Monday, March 27, 2017
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Questions to Ask During an Interview

As a job seeker, it is likely that you have experienced several interviews, been nervous about how to present yourself, and wondered the likelihood of actually landing the position. Whether you are interviewing at a manufacturing facility, fast-food restaurant, family-owned business, or well-known company, YOU (the interviewee) have probably been asked this question, “Do you have any questions for us?”

The smart answer is “YES!” However, if you haven’t planned ahead, this question may throw you off of your game—jeopardizing the last impression you leave with the potential employer. Fear no more – check out our list below for several questions that can be asked at the end of the interview.

Question #1 – Is this a newly-created position or did someone leave? This will tell you if the company is expanding and needs to add staff members or if someone voluntarily left the organization. As a follow-up if someone did leave the position, you could also ask how long that person was in that particular job.

Question #2 – What is YOUR favorite part about working here? This is a question that you can directly ask the interviewer. If there is more than one interviewer, then you can ask each person—within reason. If you are part of a panel interview, you will want to ask each person a different question. If they can answer this question quickly and confidently, it is likely the person actually does like his or her position and you may be able to find out additional benefits of working within that organizational environment.

Question #3 – If you could design the ideal candidate for this position, what are that person’s top three strengths? This question provides you with a way to once again identify your skill-set and how you fit that position’s needs. Again, these are questions asked near the end of the interview and this is a method for leaving a positive and lasting impression on the interviewers.

Questions #4 – When do you anticipate making a hiring decision regarding this position? By asking this question, you reiterate your interest in the job and show the employer that are you serious about the opportunity.

These are just three examples of questions that can be asked during this crucial part of the interview process. Obviously, you do not want to bombard the organization with questions and you should also not ask questions that can be easily researched. For example, asking about the organizational mission statement is not a good idea if that information is clearly posted on the company website.

Do you have a question for us? Or, are you excited about your upcoming job interview and want to know the question that WE would ask that organization? Contact us today for a free consultation – we look forward to helping you!

 

Would you like to meet Dr. Heather? She will be one of our featured experts on September 27th at a Free You Can Get Hired workshop from 9-11:30 at the Maple Grove Community Center. If you’d like to glean from Dr. Heather and learn some great tools for getting hired in today’s current market, click the blue button to reserve your ticket today! See you there!

Eventbrite - 9/27/16 You Can Get Hired! - Tracy David and Dr Heather Rothbauer-Wanisch

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resumeMethods for Modernizing Your OLD Resume

If you haven’t sought a new employment opportunity for 5, 10, 15, or even 20 years, you may be confused about where to start with a resume for today’s marketplace. Has that much changed since you last applied for a new position during 1995 or even 2005? The answer is YES! And, if you choose to not implement these key tips, you can almost be assured that your resume will never see the light of day at the hiring manager’s office.

Tip #1 – Lose the Objective. Gone are the days of stating why you want to boost your skills, share your talents, and optimize your career path. The truth is—your objective is clear. If you are sending resumes for a new job, then your objective is to get an interview. The objective serves no purpose and should be eliminated from today’s resumes. Rather than wasting this prime real estate at the top of the resume, be sure to capitalize on it.

Tip #2 – Use a Career Summary. Instead of an objective, utilize that space to provide a high-overview of your career thus far. This allows you to pinpoint those qualifications and skills that make you different than other candidates, along with discussing a bit of your employment history. This is also a great place to add key words that are used in job advertisements.

Tip #3 – Identify Key Words and USE THEM. Speaking of key words, what are they? These are the words that are repeated in a job advertisement, specifying the technical knowledge, soft skills, and abilities required to be successful in the position. Many companies utilize an Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) system to filter through incoming resumes. Without these words used in your document, your resume may be out of contention before an HR professional reads it.

Tip #4 – Don’t Date Your Education. Unless you graduated from college during the last six months, there is no reason to put your graduation date on your college degree. A recent college graduate may choose to do so (and even place Education prior to Professional History) simply because he or she doesn’t have any relevant professional experience at this point. However, for the rest of us, dating your education can be a reason for age discrimination in the future. And, why open yourself to that possibility?

