never applied to can have the same effect, whether you’re steadily looking for employment or not.
Weigh out your options. Before you say yes or no, research the company and position — read reviews and get a sense of the culture from the company’s website. You can even consider setting up a preliminary phone call with the recruiter (before the real interview) to flesh out all of your questions about the role.
Let the recruiter do the selling
Remember: The recruiter contacted you, so the ball is in your court. Your skills intrigued them enough to reach out, so allow them to win you over. At this point, listen to what the recruiter has to offer and, by the end of the conversation, be clear on the company mission, job description, flexibility, culture and any other qualities you find important.
While you can expect the recruiter to do most of the talking as they convince you to get on board, be prepared to also speak about yourself. They discovered enough talent in you to pick you out of the crowd, so be sure to also give them some validation.
Leave a lasting impression
If you don’t see a good fit between your wants as an employee and their needs as an employer, don’t worry. Not all recruits are successful. However, if the role isn’t a match right now, it could very well be in the future.
As a candidate, ensure you do your part in ending the conversation on a high note. Adding another professional connection is the least that can come out of this experience, so show proper etiquette when you close the conversation to secure the relationship.
Acknowledge the recruiter. Express that it was a pleasure meeting them, kindly pass but thank them for the opportunity, and show your enthusiasm in potentially working with them in the future. Given your initial appeal to them, they’ll be happy to keep in contact with you as you develop professionally.
This article was written by Megan Santos of Jobpostings.ca, Canada’s largest student job network helping post-secondary students find their internships, co-ops and entry-level jobs to launch their careers. Follow them @Jobpostingsca
This classic question has been tripping prospective employees up for years – whether they’re applying for jobs at the local greengrocers or at Apple. There’s no 100% guaranteed-to-land-you-the-job answer to this question, but there are certainly wrong ways to answer, and ways that will maximise your chances. The first step, as with many interview questions, is to understand why you’re being asked the question – what is the interviewer looking for? After that, we’ll examine how you shouldn’t answer, and end on how you should.
Generally, an interviewer is looking to see a few things when they ask you about your weaknesses – first, they’re looking for self-awareness. Are you knowledgeable enough about yourself to understand and appreciate where you’ll fit well within a role, and where you might need to develop? And are you comfortable enough with yourself to admit those areas?
This is one of the most well-known interview questions out there, so an interviewer may also be looking to make sure you care enough to have prepared to answer this question. If you don’t have something ready for them, that could be taken as a red flag.
How shouldn’t you answer?
First of all, you certainly do have a weakness – so never say “I don’t have any weaknesses.” It’s not bold or confident; and will be exactly what an interviewer is looking for to eliminate someone from the process. Part of the strength of your answer will be your honesty – having the guts to admit that you may not have every single skill you need to dive into the job straight away. Employers aren’t looking for someone to do the job perfectly immediately – they’re looking for people who are able and willing to learn and grow into the role.
You also shouldn’t be blunt – lines like “I’m not very good at keeping the lab clean,” or “I’m not very organised” without further justification are not going to do you any favours. Keep your answer honest, but make sure to explain it well and lead into how you’re going to combat it.
Finally, don’t pick a weakness that is obviously a strength. Working too hard or giving too much attention to detail aren’t weaknesses unless you explain why – because, for example, you find it hard to switch off when the time comes, or because you find it difficult to see the bigger picture.
How should you answer?
The best answer to this question has two parts. First, the admission – state your weakness, explain why it’s a weakness, and keep it realistic and surmountable. After that, you have to explain how you plan to overcome that weakness, if you haven’t already. Use the question as an opportunity to explain how you hope to grow and develop in this new role.
Here’s an example:
“I tend to focus too much on the details, which means I sometimes get curious and distracted by the finer points of a project – I can end up spending three hours reading something that’s only very slightly relevant to the project.
I think one of the best ways to combat this, though, is to be aware of it in the first place – when I notice myself getting dragged away from what I should be doing, it becomes a lot easier to pull back. In a job like this, I think it’s very important to be organised and prioritise and I think that’s something I’ll be doing a lot of, so that will help with making sure I only focus on the finer points when I’m able to.”
There you have it – an honest admission that’s swiftly overcome by a solid plan that ends up demonstrating further value. This doesn’t have to be a question that might trip you up – think about it as an opportunity to explain how you’re hoping to learn and grow in a new role.
Kathleen Elkins and Natalie Walters
Job interviews are stressful because so many factors are out of your control — like what the hiring manager will ask or whether your personality matches what they're looking for.
But there is one thing you can control that can make all the difference: How prepared you are.
Career experts and hiring managers say to be (and appear) fully prepared, you really only need to bring six things with you to the interview.
Here are the essentials they say you should show up with:
Don't risk a technology malfunction by relying solely on your smartphone for directions.
Whether you're taking a car, train, subway, or bus, go ahead and print out a set of directions as a backup, writes Liz Ryan, CEO of Human Workplace, on Forbes.com.
In addition, Ryan suggests doing a test run of your directions the day before or a few days before so you know how much time to set aside for your commute.
2. Copies of your résumé
Despite the transition from the traditional paper résumé to more dynamic social-media templates, such as LinkedIn, many hiring managers still expect candidates to arrive with a few hard copies.
Amanda Augustine, a career-advice expert and spokesperson for TopResume and a career consultant for Amanda Augustine LLC, says if you happen to know the exact number of people you'll be meeting with, bring at least one copy for each of them, plus a few extra to be safe.
"You'll need one for you to reference while you talk, and one copy for each interviewer, just in case they aren’t prepared," she says.
3. Pen and notepad
A number of career experts and hiring managers we reached out to emphasized the importance of bringing a pen and paper.
Jotting down a few notes during the interview can come in handy as you write your post-interview thank-you note later that day. (But remember to listen closely to the hiring manager, and don't get distracted by your note-taking!)
Also, if you're interviewing for a consulting, finance, or engineering position, you will likely have to answer impossible brainteaser questions. It can be helpful to have a pen and paper as you attempt to work through these questions.
You're not the only one in the hot seat on the big day. In nearly every interview you will have the chance to ask your own questions.
Use this part of the interview to your advantage. Ask smart questions to impress the hiring manager and to figure out if this place is a perfect fit for you. The career experts recommend having a few written down ahead of time rather than having to come up with them on the spot.
