Monday, April 14, 2014
“When you thank someone, like a friend who gave you a job lead or a hiring manager after an interview, for example, you help satisfy that person’s need to be appreciated. Not only is it an ego boost for them, it can propel you faster toward employment.”
You may have heard it said that the most beautiful one word in any language is your Name.
And the most beautiful two words? They might be Thank You.
Because, as the American psychologist and philosopher William James once said: “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”
When you thank someone, like a friend who gave you a job lead or a hiring manager after an interview, for example, you help satisfy that person’s need to be appreciated. Not only is it an ego boost for them, it can propel you faster toward employment, too.
And it all begins with two words: Thank you.
Here are four ways to harness the power of “Thank you” to shorten your job search.
1) Thank More People
Of course you know to mail a thank-you note to hiring managers after every job interview. But that’s the bare minimum. You can spread more goodwill — and start more positive conversations about you — by writing and saying, “Thank you,” to every person you met while visiting a potential employer, including the receptionist.
If you can’t get business cards from every one, at least get their name. Then, call the receptionist when you get home (or from your cell phone in the parking lot!) and ask for help in spelling names. You’ll avoid mistakes while generating a terrific post-interview impression by making that phone call.
But don’t limit your thank-you notes to just after interviews. Mail them to anyone who does you a good turn during your job search: friends, relatives, neighbors, past co-workers, et al. If you mail at least one thank-you note per day, you’re on the right track.
In his excellent book, You, Inc., Harry Beckwith writes: “Handwritten thank-you notes feel like gifts because you took the time to find the paper and envelope, write the note, affix the stamp, and gift-wrap your note in its package.”
Why not mail more thank-you “gifts” to those who assist your job search? You’ll surely get even more help in return.
2) Email? No Thanks
A brief word about sending thank-you notes by email — don’t.
A thank-you email has about as much emotional staying power as an emailed Christmas card or birthday greeting — you read it, you delete it, you forget it. All in less than 30 seconds.
Instead of taking time to send your best regards when you mail a short note, you’re copping out and saying, “You’re not important to me,” when you email.
Solution? Write and mail your thank-you letters on real paper using real stamps. Really.
3) Say the Right Thing
So that you have no excuses, here’s exactly what to say in your next thank-you note, written in your best printing or handwriting:
Dear Mr. Smith:
Thank you very much for taking the time to meet with me this morning.
I want you to know that I am extremely interested in the position of INSERT JOB TITLE we discussed. Based on the needs for INSERT BRIEF JOB DESCRIPTION you outlined in our talk, I am sure that my skills in INSERT 2-3 SKILLS can help you in this area.
In any event, I want to thank you for your time and consideration. It was a pleasure to meet you and INSERT ALL OTHER NAMES.
Your First and Last Name
Monday, April 14, 2014
Manners are not only important at the dinner table (use your napkin, please), on the telephone (listen as well as speak), in a theater (refrain from talking during the performance), but also during a job interview. Yet many job seekers forget the importance of being polite. They jingle the change in their pocket, click their tongue, stare at the wall or at their lap, or cut in when the hiring manager is speaking.
Nerves can throw you off. Your heart races, your palms perspire, your mouth goes dry. You may even forget what you want to say. But none of these experiences are reasons to forget your manners. To give yourself the ‘edge’ when it comes to sitting across from a potential employer, review the following polite practices and then go over them with a spouse or friend before the in-person meeting.
Arrive ahead of time.
It may be fashionable to come late to a cocktail party but it’s bad manners to walk into an interview after the agreed-upon time. Always arrive at least ten minutes early so you can freshen up, catch your breath, sit quietly in the lobby reviewing your notes.
Maintain good eye contact.
You probably know what it’s like to speak with someone who is shifty-eyed. You might wonder what he has up his sleeve or what she is hiding. Looking a man or woman in the eye when speaking is not only polite, it’s good business practice. It assures the other person of your sincerity and genuine interest. And it will remind him or her to return the eye contact.
Focus your mind and take in what the interviewer is saying. If you miss a detail or don’t understand what is said, ask politely for it to be repeated. It may help to have a small notepad and pen in your hand. Jot down items that are of importance to you. You might even tell the interviewer ahead of time that you’ll be taking notes because you don’t want to miss anything. That too, is a sign of good manners. You’re letting the other person know that you’re serious about the job in question.