Tip #5 – There is No Need to Include All Jobs. The most frequent question I receive from clients is about how far back to go on the resume. Should they include that first job from 1985? The answer is no. Typically, resume writers will recommend only including the relevant past positions and that usually aligns with the last 10-15 years of employment.

Tip #6 – It’s Okay to Split Your Job Experiences. For example, if someone has been in sales and marketing for awhile, but has also had IT experiences, it is perfectly acceptable to have two sections of professional history. In fact, this works very well if someone is specifically targeting one of the areas only. If sales and marketing is the future focus, then place that section first. And, if IT is where the candidate wants to go in the future, be sure to put that information first. This allows the candidate to adjust the resume as needed for future opportunities.

Tip #7 – Remove Personal Information. Many years ago, resumes potentially contained personal information such as marital status, number of children, and hobbies. Today, that type of information could become HR’s worst nightmare. There is no place for personal information on today’s resumes. Keep it professional at all times.

 

The bottom line is this: if you are ready to start your job search in the current marketplace, be sure that you are complying with all of the unwritten rules of modern resumes. And, if you are unsure where to start, please contact us today!

Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish is one of our featured experts for the May 17th Free, You Can Get Hired Workshop from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Maple Grove Community Center. She is eager to meet you and would be happy to connect on how she can help you get the best resume possible. Register now to get your ticket. Click the button below.

Eventbrite - 5/17/16 You Can Get Hired! - Dr Heather Rothbauer-Wanish and JoAnne Funch

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After Losing Your Job…7 Tips for Job Searching Success  what-next

Everything has been going along just fine with your career—nothing exciting, but things are stable. But, are they really stable? Do you know what’s around the next corner in your company? And, are you established enough in your career just in case something does happen? Most companies, many industries, and the economy in general are constantly evolving. What does this mean as a worker in this twenty-first century? It means that you have to be prepared for uncertainty and a potential job change.

As a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), I have partnered with over 1,000 clients in developing forward-thinking, eye-catching, and industry-appropriate resumes and cover letters. Unfortunately, many of those clients contact me only when they have lost their jobs and need to quickly rework a 20+ year-old resume or are starting with no documentation. Along with needing a new resume, there are other things to consider if you lose your job.

#1 – Don’t be ashamed of the job loss. First, a job loss can happen to anyone. Companies, merge, businesses close, and organizational needs change. Tell people that you are actively seeking new employment opportunities. Did you know that most jobs are found via networking and existing contacts? It’s a much better way to find a job then replying to hundreds of job postings online.

#2 – Be sure your resume is up-to-date. Although it was mentioned before, it deserves repeating. If you have let others know that you are seeking a new job and they ask for your resume, it doesn’t look good to make them wait for an updated document. Be sure to include your most recent job and know that you don’t have to list why you left that particular position.  

#3 – Get a new email address. Many of us are tied to our job email address, which is obviously gone if you have lost your position. And, home email addresses could be checked by multiple people in the household. Instead, open a new email account that is used specifically for job hunting. Then, you can be sure you will be the only one checking the email account. And, always use your name or a portion of your name as the email address. Don’t use your graduation year, birth year, or other information that could detail your age. Keep it professional and simple.

#4 – Join LinkedIn as your preferred social media outlet. LinkedIn is a professional resource for social media content, updates, company profiles, and job searching. If you already have Facebook, Twitter, and other profiles, then be sure there is nothing out there that could harm your job search. While it is true that everyone has a personal life, it is also true that a quick Google search of your name will generate hits on your social media profiles.

#5 – Attend networking events. Again, most people find job opportunities through contacts they know. If you can attend a local chamber of commerce expo or a local networking group, take the chance and do so. And, if those aren’t available to you, then schedule a lunch appointment with a contact you haven’t seen for awhile. The more people that know you are seeking opportunities, the more eyes and ears are out there assisting you with your job search.

