by Debby Carreau - @debbycarreau
Most of us prepare for job interviews the same way: Research the company, Google "how to answer common interview questions," practice answering them out loud and then hope for the best. But rarely do we think about how we present ourselves to our potential future employers.
Body language is a large indicator of your confidence and comfort level in any given situation, and it can make or break your chances of landing the job. Here are six common body language mistakes to avoid in your next interview:
1. Not optimizing eye contact
One of the most important skills to master for a job interview is maintaining appropriate eye contact. In a 2018 CareerBuilder report, 67 percent of the 2,500 hiring managers surveyed said that failure to make eye contact was the top body language mistake job seekers make. (Another study, dating as far back as 1979, found that people who sustain extended eye contact are more likely to be perceived as intelligent and credible.)
"Express warmth by smiling often and avoid making shifty eye movements."
That's not to say you should be intensely staring down at your interviewer the entire time. Start the contact when you first meet them at the initial handshake. Express warmth by smiling often and avoid making shifty eye movements.
2. Poor posture
No slouching — always keep a strong, straight back. Lean forward slightly from time to time to show interest.
A strong posture will not only make you look more confidence, it can also help you feel more confident and perform better in your interview. Studies have shown that individuals who sit up straighter are more likely to view themselves as having strong leadership skills, whereas those with hunched postures have higher risks of feeling easily stressed.
Fake it 'til you make it, right?
3. Smiling too much (or not enough)
Succeeding isn't as simple as just smiling. Smiling at the beginning and end of your interview — but not as much in between — will make you seem more approachable and likable. It's all about balance. Do what feels natural and don't overthink it. A simple trick is to try and match the energy or demeanor of your interviewer.
Too much fidgeting will make you look anxious and nervous, which might cause your interviewer to question your assertiveness and interpersonal warmth. Avoid the temptation to fidget your fingers or, even worse, nearby objects!
By embracing stillness, you can display the persona of a confident and capable leader. If you have a hard time doing this, practice answering questions while keeping as still as possible in front of a mirror.
5. Not dressing for the job
From your clothes and accessories down to your shoes (and even the way you style your hair!), what you wear is an extension of your body language.
"When in doubt, go for shades of blue or black."
The little details matter, so put plenty of thought into how you want to appear on the day of your interview. Are your shoes polished? Did you shower that morning? Are the colors you chose to wear too bold, or just bold enough, for the job you want? When in doubt, go for shades of blue or black, but steer clear of anything too bright or boring, like orange and brown.
6. A weak handshake
Your handshake is the first and last impression you will make in a job interview. According to a study from the Beckman Institute, a strong handshake can both diminish the impact of a negative impression and make a positive interaction even better.
Another tip: at the end of your interview, ensure a strong handshake accompanied by strong eye contact and a few kind words. It can be as simple as: "Thank you for taking the time to meet with me [interviewer's name]. I really look forward to hearing back from you."
Debby Carreau is an entrepreneur, author and founder of Inspired HR. She has been recognized as one of Canada's Top 25 HR Professionals and is a regular contributor to Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, among many others. She is a board member for FinDev Canada, Young Presidents Organization and Elevation Group. Follow her on Twitter @DebbyCarreau .
Job seekers, take note — the next time you head in for an interview, it may not be the typical question-and-answer format you’re used to. More and more companies are implementing creative interview strategies that go beyond the surface and dig deep into your skills, personality and behavior. Case in point: the job simulation.
A job simulation is any task that is designed to give you an accurate preview of what the role you are interviewing for entails on a day-to-day basis. Job simulations are becoming increasingly popular among employers, as they help companies more accurately predict whether or not candidates would be successful if hired.
“For us, it’s all about being efficient and making the right hire, the first time,” says Jeff Rizzo, Founder & CEO of product review sites RIZKNOWS and The Slumber Yard, who implements job simulations in his companies’ hiring processes. “We’ve been burned in the past when we hired candidates that interviewed well, but weren’t nearly skilled enough when it came time to actually produce work. We are looking for fit, of course, but the simulator serves as our final test of acumen.”
Job Simulation Formats
Job simulations can take many different forms, such as in-person assignments, online exams, take-home assignments, role-playing, presentations or even virtual simulations. Chris Chancey, founder of Amplio Recruiting, described some of the more common job simulation formats in depth:
In-basket exercises: “Here, the candidate is required to complete certain tasks such as responding to emails, taking phone calls and handling grievances within a set amount of time. Often, these exercises are best for administrative and managerial positions.”
Situational judgment tests: “The candidate is presented with a work-related scenario and is asked to use their judgment to provide a solution that can amicably resolve the situation at hand. These tests lend themselves well to positions such as customer service and supervisory roles.”
Work sample tests: “These, typically hands-on tests, require the candidate to complete certain activities that are similar to actual tasks they would perform on the job. Examples include writing code, take-home assignments, collaborating with others to design a website or completing an onsite construction task.”
Role-playing: “Role-playing is probably the most common of all job simulation formats. These exercises help to evaluate a candidate’s ability to navigate interpersonal challenges in a work environment.”
This is far from a complete list, though. Because job simulations mimic the tasks of actual jobs, the possibilities are virtually endless.
Tips for Acing a Job Simulation
So, what should you do if you find out a job simulation will be a part of your job interview? First things first, you’ll want to do some research into what exactly it might entail. Turn to Glassdoor’s interview reviews section and look up the company you’ll be interviewing with to see if any other previous candidates have described what the interview process involves.