Monday, April 14, 2014
‘To fail to plan is to plan to fail’, one of my favourite quotes and no where more true in the area of interviews.
But what should you be preparing? Mind, body and heart!
Prepare with your mind
You need to do a lot of research and thinking before any interview. You need to engage with the future employer and with the role. You need to work out what it is that you are expected to do to add value. What would you need to do in that job to make you ‘a stand out employee’?
Job descriptions can be rather broad and general so you need to try to work out from reading as much as you can about the job, about the firm and about the sector, what is the difference between a firm that is good at what it does and one that is excellent and how could you contribute to that excellence?
You need to be able to answer that question, how can I add, in this role , make a difference. If there was an advert you might find some clues in the wording of the advert. Adverts are written by people who are doing recruitment for people looking for jobs. Job descriptions are written for a whole host of reasons and often by HR people to make sure that they know what the job is worth.
You need to find other people who have done this job or a similar job. To find someone who has worked in the organisation or in that sector. In the world of social media it is easy to track down people that you may know a little, it is much harder to get them to respond to your requests for a chat or to be joined to another of their friends. So you will need to be persuasive with your approach.
You need to think about the things that the interviewer is going to want to hear about. You will need to talk about your experience and therefore you will need to choose which experiences to describe. Choose recent and relevant examples. Choose examples of doing those things that they will want to see you doing in the new job. Make sure your examples are recent and relevant (I know I’ve said that twice) and make sure you can tell these stories well.
You need to make sure that you have thought of all the really obvious questions and have got all your answers prepared. Rehearse so that you can sound confident and know what you are talking about.
Prepare your body
Obviously you’d expect me to talk about having a good nights sleep. You need to be alert and awake. But there are more physical preparations that you need to make.
You need to work out what to wear, make sure it is clean and make sure that it is ironed and looks smart. And you need to do all that the day before. You need to make sure you have smart shoes and that you look like someone who works in that business. Yes there are organisations that don’t wear suits and ties but if you have been down to the offices on your trail run of the journey, you will be able to see what the work dress code is. Unless you are very clear that it would be a mistake, wear formal business wear (suit, dress, skirt, etc) take off jewellery (except small pieces on women) remove piercings, cover up both cleavage and tattoos. Get a hair cut.
Rehearse getting ready, don’t be standing in front of the mirror wondering what to wear when you should be at the bus stop.
Prepare your heart
The heart is said to be the seat of your emotions and they need some preparation.
You need to really enthuse yourself about this role. OK it may not be your dream job, it may just be a job but the future employer wants to know that you are really keen to get the job. Psych yourself up by thinking of all the advantages of having and doing this job. Enthusiasm will take you a long way.
Monday, April 14, 2014
Job interviews can be a mystery. But you can find success if you follow the right job interview strategies. The following 10 tips are the best job interview strategies to follow if you want to ace your next interview.
1. Study the company
One of the best job interview strategies that most candidates ignore is to study the current events of the company. Knowing what the current events of the company is important so that you can ask pertinent questions. Doing so will show the interviewer that you have done your homework, and also have a genuine interest in the company. This strategy will definitely help your job interview.
2. Know your resume
As a candidate, you should be very familiar with your resume. In any job interview, anything on your resume is at the interviewer’s disposal. Implementing this job interview strategy will help build credibility with your interviewer. It is your responsibility to convince the interviewer that you can come in and do the job. Speaking intelligently about each of your previous positions will help do this, and is one of the best job interview strategies to follow.
3. Prepare an interview emergency kit
Many candidates don’t properly prepare for a job interview. Getting together a “job interview kit” is a great job interview strategy to follow. Suggested items for the kit include extra copies of your resume, directions to the office, a bottle of water, eye drops, pens, and notepad. But you should only bring the extra copies of your resume into the office with you, preferably in a portfolio.
4. Study the job description
After landing an interview, you need to study the job description to truly understand what the interviewer is looking for. If the description calls for attentiveness to detail, you will want to tailor the discussion accordingly. Knowing this, you can navigate the interview and discuss examples from previous jobs that will exemplify this trait. Do this for all significant traits or qualities that you identify in the job description. This is one of the best job interview strategies I have used, and know that it can bring you success.
5. Build rapport
You know the saying, “There’s never a second chance to make a first impression?” That holds very true in the case of job interviews. That is why building rapport is such an important job interview strategy. Shake hands, make eye contact, and smile. Put those three together when you first meet your interviewer and it will set a positive tone for the rest of the interview.