While questions may vary depending on the company you're interviewing with, here are some impressive ones that will work in any situation:
1. How do you see this position evolving in the next three years?
2. What can I help to clarify that would make hiring me an easy decision?
3. How will the work I'll be doing contribute to the organization's mission?
5. Portfolio of sample work
Depending on the job you're applying for, it is a good idea to bring samples of your work. "The medium needs to match up. You should not bring a binder of print material to a digital publication," explains Business Insider's director of talent, Stephanie Fogle. "And be prepared to talk about it."
6. A positive attitude
"Most importantly, come with your A game," Augustine says. "Confidence, a positive attitude, and a genuine interest in the role and the company will set you apart from the competition. When you and another candidate have comparable skill sets, the only thing that will set you apart is your passion."
If you've ever been fired or asked to resign from a job, chances are it's not something you enjoy talking about ... especially with prospective employers during job interviews.
But if there are any gaps or red flags on your résumé, hiring managers will likely ask you about them — and it can be uncomfortable.
"Employers are often so swamped with job applicants, they're programmed to use a process of elimination mindset," says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert, leadership coach, and author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant." "And this can easily be one of the questions that keeps you off the shortlist — unless you plan ahead."
It's a classic query because your answer meets multiple objectives, she says. "So it's helpful to consider the reasons behind the question."
She says interviewers are often trying to determine four things:
1. Are you a risky hire? Hiring managers don't expect you to answer "no" to this question — unless you're at an entry or very junior level in your career. "They're trying to piece together 'the fit,' but also the risk factors of hiring you. For instance, have there been several terminations that suggest an issue or pattern? Do the reasons behind a termination underscore one of their fears — especially one that could be a deal breaker based on the requisite job duties?"
2. How you handle adversity. Your job interviewer is also trying to determine if you're able to shrug off setbacks and move forward. Nobody is immune from job challenges, Taylor explains. "In other words, do you view negative experiences as failures or learning opportunities?"
3. Your real time response to pressure. Do you become defensive or upset when they ask this question, or are you poised and confident when responding? "It can help a hiring manager evaluate how you handle real-time stress, presumed to be a predictor of how you'll handle job challenges," she says.
4. How honest are you? This is one of those interview litmus tests of how forthcoming you are, Taylor warns. "Savvy hiring managers can typically read job seekers. They may consider how long it takes you to respond, your intonation and body language, and whether you're being vague, evasive, or honest to a fault."
"So this question reveals much more about you than the answer itself," Taylor adds.
Here's how to answer this tricky query:
Most people experience at least one termination in their career, and it's not always a result of poor performance, Taylor says. "There are restructurings, shifts in corporate strategies, financial losses, increased automation, outsourcing, conflicts in perspectives or work style — and much more that can contribute to a parting of the ways."
It's best to be truthful, without dwelling on the topic. "You don't need to offer a soliloquy akin to 'The saga of my career demise,' with self-effacing or regretful details," she says. "But if you come across as disingenuous, that will be much more damaging than admitting to a termination."
Also, your mutual network may overlap — meaning you could be caught in a lie.
Most hiring managers are not trying to drag you through the mud. A couple of sentences on what occurred should suffice — although you may be asked to elaborate, she warns.
Show how and what you learned from it.
Alan Henry of LifeHacker writes: "The key to getting past the question is to frame it up in terms of what you've learned — not what happened."
Taylor agrees. She says this is one of the primary objectives behind this question. "Demonstrate that you left with positive lessons from the experience."
Perhaps as a result, you were able to take greater initiative in communicating with your team, or incorporate a better time management system.
"By focusing on the positives, you're illustrating that you're capable of self reflection and are interested in advancing your personal development," she explains.
Don't place blame — and remain upbeat.
You definitely don't want to fall into the trap of speaking negatively about your former employer or blaming them for what happened. "The interviewer will be listening carefully to whether you describe interpersonal conflict — always a big red flag," Taylor says.
One of the best ways to handle this question is to explain that, despite the "different objectives or mismatch" that ultimately occurred over time, you enjoyed the experience and learned a lot from it.
Hiring managers typically identify with the employer, so you don't want to ever convey that, should you ever part ways with the new employer, you might speak poorly of them, too, she explains.
Be thoughtful in your answer.
This is a question worth planning for." Commit it to writing and rehearse it, ideally with someone else," Taylor suggests. "You don't want to be caught off guard and derail your momentum — or resort to a last minute panic quip, like 'Well ... hasn't everyone?'"
It can be easy to lose your nerve when faced with difficult interviewers. But there are steps you can take to win them over and land the job
Even if you’ve prepared thoroughly, a tough interviewer can really knock your confidence and have you doubting your abilities.
So when you’re faced with a barrage of difficult questions from a seemingly stone-faced interviewer, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your skills and experiences shine through.
Remember, they called you in
An employer wouldn’t waste time interviewing you if they didn’t think you were a good fit for the role. If they’ve invited you into their office, they are interested in hiring you and that should be a huge confidence boost. They have clearly been impressed by the strength of your CV, so you are just there to confirm what they’ve read and remove any doubts they may have.
No matter how bored the interviewer is acting, you should always bear in mind that they have invited you in with the intention of hiring you. Often a tricky interviewer is just putting on a false persona to judge how you react under pressure, so don’t let that make you forget how valuable you are.
Counter your weaknesses
Most employers will have their reservations about you, as sometimes the strongest candidate won’t have every single attribute that is required. Even the kindest of interviewers will ask about your weaknesses, but a tough interviewer will really grill you on them. This is where preparation really pays off.
Before attending the interview, you should review the job specification and identify any requirements where your skills don’t quite match up. Once you understand your shortcomings for the role, you can begin to plan how to answer any difficult questions around them.
Ideally, you should be able to demonstrate what actions you will take to minimise the impact of your weaknesses and also what you are doing to build your skills in that area. For example, if you don’t have a particular qualification that’s being asked for, you should explain how your work experience provides you with a similar or greater level of knowledge. Also show that you are taking steps towards gaining that qualification. By taking this approach you are meeting the issue head on and quickly minimising any worries the interviewer might have about you.
Control the pace
When faced with an aggressive interview style it can be easy to become flustered and rush your answers. However, this is exactly the sort of thing the interviewer doesn’t want to see. As a potential employer, they want to ensure that you can keep your cool when the going gets tough. If you feel rushed and pressured by the interviewer, then take the control back by setting your own pace for the interview.
