Education Career Services

September 30, 2009

Are You Hiring (the sequel)?

As promised, the following is yesterday’s conclusion:

Your experience and educational background in research comes into play as well as your social and professional networks.  Once you identify a particular company or industry, talk to everyone you know about the company.  The cliché that “we live in a small world” will quickly become a little more real.  It may surprise you how close your network connections may be to decision makers. Through friends, classmates, family members, professors, neighbors, and career services counselors, chances are you will gain valuable insight without a great deal of effort, at least in the initial phase of simply asking.  From people in your network, jot down ideas and remember potential contacts within the company or industry; these may come in handy during informational interviews.

Once you have an outline of information you want to focus on, it is homework time. Research the organization and industry as you will be asking questions related to your findings.  Make a quick list of questions and identify what data your contact may be able to provide.  You will want to make a list of approximately 10-15 questions based upon the title and position of your contact.  The more you are prepared, the more likely the person on the phone will be happy to answer. As noted, people like to talk about themselves and especially their work.

Once you contact a professional in the field, explain that you are gaining information about his or her job responsibilities, requirements, company/industry needs, new processes, and so on.  Always make sure the individual has time for a discussion; if not, schedule a phone meeting at their convenience.

During informational interviews, have your résumé available in case you need a quick reference.  Stick to the time allotted (typically 30 minutes in length), do not take too much of the person’s time and, if the meeting goes well, ask to schedule another meeting, hopefully face-to-face.  Even if you receive a personal meeting, remember the purpose is to gather information—do not turn this into a job interview. You are “researching opportunities” in that particular field or industry.

Once your informational interview is over, write the responses and review them as your career decisions may hinge on the impressions taken from this and other informational interviews.  Send the person a thank you note as professional etiquette dictates that you treat the informational interview with the same standards as a job interview.  Once thank you notes have been sent, contact another professional within the company or industry.  Do not stop with a single perspective—the more input from various sources, the more accurate the representation will be.

Possible informational interview questions include:

What does failure mean to you?
What qualities do you feel a successful employee should have?
How do you demonstrate your ability to be innovative?
What are some of the most effective ways to demonstrate teamwork?
What three things are most important to you in your job?
Tell me about a conflict you had with someone and how you handled it.
Tell me about a major problem you encountered and how you handled it.
What qualities do you admire in others?
Tell me about a time a supervisor or peer criticized your work, how did you handle it?

Once it’s time for a formal interview, know that in recent years the use of behavior-modeled interview questions have dominated the interview process.  No matter the industry or job position, you must prepare for this type of setting.”

Okay, enough of the books for now.  To summarize, when networking, do everything you can to make the other person talk about him/herself, the company, and the needs within the company or department.  Do not turn this informational (informal) moment into a formal meeting.  Next time you go to a social (industry) function, keep your ears open, your words to be used as a catalyst for the other person (everyone likes a good listener and at this time, the information can be most invaluable), and the atmosphere to be comfortable.  During the first encounter, do not push for an interview but a follow-up on a specific topic of discussion. 

Find contacts through associations, foot traffic, networking events, and professional peers.  It’s not the easiest thing to do but developing a rapport is the foundation you are trying to accomplish. 

Hopefully I was not too exhaustive in my response.  If you need further help or would like my guidance in any other capacity, do not hesitate to ask. 

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

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September 28, 2009

Are You Hiring?

Just recently, a friend of mine asked if I knew the best way to ask someone for an interview when they might not have been looking to hire someone?

The following is my response which I believe will be helpful to many of our readers…

Hate to tell you but there are no fail-safe ways to ask someone for an interview when they might not be looking to hire someone.  As a matter of professionalism, I do not recommend anyone asking for an interview, per se. 

Place yourself in the shoes of the recipient: would you want such unsolicited requests directed to you?  You probably would not.  But there is a way to get around the situation without sounding pushy or overly aggressive.  In this capacity, let’s change the focus around and NOT ask for an interview but request for an informational discussion.  True, pretty much the same thing but the purpose of an informational discussion is to develop networking ties AND ignite insight into a company’s philosophy and needs.  With this approach, your goal is to discover issues within the industry or company which you can resolve. 