6. Make eye contact
Making positive eye contact is one of the best job interview strategies to follow. Eye contact is one of the strongest forms of nonverbal communication. A person’s qualities and personality can be detected simply based on eye contact. Making direct eye contact communicates confidence and high self-esteem, two key qualities employers look for in candidates.
Thus, it is very important that you make eye contact when you first meet interviewer and shake hands. And during the interview, it is important to make eye contact, not only when you talk, but also as you listen. Simply doing this job interview strategy will greatly help your chances of success in an interview.
7. Body language
Just as eye contact speaks volumes about you, so does your body language. Proper body language conveys confidence and high self-esteem. During the interview, things like sitting up straight with your chest out and keeping a pleasant demeanor on your face will project confidence. The interviewer will be aware of this, and it will help you stand out in his/her mind.
Monday, April 14, 2014
When an employer checks references, the first place they are going to check with is your previous employer. However, not all companies provide references for employees. In fact, some companies may only confirm that you worked at the company and confirm your dates of employment.
Who to Ask for a Reference
That’s why it’s important to have a list of professional references, in addition to employment references, that you can provide to employers. Who should you ask to provide references? Supervisors and colleagues (if company policy permits) may be able to provide a reference for you.
Business contacts, customers, clients, vendors, and other individuals you have a professional relationship with can be used as references.
Professional vs. Personal References
In addition to professional references, personal references, also known as character references, can be used for employment purposes.
Neighbors and family friends may be willing to write a reference for you. Teachers, professors, academic advisors, volunteer leaders, coaches, can all provide personal references.
Monday, March 31, 2014
It seems that the older we get, the less we have to look forward to. Speaking literally, we actually do have less to look forward to because we have less of a life left to live, but that isn’t the sense in which people find things to look forward to with difficulty.
It’s not that the older we get the more we realize that the sum of the enjoyment we will experience in our lives literally decreases with each second. It’s more the fact that the more we experience, the less novelty we believe there is to experience, and therefore, find it difficult to become excited, spiritually aroused.
That’s what it all boils down to: excitement. The beauty is that if done right, you can be excited almost every day of your life — without the addition of any consumable substance. There is more than enough in the world to try for the first time, but simply trying new things all the time can get boring in itself. Here are a few tips to get you looking forward to life again:
Start by tweaking your habits.
There’s a science behind increasing the chances of arousing excitement within yourself. It all starts with what you do on a daily basis. We often fall into daily and weekly rituals that quickly become habits. Habits for the necessities in life are great. Sleep regularly. Eat regularly. Exercise both physically and mentally regularly. And that’s about it.
Everything else we insert into our lives to, supposedly, increases our enjoyment in life. However, people have a nasty tendency of not being very picky with what they let into their life – especially when it comes to activities. They figure they should try everything once, which I can understand. However, people often do things for the sake of doing things. Those things usually either have a negative impact on the individual or have no impact other than the loss of missing out on something that would have been more beneficial.
Overall, do less.
We feel that we constantly need to be doing something, moving. But the fact is, we are always doing something as it is. We don’t need to push ourselves to constantly be doing more things because more isn’t better. More of what we do most and of what benefits us most is one thing, but more overall isn’t. With more you get clutter and clutter makes it difficult to enjoy anything at all.
Our minds will be too busy thinking ahead, moving on to the next task without enjoying the moment we’re living in. Our minds need time to reflect on what is happening and on what just happened. Without reflection, we lose joy and excitement. We enjoy most things after the fact. Don’t take time to enjoy them after the fact and you won’t be as excited for them the next time around. You’re excited for the joy and happiness you experience, not the actual activity.
Customize your friendships.
Some friends are great. Others are awful. Others still are great, but only in certain doses. There is no shame in cutting ties and/or starting new ones. The life you are living is yours and yours alone; if you don’t design it the way you want it to be designed, no one will. Your friends affect you more than almost anything else in life.
You likely spend a good amount of time with them, and even if you don’t, it’s the human interactions we experience in our lives that have the greatest effect on us. Surrounding yourself with not only good people, but fun, excited individuals will help you feel excited about life, as well.
The outlook of our friends’ often ends up being our own outlook on life. Get rid of those friends who aren’t worth the time and focus on spending your life with people who actually make your life more enjoyable.
Learn to despise your comfort zone.