One of the easiest ways to maintain your composure is to repeat the question back to the interviewer slowly and confidently. It calms the tone of the interview and gives you a few extra seconds to think about your answer.
Stroke their egos
Even the scariest of interviewers are human – they have feelings just like the rest of us. If you want them to drop their guard, try showing a genuine interest in their work. At an appropriate opportunity, ask them questions about the work their team does or how many staff they manage. People enjoy talking about themselves and their achievements, so if you can get the interviewer to open up, you will start to build a rapport with them and create a more relaxed atmosphere. Try to keep the questions relevant to the role you are applying for to avoid going off topic.
Prove you’ve not been shaken
A lot of candidates will be discouraged by a gruelling interview – they assume that it didn’t go well or even decide they no longer want to pursue the job. For this reason, most hard-nosed interviewers do not receive follow up emails from their interviewees. So break the mould and send a friendly, professional note thanking them for their time and saying that you enjoyed meeting them.
This will reassure them that the pressure of the interview didn’t scare you off and that you’re still keen. An email will also give you a chance to cover any topics that were missed in the interview and dispel any doubts the interviewer had about you.
Tough interviews can be stressful and challenging, but if you can make it through unscathed, you will prove your resilience and professionalism. Remember that a job interview is also a chance for you to assess the company and your future potential colleagues. So if you truly believe an interviewer was being rude and arrogant, rather than just acting tough to test you, then maybe he or she wouldn’t make such a great future boss after all.
Andrew Fennell is a recruiter and founder of CV writing company StandOut CV
HOW MUCH TO BOAST, HOW MUCH TO FAKE, AND WHEN TO SHUT UP.
BY TOMAS CHAMORRO-PREMUZIC
The interview is arguably the oldest and most persistent institution in the job search process. Even as other customs and admonitions—wear business attire, send a handwritten thank-you note afterward—fall by the wayside, the interview itself shows few signs of disappearing.
So it's no wonder that there's no shortage of popular advice about how to behave and what to do during job interviews—or that much of it is outdated or baseless. Here are three of the most common recommendations for candidates in a job interview that need to be retired, based on insights from modern psychology.
1. JUST BE YOURSELF
While we live in an age that worships "authenticity," job interviews are a high-stakes situation, so you should adjust your behavior to the context. Most people know this intuitively but don't always know how far to go. Which is why being told to just "be yourself" can backfire: It encourages us to do not as we "should" (that is, to act strategic), but as we feel (to act impulsively). To borrow a Freudianism, it means giving our superegos a break and being informal, spontaneous, and careless.
Sure, interviewers may tell you that they're interested in your authentic you—and it isn't wise to completely deceive them—but what they really mean is that they want you to come across as genuine and trustworthy. The challenge for candidates is to convey those traits tactfully, which (cynical though it may sound) means selectively.
What interviewers really want to see during an interview is your bright side—not an artificial one, just who you are when you're at your best. Inevitably, that involves at least a little bit of staging. Think of a job interview like a first date: Don't show all your flaws up front as you try to give an (otherwise) honest account of who you are.
2. SHOW OFF YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
We often mistake confidence for competence, but that doesn't mean showing off. Walking the line between sounding self-assured and arrogant can be tricky. But if you really do believe deeply in your skills and talents, fake modesty. And when you're a little uncertain of them, try sounding a bit more competent than you may actually believe yourself to be.
Most job interviews allow for a fair amount of bluffing, not least because an interviewer is necessarily an imperfect judge of your potential. What goes for resumes usually goes for interviews: Some exaggeration is expected, so if you don't do that a little bit, the interviewer may assume you're exaggerating anyway and mentally discount 20% or 30% from your claims. Still, that's a limited license to boast.
So the advice to show off your accomplishments isn't so much misguided as in need of a major caveat: Only overclaim if you're able to back it up later. Maybe you don't exactly know that programming language inside and out, but you're learning it, and in a month or two, you'll have it down. Just don't come across as arrogant, deluded, or overconfident, particularly when you actually know yourself to be competent.
3. FOCUS ON YOURSELF
Too many people go into a job interview well-prepared but wind up underperforming because they focus too much on themselves. It's hard to find fault with that; most people are interested mainly in themselves. As the great Dale Carnegie noted, "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you."
Of course, job interviews tend to put the interviewee in the spotlight, but that doesn’t mean you have to monopolize the conversation, or that you can afford to stop paying attention to your audience. We're usually counseled to frame our skills in a cover letter in terms of how they'll benefit the company, but it's more difficult to translate that into one-on-one conversation.
Not only is paying close attention to others a mark of good social skills, if you focus more on your interviewer and less on yourself, you'll be better able to monitor your own performance. It’s through their reactions and gestures that you'll get a feel for how much more you should say—and when to shut up.
Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is an international authority in psychological profiling, people analytics, and talent management.
Consider including your professional title, phone number and LinkedIn account information in your email sign off.
By Hannah Morgan
One of the first things you are instructed to do when starting a new job may be to set up your email signature using the official company template. But have you set up an email signature for your personal email account?
Email is a frequently used communication tool in the workplace, with approximately 36 emails sent per person per day in 2014, according to The Radicati Group, a technology market research firm. It is also a powerful marketing tool. Each one of those 36 emails is an opportunity to market and promote the company. You should be using this same logic to promote yourself, especially if you are an active job seeker.
Rather than typing in your information every time you send an email, or cutting and pasting the information into the body of the email, simply set up your email signature. These are the vital pieces of information you should include.
Email signature do's:
1. Name. People often don't have any email signature, which can make it difficult for the recipient to know who the message is from. Include your first and last name.
2. Telephone number. During a job search, recruiters and hiring managers will want to communicate with you over the phone. Make it easy for them to reach out to you by including it in your email signature. And be sure you have set up your voice mail with a professional and pleasant greeting.
3. LinkedIn profile. Including a link to your LinkedIn profile makes it easier for people to learn more about you. You can't make them click through, but it is there in case there is interest. Rather than inserting the full Web address, which can look long and messy, hyperlink your LinkedIn URL to a small LinkedIn icon or simply the word "LinkedIn."
