Think About it: What if Interviews are Like Dating and the Job Offer is like Marriage. . What’s the Difference between the Two?

Think About it:  What if Interviews are Like Dating and the Job Offer is like Marriage. .

What’s the Difference between the Two?

You are in your best clothes. You took extra time getting ready for this outing, paid attention to every detail. This is not an average day. You are sitting across from someone that you have either never met or know very little about. But you do know one thing; they hold your very future in their hands. You are sizing each other up, on every imaginable level. You are both on your best behavior, determined to make an impression. So, is this a date or a job interview? Do you see the similarities? Interesting perspective, let’s compare further.

First Impressions

As you have heard over and over, the value of a great first impression cannot be stressed enough. It matters! Going back to our idea about interviews being a lot like dating, we can see the similarities. We take extra time to get ready and select our clothing, we look our best, we come prepared with our A game. We should be using this strategy with interviews as well.

Check into Your “Date/Interviewer”

Just as we wouldn’t head into a date with absolutely no information about that person, we shouldn’t head into an interview without doing a decent amount of homework. We need to know about the position, the company and even the interviewer if possible. While there may be “blind” dates, there shouldn’t ever be a “blind” interview. Both are highly likely to fail.

Good Conversation

One of the best outcomes of a first date is being able to say that there was great conversation! You want this to be part of your interview as well. You want to be able to be yourself and communicate your thoughts just as you would hope to be able to do on a date. Just remember that the motivations of many interview questions aren’t as innocent as on a date. The interviewer is constantly playing a game of hide-and-seek. There is an additional question that hides behind nearly each initial question asked. You need to stay aware of what they are really trying to determine and then keep your cool. Not to say that questions on a date aren’t the same, but hopefully you are able to loosen up and relax a little bit more in that setting.

Saying Goodnight/Goodbye

Whether it is the end of a date or an interview, the way you say goodbye is very important. I will leave you to decide how to end a date properly and will discuss how to end an interview on the best terms possible, although, you may find they truly are similar. You want to leave with a positive impression. You want to interviewer to have felt your good energy and enthusiasm for the position as well as good information on your work history and skills. You want them to be thinking about you after the interview is over. They should be thinking about what you could bring to the table and that you could be what they have been looking for all along (still sounds a little like a date, right?).

Marriage/Job Offer

While this may seem like a bit of a stretch, it actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it. To hire you, means to bring you into the interviewer’s life and their business. This involves a lot of trust in you. They need to feel certain that what they have felt about and learned about you is the truth and will serve them well in the future. They are looking for commitment. No one wants somebody to come in full of hopes and dreams only to get bored or be under-qualified and have to leave without seeing things through. As a marriage takes two, so does a work relationship. You must be ready to jump in with both feet and say I do!

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What Your Competitors Can Teach You About Your Resume

What Your Competitors Can Teach You About Your Resume

 

Weeks have passed since you sailed through both a phone screening and a first interview, and yet, you haven’t heard another word. Obviously someone else has taken the position that you were hoping to score. So the question remains, why? What did they have that you didn’t? What made someone else stand out above you and the rest of the applicants? Was it their skills, personality, interview or even their resume? You can’t risk being deficient in any of the categories mentioned above. The problem lies in the fact that we don’t often hear back about why we were not chosen for a position. How do we improve with no information on what’s going wrong? We need to break the cycle we so easily find ourselves in and think like a competitor. Make no mistake, this is a competition.

Open with an Engaging Summary

In case you haven’t heard, placing an “Objective” at the top of your resume has become a thing of the past. The current trends are leaning toward a Summary. This is a friendly, more personable way to introduce yourself to prospective employers. This is a chance to let some of your personality show through in what can otherwise be a somewhat dry and detail-oriented fact sheet and job history. Think of the summary as a modern day, virtual handshake. Be professional but let your personality shine through. Do not include details such as hobbies and marital status; however, they don’t want to hear about those things at this point, stay professional but engaging. This will kick-off a current, interesting and competitive resume.

Don’t be Afraid to Show your Passion

We often hold ourselves back from truly expressing our feelings about how important something is to us. This isn’t a mistake that you will have a chance to rectify when made on a resume or at an initial job interview. Let your passion about an opportunity or your past experiences come through. A hiring agent needs to be able to accurately gauge your level of interest whether on paper or in person. You must be sure that you are honestly expressing your enthusiasm.  Hiring someone that they know is truly excited about a position will win over someone that just seems to be “a good fit,” every time. Provide solid explanations about why this company or position intrigues you. How does it fit into the puzzle of your future aspirations? What are you excited to show them?