#6 – Never badmouth your ex-employer. Never. Ever. Do. This. Have you ever heard the saying, ‘don’t burn your bridges?’ Well, this rings true when seeking employment. The more you badmouth your ex-employer, the more you are viewed as a critical, sad, and annoying ex-employee. Furthermore, you never know who may know the people and/or company that you are criticizing. It doesn’t matter if what you are saying is true—just don’t do it.

#7 – Take on part-time work, freelance projects, or volunteer opportunities. If you are unsure of your career direction or can’t seem to find the perfect full-time job opportunity, then grab the chance to volunteer with an organization close to your heart, find a part-time opportunity that meets your family needs, or be open to the idea of freelance work. These short-term gigs show future employers that you kept busy during your time away from the full-time workforce and still honed your skills while networking with entirely new groups of people.

Remember that you are not the first person to lose their job and you certainly won’t be the last. By keeping a positive attitude, being proactive, and establishing a network of people that are also seeking opportunities for you, you can be on your way to a new opportunity that may meet your needs even better than your previous position.

 

Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish will be one of our featured experts at the May 17th Free, You Can Get Hired workshop in Maple Grove from 9-11:30 a.m. If you would like to meet Heather, Click on the Blue Button Below to reserve your seat. Register for your ticket TODAY and arrive early to get the best seat!
Eventbrite - 5/17/16 You Can Get Hired! - Dr Heather Rothbauer-Wanish and JoAnne Funch

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Is Your LinkedIn Summary a Winner or Loser

How do you show up in your LinkedIn summary?Is Your LinkedIn Summary a Winner or Loser

Is your LinkedIn summary compelling or boring and does it tell people who you are, what you do and who you serve.   In other words, is your LinkedIn summary a winner or a loser?

Perhaps you have you copied your resume into your summary section, which is something I see all the time which would fall into the loser category.  If your headline is compelling, people will gravitate to read your summary which you should move right up under the top section of your profile.

This is where you get to shine!

Your LinkedIn summary is that place where you get to share who you are professionally and let people see who you are personally.  Think of your summary as that place where you get a chance to really speak to people in a more personal way.  You should write this section in the first person tense so you sound friendly and you want people to learn more about you.

This is also a place where you should share your credibility, those achievements that you are proud of and tell people more about what you’ve done and how you can help them get the same results.  Often when I work with people on updating their LinkedIn profiles,  they say “I don’t want to brag” which is most typical among women versus men.  But what I want to say about that is – it is your time to brag!
Think in terms again about what makes you credible?  That can be everything from facts and figures to media appearances.

In the digital world, the most important version of your bio is your LinkedIn summary.
– William Arruda via Forbes.com

What do you do? It Belongs in your LinkedIn SummaryIs-your-linkedin-summary-a-winner-or-loser

Use your summary section to let people know what you do. I suggest you do this in short sentences with highlighted bullet points. The idea is to just give your viewers an idea to decide if you are an ideal connection for them.  How many times have you received the default invitation from someone and so you view their profile to see who they are.  I guarantee you have looked at their headline and then you scroll down to their summary to gain some knowledge about why they may have invited you to join their network.

Who do you serve?

By being clear on the people you serve you will end up with a better quality network.  In terms of marketing, clearly defining your target market helps you focus on and attract those people who are well suited to what you do.  So include a sentence or two on who you serve or a few bullet points.  Remember everyone is not your customer and being intentional about developing a solid network of potential customers, referral partners and influencers will benefit you now and in the long term.

Job seekers should make the LinkedIn summary their priority

According to Laura Smith-Proulx of Job-Hunt, Laura “If you want to quickly distinguish yourself from job-hunting competition on LinkedIn, look no further than your LinkedIn Summary.The “elevator pitch” of your social media profile, a powerful Summary can compel employers to take a second look at you for their needs.”

How will you Update your LinkedIn Summary Section?

  • What makes you credible?
  • What do you do?
  • Who do you serve?
  • What makes you interesting?

See How Your Profile Stacks Up!Grab the LinkedIn Profile Check List

JoAnne is a featured expert at our Free You Can Get Hired workshop on May 17th at the Maple Grove Community Center from 9-11:30 a.m. Register today and change the course of your current job search by making sure you have a WINNING LinkedIn! Click on the button now to register. See you there!