No longer is your question considered a liability and an attack, it is considered a means to correct…whereas the value you offer can then be taken advantage of.  Your goal is to highlight the value and instant contribution you offer and, oftentimes, will lead to the creation of a position or contact to fellow peers who would benefit from your expertise. 

I’ve written a good number of books dealing with career management and discuss informational interviews (heck, if you know any colleges needing a great career management portfolio textbook and/or instructor resource guide, let me know and if you know the career director, even better!).  Anyway, I am going to highlight one of the pages and use the copy to help guide your question regarding informational interviews:

…. You might be asking, “What exactly are informational interviews?” And you might also be thinking, just from the sound of it, that informational interviews are going to take way, way too much time to research and conduct. 

It’s certainly true that informational interviews will take time and work.  Be assured, informational interviews reap benefits relative to the cost, stress, and, yes, even time, which are all important concerns and issues in any job search campaign.  Truth be known, informational interviews offer benefits at a low cost and could be the most efficient way to locate and secure a career.

For example, informational interviews will:

         Help you learn about careers within the industry
         Can be used to gauge company culture and if you fit in
         Help develop life-long networks
         Give insight into the non-advertised job market
         Give insight for scheduled interviews
         Develop rapport and referrals

Overall, informational interviews give you a leg up against other candidates AND can be used as an indicator when evaluating career matches.  For the record, informational requests are not to be used as a mechanism to ask for a job or a formal interview. This is not the time or the place to be an aggressive job seeker. If you think about it, that takes pressure off you and the person you interview, so now you can do some serious learning.  You know about the benefits, let’s look at your next step.

We’ll go over the final part of this question tomorrow as we delve into possible informational interview questions.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

September 25, 2009

A college degree will only get you part of the way

Submitted by Maya Lazarovitz

September 25Congratulations, you’ve graduated college! And with some stroke of luck and a lot of skill, you’ve managed to convince someone to hire you, no small feat in these most trying of economic times. So now what, you ask? As a wise man (my dad) once said, it’s not enough to get a job: you have to keep it. So how do you hold on to that precious profession?

Simple: by acting like a mature professional with a mature, professional work ethic. If you were a good student, this part should be easy. All you have to do is apply the same skills you used to ace your classes to ace the real world: showing respect and consideration for your professors and peers; working hard to get good grades by studying, doing your homework and making school a top priority; being at school on time, attending all your classes and being understanding of other people’s beliefs and cultures. But what if you weren’t exactly a model student? Well, buckle up my friend, and get ready for a bumpy ride. You’ve got a steep learning curve ahead.

For you see, while your college professors might have cut you some slack when you were late to school or skipped entirely, your new employer isn’t going to be quite so understanding. Your teachers might have bought your half-baked excuses of the dog eating your homework because they had to: they’re educators, which means they’re used to being endlessly patient with immature children. But in the adult world, an employer who is paying good money for your services is going to expect an employee who, well, acts like an adult. That means someone who shows up on time, ready to work, minus a hangover from one too many brewskis. And employers don’t want workers rushing in right at 9 or whatever time they need to be at the office, then heading to the kitchen for a breakfast bagel, or the bathroom for an eyeliner application. The employer wants you at your desk, ready to go. Which means you’ll have to apply a little time management and well, grow up. Save the partying for the weekend and go to bed with time to spare, so you’ll get that 6-8 hours of sleep you need to function, and so you’ll have plenty of time in the AM to do whatever you need to be prepared for the workday ahead. But whatever you do, do it on your own time, not the employer’s.

This brings me to my next point: respect. Showing up on time and prepared to work shows the employer that you respect him or her, because you respect his or her time. What are some other ways to show respect?

  • Work hard. Don’t spend your time at work chatting or surfing the Internet. Do your job.
  • Keep your lunch breaks within the time allotted to you. In other words, don’t take an hour when all you get is 30 minutes.
  • Don’t take too much time off from work, at least not initially: you want to make a good impression, one that says you want to be there. Yes, sometimes things happen: doctors’ appointments, emergencies, family reunions, etc. And if you get vacation days, it’s OK to take them. Just make sure your boss knows ahead of time, and make sure you show the proper courtesy and respect in asking for time away. Also, accept it if your request gets declined. It’ll go a long way to building good repoire in the future, so that you’ll eventually be able to take that vacation when you want it, with the sound knowledge that your boss thinks you’re dependable. 
  • Dress according to what company culture dictates. While some offices may prefer to keep it casual, your office might have a no jeans and T-shirt policy. If you have any doubts about how to dress, just look around you, and your questions will be answered. Or if you really want clarification, ask a trusted co-worker or supervisor about the office dress code policy. But whatever it is, follow it, along with other rules of office conduct. You don’t want to upset the wrong person and ruin what could have otherwise been a great career.