Highlight Results-Driven Accomplishments

When listing previous employment, do not provide endless explanations or lists of duties preformed or extreme details of what was required of you. While you want to be thorough, you don’t need to list every position that you have ever had. Instead think about unique methods and ideas that you contributed that had proven measureable results. Such as: increases in sales, customer numbers, social media presence, etc. Stay focused on relevance as well as stability. You want to highlight the results you can bring to the table. A bulleted, verb packed format can be a great way to present this information as it is a quick scan for your interviewer and an easy discussion starter.

Remember the All-Important Keywords

As you prepare your resume, remember that you are competing not only against other resumes, but against machines and talent-management software. This software will generally dispose of up to 50% of resumes and cover letters before they even grace the presence of a human being. Using the correct keywords becomes more important every day. You can create your own list of important keywords by previewing many different job listings in the field in which you are seeking employment. Search for similarities in skill sets, tasks, duties, and so on. Be sure to insert these important key-words naturally throughout your resume, be thorough but of course, don’t overdo it.

Be a Confident Competitor

There are many ways to make your resume stand out above the rest. Your resume is the single most important part of your job search. Read it aloud to ensure that it is competitive, concise, and attention getting. Also, don’t forget your cover letter.  If after revamping and applying all the techniques above you are still not getting the recognition that you feel you deserve, it may be time to call in a professional Resume Writer. Turning the process over to an outside source with well-trained methods can be just the boost you need to make it to the top of the list.

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 Creative Ways You Can Improve Your Resume

5 Creative Ways You Can Improve Your Resume

Compiling a unique, powerful and attention getting resume has always been difficult. However, in today’s tech-driven world, it is getting even more challenging. There are elements that are game changers, such as electronic resume scanners. It is more critical than ever to be at the top of your job-seeking game. This means, first and foremost, having an optimized resume that will get you that interview.

Do Not List an Objective

Rather than listing an objective, write a summary statement. You do not want to start off your resume by making demands as having an objective seems to do. You would do better to set a different tone from the beginning. A short synopsis that illustrates your work history, achievements and experience is a welcome addition to any resume. These statements may even be done in a bulleted format for quick skimming by a prospective employer. The objective section is now out, and the summary statement is the current trend.

Change the Design but be Consistent

We often seem to get into a rut with the style, color and design of our resumes. We may go in and update information, but we rarely change formatting, color or detail. To stay current with today’s job market, it is crucial to get ourselves out of this box and make our resume’s stand out. We are able to use graphs, charts, boxes, images and so on to enhance our resume. In adding these details, however, you want to be sure to stay true to your industry and not go too far over the top. You don’t want to use more than two different font types or sizes. It can just be too much. Think about the field you are applying in and make sure your resume is a good fit. However, this is a great chance for a creative and attention getting self-promotion of your skills.

Describe Your Future, not Only Your Past

A resume is not your life story. It must be kept short and concise. You are in fact trying to “sell yourself,” not give a narrative of your history. The goals you have for your future career should be what guides the information that makes the cut and appears on your resume. The past experience that highlights these goals should be maximized and highlighted. You want to be in control of which aspects of your experience are focused on. Emphasize the past employment that relates to the position you are applying for the most. This will keep the direction of your resume where you want it to be. Clarity is the goal.

Practice Skimming

Once you feel that your resume is close to ready to send out, put yourself in the recruiter’s seat. Set your resume on your desk and look at it from afar.

  • Does it look like more than you want to read? Than it probably is and you need to cut out some of the unnecessary words and fluff. Also, be sure to leave some white spaces between paragraphs for ease of readability.
  • Can you easily pick up on details and critical keywords that fit the position you are applying for? If not, make them more obvious, emphasize them.
  • Are you able to quickly scan through within about six seconds and get a good idea of the qualifications contained in your resume? Is there enough information at a glance to make you worthy of an interview?
  • Does your contact information stand out clearly? If you have listed more than one phone number or email address, simplify. Give them one or two most direct routes to contact you and then be available if they do call.

Spend some time on each of these questions to ensure your resume is ready to be distributed.

Format for Delivery

Have you ever felt unsure about the format you should send a resume in? Don’t be, the answer is PDF. By the time you are submitting a resume for consideration, you have spent countless hours making sure that every line is formatted correctly, every bullet point lined up. Don’t lose your hard work by submitting a resume in a Word document and having it arrive with these fine details lost. Sending a PDF insures that your resume will arrive exactly as you sent it.

Using the ideas and tools in this article should help you re-think your familiar approach to your resume. Step out of your comfort zone and dare to be more creative. The goal is to have your resume be informative yet pleasing to the eye by those who evaluate it. Take your time and do it right, you won’t regret it.

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor
Image courtesy of lekkyjustdoit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why NOT Changing Jobs Now Can Cost You Real Dollars in Lost Salary

Why NOT Changing Jobs Now Can Cost You Real Dollars in Lost Salary

First jobs rarely turn out to be a dream job. Often it is an obvious mismatch. The speed in which people change jobs or careers seems to depend on abilities and degree of education. Often, people with more training and education settle on a career more quickly. There have been times in America when people would hold onto their jobs at all costs, no matter how bad it was, such as during times of recession. We live in a different era now. Hanging onto the same job for too long may end up costing you more than you realize.