Eventbrite - 5/17/16 You Can Get Hired! - Dr Heather Rothbauer-Wanish and JoAnne Funch

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Highlighting Your Value on Your Resume

If you are working on your resume, it is important to position yourself as if you were reading it from the employer perspective. Instead of thinking, “What can this job do for my career?” – think more about “What can I possibly bring to this employer?” It is the answers to the second question that will help you align your skill-set with the needs of the potential job opening.Tell Me About Yourself

First, include several job titles or skill-sets at the top of the resume (immediately after the heading). For an administrative position, the headings could be something similar to Customer Service Expert | Administrative Oversight | Office Management. If someone is in accounting, they may want to use a heading such as Accounts Payable and Receivable | Financial Management.

Next, be sure to include a career summary. This is a three to five line section at the top of your resume (immediately after the job titles and heading) that describes your career from a high overview perspective. This section should include key words from the advertisement, a list of some of your past experiences, and the diverse skill-sets that you can bring to the employer.

Then, include a section that discusses Core Competencies or Areas of Expertise. This section can be modified for each job opportunity and should include skills that are listed in the job posting. Items like Leadership, Communication, Detail-Orientation, Decision-Making, and Time Management skills can be included here. This section is critical to making it through the Applicant Tracking System or ATS. Many companies utilize this computerized scanning system to go through resumes and put them into a ‘yes’ pile or a ‘no’ pile. If you don’t have the appropriate key words listed on your document, you can say ‘goodbye’ to your chances of an interview.

Finally, under Work Experience or Professional History, ensure you can back-up your claims. Rather than stating you have marketing skills, state the dollar amount of the budget you managed. If you increased sales during your tenure with an organization, list the percentage that sales increased by each year. Quantitative information is a key to relaying the relevant information when applying for a new position.

The bottom line is to be as specific as possible with your information, ensure you read and re-read the job posting to verify you are using the right key words, and include all appropriate sections within your document. If you have any questions on what should or should not be included, feel free to contact us today!

 

Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish will be a featured speaker for our May 17th Free You Can Get Hired Workshop from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Maple Grove Community Center. Register today and reserve a ticket to talk to Heather about your Resume! Click the button to register now.

Eventbrite - 5/17/16 You Can Get Hired! - Dr Heather Rothbauer-Wanish and JoAnne Funch

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How a Recruiter Uses LinkedIn to Find Talent

how-a-recruiter-uses-linkedin-to-find-talent-2I had an opportunity to meet Stacey Stratton, owner of True Talent Group, a talent agency and learn how a recruiter uses LinkedIn to find talent.

I found the conversation useful and wanted to share her perspective as her feedback will be useful to any job seeker. Learn how to leverage LinkedIn for job searching after college.

To say you have a LinkedIn profile is not enough particularly if you copy your resume word for word and paste it into the appropriate sections in LinkedIn.  LinkedIn profiles must be dynamic, stand out from the crowd and get the recruiter or hiring manager to take action and want to learn more about you.   Stacey told me she spend a few minutes reading a resume then goes directly to their LinkedIn profile because “people can shine on LinkedIn where they cannot in a resume.”

When I asked Stacey what she first looked for when scanning someone’s LinkedIn profile here is what she said:

  • #1 is do they have a professional photo – first impressions matter
  • Experience – do they have the experience for the position  they are applying for
  • Summary section – do they exhibit some personality?

how-a-recruiter-uses-linkedin-to-find-talent

How important is LinkedIn’s summary section?

She relies heavily on this section to determine personality and if there is a cultural fit.  “You can have great skills but if you have the wrong personality, it won’t be a good fit.” Read my tips on how to best use your LinkedIn summary section.

The importance of Skills & Endorsements

Stacey thinks this section is mildly important.  If you have no endorsements at all this could be a negative because it leaves her wondering WHY no one would endorse the skills you say you have.

The value of LinkedIn Recommendations

Typically Stacey will not place people without recommendations, there may be some variable in that according to the length of time they have been at a job but she likes to know others have recommended the person.  Often she uses recommendation to help place a client and add that your recommendations should be recent, over the past three years.