Comfort zones are sneaky. When you’re in yours, you feel great — so great that you don’t ever want to leave. Unfortunately, we have evolved to also dislike processing the same information over and over again. We need to feel as if we are learning and experiencing new things regularly – that’s what makes us feel that we’re living.
This creates an inner struggle: We don’t want to try new things because new things come with uncertainty. Uncertainty can be dangerous. But certainty is boring. What to do, what to do… Force yourself out of your comfort zone. Once you are out and about, you’ll come to realize that there is very little if any danger and that your fear was for nothing.
We’re all afraid to leave our comfort zones, but you know what? Leaving your comfort zone is exciting like nothing else on the planet. The unknown is exciting. The known is predictable.
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Monday, March 31, 2014
Want to play a fun guessing game?
Try to guess how many times in the last year I’ve heard the oh-so-patronizing words, “You got a good job when you graduated? Wow you must be really lucky!”
The fun part about this game is that no matter what number you guessed, you’re wrong. The truth is I can’t even begin to count the number of times some well-intentioned person, including so called, “established adults,” and my own peers, have referred to my status in the working world as an act of goodwill on the part of the universe.
Allow me to be a shining example of the Misunderstood Millennial. I worked my tail off to both find and secure a job I could be proud of that allowed me to pay ALL of my bills immediately after graduating from a four-year university and guess what? I am happy.
Before I delve any further into my tale, allow me to fully disclose my background: I graduated from a state school in northern California with average grades and no special passion for any particular industry or field. I got my BA in Psychology with a minor in Public Relations, and my biggest achievement in college was becoming a national, award-winning sex columnist.
In other words, if you’re an approximately 21-year-old average Jane with a cool hobby but no clue what you want to be when you grow up, I was once in your shoes. Don’t be offended by this statement, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being dubbed “average.”
There are countless articles, studies, blogs, columns, you-name-it’s dissecting the various plusses and pitfalls of those aged 20-25, and most of them seem to indicate that through the blind optimism of our Gen-X parents and egocentric views of those in power (aka politicians, public speakers and the media), we have developed an unparalleled sense of entitlement.
This mindset breeds two predominant types of Gen-Y-ers (notice the intentional qualifier here – I am in no way limiting young adults to only two categories but simply naming these as the primaries): 1) the go-getter who tries to do everything, believes that enough is never enough and will deprive themselves of life’s basic needs and pleasures (i.e. sleep, food, fun, friends, sex, etc.) until they reach their goal of ruling the world, and 2) the lazy, spoiled brat who will go out of their way to experience nothing but pleasure then whine about never being satisfied.
The reality is that there is no shame in being somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.
Now, before you pass judgment on my job as Assistant Manager at an apartment community in Chico, California, let me be quite clear: no, a college degree is not required for this position. In fact, the young lady whom I replaced in this role never finished college. But, like her, I’m very happy to be here (read: happy, not lucky.)
I didn’t become the president of ten clubs with a four-point-fifty GPA and perfect exit scores and I didn’t get wasted every weekend with the expectation that a “good career” would fall into my lap. When I started college I got myself acquainted with the fact that neither of these two categories of people my age are likely to be flooded with job offers. I worked hard to finish school in four years, which my parents insisted was a timely fashion and spent my last semester of school hounding companies that had available positions that seemed like they would suit me.
I jumped at my first offer that didn’t involve telephone sales, and it turned out to be a flop. The pay was great and I got to move to a much bigger city, but everyone I worked with was absolutely miserable. I also discovered quickly that this particular company, which will remain unnamed, was not what they made themselves out to be.
So I began the job hunt again, spending countless hours on every job site imaginable and hitting up everyone I knew who was employed for connections to their hiring managers. I refused to move home and I refused to look for jobs anywhere remotely similar to the part-time ones I had throughout school.
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Imagine you’ve been on the job market for about six months. You are paying your mortgage on your credit cards at this point. Your unemployment benefits are about to run out and your job prospects remain dismal, no matter what you seem to do.
Finally, you land a killer opportunity, pass the phone screen and show up to an interview with a hiring manager. Just as you think you’re about to close the deal, she spins her computer screen around and asks you to login to your Facebook account.
What do you do?
Facebook’s official statement is that shoulder surfing “undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends” and “potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.”