Do I have a future here?

If you can’t see yourself in your current position in a year or two from now, or if the path you’re on doesn’t lead to where you are planning to be in the future, it’s time evaluate whether you are in the right place. Does the job go hand in hand with your long-term career goals? If not, you must alter your path to align with your career aspirations; it may be time to make a big change.

A Poor Fit Means Lower Wages

Studies have shown that workers who don’t fit in well at their jobs often end up being less productive. Being less productive translates into lower wages over the course of time. This seems to be the case whether we are talking about being underqualified or overqualified. If you spend too much time in the wrong position you will also be worse off after you switch due to the fact that you haven’t been learning and growing in the skills needed to succeed on your prospective career path. Putting off finding a job that is a better match for your skills and qualifications is essential to your long-term earning potential. Well worth the stress and effort of a prolonged job search.

When to Make the Switch

The sweet spot for a job change seems to be after about three to five years on average. Often employees who voluntarily make a job switch see a 5-8% raise with a new employer. After several additional years the percentage of increase drops somewhat. This indicates that those employees who remain in a mismatched occupation over a fifteen year period could end up with a salary that is in the neighborhood of 30 percent less than someone with comparable skills but in a well match occupation.

When you are well aware of your value and how much you are worth and more importantly, your employer knows that you are willing to leave if you don’t get it, you become much stronger in your negotiation tactics, whether you ultimately decide to stay or move on.

The Job Switching Trend

We hear a lot of negative press about current employment and unemployment statistics. The truth is many people assume that in these times people change jobs often and that the market is insecure. While we all know that the days of working in the same position or even field over the course of your lifetime are nearly gone, it is a misconception that people change jobs and careers more than ever. This is where the advantage of making a change comes in. If you do your research and make decisions and plans over time, not being impulsive, you stand a great chance of making a switch that will better your financial situation. In doing so, you may also find yourself properly challenged, intrigued and valued.

It’s important to note that loyalty to your company isn’t the most profitable position any longer. Being willing to demand what you are worth and being willing to leave for other employment over it, makes you much more likely to ensure that you make a salary that you deserve.

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor

 

9 Questions You Need to Ask Your Executive Resume Writer

9 Questions You Need to Ask Your Executive Resume Writer

Hiring a professional to assist with your resume needs can be easier than writing a resume yourself, but you need to be informed. You shouldn’t hesitate to ask your executive resume writer questions about their prices, reviews, and all details of services. It is comparable to hiring someone to remodel your bathroom – you would ask numerous questions to ensure you will be satisfied with the service and result, such as price, method, and name(s) of the contractor(s) actually performing the labor. In this article, you’ll find nine of the most important questions you should take note of when searching for an executive resume writing service.

Are you certified?

Certification is an important piece in finding an executive resume writer. If you are going to pay for the service, you certainly want to hire someone who knows what they are doing. Committed resume professionals will be certified through a respected organization. The process to become certified is not always the same through each industry, however you can confirm the credentials with the agency after speaking with the writer.

What services do you offer, including prices? Do your services include job search strategy or interview preparation?

Resume writing companies have varying services. A serious firm will offer things outside of the resume and cover letter such as job search strategy, interview preparation, and career coaching. The price of each service should be readily available on the company website, but you should still be asking questions as to how much time will be invested for each service you wish to use. With the price and average amount of time known, you can easily calculate the hourly rate for each service and determine whether it reflects the rate of an accomplished, serious, and reputable company or an incompetent, low quality, run-of-the-mill operation. Reputable companies will charge more for their services, but remember that the price should be, on average, three times what an employee of the business should receive as income.

How many years of experience do you have?

Experience will vary from person to person. You need to decide what you want from your resume professional: a superb resume for a specific career field, a general resume you can send to anyone, or a resume for switching careers. Ask questions about their expertise. A devoted executive resume writer will assist you in finding the right professional for your project.

What is your writing experience?

Several resume professionals are also accomplished writers. Most will have that information in a profile for their company’s website, but don’t feel embarrassed to ask about the specifics of their other written work. Media like books, articles, and even professional blog posts, paid work or writing experiences, and bachelor or master degrees in English fields are all key examples of written accomplishments.

How long do you spend on a resume for someone in my career field?

If not clearly stated on the company website,  make sure you inquire about a time frame. Most professional resume businesses expect payment up front so, it is a good idea to have some kind of due date in mind. Dependent on the experience of the professional,  and on your own candidate level (entry-level, experienced, or executive), the resume writing process can take anywhere from six to twelve hours.

Who will handle my resume? How is that determined?