Any value in the volunteer and causes section?

Stacey says yes, goes toward character and what the person cares about.  I would agree and often companies that are philanthropic and support causes want employees to share that value.

Are the number of your LinkedIn connection important?

Not necessarily is the short answer. However, Stacey said if you are a social expert and you have very few connections that wouldn’t make sense. She does look at the types of people you are connected to, so be intentional with the people you invite to be in your network.

Top tips for job seekers to leverage your LinkedIn profile

* Get a professional photo, unfortunately people do judge.
* Work on a great summary – be true to who you are, let your personality shine through.
* Have a compelling headline that says I want to learn more.
* List your awards – be proud of your accomplishments and show future employers what they can expect from you.
* Note when you have been promoted. This shows the level of progression in your career.
* If you still play team sports – list it.  It says you are a team player.
* Utilize the media feature particularly if you are in a creative field, showing your work visually highlights your talent

Knowing how LinkedIn can help your career is imperative

According to a recent poll done by The True Talent Group, they wanted to know the skill level of their network when it comes to using LinkedIn.

50% said “They don’t know how to make their profile stand out”

50% said “They don’t know what to do once they invite or accept invitations”

I read that ABC News reported , 80% of today’s jobs are landed through networking. So knowing how to network on LinkedIn is as important to your job searching success as is having a great profile that stand out and highlights the points Stacey Stratton and other recruiters tell us are important.

LinkedIn Recruiter customers get access to all of LinkedIn’s users—not just those in their own personal networks. The product allows you to scour this enormous pool of professionals using advanced search functions such as industry, location and current company. – New Talent Times

To learn more about Stacey Stratton and The True Talent Group visit:  www.truetalentgroup.com

To get a professional career profile update, be sure to visit: https://linkedinforbusiness.net/career/

Download Our LinkedIn Profile Tips

JoAnne Funch will be featured at our Free You Can Get Hired workshop on May 17th from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Maple Grove Community Center. Register Today and find out how she can help you be sure your LinkedIn is “Recruiter Ready”! Click the Button to reserve your ticket now.

Eventbrite - 5/17/16 You Can Get Hired! - Dr Heather Rothbauer-Wanish and JoAnne Funch

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Tasks to Accomplish on A Daily Basis to Grow a LinkedIn Following
6 Things I Do Everyday on LinkedIn

If you are serious about using LinkedIn to maintain your professional brand reputation, stay top of mind with your connections and generate business leads than  I know you are consistently showing up.

 

For those who have never been to one of my trainings or have not heard me speak I emphasize investing time to grow your LinkedIn network.  LinkedIn is a long term strategy that requires consistency.  Often I get asked how I personally use LinkedIn, since I am a LinkedIn Trainer. So I decided to share the 6 things I do everyday on LinkedIn and I want to say up front, these things typically take less than 30 minutes per day!

Overview of Top 6 Things I Do Everyday on LinkedIn

1. Respond to any email message

2.  Review and accept new LinkedIn connections

3.  Check the LinkedIn news feed for current updates

4. Check on Who’s viewed my profile

5.  Flip through the “Ways to keep in touch” section

6.  Share an update on the LinkedIn platform

Top 6 Things I Do Everyday on LinkedIn in Detail:

1. Respond to any email message

I always try to acknowledge a message from someone within 24 hours of receiving it. First because that is professional courtesy and second because I want to be timely.  If someone has taken the time to message me, I always give them the respect to reply regardless of why they have messaged me.

2.  Review and accept new LinkedIn connections

Reviewing new invitations is a quick task for me because I have a process n place to read and respond.  I always read the profile of the invitee, I accept all invitations with a few exceptions such as no photo or details in their profile or if something about the profile seems inappropriate. If I received the default invitation, than I have several responses that I use in reply to learn more about the person who invited me.

3.  Check the LinkedIn news feed for current updates

I scan the news feed for current updates over the past 6-8 hours to with the intention of looking for updates from clients first that I can engage with such as posting a comment. Second I scan for people in my LinkedIn network who have new connections, and see if there are people I may also want to connect with and thirdly I scan for interesting content I may want to take a quick read on.