The ruling, made by the FTC in May, 2011, was that companies can use social media information as part of a background check, but this information must be available from public databases. In other words, strictly speaking, it could be illegal for companies to use private social media information against you without your consent. (I say could be because I am not a lawyer, I just pay attention.)
However, there are some cases wherein this type of deep probing could be deemed appropriate; for example law enforcement or defense. In this case, it would be easy for the employer to defend their request to access private data as it pertains directly to the candidate’s qualification to perform the job.
But when Justin Bassett, a statistician based in New York, was asked for his Facebook password he refused. And so should you. Many states are already in the process of introducing legislation against this practice, and if you live in Illinois and or Maryland, such legislation already exists.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Your career is important to you.
Your brand is important to you.
But they aren’t working as hard as they could for you. I guarantee it. It doesn’t take crazy time or energy to change that; to get your personal brand and career turbocharged.
Action one: Map out your grand strategy
Most people I work with are intimidated by the thought of mapping out their grand strategy because they aren’t clear on exactly what they want and because they are afraid of failure. But it is extremely important to have a grand strategy for your life. To be as effective as possible, you need to see not only one, but two or three steps ahead. Tactically, this means mapping out the qualities of what you want (feelings, values, priorities and passions) first — and then fleshing out as many of the details (how, where) later.
Action two: Re-frame your stories
The most successful business people in the next decade are going to be those who are skilled at adapting their experience to new situations. In other words, they will be able to identify how the skills they have learned will help them solve new problems in different situations in the future. After all, businesses are tackling new problems at an ever-increasing pace. To do this, think about the transferable skills you have!
Action three: Be your own best salesman
Successful people believe in themselves. Sadly, a significant number of people don’t own their accomplishments enough to be their own best salesmen. We all need to give ourselves credit for our accomplishments in a way that is tactful and impactful. The key to this is to think about your audience and what they want to hear. (And then, tell them!)
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
“The most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation.”
This statement is the premise behind behavioral interviewing, an interviewing technique created in the 1970s by industrial psychologists. This style of interview is becoming popular with employers, and it can be a challenging experience.
You’re likely to face the technique on job interviews and you should be prepared to confront it the right way.
Traditional interviewing calls upon the candidate to state opinions: “Tell me about yourself.” “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” “Why do you want to work for this company?” By contrast, behavioral interviewing requires job candidates to relate stories about how they handled challenges related to the skill sets the company requires for the position.
For example, if a job requires strong communication and team-building skills, an interviewer might ask candidates to recount past experiences where they explained new plans that brought a team together. Behavioral interview questions often start with phrases like, “Tell me about a time when ...” or “Describe a situation in which ... “ or “Give me an example of ...”
While your skills and experiences could be a perfect match for the position, you could lose out if you can’t validate them with relevant anecdotes.
So how do you prepare for a behavioral interview?
First, you’ll want to put yourself in the shoes of the employer and imagine what the ideal candidate for the position would answer from the interviewer’s perspective.
Then, take the time to review thoroughly the job description and research the company and its culture. Look for cues about skills necessary for the job and valued by the organization. Next, think about the sorts of behavioral questions an interviewer might ask to determine those skills.
Here are a few examples of skill sets and some behaviorally focused interview questions aimed at surfacing them.
Decision Making and Problem Solving
■Describe a situation in which you used good judgment and logic to solve a problem.
■Give me an example of a time when you had to be quick in coming to a decision.
■Have you ever had trouble getting others to agree with your ideas? How did you deal with the situation, and were you successful?
■Describe the most challenging group from which you’ve had to gain cooperation.
■Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty.
■Give me an example of a situation in which you positively influenced the actions of others.
■Describe a situation in which you were able to communicate with another individual who did not personally like you (or vice versa).
■Describe a time you had to use written communication to convey an important argument or idea.
■Give me examples of what you’ve done in the past to nurture teamwork.
■Give an example of an unpopular decision you’ve made, what the result was and how you managed it.
Planning and Organization
■When scheduling your time, what method do you use to decide which items are priorities?
■Describe how you’ve handled a sudden interruption to your schedule.
Once you’ve determined which behavioral-based questions you might be asked during an interview, look back on your past experiences and develop stories to answer those questions. Your stories should be detailed yet succinct, and they should always include the following three elements:
1.A description of a specific, real-life situation or challenge you encountered.
2.A description of the specific tasks and actions you took to overcome that challenge.
3.A summary of the results of those actions. (Try to quantify these results whenever possible.)
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