4. Profession, title or tag line. Depending on your employment situation, use some combination of professional identifiers. If you are changing careers, don't list your current occupation, instead use a tag line or branding statement that conveys your value to a potential future employer.
5. Personal website. If you have an online portfolio, blog or personal website that you want people to know about, include the link. It's always helpful to describe what you are linking to. For example, hyperlink to a short description, such as "Online Portfolio," "Personal Blog – Customer Service Musings" or "My Infographic Resume." You can link to almost any online source you want to draw attention to.
On the other hand, there is information you don't want to include in your email signature because it's irrelevant, makes you look silly or could flag your email as spam. Here's what to avoid including in your personal emails.
Email signature don'ts:
1. Mailing address. Protect yourself. No one needs to know your physical location. Businesses may use this information, but it doesn't pose the same type of privacy violation.
2. Email address. Including your email address in your email is redundant. If you've sent someone an email, he has your email address. Limit the information that you include in your signature to keep it uncluttered and provide only the most important information. (NOTE from Jeff Morris - I disagree with this statement, include your email in your signature so that if someone copies your info into their outlook, all the details are there. Your email address is not shown on most email programs, just your display names...MAKE IT EASY for someone.)
3. Photos or logos. Using logos or icons sparingly isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, images add to the size of your email and may make loading your email slow and difficult for email systems. Using large file sizes could also result in your email ending up in the spam folder and most people do not regularly look at their spam.
4. Default mobile signature. Don't overlook the signature on your mobile device. Often the default signature is an advertisement for your phone's manufacturer. Instead, change the setting to promote your name or delete the automated signature all together.
One last word of wisdom. Test how your email will look to others by sending to Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook accounts to see how your signature looks on these different email providers.
Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career guidance; keep up with the latest job search trends and social networking strategies by reading her blog Career Sherpa and following her on Twitter @careersherpa and Google+.
THESE ARE THE BIGGEST MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE DURING INTERVIEWS
BODY LANGUAGE FAUX PAS DERAILED CANDIDATES' CHANCES OF GETTING THE JOB AS MUCH AS WHAT THE PERSON SAID.
BY LYDIA DISHMAN
According to a new poll, half of employers say they can size up a candidate within the first five minutes of an interview and determine whether they’d be a good fit for the job.
What happens during those first five minutes doesn’t have much to do with what the job seeker says. Indeed, as many interviews start with pleasantries or small talk, it’s often something the candidate does rather than says that’s a deal breaker. That said, there are plenty of ways for a job seeker to stick his foot in his mouth during the interview.
What to watch out for if you’re among the thousands of workers looking to change jobs in 2016? A brand new Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder surveyed 2,595 hiring and human resource managers, the majority of whom work in the private sector, reveal the biggest job interview faux pas candidates have made, and how their body language blew any chance they had to move forward in the interview process.
Let’s start with the overt mistakes. Survey respondents listed five factors that immediately nixed the candidate from their talent pool.
WHAT YOU SAY AND HOW YOU SAY IT
White Lies. Sixty-nine percent said that if they caught a job seeker lying about something, it was a deal breaker. Honesty can encompass everything from where you went to school or whether you’ve been fired, to the more subtle, such as a disingenuous response to the question; "What is your greatest weakness?"
For the latter, Russell Reynolds, Jr., author of Heads: Business Lessons from an Executive Search Pioneer, recommends eschewing the tried-but-not-quite-true, "I’m very hard on myself," and offering a response that shows self-reﬂection. "Be conﬁdent in the fact that this weakness does not make you any less of a great candidate, and show that you are working on this weakness and tell the recruiter how," he suggests.
Texting, Arrogance, And Swearing. The majority (68%) of hiring managers found that when a candidate interrupts the interview to take a call or text, it was irritating enough to be a major strike against them, while 60% reported that candidates appearing arrogant or entitled was enough to disqualify them. Half of hiring managers surveyed said that inappropriate attire and swearing were equal deal breakers.
Wearing The Wrong Thing. Keeping tabs on your tongue if you frequently deploy the F-bomb should be a given going into an interview, but clothing is a bit trickier. Traditional advice to dress for the job you want doesn’t necessarily translate to some company cultures. That’s not carte blanche to don a hoodie and sandals, either. It is important to offer visual cues that you do have it together, and one way to do that is the way you dress. Not only will it send subliminal vibes to your prospective associate, but science says certain clothing can also boost your confidence.
BODY LANGUAGE DEAL BREAKERS
"Preparing for an interview takes a lot more than Googling answers to common interview questions," said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder, in a statement. "Candidates have to make a great first impression appearance-wise, have a solid understanding of the target company, know exactly how to convey that they’re the perfect fit for the job, and control their body language."
Body language can signal confidence or spell disaster if a candidate isn’t aware of how their physical presence is being received. And experience isn’t enough to save you if you’re not paying attention to visual cues.
Hiring managers polled in the survey found 10 body language traits that derailed candidates’ chances of getting the job. Most (67%) agreed that failure to make eye contact was the biggest problem, and not smiling was cited by 39% as problematic. Other questionable physical behaviors they cited include:
Playing with something on the table
Having bad posture
Fidgeting too much in their seats
Crossing their arms over their chests
Playing with their hair or touching their faces
Having a weak handshake
Using too many hand gestures
Having a handshake that was too strong
THE STRANGEST THINGS PEOPLE HAVE DONE IN JOB INTERVIEWS
It’s easy to picture a nervous candidate fidgeting and failing to look their interviewer in the eye, but the survey respondents did recall some truly out of the ordinary things that people did while they were being interviewed. Among the weirdest:
Candidate took a family photo off of interviewer’s desk and put it into her purse.
Candidate started screaming that the interview was taking too long.
Candidate said her main job was being a psychic/medium and tried to read interviewer’s palm, despite interviewer’s attempts to decline the offer.
When asked what his/her ideal job was, candidate said, "Painter of birdhouses." (Company was hiring for a data entry clerk.)
Candidate sang her responses to questions.
Candidate put lotion on his/her feet during the interview.
Candidate started feeling interviewer’s chest to find a heartbeat so they could "connect heart to heart."
Candidate had a pet bird in his/her shirt.
Candidate took phone interview in the bathroom—and flushed.
MOST COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Studies show that interviews don’t necessarily prompt the best hiring decisions. One indicates that it’s because the interviewer is often trying to make sense of anything the interviewee says, and tangential information can weaken the value of quality information.