4.  Who’s viewed my profile

I always like to see who has viewed my profile because I look for trends in location, industry, people I may have met recently and I decide who I might take the time to send a note to if they have not invited me to connect.  This is intelligence work that has provided me new opportunities that may have been missed opportunities had I not taken the lead.

5.  Flip through the “Ways to keep in touch” section

I don’t click the Congrats! button on everyone celebrating a work anniversary, but I do scan for clients and prospects I want to stay top of mind with and I send a quick hello or comment on the work anniversary, birthday or such in a sincere and intentional way.

6.  Share an update on the LinkedIn platform

Staying top of mind with my connections is paramount!  My intention is to be authentic, relevant and credible.  I post content that I believe my network would be interested in and  is relevant to why people connected with me in the first place.  I typically post a combination of content through the week that consists on my blog posts, other people’s relevant content, industry content and I try to be sure each post has an interesting graphic to accompany the article.

Networking offline as well as online is all about showing up.

How do you show up on a consistent basis?
How are you building your online reputation?

While there is lots you can do everyday on LinkedIn, some are more important than others. Learn more about how to “Jump Ahead of your Competition with LinkedIn Advantages You Can Leverage”

JoAnne will be a featured guest speaker at You Can Get Hired on May 17th from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Maple Grove Community Center. Register early to get a seat close to the stage and get the best of what JoAnne has to offer for your job search! Click the button to Register now.

Eventbrite - 5/17/16 You Can Get Hired! - Dr Heather Rothbauer-Wanish and JoAnne Funch

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You can’t possibly know it all. Even if you’re an expert in a certain area, there will inevitably be times when you don’t know the answer. That’s OKAY.

In our modern, information-at-our-fingertips world, we might feel pressured to know anything and everything. Think about all the content you consume on a daily basis, whether through television, social media, news articles, surfing the web, or face-to-face interactions. The amount of data we’re exposed to on a regular basis is overwhelming and can also lead to unrealistic expectations from others. “Didn’t you see that article,” someone might say. Or “didn’t you hear about x, y, and z?”

It takes courage to admit when you don’t know something, but it’s much better than faking your way through a conversation. The next time someone quizzes you about a news story you haven’t read or a social media trend you haven’t heard of, speak up. Let her know that you don’t know enough about the topic to form an opinion, but you would like to hear her thoughts on it. Then, listen. Learn.

In a different context, think about job interviews. If the interviewer asks you a straightforward question such as, “Do you know how to use Adobe Photoshop,” don’t fudge your answer. Be forthright with your response. For example: “No, I’ve never used Adobe Photoshop, but I have experience with other design programs, such as Inkscape. I’ve found that I am a quick learner and pick up on new systems quickly. I am also not afraid of technology and would be happy to take a class on Adobe Photoshop if I am hired.”

This response not only shows a willingness to learn, it also conveys honesty and transparency. These are traits that companies often look for in job candidates.

Furthermore, if you admit that you don’t know something (to yourself and others), this opens up an opportunity to learn and grow. Explore the unknown subject and add something new to your knowledge bank.

Remember, you CAN’T know it all. It’s fine to admit to others when you don’t have the answer. This isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of integrity and candor.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

Used with permission.

Margaret will be a guest speaker for the April 5th You Can Get Hired workshop from 9-11:30. Register Here!

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Originally Posted January 25th, 2016 @ 04:01pm by: Joanne Meehl

handshake_closeupAfter many years in the job search field, and almost 13 on my own, I have seen many things from candidates that work wonderfully in their searches.

And things that they put in their way.

One unnecessary hurdle is hiding an old entry-level job because the candidate believes it wasn’t that long ago so it shows them as too inexperienced for the next step in their career. I’ve seen this from senior managers ready to be a Director, or Directors ready to be VPs.

This is not wise. First, everyone knows you started somewhere in your career. But when you leave out “the first step”, smushing your earlier Specialist job into the later Manager role, you are hiding one key thing about yourself: that you were promoted and have had a meteoric rise. That’s what is outstanding about you! So why hide it?