Not every firm will be what you expect.  Some have been outsourced to other countries where someone at the U.S. location will interview you, gather all the information they need to complete your resume, and send it to another person, possibly another country, to have the resume written and formatted.  It is important to talk about who will actually be carrying out your project from start to finish. What are their credentials,  experience, and fields of expertise?

Will all of the content be original?

Cost of service should be an indication of quality. Low-cost firms typically rely on software and pre-written templates to construct resumes. These templates have keywords and phrases that are common with specific professions. For example: for  engineering, they can paste your information into an existing template to create your resume. Good for them, and bad for you. This will make your resume blend in with dozens of other candidates. So, when inquiring about originality, know what you should be looking for.

Do you specialize in my career field? Is it necessary for my executive resume writer to be intimately familiar with my field?

Using a resume writer who specializes in your field nice, but not necessary. They will have a more in-depth understanding of which questions to ask you, what information to gather, and the specific language used in that industry. While it is nice to have, another expert writer is able to craft a great resume for professions they do not have much experience in.

What do other customers have to say about your services? Where can I view reviews?

When looking for reviews, be careful. Testimonials on public forums or company websites can be fabricated to increase sales. Reviews that are on social media, like LinkedIn profiles, can be more reliable because you can look at the profile of the person to verify their identity. LinkedIn can be useful in viewing the profile of the individual writer you have chosen to work with. What accomplishments have they included? What industry do they seem to work in most? Don’t be afraid to do research about the people working at the resume company as well as people who spent the time to review the service.

Your resume, especially if you are going to pay to have it written, should be the ultimate tool for your job search. Any reputable resume writer will recommend what is best for the client. Asking questions is the best way to ensure you will be getting the greatest quality of service and resulting products.

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor
 

8 Surprisingly Effective Ways to Interview

8 Surprisingly Effective Ways to Interview

Buckle up; it’s Time to get Real

We all know the textbook answers for how to interview successfully: be prepared, know about the company, practice what you will say to those questions that are always asked, dress for the job, and so on and so forth. Let’s take a minute and think outside the box. Let’s think about tactics that are a little different, that may give you an edge and leave a great impression. Let’s be ready for an amazing interview!

Before you Apply, Get Noticed

Obviously, getting a referral or a recommendation is the best ticket into any company that is hiring, hands down. However, most of us are not fortunate enough to be able to provide this. All is not lost! Remember that recruiters are scouring job sites looking endlessly for the perfect fill for an available position. With this information in mind, remember to market yourself as a high performer when managing your social media listings, such as LinkedIn. Create attention getting profiles that show actual examples of your work anywhere possible. Also, if you would like to receive endorsements, make sure to give them as well. Professional people often return the favor.

Know when to Push Send

Applying on Monday is the way to go. There are several studies out now that say as much. Send in your resume on a Monday and you are more likely to be called in for a job interview than on any other day.

Schedule your Interview Wisely

Word on the street is that scheduling your interview for a Tuesday, and even more specifically, around 10:30 a.m., will be well worth the strategic planning. This is due to the fact that we all deal with so many different responsibilities. The state the interviewer is in should be very important to you. You don’t want to slide into a Monday or Friday spot as people tend to be either recovering from the weekend or gearing up for it. Close to lunch time is also a no go. Your interviewer could be distracted, hungry, or carb-loaded and ready for a nap. They may even resent that they needed to hurry back to meet you. Play it safe and avoid mid-day, where ever possible. *Note: be mindful of how quickly they are planning to hire. You may have to jump into the first available spot if they are in a hurry!

Use all Available Tools, have you tried Google Alerts?

If you want to stay on top of the current news, information and even employment ads posted, a great tool in your arsenal is Google Alerts. If you set up an alert, you will receive an email anytime a new story, ad, etc. appears for a specific search term that you set up. This enables you to know about current events as they happen, without even searching for them.

Remember Your Interviewer’s Name

This may seem like a no-brainer, but I assure you it is easier to forget than you think. Being able to address an interviewer by name especially with a warm smile, nice handshake and comfortable eye contact can leave a positive impression that shouldn’t be underestimated. Try and use their name a time or two during the interview this will show how truly interested you are. It also is a great way to highlight how comfortable you are meeting and working with new people.

Develop and Practice Your Story

You want to enter an interviewing situation armed with your story. We are not just talking about the story that tells where you were born, grew up, went to school, and so on. Not just an answer to the forever asked question, “Tell me about yourself.” Create a story that tells more about how you evolved into the person that you are, both in your professional and personal life. It can be helpful to a prospective employer to know what drives you. How did you develop such tenacity? Right? We often don’t tell our own story well, or even in an interesting way. You want to talk about hopes, achievements, even areas you feel you have failed, things that are yours, only unique to you. This can honestly take some time and practice, but it will be well worth it. Bounce it off a critic several times, one who has your best interest at heart of course! Taking the time to do this will build your confidence and humanize you to the interviewer. Let them feel like they know you, it will be sure to have an impact in their decision making.