You can also “research types of simulation exercises by talking to employees in similar roles or work environments [or] reviewing industry journals,” points out Diana Brush, Associate Director or Employer Relations at Clarion University of Pennsylvania. And of course, you can ask the recruiter to provide some insight — odds are, they will be happy to share some basic information.
Once you know a bit more about what to expect, it’s time to brush up on your abilities.
“Review your knowledge, skills and abilities for the position being assessed to identify your strengths and weaknesses,” then “practice and then demonstrate the task/issue that will be assessed,” Brush says. “Record yourself performing the task and ask co-workers to observe and provide constructive feedback.”
No matter your specific field — software engineering, consulting, sales, finance, etc. — a quick online search should reveal plenty of practice assessments.
And finally, try to relax.
“Candidates should always come off as calm and collected,” Rizzo says. “[Simulations] aren’t always about judging skill — most of the time they’re looking to measure intangibles such as critical thinking ability and emotional intelligence.”
Job Simulations: Beneficial for Employers & Candidates Alike
If you’ve never faced one before, a job simulation can be intimidating. But just remember: job simulations aren’t just for the employer’s benefit — they’re also for yours.
“Job simulations enable self-selection where, after being immersed in the actual job environment, a candidate can determine whether the job is the right fit earlier on in the process,” Chancey says. “Candidates who stick to the process and are hired are more likely to stay with the company longer, report higher levels of job satisfaction and demonstrate greater productivity.”
by ERICA LAMBERG
It can open your eyes to different keywords you could be using, formatting styles, or make you realize you have a lot of extra content.
If your pal or co-worker is looking for some help revising or updating their resume, the benefits could be more than just helping them polish their resume. By getting your creative juices flowing, your proofreading skills sharpened and getting your head back in a job-circuit mentality, you may become inspired to re-craft or update your own resume.
Here, experts share why it’s not only nice to help a friend but why it may help boost your own resume success.
You remember your own accolades
When helping a friend build and improve their resume, you may be inspired to improve your own resume.
“It always inspires me to improve my own resume because it makes me think of experiences I had not highlighted in the past, and it helps me remember programming or events I had not considered putting in my resume but are absolutely beneficial,” says Jen Fry, a resume expert.
You can reframe your own experiences
If you’ve worked in a particular sector for a long time, your resume may have tunnel vision.
“By reviewing a friend’s resume, particularly a friend who works in a different field, you can see how other people prioritize and talk about their skills,” says career coach Meg Duffy.
Your resume can get a structure re-boot
Helping friends in their job search is always a great way to develop your job-seeking skills since you can get their perspective and see how they go about it, while also engaging in discussions when you provide them with advice, says Valerie Streif, with Pramp, a mock interview platform for job seeking developers, software engineers, data scientists, and product managers . When you see how someone else formats and structures their resume, you can get an idea of how to improve your own.
“It can open your eyes to different keywords you could be using, formatting styles, or make you realize you have a lot of extra content on your resume that doesn’t need to be there,” says Streif.
Your benefits can go beyond a resume
Through brainstorming resumes with a friend, it can spawn peer-to-peer interview practice which is also an excellent way to boost skills, says Streif.
“Because working with another person is going to give you a chance to see their strengths and weaknesses, and their feedback on your performance gives you an idea what you need to work on before your real interview interaction,” Streif continues. “Sometimes, we don’t realize the little body language signals we give off to the interviewer, so having a chance to ‘check this’ is valuable.”
You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
by Zulie Rane
Everyone has participated in an “informal conversation” when looking for jobs. It’s kind of an awkward halfway house, where the potential employer wants to get to know you as a person, but doesn’t want to commit to giving you an interview just yet.
It’s hard to know how to approach these — do you wear relaxed clothes? Should you go full suit? Do you bring a reference?
There’s no reason not to treat it like a full-blown interview in certain ways. Chances are, your future employer will make up their mind during this “chat” on whether or not they can see you working together.
Here are three ways to make the most out of your next informal chat.
1. Be prepared for anything.
This is more than just a scouts motto — it’s applicable to every facet of life. At this casual meet-up, you should be prepared for everything from just getting a coffee, to a full-blown interview scenario.
While you may not want to wear black tie, you should look presentable. Make sure your clothing is stain-free, and at least neat if not smart.
Make sure you have interview materials ready, should they ask for them. At a real interview, I start by getting my resume, cover letter, and references out. During informal chats, I tend to keep them in my bag to bring them out if asked for.
There’s nothing worse than showing up to these informal conversations, being asked for my resume, but not having it. Surprise them by being prepared for any situation.
2. Take advantage of the situation.
This is your chance to ask more relaxed questions than you might feel comfortable asking at an official interview. Ask what the employees do for fun, ask about your interviewer’s hobbies.
It’s also a good opportunity for them to start seeing you as a real person rather than just a job applicant.
You can also bring a notepad to take notes with. This might be a bit off-putting at a job interview where you should be fully focused on the questions you’re being asked.
However, at a casual conversation, you’re both still at the information-gathering stage and it’s totally acceptable to write down important tidbits — which will be useful should you make it to the next stage of interviews!
3. Remember it’s a two-way street.
While you may see the informal chat as a way for them to suss out your employability, it’s also a way to tell if this job is a place where you want to work.
For example, at a recent informal chat I asked what my interviewer was doing that weekend. She told me that she and her team needed to finish a project and would be at the office.
An informal conversation is the ideal place to find out if they’re the right match for you, and it’s often an overlooked opportunity. Here, you can be frank about your expectations for company culture, working habits, and employee events without worrying you’re in the wrong setting for it.
You get a much better feel for the personality of the person interviewing you than you would at a more formal job interview, and it can be really telling if they’re someone you get along with or not.