Until we find a better substitute, CareerBuilder’s Haefner advises researching the company before the interview to learn about its services, customers, and competitors. "That will give you an edge in understanding and addressing the company's needs," she says.
In addition to doing the homework, do some role playing. The CareerBuilder survey found the following questions to be among the most commonly asked:
Tell me about yourself.
Why do you want this job?
Why did you leave your last job?
What is your greatest strength and greatest weakness?
Describe a difficult work situation and how you overcame it.
Keep in mind that an interview with a prospective employer is no place to bash the previous one, no matter what the circumstance was that caused you to leave. "Know why you’ve made the decision to move on from your past employers, and communicate that to your interviewer should he or she ask," said Jason Niad, managing director at Execu|Search, a recruitment firm headquartered in New York, in a recent interview with Fast Company.
Talking through this particular part of the interview can be tough, and it’s normal to cross arms and look at the floor. Keep the body language in check and maintain an upbeat voice. After all, "Working in multiple jobs in multiple companies can be a great way to develop a wide range of both technical and soft skills," said Niad.
Lydia Dishman is a business journalist writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, commerce, and innovation.
Until fairly recently it was common practice to include a career objective at the top of your resume when applying for work. Best practice has since changed however, and this is no longer the standard protocol when it comes to designing a contemporary resume. It’s by no means the only thing to leave off your resume, there are a few others, but it’s up there.
Why? Let’s take a look at various factors that come into play.
Many candidates fail to tailor their objectives and employers got bored reading the same old stuff over and over…and over, again. You’d be surprised how many applicants claimed to seek a challenging position in which they could be a team player and demonstrate a proactive approach to their work. Yawn!
What employers really want to know is how much value you as a job seeker will add to their business. They don’t have time to waste reading generic statements that apply to the majority of the population. By carefully tailoring your resume, you can create a powerful marketing tool that will strengthen your application no end.
Short on time
Employers today are inundated with applications for each advertised position. Let’s face it, at this stage of the recruitment process they’re not overly consumed with what you as the job seeker wants, but are more focused on what they as an employer seek. Given the average recruiter spends a grand total of six-seconds glancing at each resume, it’s critical that you make those twenty-seconds count and remove any generic statements that don’t contribute to strengthening your story.
Choose a professional profile
In place of the antiquated career objective, some people are now strategically crafting what’s commonly referred to as a professional profile. Here you can include information that demonstrates your strong candidacy and directly relevant skills to those outlined in the job advertisement. Highlight 2-3 key skills as well as any major achievements. Use the remainder of your resume to support this profile and prove how you’ve utilised this same skill set to accomplish a myriad of achievements throughout your career. Your goal is to leave the reader with no doubt that you possess exactly what they’re looking for.
Or a tagline
Another alternative is to include a tagline at the top of your resume, stating what you do and/or where you expertise lies. This should be short and punchy, making a very clear statement and used as a means of grabbing the readers immediate attention.
A strategist with the ability to increase productivity through lean methods in the manufacturing industry and over profitability – Manufacturing Consultant”
A professional profile can be used for any industry but is most suited for professional positions. These are usually the type that require further study beyond that of high school in order to apply. A tagline is a great method for creative positions such as those in the marketing, sales, design and fashion industries for example.
Leverage your cover letter
If you’re still keen to inform a prospective employer of how this advertised position is the perfect next step for your career, use your cover letter to do so. Your cover letter is another powerful marketing tool so use it wisely to demonstrate your suitability. A cover letter should be submitted with all applications no matter your industry or profession, make use of this tool to clearly relay why this position is the natural next step for you.
Joe Flanagan is the Senior Resume Consultant at the Velvet Jobs resume builder. He enjoys helping people get their resume ready for that dream job and providing career advice. Joe has been a contributor to a variety of publications such as HRZone and Business.com.
First you have to get it through the applicant tracking system.
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Don’t get stuck with a bad boss
Starting a new job is very similar to starting at a new school. There are new people to meet, new rules to learn, and new friends to make to have lunch with.
And, much like in the classroom, your enjoyment of work is directly affected by the person in charge. While we were able to leave not-so-stellar teachers after nine months, we are not always so lucky in the workplace.
Having a bad boss can cast a dark cloud over your workplace performance. It can cause discomfort, stress, and, most commonly, resentment.
Sorting the good from the bad
It would be great if we could live in world where people were actually classified on a “naughty or nice” list. Unfortunately, we have to work to make that determination ourselves.
However, there are ways to speed up the process of that determination. Reading people can be a difficult task upon your first meeting. But, it is possible to get a read on whether or not someone will be a good boss during your job interview.
All of this begs the question, how are we able to weed out the bad from the good? According to Sara Stibitz at the Harvard Business Review, there are a variety of ways to see if someone will be a good boss during a job interview.
Think of your needs first
First and foremost, you need to know what you want in order to know what to look for. What this means is, you must first answer what kind of boss and environment you want to work with.
You need to evaluate the level of comfort you would like with the boss, in addition to the relationship. Are you looking for someone to collaborate with? Someone to be your mentor? With these items in mind, you can get some intel based on their personality and demeanor as to how you two will mesh.
Trust your gut
Another important aspect, which is important in many other facets of life, is that you need to trust your instincts. If you get the vibe that he/she is putting on a face and is someone you may not enjoy working with, odds are that will only build up over time. And, as that builds, your workplace happiness decreases.
This can be determined from two different angles. The first is to note how you are being treated during the interview. This lies in their communication skills. Are they asking cookie-cutter interview questions, or are they actually attempting to engage in a dialogue? The second is to see how the process is handled after the interview is over. If they take six months to get back to you, they may not be the person you want to work with every day.
Do your own research
Prior to the interview, it is always a good idea to do some prep work. Check out the interviewer (or boss)’s LinkedIn page to see what their qualifications and job history consist of. This allows you to see their commitment to past/present jobs and can provide schema for the interview. Odds are they are probably Google-ing you, so why not do the same?
Lastly, a good step to take is to ask to meet some of the staff. This allows you to not only get a feel for the culture of the workplace, but also allows you to see interaction between the boss and existing staff members.
For your next interview, prepare ahead of time by researching the company’s manager, make sure you are aware of how they treat you during and post-interview, and always trust your instincts.