Become Familiar with Emotional Intelligence

If you have ever interviewed for a position that you didn’t receive, and who hasn’t? You know that it is not always the person that is the most qualified that gets the job. There are many other skills we possess that can outweigh even the smartest competition. One of the great and underrated tools for interviewing is called Emotional Intelligence. This is the ability to tune into another person’s emotional state and not only empathize but manage your own emotions to identify with theirs and then communicate with them properly. This skill can be learned. Look closely at the way you manage stress, not only your own but others. The way that you key in on moods and issues and adjust your behavior accordingly is really all we are talking about. You don’t want to seem bubbly or obnoxious to an interviewer that is obviously annoyed by such personalities. You may need to tune into the mood and adjust somewhat. We always want to be who we are of course, but taking the time to feel out the atmosphere around you and behave accordingly can be an important key in unlocking new opportunities.

Don’t Forget the Thank You Note…EVER

Within 24 hours of completion of an interview make sure to email out a Thank You note. Yes, email is perfectly acceptable in this day and age, but forgetting to do so is not. We are all so busy, every one of us in one way or another and I dare say, we all appreciate kind gestures. Show your appreciation for the time that they took out of their day to meet with you. Even if this job wasn’t a perfect fit for you, leaving a positive impression may open the door to future opportunities as they become available. They may think of you the next time they have an opening. It also opens a dialogue they can use freely. Don’t ever let good old fashioned manners fall by the wayside.

While some of these suggestions may seem to be familiar, they are a step above the norm. That extra step could make all the difference in your journey to the ideal career.

Photo credit: thetaxhaven via VisualHunt / CC BY
By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor

 

The Worst Advice We’ve Ever Heard about Job Search Strategy

The Worst Advice We’ve Ever Heard about Job Search Strategy

Searching for a job can be grueling and stagnant, especially if you prescribe to every piece of advice you hear. Like most rumors you read on the internet, not every piece of information is right for each situation. This article will explore some of the guidance you might receive from others with additional information explaining why it should be taken with a grain of salt.

You Don’t Need a Cover Letter.

There are people who will tell you cover letters are obsolete. This person could be a hiring manager, your parent, or even your best friend however, this is false information. When you apply for a position, especially if it is through an online format, a cover letter is required material. Cover letters give you the opportunity to expand upon points made in your resume. It is best to keep your cover letter to a maximum of one page and attempt to obtain the hiring manager’s information to address it directly to them. This will show that you took the time to write it for them and express your enthusiasm for the position or company. A cover letter alone won’t land an interview for you, but it will help make a case for your candidacy for the position applied.

Lose the bad job search advice!

Lose the bad job search advice!

Everything Happens Online (or In-person) – Taking Job Applications to Either Extreme.

With the turnover in technology, online applications are the largest net for your job search. However, networking doesn’t always happen online, or face-to-face. Using too much effort on either realm of your job search limits opportunities that the other might provide. Online research can open the door for you, but to create a memorable connection you should attempt to identify individuals to meet in person. Taking the time to meet someone from the company, through an informational interview situation or otherwise, could result in a referral for the position. Referrals show that you went above the company’s expectations. However, a referral does not guarantee an interview or job offer.

Personal Interaction Is the Only Way in.

While following up with your application is encouraged by most companies, being overzealous might hurt your chances instead of helping you. There is such a thing as too much interaction with the hiring manager so, be sure you are respecting normal personal space bubbles. Don’t become akin to the ex-girl/boyfriend who can’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Continuous calling or emailing could be construed as aggressive or desperate. Neither attribute will make you more attractive as a candidate for the position. Your best course of action, after applying and if possible, would be to contact the employer, hiring manager, or recruiter once to follow up on your application and show your interest in the position/company.

Persevere – You’ll Only Get a Job if You Keep at it.

Apply, apply, apply. Apply to everything, despite the required qualifications. The more jobs you have applied to, the greater the chance that you’ll land one, right? Not necessarily. You should apply to positions you are qualified for, not just anything. Tailor your resume to best display how your skills and experience make you the ideal candidate for the job(s) for which you would be an excellent fit. Strategic applications increase your odds at a much greater interval than applying to anything and everything. By applying to everything, you are wasting time and energy you that should be put toward finding the right position for you.

Just Be Yourself – or the Complete Opposite.