Now you know the three tenets of the informal chat! Next time a prospective employer asks you for a casual conversation, you’ll be prepared.
The informal interview has both benefits — like the fact that it shows your potential future employer wants to take the time to get to know you — as well as pitfalls — being difficult to navigate.
As long as you show up ready to get to know them and show them your best side, you can handle it.
Almost everyone has had this experience: You hear that your friend got a great new job, and they didn't even have to apply — they were contacted by a headhunter.
"It's completely human to get a twinge of envy when you hear a friend is being recruited," says bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch. It's easy to hear that it's happening for others and wonder, "Why aren't headhunters calling me?"
Welch tells CNBC Make It that if you find yourself pondering this dilemma, there are four simple steps you should take to increase your chances of catching a recruiter's eye:
1. Update your LinkedIn profile
Welch says it's absolutely imperative that you have a stellar LinkedIn profile.
"In fact, it needs to be so complete and descriptive that it achieves 'all-star' status on the site," she says. "Don't worry if you don't know what that means, LinkedIn will guide you there with tips."
In addition to building your "all-star" profile, Welch says you need to make it known to recruiters that you're interested in being looked at. You can do this by going to the jobs menu on the platform and clicking the box that indicates you're "open to offers."
"Have no fear about your current employer," she emphasizes. "This selection is private."
2. Boost your industry profile
Headhunters often go after professionals whose work is seen and known in their industry. That's why, Welch says, it's important that you raise your profile, not just by attending conferences or networking, but also by pitching yourself to speak on panels. That way, you're able to bring greater awareness to the expertise you have to offer.
Additionally, she says, you should also "write for or get quoted in industry publications — or better yet, do both."
3. Maintain a mature online presence
Outside of LinkedIn, Welch says you want to be sure that your other social media accounts "demonstrate a vibrant, mature presence." You want to show "that you care about trends and events in your industry, and you have intelligent, constructive views about them."
Doing this, she says, will show that "you're part of the conversation."
"I'm not saying you have to eliminate the cute dog pics, but your social feeds should be curated as if a headhunter is looking at them, and when she does, she's thinking, 'Here's a smart grown-up.'"
4. Contact a headhunter directly
If you're really interested in making a connection with a headhunter, Welch says "there's no reason not to contact them by email, with a concise, persuasive letter about your skills and career interests — and of course a link to your profile on LinkedIn or elsewhere."
She warns, though, that recruiters usually don't like to be contacted by phone. In order to avoid seeming desperate, she says you should "keep all communication digital until they call you."
"Being headhunted is not just for top execs or superstars anymore," Welch says. "Plenty of companies are looking for talent. Use these four strategies to make sure you're on their radar."
Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator and public speaker. Think you need Suzy to fix your career? Email her at email@example.com.
Knowing where to find inside information about a potential employer can mean the difference between getting a job from a great company and heading down the wrong path.
By Sarah K. White
It’s tempting to jump on the first job offer you get, but the last thing you want to do is find yourself working for a company that doesn’t align with your goals or values. But it’s difficult to get a full picture of a company’s culture and working environment in a few short interviews and one tour of the office building.
“Before starting your research, take some time to think about what you want and need — both from and beyond the job — to be successful and truly engaged at work. Think about the core values and principles you hope guide that company, the type of work you’d like to do there, and the kinds of people who create and preserve the culture itself,” says Kathleen Pai, vice president of HR at Ultimate Software.
Whether you are at the beginning of your job search or preparing for an interview, being armed with as much knowledge as possible about a potential employer is in your best interest. Not only will it help you formulate more insightful questions, it will boost your confidence as well.
Glassdoor offers reviews of companies based on user-submitted feedback, or as Glassdoor calls it: "employee-generated" content. Glassdoor also offers information about salaries (provided anonymously) and potential interview questions. You can find information on employee benefits and company culture, and you can read reviews from current and past employees.
“I suggest looking at Glassdoor reviews and researching the management team. What do they talk about and publish? Look for signs that tell you whether the organization values bottom-up ideas or if the culture is directive from the top," says Adriana Roche, vice president of people and places at Segment.
While every employee’s experience will be different, you should be able to get a strong sense for how the business operates. Companies will even advertise jobs on Glassdoor, so if you stumble on a company that looks like a good fit, you can instantly see what openings they have.
Like Glassdoor, Indeed has thousands of company reviews that are submitted from current and past employees. Unlike Glassdoor, Indeed is first and foremost a job aggregator, with listings from practically every job site out there. Reviews, however, are not aggregated from outside sources and are hosted solely on Indeed.com.
“While pay and job security remain essential, factors such as trust, open communication, professional development, and company reputation play an increasingly important role in influencing employees’ long-term happiness and commitment to the workplace. Consider what you’re looking for in a company and use that to steer your research,” says Pai.
Indeed is a useful resource if you’re in the process of looking for jobs and want to know what you’re getting into before you apply. You might quickly recognize the job isn’t a good fit by looking at the reviews and salary data. Or, you might feel the company culture doesn’t align with what you’re looking for in your next job, saving both you and the recruiter some time.
LinkedIn is more than a networking site; it’s a resource for job seekers to research companies and potential co-workers and a place where recruiters find talent. LinkedIn doesn't provide user-based company reviews like Glassdoor or Indeed, but it’s a great way to see whether you have any current connections working at the company who might be able to give you insight into what it’s like to work there, or to establish a new connection — as long as you are upfront about your intentions.