Taylor Leddin is a staff writer for The American Genius and is currently pursuing an interpersonal communication degree from Illinois State University. When not writing, she can be found obsessing over movies and TV shows.
Although in the moment they might seem larger than life, interviewers are people just like you.
That means they’re susceptible to the same psychological preferences and cognitive biases that affect the rest of us.
To help you get into your interviewer’s head and learn what they want to see in a candidate, we rounded up a list of science-backed strategies to make yourself seem more likable, competent, and ultimately hirable.
1. Schedule your interview around 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday.
According to Glassdoor, the "best" time to arrange an interview is the time that's best for the interviewer — not the time that's best for you.
So if the hiring manager offers you some flexibility in choosing an interview time, ask if you could come in around 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday. That's likely when your interviewer is relatively relaxed.
In general, you should avoid early-morning meetings because your interviewer may still be preoccupied with everything she needs to get done that day. You'll also want to avoid being the last meeting of the workday, as your interviewer may already be thinking about what they need to accomplish at home.
2. Don't interview on the same day as the strongest candidates.
Research suggests that interviewers base their evaluations of individual candidates on who else they've interviewed that day.
One study found that applicants who interviewed at the end of a day after a series of strong candidates were rated lower than expected. On the other hand, those who interviewed after a series of weak candidates were rated higher than expected.
It's not clear whether this is an unconscious phenomenon, or whether interviewers are consciously rating the last candidates higher or lower than they should because they don't want their supervisors to think they're giving everyone the same ratings.
Either way, if you have any knowledge of who else is interviewing and when, choose to come in after comparatively unqualified candidates.
3. Match the color of your outfit to the image you want to project.
A CareerBuilder survey of hiring managers and human-resources professionals found that different clothing colors convey distinct impressions.
Twenty-three percent of interviewers recommended wearing blue, which suggests that the candidate is a team player, while 15% recommended black, which suggests leadership potential.
Meanwhile, 25% said orange is the worst color to wear, and suggests that the candidate is unprofessional.
Here's what other colors indicate:
Green, yellow, orange, or purple: creative
4. Tailor your answers to the interviewer’s age.
You can learn a lot (but not everything) about your interviewer and what she wants to hear based on her generational age.
In their book "Crazy Good Interviewing," John B. Molidor, Ph.D., and Barbara Parus write that you should conduct yourself a little differently based on which generation your interviewer belongs to. Here's their breakdown:
Generation Y interviewers (between 20 and 30): Bring along visual samples of your work and highlight your ability to multitask.
Generation X interviewers (between 30 and 50): Emphasize your creativity and mention how work/life balance contributes to your success.
Baby Boomer interviewers (between 50 and 70): Show that you work hard and demonstrate respect for what they've achieved.
Silent Generation interviewers (between 70 and 90): Mention your loyalty and commitment to previous jobs.
5. Hold your palms open or steeple your hands.
According to Molidor and Parus, your hand movements contribute to the impression you convey in a job interview.
Showing your palms generally indicates sincerity, while pressing the fingertips of your hands together to form a church steeple indicates confidence.
On the other hand, you don't want to hold your palms downward, which is a sign of dominance. You'll also want to avoid concealing your hands, which looks like you have something to hide; tapping your fingers, which shows impatience; folding your arms, which indicates disappointment; and overusing hand gestures, which can be distracting.
6. Find something in common with your interviewer.
According to the "similarity-attraction hypothesis," we tend to like people who share similar attitudes.
So if you know your interviewer really values community service and you do, too, try to work that topic into your conversation.
7. Mirror the interviewer’s body language.
The "chameleon effect" is a psychological phenomenon that describes how people tend to like each other more when they're exhibiting similar body language.
Body language expert Patti Wood says that, ideally, it should look like you're "dancing" with the other person. Otherwise it can seem like you're not interested in what they're saying, you're not a team player, or even that you're lying.
So if your interviewer is leaning forward in his chair and putting his hands on the table, feel free to do the same. Chances are he won’t notice that you’re copying him.
8. Compliment the interviewer and the organization without self-promoting.
In one study, cited on PsyBlog, researchers found that students who ingratiated themselves with their interviewers, without coming across as self-promotional, were more likely to be recommended for the job. That's likely because those students seemed like a better fit for the company.
Specifically, the students who ingratiated themselves praised the organization and indicated their enthusiasm for working there, and complimented the interviewer. They didn't play up the value of positive events they took credit for or take credit for positive events even if they weren’t solely responsible.
9. Show confidence and deference simultaneously.
Success in business is often a matter of competing and cooperating, say the business professors who wrote the book "Friend and Foe."
In a job interview, that means showing deference to your interviewer, while also demonstrating self-confidence. One way to do that is to say something like, "I love your work on [whatever area]. It reminds me of my work on [whatever area]."
You're confident in that you’re taking the initiative to guide the conversation, but also deferential in that you're admiring your interviewer's work.
10. Emphasize how you took control of events in your previous jobs.
Other research cited on PsyBlog suggests that, to impress your interviewer, you should talk about past work experiences where you took initiative.
In the study, retail salespeople heard hypothetical scenarios (e.g. A customer comes into the store about to go on vacation, and she doesn't know what to take with her, so you talk to her about different products, and the customer purchases suntan cream and sunglasses.) and were asked to indicate how responsible they would feel for the positive outcome.
Employees who implied that they were responsible for the purchase generally received higher performance ratings from their managers.
The same idea likely applies in the case of job interviews. If you can show how you contributed to a positive outcome at your company, your interviewer will likely be more impressed with you than if you act like you had little to do with it. (But be careful not to overstate your role in the outcome — see No. 8.)
11. Be candid about your weaknesses.
In answering the question "What's your greatest weakness?" your initial impulse might be to craft a strategic response that really emphasizes your strengths. For example, you might say, "I'm such a perfectionist" or "I work too hard."
But recent research suggests that "humblebragging," or boasting concealed by a complaint, can be a turnoff in interviews. It's wiser to say something genuine like, "I'm not always the best at staying organized," which sounds more honest, and could make your interviewer more inclined to recommend you for the position.
12. Prime yourself to feel powerful.
A growing body of research suggests that you can easily make yourself feel and appear more powerful in business situations.
In one study, participants who wrote about a time when they held power over other people were more likely to be cited as influential during a group-work task — and that impression remained even two days later.