Some people will tell you to be yourself during an interview, on your resume, and through the online applications and questionnaires. Others will tell you to be who you think the company wants for the job. You really need to land somewhere in the middle. Portray your experience and personality authentically, but steer it in a way that shows the hiring manager you are the candidate they want. Be aware of your language, attire, and behavior. You should also not confuse authenticity with professionalism. Being authentic means that you should not behave, speak, or dress outside of what is true to you, but cater to your audience. Think about it this way: if you wouldn’t say or do it in front of your grandparents, you definitely don’t want to do that with a hiring manager as witness

Not all job search advice will harm your chances, but there is a balance to everything. Extra effort is attractive, however you must always consider what the hiring manager would think is appropriate. The advice you end up following should be your own. What has or hasn’t worked for you in the past? Expand on your own experiences and, with practice, your instincts will guide you. If that isn’t enough to help you gain your dream job, the FiveStrengths experts can provide additional support.

Image by Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

Warning: These 7 Mistakes Will Destroy Your Job Search

Warning: These 7 Mistakes Will Destroy Your Job Search

Searching for a job is hard, really hard. It can feel like a maze of dead-ends. Knowing which way to go to keep moving forward toward your goals can be very difficult. As hard as it can be to know what you should be doing, it can be equally frustrating to discover what may be sabotaging your best efforts. These points below will help to lead you in the right direction

​Determine your True Intent

What is your goal? Have you ever interviewed at a job that you didn’t really want? Maybe you were even relieved when you didn’t get it? Don’t waste your time or anyone else’s! As much as possible determine the direction you are heading and make a plan to get you there. Others can sense hesitation whether you realize it or not, it can cause problems from the start. Potential employers want to know that you REALLY want the position. Design the details of your resume and cover letter to truly illustrate what your goals and desires are. If you are not sure about your intent, it is time to do some soul-searching and find out.

Don’t Underestimate the Impact of Social Media

There are so many tools available to us to utilize in the job market these days. However, we need to use these tools with caution as they can also be detrimental to our image. Social media can be a great way to connect with others in your field, but a small mistake can reach a global market and have an impact on your future.

Statistics show that most job recruiters use social media in their overall evaluating of potential candidates for employment. Don’t ever assume that your profile will not be checked out; it is highly likely that it will be. Social media behaviors to be sure to avoid include oversharing, scandalous photos, partying and alcohol use, none of which will leave a positive impression. Also, be sure to take into account the damage that posting negative opinions about work or work related issues may pose. Do not publically complain or air dirty laundry, nothing productive can come of this. You want to have a clean social media presence. It may be a good idea to search your name and see what comes up, be prepared for any questions that may arise. If you are worried about your history, be sure to set all of your social media profiles to private.

What mistakes are you making in your job search?

Do Not Apologize for Experience You may Lack

From the first contact with a potential employer, whether it is in person, an emailed resume and cover letter, or a drop in, do not undersell yourself or focus on what may be lacking. Sometimes we become too hard on ourselves and lose our confidence when a job search takes an extended amount of time. We begin to feel like someone would be doing us a “favor” by hiring us. This is not the case and behaving as such could be detrimental to your prospects. Remember that your cover letter should highlight what you can do, not the other way around. Don’t use phrases like, “even though I”… or “in spite of…” Don’t be pessimistic, believe that good things can happen for you, and keep trying.

Present Expanded Job Titles

Often job titles can paint a picture that is not entirely accurate. Most positions require us to wear many hats; we should get credit for each of them. We need to present all of the relevant information. If your present or past job title undersells the actual work that you preformed in that position, than you need to add detail and make this clear to all those that read your resume and cover letter.

Don’t Ever Send Out Spelling or Grammar Errors

One of the most effective ways to miss an opportunity before you even truly get started is to put out a resume or cover letter that contains spelling or grammatical errors. Competition for positions can be fierce and most recruiters won’t waste a second on an applicant with such simple mistakes. You may think that these small issues will be overlooked, but don’t forget that they often demonstrate larger issues, such as laziness, missing attention to detail and so on. These are not characteristics that you want to be assumed to possess.

Show Some Respect

As you are in the process of job hunting, you will inevitably land some interviews. When you do there are a couple of rules that are not bendable. Do not ever, I mean ever, be late to an interview or even a casual meeting when you are expected at a pre-arranged time. There is no wiggle room on this and even though we might think, we are all human or it happens… it doesn’t happen to you! Not when making a first impression. Be prepared, plan extra time, practice driving to the location before the interview or meeting so that you are sure to have no problems. There are so many traits that we want to highlight about our self, let’s stick to the positive ones. Being late shows not only a lack of respect, but a lack of dependability. This will not get you the position.

Another topic that goes hand in hand with this one is, turn off your phone! No, it will not make you look important to receive calls during a meeting or interview. No, they do not want to hear about what is going on in your personal life right now. They want to see that in that moment, you value THEIR time above your own. They are what matters and pointless interruptions will leave a negative impression. It comes down to basic common courtesy that is all too often overlooked these days.