“Don't have any connections? Go to Linkedin and search your second-degree connections. Don't be afraid to message that person, let them know about your mutual connection and active interest in the company, and then ask for 15 minutes of their time to ask a few questions. Be sure to have questions prepared as you never know how different employees may influence the outcome of the hiring process,” says Heather Doshay, senior vice president of people and places at Rainforest QA.
CareerBliss features over 3.5 million job postings, 4 million salaries and 700,000 company reviews, according to its website. It’s a one-stop shop to find open jobs, determine a fair salary and read employee reviews on the company. It’s been around since 2008, with a focus on helping users “find happiness in the workplace” and in their careers. It’s easy to forget in your job search that it’s not just about finding a job — it’s finding a place where you can thrive.
“Interviewing is a two-way street, and research is beneficial to the interviewer in two ways. Not only does this help the candidate impress the company with their knowledge, but also for the candidate to determine if the company is a good match for their career goals,” says Doshay.
CareerBliss also offers a unique feature that will allow you to compare jobs side by side, using a proprietary “Bliss Score.” A company’s Bliss Score is determined through several factors, including job satisfaction, pay scale and overall employee happiness. If you’re looking for the right cultural fit, it’s a great way to stack up the competition.
You’d be hard pressed to find any business, small or large, without some type of social media presence. And you can learn a lot about a business by looking at its social media pages to see what leaders in the organization post and share.
“Most companies these days have more than just websites; they keep a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Crunchbase, etc. These sites highlight recent press about the company, new product releases, and highlight the company culture, says Doshay.
Head to popular social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see what content the organization posts and shares. If they have a YouTube channel, watch a few videos to get insight into the products, services or software the company offers. And while Crunchbase isn’t your typical social media platform, it’s a valuable resource in your company research. It was originally set up to offer information on startups, but it’s grown to include information on public and private companies around the world.
Fairygodboss is specifically targeted to women in the workplace, offering “job reviews for women, by women.” Women often have more to consider going into a new company — especially in the male-dominated tech industry. Fairygodboss focuses on offering women reviews that reflect salary practices, maternity and pregnancy benefits, work-life balance and career advice.
“Trusted, third-party review sites such as Fairygodboss and The Muse can provide valuable insights on a company’s culture, leadership, business trajectory, and more — offering candid reviews from current employees about what it’s like to work there, and even video walkthroughs on day-to-day responsibilities for various roles,” says Pai.
There are even discussion boards where women can connect to share experiences and ask for career advice. For women working in male-dominated fields, or in potentially toxic work environments, it’s a safe place to reach out and find a position with a company that better represents its female workers.
The Muse is a valuable career resource where you can find information about a company and see open job listings at the organization. For example, HP’s profile on The Muse includes photos, mission statements, headquarter locations, videos about the corporate culture, key employees at the organization and open jobs. You can also find links to the organization’s social media pages and explore content from HP about working at the company.
“Websites like The Muse allow you to see how community members such as customers, partners, investors and current employees are describing the company you’re researching,” says Tim Falls, director of developer relations at DigitalOcean.
The Muse also offers advice for job seekers as well as the opportunity to connect with coaches or to take courses. You can have your resume reviewed, partake in a 30-minute career Q&A, learn more about job search strategy or get advice on how to improve your LinkedIn profile. It’s a one-stop shop for job seekers looking to do their homework before applying for a job.
If you’re researching a company and the only resources you can find are from the organization itself, with little insight from past or current employees, you might want to branch out to get another perspective. At Quora, you can ask questions on nearly any topic and people will reach out to share their knowledge, perspectives, opinions and ideas. It’s a great way to gain an outside perspective on working for a company or in a specific field or job title. If you aren’t comfortable posting a question yourself, you can search to see if anyone else has asked it before and read those responses instead.
“To gaze through a different lens, you can often find questions and answers around, ‘what is it like to work at [insert company here]?,’ on sites like Quora — and because the perspectives presented in such communities tend to be less filtered and more raw, it’s possible to gain an otherwise overlooked view into the employee experience,”Falls says.
Compared with single-page resumes, two-page resumes increase the amount of time recruiters spend reviewing the applicant, and can ultimately improve the candidate’s likelihood of getting hired.
Until you’ve reached the mid-point of your career, or unless you’re in a unique industry like academia or medicine, your resume should always be one-page long, right?
Despite the long-held convention, a recent study has found that two-page resumes are actually preferred by recruiters, no matter the candidate’s experience level. The study, conducted by resume writing service ResumeGo, found that compared with single-page resumes, two-page resumes increase the amount of time recruiters spend reviewing the applicant, and can ultimately improve the candidate’s likelihood of getting hired.
ResumeGo asked 482 recruiters, hiring managers and HR professionals to screen nearly 8,000 resumes in a hiring simulation, over 5,000 of which used at least part of a second page. The study concluded that recruiters were 2.3 times as likely to prefer two-page resumes, scoring their ability to “summarize the candidate’s work experiences and overall credentials” higher by an average of 21%. Furthermore, when it came time to make a final decision, participants spent an average of more than four minutes reviewing two-page resumes, compared with less than two and a half minutes on those that were confined to one.
“We were pretty surprised ourselves,” says Peter Yang, the CEO of ResumeGo. Yang says that after seeing candidates whittle their resumes down to a single page by increasing the margins, reducing the font size and even removing some potentially relevant information, he decided to test the conventional wisdom that forbids page two. “I think that belief wasn’t actually grounded in any scientific data or research, and I’m not sure how it came about,” he says.
Yang adds that if a resume doesn’t require two pages, job seekers shouldn’t take his study to suggest they need to add more information just for the sake of reaching the second page. “It would come across as unnatural,” he says. “It would seem clear to the reader that you’re just adding in fluff.”