If you’re doing so because you think you don’t have the room to give many details about the job, don’t worry: you needn’t add much material there. It’s in the next job listed that you say, “Promoted to this management role based on outstanding performance in my work as Specialist”. Adjust that statement for your level and you will then be communicating to your reader — of your resume or LinkedIn — a wonderful achievement.

Recruiters in particular like to see your career path until now. They want to see where you started and what you’ve done since; the decisions you’ve made and the successes you’ve had. And little speaks more of success than being selected by your senior management to handle more tasks and people: a promotion.

 

Joanne Meehl, Guest speaker for You Can Get Hired on April 5th, 2016 from 9-11:30 a.m.  Register Here!

Used with permission

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CONGRATULATIONS!!

You have been called in for an interview as the company believes what they have seen and heard to date establishes you as a viable candidate for the role that they are looking to fill.

Frequently, individuals spend many hours creating resumes and cover letters, searching through the job boards and postings on the internet, reviewing classifieds and networking — all in order to get an interview. Yet few of them spend anytime developing the most crucial skill of interviewing.

In today’s economy, it may take 5 or 6 interviews in order to secure a position versus the 2 or 3 interviews that was more of the “norm” in healthier economic times. So by developing your interviewing skills you will develop the ability to “outsell” your competitors and land the job.

Preparation

Anyone who has ever been through the job hunting process has probably walked away from at least one interview knowing right away that they botched it or even if they feel confident about the interview, they know that they still could have answered one or two questions much better than they did.

Remember that any activity that we value creates a certain degree of angst or anxiety which is a natural human emotion. The only way to remove this “pressure” and to perform in a way that we know that we are capable of is preparation!

The Industry

Question: What is happening in the hiring companies industry?

Resources: Major news outlets, stock market reports etc.

The Market

Question: What is happening to other hiring companies in the local market (Twin Cities)? How is the hiring company perceived in the local market?

Resources: Local news outlets and community or philanthropic annual reports. Unlike the standard annual report, which focuses largely on financial performance, many companies produce a second publication that highlights “soft topics” like culture or community outreach. This will give clues about how the company lives its image or brand. This can help you decide if there’s consistency between what the company says it is and what you observe.

The Company

Question: What is the “tone at the top”? Is there a strong, positive workplace culture? The leadership team (CEO, CFO, Chairman or President) sets the standard for workplace culture.

Resources: The company website will typically reveal the names of senior leaders, and a broader Internet search using those names will often turn up revealing media coverage about executive actions, providing insight on the team’s values, which have the greatest impact on a company’s culture.

Question: What is the company’s mission or vision statement?

Resources: Again, the company website will provide these statements which will reveal what a company wants everyone to believe about its culture and values. This is a good way to discover if the stated characteristics align with their personal values system.

Question: What is the workplace environment like?

Resources: The physical location! Is the interviewee brought in for an onsite interview, the physical environment can provide a snapshot about the workplace culture i.e. fancy offices near crowded cubicles can illustrate cultural norms about rank and power. Similarly, a polite, respectful interview process – rather than one that is seemingly rushed or poorly coordinated – offers valuable cues about the overall environment.

The Job

Question: What are the roles and responsibilities for the position? What are the expectations for the role? What does good look like?

Resources: The job posting. The HR / recruiter contact.

Competitors

Apply the same rigor to one or two of the hiring company’s closest competitors.

Questions

“Do you have any more questions for me?” may seem innocent and simple enough to answer, but candidates who give a weak response are usually the ones screened out of consideration for the job.

Utilizing the research results, create a series of questions that will help you fill in the blanks and assist in your determination if both the company AND the job are a right fit for you!

Please be aware that every question you ask is an opportunity for you to sell yourself as the most outstanding, must-have candidate for the job.

Logistics

All of the above preparation is for naught if you fail to show up at the right place or on time, so plan accordingly.

Do you clearly understand:

  • The location of the interview?
  • The amount of time it will take you to get there?
  • The start time?
  • Who you are interviewing with?
  • Expected duration of the interview?
  • Do you have a copy of your resume?