And while we’re on the subject of conduct, make sure yours is exceptional. How? For starters, by being positive; coming in to work with a smile and a can-do attitude. Yes, it’s a bit Pollyanna. But the fact remains that while you might not love every task you have to accomplish, your boss is paying you to do these things, and he or she doesn’t want to hear any complaints. So whatever you’re asked to do, as long as it’s not illegal or immoral, do it, whether you like it or not. Just think of it as a learning experience.

Building good relationships in the working world is important, because you never know who you might meet again, and you don’t want to burn any bridges toward future success by pissing off the wrong person. So cultivate good working relationships with your co-workers and supervisors by being respectfully tolerant of their attitudes, ideas, beliefs and cultures. In the working world, you’ll meet a lot of people, some with a background similar to your own, and others who see the world a different way. Sure, you’re not going to love all of them, but you can at least be civil and work together by respecting other people’s rights to think and feel as they choose, and to express those feelings in a constructive, professional way. The same goes for you: be respectful of other people by keeping negative opinions and gossip to yourself. If you do feel a need to vent, do it to someone outside the office. In the working world, you can never be too careful. Wicked words get around in ways that will make you wish you’d never said them. The old adage you heard as child also holds true in the workplace: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.

The bottom line is just because you nailed the interview doesn’t mean you have the job, even after you get an offer and start your first day. There’s a reason the first 90 days of any position are probationary: that time serves as an ongoing interview, a chance for the employer to really see what you’re like on the job. First impressions count a lot, especially in the working world: the first 90 days in a job could set the tone for how the rest of your time with a company, or even the rest of your career, goes. So make sure you start off right.

Thank you Maya  for your insight and no doubt many of our followers will benefit from your comments.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
Education Career Services: www.educationcs.com
Career Services International: www.careersi.com

September 23, 2009

Young Jobseekers: How to Gain Credibility and Guard Against Age Discrimination

By Bret Hoveskeland

September 23If you happen to be a youthful current jobseeker, which of the two categories represent you the best:

1) the fresh-faced, young adult in college or recent graduate with a sparse resume?
2) the 31-year-old, fresh-faced, but not-so-recent college graduate hunting for a career job? 

How do you go about convincing potential employers when meeting for the first time that, despite your youthful appearance, you are still the right candidate for the job?  Here are a few guidelines this young writer found useful on combating similar employment situations:

Dress to Thrill

That is, to thrill them conservatively, not as some modern fashion victim or poster child for what not to wear at a job interview.  Dressing the part when meeting prospective employers is always the first rule-of-thumb to abide by, not only for making a great first impression, but also for getting any hiring manager to think you show serious interest in the position or company in question.  If a manager has one open position closely narrowed down to two final candidates, the choice may very well hinge on which one has a more professional, presentable appearance…. Appearance matters.  In addition, looking your most professional adds a perception of experience to those with a strikingly youthful look.

Regularly List Numbers and Figures for a Professional Background

When applicable, include the total number of years experience in a given field on the resume.  Whether the jobseeker is a recent college graduate with limited work experience or a workplace vet sporting the baby-faced look, giving employers solid numbers gives them a far greater idea of one’s special skills, as well as more confidence in what a candidate can do for the respective company.  Vague, generalized skill statements do not provide employers with proof of what the jobseeker is capable of doing.  On the other hand, if a candidate has accumulated years of experience in, for example, customer service positions, it can make that candidate look more wise in their years to list the number of total years experience on a resume, regardless of it being divided between different fields, such as retail, sales, or even an office environment.

Showcase Special Collegiate Skills and Experience

For jobseekers who may have not gained much work experience during their college careers, do not hesitate to include any significant college experiences that have aided in marketing one’s employable skills.  Internships, externships, student organizations, or specialty clubs that build skills in one’s major interest of study further enhance the new jobseeker’s resume and add to the experience he or she can list on a resume.  It also helps show that the candidate was proactive in developing their skills outside of the classroom, even if not in the current job market.