The study ultimately found that employers were 2.9 times more likely to prefer a two-page resume when hiring for managerial positions, 2.6 times as likely to prefer them for mid-level positions, and 1.4 times as likely to prefer a two-page resume for entry-level job openings.
DON’T GO OVER THE CLIFF
Similar research conducted by AI-driven resume optimization and job search platform TalentWorks found that interview rates slowly increase along with word count, until sharply dropping around the 600 mark.
“For almost everyone, your hireability drops off a cliff if your resume is too long,” saysTalentWorks CEO Kushal Chakrabarti. Despite the sharp decline in interview rates for those that go overboard, reaching the 600-word target would still necessitate a second page; especially a resume page that’s been formatted to not appear cluttered.
Some industries, however, expect their applicants to go well beyond the 600-word threshold. “Longer is better if you’re an academic, industrial scientist, college professor, school teacher, or social service worker,” says Chakrabarti, adding that some industries also punish longer resumes more harshly than others. “For example, in business, long resumes were a whopping 72% less hireable than those in the sweet spot [of 600 words].”
A NEW STANDARD FOR A NEW GENERATION
It’s hard to say exactly when two-page resumes became socially acceptable or even preferable, but experts point to a number of trends that have slowly made them the norm. For example, despite the stereotype, many younger and entry-level employees actually have more of a story to tell on their resumes than their parents and grandparents did when they entered the workforce: enough to necessitate a second page.
“With more recent graduates, compared to 10 years ago, there’s more of a focus on internships while they’re in school, they’re doing study abroad programs, working part time, volunteering, or working on a political campaign,” said Monster career expert Vicki Salemi. “Perhaps recruiters want to know more about these experiences that they’re having because there’s more opportunities [outside of academia] now.”
On the other side of the hiring equation, the way in which resumes are evaluated today is dramatically different than in previous generations, explains Salemi. Applicant tracking systems have automated much of the initial vetting phase, and there’s an inherent advantage in giving keyword-searching robots a little extra text to scour.
The incorporation of this technology also means that recruiters rarely handle printed resumes before the interview stage. While printing and reviewing a second, physical page may have once been considered a nuisance, scrolling down a digital page hardly requires any additional effort.”With everything being online it’s just a matter of scrolling down and looking for those keywords,” says Salemi.
THE TOP OF THE FIRST PAGE IS STILL MOST IMPORTANT
Though the ResumeGo study suggests that job seekers at all levels can now feel comfortable using a second resume page it’s important to keep the most relevant information front and center.
According to that study recruiters will spend an average of 2 minutes, 24 seconds reviewing one-page resumes and 4 minutes, 5 seconds reviewing two-page resumes, but only when they’ve narrowed their decision down to their final contenders. An oft-quoted 2012 study conducted by Ladders, Inc. found that hiring managers only spend an average of 6 seconds deciding whether to give a resume further consideration, and a follow-up study recently updated that time to 7.4 seconds.
“Six seconds, or 7.4 seconds, is just that initial glance, where I’m looking for where they went to school, what degree they have, what they’ve been doing most recently, how long they’ve been there, are they employed right now; there’s about six pieces of information we’re checking out,” explained Amanda Augustine, a career advice expert at professional resume writing service TopResume. In 2012 Augustine served as a career management expert and spokesperson for Ladders, where she contributed to that foundational research. “As soon as they get it down to a manageable number [of resumes] where they feel comfortable that the remaining resumes are all worth a closer look, that’s when you spend a bit more time with each.”
According to Augustine resumes are now subject to a keyword review by an applicant tracking system, a 7.4 second initial glance by a hiring manager as well as a more in depth review. As a result, user-friendly formatting is still important, second-pages are permissible, and the top-third of the first page is still the most important section of the document.
“The top of the first page of your resume has to be a snapshot of everything you really need a recruiter or hiring manager to see and know about you,” she says. “You have to get them interested enough to continue reading to page two.” For example, Augustine says after a few years in the workforce education should be pushed to the bottom of the resume, with any recent certifications or degrees listed in a “career highlights” or “professional summary” section at the very top. Key requirements listed in the job posting should also be addressed as early as possible, with the rest of the resume providing a more detailed narrative, adds Augustine.
“The resume is no longer merely a timeline of your professional and educational experience; recruiters want to be able to read your resume like a story,” she says. “Like a good book you’ve got to hook them in at the beginning if you expect them to get to the end.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jared Lindzon is a freelance journalist born, raised and residing in Toronto, covering technology, entrepreneurship, entertainment and more for a wide variety of publications in Canada, the United States and around the world. When he's not playing with gadgets, interviewing entrepreneurs or traveling to music festivals and tech conferences you can usually find him diligently practicing his third-person bio writing skills.
it is possible to deal with that letdown in a way that presents you in the best way possible — and set yourself up for opportunities.
by KAT BOOGAARD
We’re all familiar with that period of torture after you submit a job application and are forced to wait (sigh, for what feels like ages) for any sort of response.
In the end, the waiting is all worth it if you land the job of your dreams. But, if things don’t go according to plan and you’re eventually met with rejection? There’s no doubt about it—that stings.
Here’s the thing: dealing with rejection is never going to be fun. You’re never going to hope that you get turned down for something. However, it is possible to deal with that letdown in a way that presents you in the best way possible—and hopefully sets you up for even better opportunities in the future.
Here’s how to handle job search rejection with grace:
1. Don’t respond immediately.
If you’re being rejected face-to-face (ouch), then you obviously have no choice but to respond immediately. In those circumstances—regardless of what your insides are screaming—simply thank them for the opportunity and get out of there.