In another study by Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, some students practiced two "high power" (expansive and open) poses for one minute each before giving a speech about their dream job, while others adopted "low power" (contractive and closed) poses. Results showed that students in the high-power group were rated as more confident and were more likely to be recommended for hypothetical jobs.
It's definitely not a good idea to adopt a power pose while you're interviewing, but you can certainly take one before you enter the building or the conference room. For example, you can stand with your feet hip distance apart and hold your arms up over your head.
13. Speak expressively.
If you want to sound smart, avoid speaking in monotone.
According to Leonard Mlodinow, author of "Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior," "If two speakers utter exactly the same words, but one speaks a little faster and louder and with fewer pauses and greater variation in volume, that speaker will be judged to be more energetic, knowledgeable, and intelligent. Expressive speech, with modulation in pitch and volume, and a minimum of noticeable pauses, boosts credibility and enhances the impression of intelligence."
Over at Inc., Geoffrey James suggests that you "slow down and speed up depending upon the importance of what you're communicating at the time. If you're summarizing or going over background, speak more quickly than when you're providing new information. When you're introducing an important concept, slow down to give listeners time to absorb it."
14. Make eye contact when you first meet your interviewer.
Don't be bashful — when your interviewer comes to greet you, look them in the eye.
In one study, researchers asked participants to watch videos of strangers talking to each other for the first time and then rate how intelligent each person seemed. Results showed that the people who consistently made eye contact while speaking were considered more intelligent than those who didn’t make eye contact.
15. Be friendly and assertive at the same time.
One fascinating study sought to address the reasons why candidates who seem anxious are less likely to land the job.
Turns out, at least in mock interviews, it's not nervous tics like fidgeting that hurt your chances. Rather, it could be that being anxious makes you seem less warm and assertive, and makes you speak slowly.
"If you're not naturally extroverted, you need to make sure you sell your skills," study coauthor Deborah M. Powell told Forbes. "Don't be afraid to take ownership of your contribution to a project."
Powell told Forbes that slow talking hurt candidates' chances because interviewers may have assumed that the candidates were having a hard time answering their questions.
16. Showcase your potential.
You might be tempted to tell your interviewer all about your past accomplishments — but research suggests you should focus more on what you could do in the future, if the organization hires you.
In one study, participants received information about a hypothetical job applicant. Some participants learned that the applicant had two years of experience and had received a high score on a test of leadership achievement; others learned that the candidate had no experience and had received a high score on a test of leadership potential.
Results showed that participants thought the candidate would be more successful when they learned he had great potential.
According to social psychologist Heidi Halvorson, our brains pay more attention to uncertain information because they want to unlock it. That means we end up spending more time analyzing that information and, if the information is positive, we're left with a more favorable view of a person's competence.
If a hiring manager were to Google your name right now, what would come up?
According to a recent study by Domain.Me, more than half the population can’t answer that question.
That’s a pretty alarming statistic, considering that 77 percent of recruiters Google their candidates before they even decide to call them in for an interview.
Whether you’re actively seeking a job or looking to climb the corporate ladder at your current company, proactively monitoring your digital footprint could mean the difference between whether or not you land your dream job or get that promotion.
Stop Googling celebs and cat videos… Start paying attention to the search results populated by your own name.
Here are a few ways to clean up your digital footprint and maintain a professional online image.
1. Google yourself right now
You can’t know where to start if you don’t know what you’re up against. But chances are you’re going to find something that needs to be fixed. Only 22% of those who Googled themselves found that the information that appears is exactly what they want people to know. In fact, 20% found outdated or inaccurate details about themselves, and 8% actually found reputation damaging information about them on the internet. Pretty scary, right?
2. Set up professional profiles
If you don’t have a LinkedIn or Twitter account, now is the time to hop on the bandwagon. Both of these social sites are SEO giants that will populate to the top of your name’s search results. This gives you an opportunity to present yourself in a professional way, and allows you to have some control over what potential employers see when they Google you. Use your Twitter account to share content pertaining to your professional field, which will help to position you as a thought leader in your discipline. Make sure your LinkedIn includes your most up-to-date information, and connect with past and present colleagues who can endorse your skills and write recommendations on your behalf.
3. Triple check your privacy settings
A whopping 68% of employers check the Facebook pages of job applicants. When was the last time you updated your privacy settings on Facebook? Even if you’ve done so recently, the change might not be retroactive to your posts and photos from years ago. If the thought of untagging and deleting all those less than savory college photos is too much to bear, update your privacy settings, then have a friend unfriend you to see how your account appears in order to make sure all is hidden.
Bonus points if you check your privacy settings on Linkedin—remember, if you’re not listed as “anonymous” in your privacy settings for Linkedin, people know when you’ve been creeping on their profile.
4. Monitor your footprint
Even after you’ve done a major cleanup of your online presence, it’s still important to keep an eye on what’s being associated with your name. For example, 1 in 3 people who searched themselves discovered that other people share their name, and therefore influence the content associated with them. Meaning, some middle schooler with your same name and a blog about One Direction could be influencing your name’s search results. To keep tabs on this, sites like BrandYourself give you a glimpse into how you appear in the eyes of an employer.
Over 40,000 Google searches are done each second — on every topic imaginable. So why have more than half of us failed to complete the one search that could change the course of our lives?
Your digital footprint has the power to bring you a step closer to your career goals—and your reputation shows up in your bank account… So next time you’re on the job hunt, remember: your reputation is just a Google search away.
Ashley Stahl is career coach who empowers 20somethings to find their purpose and land more job offers. To get a career success kit, visit her website at www.ashleystahl.com.
Before you can interview with a hiring manger, here's how to succeed in a phone screen.
Often, after submitting an online job application, you may get a request from the company for an initial phone screen interview with someone in the human resources department. While you are happy to get a response, you might at the same time feel frustrated and think to yourself: “If only I could just talk to the hiring manager! Why do I need to speak with some junior HR person who doesn’t have a clue about all the technical aspects of the job and how well I can do?"
The reality is that except when you can access a hiring manager directly through networking, you’ll likely have to jump through the hurdle of a phone screen interview conducted by someone in the HR department.
When preparing for a phone interview, consider these points:
Phone interviews begin to separate the wheat from the chaff. Hiring managers rarely, if ever, have time to sort through all the resumes that are submitted. It makes sense for them to review the “must haves,” “would be good to haves” and disqualifying factors with an HR person who will begin the process.