As with most professional’s today – everyone is busy, hurried and subject to the same delays and roadblocks in their day-to-day activity. So being where you are supposed to be at the right time with the ability to be “flexible” will go a long way to establishing you as an easy individual to work with and a good “fit” for the company.

Attire

Smart, formal business attire even if the interviewer is in jeans.

Communication Style

Interviewers will form an opinion of you within the first 5 minutes of the interview and this opinion is not always based on what you actually say, but on something you are doing i.e. your “body language”.

85 percent of what you communicate is not with words, it is through the tone of your voice, the way you sit and a wealth of other messages that your body involuntarily sends.

  • Be natural. Greet the interviewer with a smile that engages your eyes, and offer a firm handshake. Say something like, “I’m pleased to meet you” to provide a positive anchor. Maintaining good eye contact shows respect and interest.
  • Watch out for excessive energy. The more energy you have, the more will need to be vented. This often results in fidgeting i.e. repeatedly touching your face, throat, mouth or ears, a definite sign that you’re nervous or ill at ease
  • What to do with those hands and arms. Clasped hands are a signal that you are closed off and palm-to-palm gestures with one thumb over the other thumb sends the signal that you need the interviewer’s reassurance. To come across as confident, receptive and unguarded, have your hands open and relaxed on the table. When your body is open, you project trustworthiness. Avoid crossing your arms over your chest. When you do, you signal that you are close-minded, defensive or bored and disinterested.
  • Crossing those legs. Don’t cross your legs as this posture creates a wall between you and your interviewer. It can also become a distraction when you keep crossing your legs back and forth. Crossed ankles are a “no-no” because you are signaling that you want to be elsewhere.
  • Posture. A straight posture is imperative during an interview. Pull your shoulders back and sit up straight. You’ll give yourself a burst of confidence and allow for good breathing. This can help you to avoid, or at least reduce, feelings of nervousness and discomfort.
  • Finger gestures. Never point your index fingers like gun barrels as these are the types of aggressive messages you want to avoid sending.

While body language is a very important component of your communication style, no one ever received a job offer purely on the strength of their handshake or posture; regardless of what was actually said.

Interviewers will often rely on questions that start with “tell me about a time when?” or “give me an example?” To provide meaningful answers to those questions, you must prepare and have some stories in your pocket. As human beings, we love a good story so practice your ability to paint a good picture around your experiences.

Painting a Picture

Stories to prepare in advance of the interview should include “good examples about how you’ve interacted with team members – what kind of team player you’ll be.

Interviewers also frequently ask how you have dealt with a difficult problem. Being negative is a pitfall, so describing the situation succinctly, focusing on what you were thinking when handling the situation. The interviewer’s goal is not to learn about the company you were working for or the people you were working with, but about how you maneuvered through difficult situations.

Don’t forget to ask early on, “Please let me know if this is not what you’re getting at or if you need more detail?”

Interviewees can also create dialog by asking questions like, “Tell me about the characteristics of the people who are most successful in this department or role. What kinds of people or experiences have worked well? What won’t work in your group?”

Rehearsal is key so talk out loud to yourself, family or friends. Listen to how it sounds. When the right answer doesn’t come to you fast enough, you miss the golden opportunity to share your best story.

The Close

The key is to have a great interview, where the interviewer actually pictures you doing the job.

If you want to be that person, utilizing and practicing the steps detailed above will allow everyone who interviews you – the recruiter, hiring manager to picture you filling the position and to visualize actually hiring you — ASAP.

Diligent preparation will guarantee that you will stand out from the crowd and shoot straight to the top of the “must hire” list.

Finally, KEEP SELLING your services and the value that you would bring to any hiring organization, with the same vigor and enthusiasm all the way through to signing on the dotted line.  Why? Because you never know………………!

Graham Riley

Follow Graham @GrahamKRiley

CareerToolbox International, LLC

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This article was first published on Graham’s website www.CareerToolboxUSA.com on May 23, 2014
Graham will be a featured speaker at our You Can Get Hired Kickoff on February 16th. You can get a seat up front if you register here:

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