But, if you’ve received a job rejection via email, the smartest thing you can do is take some time before replying. This gives you the time you need to cool off, get your emotions in check, and avoid firing off a heated reply that looks something like, “Thanks for wasting my time!”
You can go ahead and type out a reply right now if you feel like you need to get your thoughts on paper—just don’t send it. Come back to it later when you have a clearer head so you can ensure you don’t send a note that you’ll regret.
2. Start with a “thank you.”
Huh? They just gave you a sucker punch to the ego? Why on earth would you thank them for that? I get that this seems counterintuitive, but hear me out. It’s not only a professional and polite way to start your response, it’s also well-deserved.
Despite the fact that you didn’t end up with the position, that employer still sunk time and resources into your candidacy—whether it was just in reviewing your resume or in putting you through multiple interviews.
So, start your response off with something like, “Thank you so much for letting me know, and for the opportunity.” Trust me, it goes a long way when it comes to bolstering your reputation.
3. Ask for feedback.
Rejection hurts, but it can also be an incredibly enlightening learning experience if you’re open to it.
After you thank the employer for their time and consideration, ask if they have any feedback about how you could improve moving forward. Let them know that you’re still actively continuing your job search and would value any insights they have about how you could be an even more impressive candidate.
Be aware that not everybody will be willing to fulfill this request—some companies actually have policies against it. If you get some helpful feedback in return, that’s great. But, if not, even asking shows that you’re someone who’s not only willing to accept disappointments, but learn and grow from them.
4. Resist the urge to trash talk that employer.
When we think about responding to rejection, we often only think about what happens in the heat of the moment and what we say directly to that employer. However, it’s not just what you say when you’re in earshot that matters.
I get that you might want to vent about your disappointment, but resist the temptation to talk poorly about that employer or about how they “strung you along.” You never know who in your network is connected or how the things you say might make it back to the wrong person. If and when someone prompts you to find out if you landed that specific job, keep things vague by saying something like, “I didn’t land that role, but it was a great experience as I continue looking for new opportunities.”
Here’s the hard truth: rejection is always going to sting. But, how you react to it will make all of the difference—especially as you continue your job search. Use these four tips to respond to rejection as positively as possible, and you’ll move on from that letdown with your reputation (and your professional bridges) intact.
This article was originally published on FlexJobs.
NOTE: from Jeff Morris - Founder of CareerDFW - If you were the finalist (the last 2 or 3 people) - Put a reminder in your calendar to contact them again in 60 days. Maybe they hired someone who does not "FIT" or maybe they can not do the job. If you made it to the finals before, they like you, they just happen to select the other person. Let them know you are still in a job search and you really enjoyed meeting the people you interviewed with. Are there any new opportunites that may have come up in the past couple of months with the company?
Treat your anxiety as an ally not an enemy.
by Katharine Brooks Ed.D
I've never met anyone who doesn't get nervous before an important job interview. With so much riding on your performance it’s not surprising that you would experience some anxiety about everything in the process-- from not wearing the right outfit, or not answering questions “perfectly," to looking foolish, or perhaps the worst fear, not getting the job offer.
Feeling stressed or anxious about an important interview is just a sign that you want to do well. Your anxiety can actually motivate you to be better prepared, provide you with energy and keep you alert during the process. But, anxiety can also keep you from doing your best by distracting you or weakening your memory, so here are 10 quick tips for calming your anxiety and maybe even taking advantage of it:
1. Be careful what you eat or drink prior to an interview. It probably goes without saying, but avoid caffeine before the interview. It's also never a good idea to have an alcoholic drink before an interview, even if you think it will “relax” you. Eat something light before your interview so your stomach isn't growling or you get light-headed. A heavy meal can make you tired, so eat moderately. (And make sure you check a mirror for any leftover spinach!)
2. Don’t “force” yourself to calm down. Forcing yourself to calm down will just increase your stress.
3. Control what you can by preparing for the interview. You can’t always control what you will be asked or what will happen in the interview, but you can control how you prepare for it. Use your anxiety to motivate yourself to prepare. Research the organization, practice responses to interview questions, practice your handshake, practice telling powerful stories about your skills, etc. The more prepared and knowledgeable you are about your potential employer, the better you are likely to perform in the interview. If possible, do a mock interview beforehand. If you’re in college, many career centers offer mock interviews. Otherwise, give some typical interview questions to a friend and have them “interview” you. Also, if you’re traveling to the interview, make sure you know where you’re going and allow plenty of time to get there. Don’t rush in at the last minute—allow for possible traffic delays or late flights. Here's what the Senior VP for People Operations at Google has to say about preparing for an interview.
4. Write down your spinning thoughts. Make a list of everything that’s popping into your head. Writing can be one of the most therapeutic and helpful tasks you can do to reduce your anxiety generally, beyond just at job interviews. Dr. James Pennebaker’s research at The University of Texas at Austin has demonstrated the healing value of writing.
5. Question your thoughts. Ask yourself: “Is this true?” Remember, just because you feel it doesn’t make it true. Can you dispute your emotional thoughts with logic? Try changing your thinking to change your mind. The Australian Centre for Clinical Interventions provides a great worksheet on “Unhelpful Thinking Styles.” See if any of these unhelpful thoughts might be raising your anxiety.
6. Breathe. When you’re anxious, your breathing is shallow. Try breathing in for a count of 4, hold for 2, and breathe out for a count of 4. Do this for a minute or two. You can usually practice breathing anywhere (like the waiting area before your interview); no one will likely notice it. Try taking a few minutes to sit and breathe calmly in your car after you park at the interview site. If you find that breathing techniques help you, Dr. Andrew Weil offers several breathing exercises to try.