Know Yourself

Determining what is going on with your job search can be difficult. You are most likely your own worst critic and it may be hard to get to the bottom of issues you are having. If you find that your search is not taking you in the direction you ultimately want to go, re-evaluate. Take a step back and re-route your course, do some self-diagnosis. If you are unable to come to any clear conclusion, it may serve you well to meet with a career coach to get an outside perspective. When talking about our future we must be willing to take uncomfortable steps at times, but the clarity is worth it. A job search it a journey. By working hard and staying focused you are sure to be successful.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor
Are you stuck in a cycle of countless interviews but no job offers or callbacks?

Why Most People Fail at Job Interviews

Why Most People Fail at Job Interviews

Are you stuck in a cycle of countless interviews but no job offers or callbacks? There are so many of us who truly have the drive to succeed but have not. Chances are this is due to mistakes we have made before the interview has even concluded.

The basics are well known; as an interviewee you should give detailed examples of your work history, maintain eye contact and be very punctual. Still, there are other potential mistakes that can be easily made. If you are determined to improve your odds, it is time for you to seriously evaluate what is going wrong for you during the interview process.

Are you stuck in a cycle of countless interviews but no job offers or callbacks?

Are you stuck in a cycle of countless interviews but no job offers or callbacks?

The Interview Begins before You Even Arrive

• If you think about it honestly, the interview begins with the phone call or email that you receive to schedule the appointment. Be aware of yourself from the very beginning. On the phone, use your best voice; speak clearly and concisely in a friendly voice. Whether your contact is online or in person, be polite and accommodating. Do not be difficult to schedule with, show them right up front that this interview is important enough to prioritize on your calendar. You will be remembered for your social skills.

• Prepare, prepare, prepare. Be sure to know details and facts about the position, the company and even your interviewer if possible. Practice common questions out loud or even with an observer. You will feel much more confident if you have put in the time to be ready for whatever comes your way.

• Even as you have been preparing, odds are that they have been too. As you have been looking into your perspective employers business, they have been looking into yours through social media outlets. Always remember that once something is posted and online, it is difficult if not impossible to take back. Social Media has become a huge part of the hiring process whether you think it is fair or not. Don’t provide them with a negative opinion of you before you have even met. Keep a clean, positive online presence.

You Are Being Watched

• From the moment your car door opens, behave as though the interview has already begun. And it goes without saying, be on time, no exceptions. Also, don’t arrive in the middle of a chat on your cell phone. Don’t cut someone off on your way to the door, hold it open instead. Be mindful of your manners. Smile and be friendly. Try to appear at ease even if you are not.

• Greet receptionists or office staff as if they are part of the hiring committee, honestly, they may well be. These small displays of kindness are easy to overlook when trying to appear important, but they show as much as your resume who you really are and what it may be like to work with you on a daily basis. Give this crucial first impression the attention it deserves.

You Never Get a Second Chance…

• We all know that impressions are formed faster than is fair, especially in today’s job market with social media ever present in the background. Give yourself every opportunity to make a positive impression. Smile, give a firm but not to firm hand shake. Remember to maintain eye contact without over doing it. Basic human interaction skills matter. You should also wait to be offered a seat. Don’t plop down in the first chair you see, you are in their territory and need to wait until you are asked to sit and shown where to do so.

• You know you need to dress the part, but don’t forget to dress the part you are applying for, not the one that you are coming from. Sometimes there is a vast difference. Thinking that you will dress up more once you get the job could prove to be a fatal error; the evaluation time is now, not later. Even if the workplace is new-age or trendy, it is better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. And don’t forget the iron! A nice dress shirt doesn’t count if it is wrinkled and untidy. Show you care enough to be your best.

The Most Important Part of the Interview

• As the interview begins, don’t be unnecessarily nervous. This person is ultimately trying to help you, not hurt you, so give them that opportunity. Use common sense as you answer questions, don’t try too hard and come across tricky or desperate. Don’t start spewing information or details about your life that they didn’t ask for. Just give them an honest sense of who you are and what drives or motivates you.

• Have a couple of questions ready to ask them. The majority of interviews end with, “do you have any questions for us?” You should. Being prepared with some relevant questions will show the recruiter that you are genuinely interested. Keep it simple and inquire about additional aspects of the job role as well as the future or progression that should be expected.

• Don’t ask about salary at an initial interview. It may seem like a good idea, but chances are you have a good idea of the ballpark you are in with the position. Asking about money to soon can make it seem like you are only interested in monetary gains and not the company or what they do. Hopefully there will be a time and place for that later on.

• Don’t exaggerate your skills in a way that could lead to trouble. There is nothing worse than having something expected of you that you have no knowledge or understanding of how to complete. Be honest.

• Attempt to build some kind of rapport or find common ground with the interviewer; this will make you more memorable. It never hurts to show interest in them and their position with the company either. Most of us consider it a compliment when others are interested in us; they are bound to feel the same way.