It’s likely that the HR person will be well-trained in avoiding the pitfalls of discriminating against people in any protected class. And they can do an excellent job of separating those clearly not appropriate from the people who deserve more in-depth consideration.
Don’t expect to get into great detail about what you’ve done or the job at this time. Remember that there is a lot of ground to cover, but these interviews typically last only 20 to 30 minutes, so don’t spend too much time on any one question or answer.
Interviewers sell the company to the candidates. Companies are concerned about their own employer brand. There is always stiff competition to make it into one of those “Top X Places to Work” lists. And given the current dip in unemployment, employers are now in a position where they need to compete to get the top talent to join their workforce.
When you are given the opportunity to ask questions at the end of an interview, this is a great time to inquire about the corporate culture, why the interviewer enjoys working at the company and what kinds of personalities tend to be the most successful at the company. You can then respond by drawing parallels to your background and actions that show you are that kind of person.
Phone screeners need to figure out if you are on a fishing expedition. Employers don’t typically want to go through the hiring process with a candidate, and then find out that they need to compete with alternate offers, or even worse, have you pull the rug from under them by taking another offer when they have finally figured out that you are the perfect person for them.
Make sure you answer the question, “Why do you want to work here?” before it is even asked. It’s not advisable to answer the phone call inviting you to interview by asking, “What company are you from again? I’ve applied to so many, I can’t keep them all straight.”
Also be prepared to say something that explains your rationale for applying to any job that is particular to that company.
Phone screeners evaluate your communication skills. Even if you have a stellar resume, employers may wonder if you wrote it yourself and how well you can expand on any of its content. What is the quality of your English, your ability to think on your feet, listen to questions and respond appropriately? Can you make complex or technical aspects of your job understandable to someone who isn’t at your level?
Never refer an interviewer to your resume for the answer to a question. They’ve already read it and likely have it in front of them. If they ask you to explain something that is there, chances are they just want to see how well you speak about what you’ve written.
Talk clearly, don’t ramble and answer the question that is asked rather than pivoting to make some other point. Check in along the way to ask if this is the kind of information, with the right level of specificity, that the interviewer wants to hear about.
Compensation discussions begin at the beginning. As much as you might want to defer the salary question, it invariably comes up sooner rather than later. Don’t be taken aback. Of course it is an attempt to elicit a low number from you, given that you are at your most vulnerable at this early stage of discussion.
But it does more. It enables an employer to benefit from the knowledge of how your current or recent employer valued your contributions. It probably doesn’t mean much if you are a couple thousand dollars higher or lower. But it’s hard to convince a perspective employer that you deserve an executive compensation level when your current or recent salary is that of a mid-manager level.
Do your best to avoid naming a specific salary target. Instead, offer to share your current or recent salary, always with a caveat: “This is a different role in a different company. Of course I’d like more, but what is most important to me is that I’m a good fit for the position.”
Arnie Fertig, MPA, is the founder & CEO of Jobhuntercoach. He coaches clients nationwide on the nuts and bolts of job hunting. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter @jobhuntercoach, or circle him on Google+.
Resumes win interviews, so like most people your job search has probably focused on writing your and tweaking your resume and landing job interviews. You probably haven't given your references much thought, but in a tough job market references win job offers. You must be certain that your references will seal the deal, not blow it away.
A primary reason that one candidate will win a job offer over another is the quality of that candidate's references. Human resource professionals say that about half of all checked references fall into the mediocre to poor category. Some of the comments they've heard when checking references include:
"Company policy prohibits us from saying anything. We can only verify dates of employment and title."
"All I can suggest is that you check his references very carefully."
"Are you certain she gave my name as a reference?"
"We miss him very much. Too bad he was let go."
"After we settle our lawsuit."
"He's still in health care? Well bless his heart."
The better the job and the higher the pay, the tougher the competition you'll face for that job and the more stringent the screening process. If you're being considered for a responsible professional job, it's likely that your references will be checked.
Take Control of Your Destiny
Talking with potential references long before their services are required gives you the opportunity to screen both the message and the messengers you will use. When you know exactly what former managers and colleagues will say about you, you can use the references you choose with greater confidence, because you have much greater control over who gets to say what about you.
Identify Potential References
Start by making a list of your prospective references. Begin with your most recent/relevant job and work backwards from there. Usually references only get checked with immediately prior employers, but the more elevated the position the further back your references are likely to be checked. Identify people who have seen you in action, ideally performing well in adverse conditions. This list will include:
Managers and supervisors
Project managers for special assignments
Suppliers and clients
After completing your list of potential references, track them down and talk to them. If a reference is local, a personal meeting over coffee or lunch can be nice touch; a phone call is usually sufficient, but an email request is too impersonal.
Help Your References Help You
Start the conversation by catching up on each other's lives since last you spoke. Be sure to cover what you have been doing professionally, especially any new skills you've developed, the projects you've been engaged with, and how you've added experience and turned old weaknesses into new strengths.
Explain that you are in transition and ask if s/he would feel comfortable acting as one of your references "when the time comes." Share a few details of the job you're targeting. Finish by saying you'll be in touch again when an offer is close.
When a Specific Offer Is on the Horizon
When an offer is made and references requested, tell the employer that you will be in touch the next day with names and contact information. Choose the references you will use and reach out to each one again. Share the company's name, the job title, and the responsibilities. Tell each reference that company checkers are likely to ask for a rating of your skills in the following areas:
Written and oral communication
Time management and organization (multitasking)
Short- and long-term planning
Teamwork/interpersonal skills and leadership
Creativity in tackling the job's ongoing challenges
Personal integrity and overall performance
If the job is in management, a reference may also be asked about:
Managerial and employee-relations skills
References may also be asked if they would enthusiastically recommend you, what their thoughts are on the circumstances of your separation from your previous jobs, and whether they would like to provide any additional comments.
If they're willing to take the time, it can be helpful to review your references' response to these topics. When you take the initiative to make this happen, you are arming your reference with all she needs to give you a stellar recommendation.
Make it clear that in this security-conscious and harshly competitive world, the quality of your references is critical to winning the job offer. Once you land a new position, be sure to call your references and let them know the details. And don't forget to offer your services if there is anything you can do in return!