7. Try Sighing. Sometimes it can be hard to breathe deeply when you’re stressed, so try sighing instead. Take a breath and let it out like a sigh. You’ll probably feel your shoulders relax (tension around the neck and shoulders is a common response to anxiety).
8. Assume the super-hero posture: it’s a power-pose and the opposite of anxiety. Stand tall and place your hands on your hips with your elbows jutting out, like you’re standing on top of world and observing everything in your domain. Take some deep breaths. Remember, you’re in charge of the world. (Just be careful where you do this...) Watch this TED talk by Ann Cuddy to learn about how your posture affects your mood.
9. Practice self-compassion. Focus on these words: Wisdom. Strength. Warmth. Nonjudgment. Repeat them to yourself while you breathe. Try not to critique yourself as you go through the process. Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to a good friend. One of my favorite resources for reducing anxiety and increasing self-compassion is Dr. Christopher Germer's book, The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion.
10. Get outside of yourself. Anxiety causes us to become very self-centered and self-focused. Make a point of focusing on others and being empathic. Greet the receptionist at the interview site. Ask your interviewer how their day is going. Pay attention when someone tells you their name, and make an effort to remember it. Smile. Engage with others.
You will likely always experience a certain amount of anxiety at an interview, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. But if it is debilitating or keeps you from moving forward in the job search, seek professional help. There are many treatments for anxiety and it doesn’t need to be an excuse for not doing well at an interview—in fact, as you now realize, there are ways to take advantage of it and use it to improve your interview performance.
Businesses have to figure this out regularly. We should be doing it too.
BY LYDIA DISHMAN
There’s no shortage of advice on how to tackle the tricky business of salary and fee negotiations. What to say, and more importantly, what not to say during these conversations can make or break your chances to get the number you want. But how exactly do you calculate your worth?
The good news for jobseekers is that private employers in states and cities across the U.S. are banned from asking candidates about their salary history in order to set their pay for a new job. Candidates are free to come up with a fair number on their own that doesn’t tie them to their previous wages. But this doesn’t apply to freelancers and business owners.
The first step is to recognize that this exercise is no different than what businesses have to do in order to remain viable. “All companies take their time when calculating their value in the market,” says Soulaima Gourani, a lecturer, corporate consultant, and author. “They know how much they are worth,” she says and that information helps them survive under unsettled conditions of the slow economic recovery, as well as if they have to apply for a loan or sell the company.” Similarly, Gourani thinks that we should simply ask ourselves what our worth is in terms of yearly salary, hourly wage, or client fees.
One way to accomplish this is to look over your own work history. John Crossman, CEO of the real estate firm Crossman & Company, says it is easy to overestimate yourself if you’ve had a number of years under your belt. “I simply reviewed what I had consistently made working as a broker for several years and averaged it,” he explains, “I felt like it gave me a healthy baseline.”
Another good place for jobseekers to start is to do market research. Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume, says, “I researched the salary for my most recent role by looking on Salary.com and PayScale to see if they had any salary data for roles similar to my title.” Augustine says that she uses these sites to customize a pay range based on her years of experience, education level, and employer size.
Before she recently got promoted, Jill Gugino Pante, director of the Career Services Center at the University of Delaware, used LinkedIn’s growing salary survey, as well as NACE, which is an industry-specific publication. “Using general sites can help,” Pante asserts, “but also identifying any industry-specific sites that report salary data can be key.” Recent grads with little to no full-time career experience may want to tap the Career Services Center at their alma mater. “Most universities and colleges report salary data on major and degree,” Pante says.
However, in Augustine’s case, she was interviewing for an unconventional position and struggled to uncover enough intel online to aid her negotiation. So she turned to her network. “I am fortunate to have cultivated many great relationships with others who work in a similar capacity for other companies and in similar industries,” Augustine says. “These conversations were crucial in helping me develop a salary range for my new role so that I could confidently prepare with insider’s knowledge before walking into the interview room.”
Pante says she employed a similar strategy by asking previous managers and coworkers to share their salary history. “I took into account when they started and how often they moved positions and organizations,” she adds.
Then Pante looked at her job description and identified how much time she would spend on tasks inside and outside her regular responsibilities. “This helped me figure out the impact I was making on the organization above and beyond what I was hired to do,” she says. Finally, Pante looked at her organization’s HR website for the salary ranges of the position she wanted to be in.
While it’s all pretty straightforward for jobseekers, it can be more challenging for freelancers because of all the factors they have to weigh in order to come up with a fee for their work. This means that many of them undercharge, according to the Freelancers Union.
Some do it because they believe their fees should match what they made per hour at their 9-to-5 job, and/or they don’t have the confidence to price what they’re worth. Others underestimate how long a project will take. For most, the conversation around value is just too awkward, so they’ll take what they can get without negotiating.
Alison Grasso, a freelance film and video editor, says that commercial editing rates are by the day and you’d be booked for a determined period of time. “I typically do a project rate and just make sure any important or necessary deadlines are clearly indicated and that I am able to meet them,” she says.
However, as her freelance work is a side hustle to her full-time staff position in commercial editorial, she’s able to tap into industry intel, which gives her an idea of what things cost on a large scale, and what brands often pay for the work that she does in the context of a commercial production. “In that way,” she explains, “I have a somewhat concrete notion of what my time is worth based on what people regularly pay for it.” If she’s working with a smaller client, Grasso realizes that their budget may not be as large and she adjusts accordingly.