Closing the Interview

• Ending the interview, of course, is in control of the interviewer, not you. Watch for cues, don’t overstay your welcome. Be sure to thank them for their time and leave the door open with a statement such as, “I hope to hear from you soon.” Starting and ending an interview on the right foot can make all the difference on the path to success.

The Takeaway

• Come prepared with knowledge about the company and position. Control your social media presence.

• Be alert and polite from the moment you enter the property until you leave.

• Look the part. Prepare a smooth introduction and connect with them throughout the interview. Don’t exaggerate your skills.

• When the interview concludes, always thank them for their time.

Proper use of the advice given above is sure to provide you an advantage as you work toward making your dream job a reality.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By Five Strengths contributor Brandy Higginson
Man on telephone is ready for career change.

Executive Career Change: Are You Ready?

Executive Career Change: Are You Ready?

Take this career change quiz…

Chances are you are reading an article such as this because your career isn’t fulfilling to you anymore. Maybe you have not been in a position where you have felt you were able to risk making a career move until now. Maybe you are finally feeling that it is time to make a career change.

Man on telephone.

Ready for a career change?

It could be that your present job isn’t tapping into your true potential. How do you know when it is the right time to make a move, take a risk, and possibly advance in your career? This quiz was will help you evaluate what is behind your drive to succeed and whether or not you need to make changes. It will also help you determine how prepared you are for such a move. Take some time and think about each question and summary thoroughly this will serve as a helpful tool in deciding if it may be time to re-route your course.

1) Does the work that you do on a day to day basis make you feel happy, content and fulfilled? Yes/No

*If what you are doing repetitively, on a daily basis doesn’t interest or fulfill you, and you are constantly looking at the clock, it may be time to re-evaluate.

2) Do you honestly hate your job? Yes/No

If yes, are you thinking about a new job in the same field? Yes/No

*If you can’t even remember why you choose your current field in the first place, and your field doesn’t provide opportunities to explore new directions and grow, it may be time to do some future planning.

3) Are there many jobs available in your field?

You need to be very realistic about this. Put in some time researching proven statistics. When you think about your 5 year or long-term life plan, does your current career path match up with where you want to go?

4) If after thinking hard over a length of time you decide you want to stay in the same career, will you need to enhance or modernize your skills? Do you need or want to earn more than is possible if you stay in this career field?

Looking at the future, do you see technology or another future development changing your position dramatically or even rendering it obsolete? Do you know in your heart that you truly need to change to a new field, but you resist change due to fear or even lack of the proper experience? Don’t get in your way or sell yourself short. You may be more capable than you are letting yourself believe..

5) Does your current position allow you to make the most of your skills, training,
talents and abilities?

Do you often feel frustrated or that the work you are doing is unnatural to you? You must feel utilized properly or you are always floating, never locked in. Education is expensive and time consuming; it should be put to good use and properly compensated for. Don’t settle for less than that.

6) Do you get excited about new projects or work to be performed?

Do you still find yourself interested in what jobs are being performed in your office? What about company planning and strategies? It is intriguing and challenging? Do you want it to be? Don’t hightail it out of there to quickly if you are satisfied in this area. If there are still things are work that you feel excited about, that’s a good sign. Maybe you just need a minor change, not a complete make-over. Possibly some different responsibilities or added projects would do the trick. Have you asked for what you really, truly want? Think it over…

7) How is the level of stress at your job?

Is it more likely to keep you invigorated or are you pulling your hair out and getting a stomach ache on the way to work? Life is short and we all know that stress takes a horrible toll on us. Make sure that your job isn’t detrimental to your health.

8) Is your current career a good fit for your lifestyle now as well as the changes that will come in your life with family, etc.?

This requires you to take a serious look at your position in the long term. Does it work well for you now, but when you have kids or a family it will have to be changed anyway? Think about the future that you want for yourself and make sure you are not only thinking about the “NOW”.

9) Do you have a plan as discussed in the question above? Do you have set plans and goals or are you just coasting through life?

You may not even be sure what your next move would be, or where to begin. Let’s be honest, change can be very difficult. Don’t forget, however, it can also be extremely empowering. Taking control of your life feels amazing! Just make sure that you truly think through each step, don’t do anything spontaneously, as exciting as that may seem! Be prepared with contacts, leads, plans and savings. You will need them.

10) Is your restlessness due to your dreams of pursuing a lifelong passion?

At times we all get caught up in thinking about what really matters, what is the most important to us and what really should be the most important to us. Such as: the purpose of life, if you will. Ask yourself, if I didn’t need the money could I walk away from this profession and never look back? If the answer is yes and if you have been feeling lost, give these feelings the attention they deserve. No one wants to look back at their life with regrets. But as you ponder life, be realistic.

The grass is not always greener.. but it could be.. only you can decide.

By Five Strengths Contributor Brandy Higginson
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net