As for getting over the hump of awkwardness during fee negotiation, Grasso says that she presents links to relevant work to potential clients so they can see exactly what she can do, and also what she intends to do for them.
FOR BUSINESS OWNERS
Pricing services is a next-level discussion, according to Janine Truitt, chief innovations officer and founder of Talent Think Innovations. And one that requires some serious prep. “In the beginning, my learning curve was really trial by fire,” she recalls. People were asking for her services before she had a chance to research and set pricing models for them. This led to many instances of misalignment between her offerings and what she was charging.
This is when Truitt tapped her network. “I started to share my frustrations with my entrepreneurial coworkers and some mentors who had been in business longer than I had.” These inner-circle conversations yielded advice about what she needed to consider to set prices.
Truitt also looked up her competitors’ baseline pricing and looked at blogs or forums that gave her the considerations she needed to adjust her strategy. “Other times, I was completely blind and had to devise my own criteria based on what I knew so far,” she admits.
Although she doesn’t make it a habit, Truitt has learned that there is a trick to justifying fees. “There are industries and certain types of companies that will gravitate towards you when you have demonstrated that you possess a strong body of knowledge, skills, and experience alongside the proposed services,” she explains. Clients in the education, healthcare, and any government sectors value seeing her resume alongside a scope of work as a way of justifying her fee. “That said, it is very rare that I get this request from potential clients,” Truitt points out.
For anyone trying to calculate their worth in dollars, Gourani suggests above all to align the core of who we are with the life skills we’ve acquired. “If we stay true to our values and remain immune to other people’s opinions of us, we can price ourselves more efficiently,” she says. “Before you can negotiate your worth, you need to focus on the best you have to offer and let that shine through.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.
If you have a LinkedIn account, you have a brand statement. But does it make you easily discoverable and motivate others to connect?
by Mel Carson
Founder and Principal Strategist at Delightful Communications
If you’re reading this, you likely already have a personal branding statement: If you have a LinkedIn account, for instance, you have a branding statement. But, is yours the kind of summary that makes you easily discoverable and motivates others to reach out and connect?
Maybe yes, but maybe no.
A strong personal branding statement is connected to your professional purpose, or the reason you do what you do. While your professional purpose serves as an internal compass, pointing your passion in the right direction, a personal branding statement is above all your calling card.
It’s the first impression of you that you offer on paper and the thing on which many will base their “Do I engage or not?” decision.
So, yes, your branding statement is a big deal. It’s a living statement about you, your passions and your capabilities and should therefore be written with thought and care. But, honestly, for all that’s riding on crafting a strong branding statement, it’s not that hard to do.
Here are five quick ways to make sure yours stands out in a crowd.
Move beyond your professional purpose.
Do you have a professional purpose? A statement that describes the why behind your work? If you don’t, that’s step one. A personal branding statement combines your purpose with some relevant data about your professional world to accurately describe who you are, what you do and why you do it. To gather that data, take a few minutes to free-write about the following:
> Your education experience
> Your work experience
> What you love about what you do
> What you find hard about what you do
> Where you want to be in three years
Here's the formula: purpose + data = personal branding statement.
Pull out the mission.
This is your opportunity to be bold and clear about what direction you want your career to go in. Look at all the information you’ve written down and use it to flesh out a mission -- this should be a powerful sentence or phrase that tells people who you are.
Your mission sentence can be helpful for two reasons: It serves as a personal reminder to you and carries with it an element of accountability, but also helps prospective employers or clients quickly assess if you’d be a good match or not.
Identify your value.
Within your personal branding statement, identify your professional value.
A subjective term, this "value" could be described in the following ways: your experience, industry expertise, noteworthy clients, education level and personal passion.
At this juncture, I would encourage you to take a moment and empathize with prospective clients, customers and employers. What would be a strong value indicator in your field of work? What are they looking for? Don’t be fictitious, of course (an immediate career killer); but do be choosy. Include points of value geared toward both your professional career goals and your industry niche.
Sounds simple, right? Be real, be you, but it's it one of the hardest things to do. Writing about ourselves is uncomfortable. It’s difficult to find the right balance between not saying enough and saying too much. Here are a couple of pieces of advice I would offer toward the goal of being real:
Avoid the fluff and stay away from fancy claims you can’t back up. They will bite back.
Stay away from buzzwords. (Here’s a list of words to avoid in your LinkedIn profile.) They will do the opposite of what you intended.
Be self-aware and write a statement that accurately reflects your experience, passions and capabilities. Simplicity is OK. Short statements are, too.
Here’s an example of my own personal branding statement broken down: “Focusing on helping businesses and individuals achieve success through enduring social media, digital PR and personal branding strategies …”
Next, I put the customer (my target audience) first and mention my fields of expertise: “My 18 years of online advertising industry experience and seven years at Microsoft as digital marketing evangelist, enable me to provide counsel to my clients that is truly relevant, robust and real-time.”
Notice that I make sure to draw attention to my seven years at Microsoft (a value indicator) and state my mission: “Always striving to keep pace with the ever-changing nature of digital media and technology, I aim to improve my clients’ competitive position through partnership, tenacity and accountability.”
I continue on about my mission, but also describe my aim for achieving clarity, using my own words without sounding over-stated.
Revisit the statement on a quarterly basis.
Your personal branding statement should grow with you. As you rise in your career and work with new, interesting clients, take on new projects or learn a valuable skill, your personal branding statement should reflect those changes. I would encourage you to revisit it every three months or so to double-check that your purpose, mission and values still ring true in the present day.