Use Caution Involving Social Networks

One word of warning more prevalent to modern young jobseekers, is to exercise caution when using or becoming a member of popular social networking websites, such as Facebook, MySpace, etc.  Not only does social networking usage tend to be higher with younger jobseekers, but in our American culture, we are hearing more cases of these sites causing problems for students and job candidates alike.  If a potential employer happens to come across a candidate’s profile on such a site and see information that may appear less than appealing or in poor taste, it can very well result in the jobseeker compromising their sought-after position with a prospective company.

In addition to these interview guidelines, it might not hurt to remember the appropriate song titles to various 70s tunes by such bands as Bad Company and Foghat.  And remember that BTO stands for Bachman-Turner Overdrive.  Knowing such facts can certainly help show your potential employers that your fresh-out-of-high-school looks might not be just what they seem.

Thank you Bret for your insight and no doubt many of our followers will benefit from your comments.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
Education Career Services: www.educationcs.com
Career Services International: www.careersi.com

September 21, 2009

Apply Within: Proceed with Caution

By: Debbie Cruz

September 21Congratulations! You finally proved your dear Aunt Hilda wrong. You’ve achieved graduate status and are now ready to take on the world with diploma in hand and a dream yet to conquer. But alas, nothing in this world is really free, and you think what can be worse than having to spend the rest of your life paying back that Student Loan? Hmm…well, let me see…try having to spend the rest of your life trying aimlessly to clean up your credit history thanks to some dude in Columbus, Ohio who’s stolen your identity compliments of the World Wide Web. Yeah, that’s right, you’ve just handed your vital statistics and life history along with your credit card, address, email and phone number to a scam artist claiming to be an employment recruiter on Craigslist.com.

It’s a scam that’s becoming ever more popular and one that anyone can fall victim to, especially those of us whom are fresh out of college and looking for that first foot in the door opportunity. Remember how mom told you to be careful to never talk to strangers? Well, perhaps she had a point. There’s nothing wrong with being too careful, especially when it comes to sending your resume and credit card information via the internet. As smart as you may be, there’s someone out there who’s using their intelligence to victimize innocent job seekers whom are eager to hand over their information on a silver platter.

So, you may be thinking…how can it happen to me? They can’t do much with my information right? Wrong! Try checking your bank statement to find that instead of having $100 in your checking account, you now have $50 and a weird transaction description from a webaccess.com you have no idea about. How does it happen? Websites such as Craigslist are home to dozens of scam artists who are posting fake job descriptions in the jobs section of the site. While these postings look real and seem to list a plethora of requirements, job descriptions, and pay information, there are some red flags you should be aware of.

Be wary of all job listings on sites like Craigslist which list in the salary description a skeptical range for example of: 30K – 75K for an entry level Admin Assistant. Nobody I know gives such a salary range to start. Hint number two: real companies or employers usually list the name of the company they are from and some will provide a company email address or phone number. When in doubt, send a reply email but be brief. Just let the supposed employer know you’re interested in knowing more about the position. If it’s legit, they’ll email you back with more details. If you get an email requesting that you must log onto another website to provide your personal information along with social security number or credit card information, STOP…don’t proceed.

Websites such as Careerbuilder, Monster and Hotjobs you’ll also need to be careful with, but do list legitimate job opportunities most of the time. Do your research first before applying for a job. Do a little Google search and make sure the contact person and company don’t have any previous illicit activity to hide. Go in person to a company you’re interested in and inquire if they have applications you can fill out in person. Speak with an employment recruiter for agencies such as Kelly Services and Adecco which can sit down with you and explore several career options and do the dirty work for you. You’ve just spent 4 years in College, that’s hard enough…don’t make the simple mistake of handing your life over to a crook. Now relax and enjoy your diploma and best of luck on your job search.

Thank you Debbie for your insight and no doubt many of our followers will benefit from your comments.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
Education Career Services: www.educationcs.com
Career Services International: www.careersi.com

September 18, 2009

Straight Talk About Your Upcoming Interview

by Francine Asuncion

September 18You finally got the call and they want you to come in for an interview.  Before you hang up, you’ll be sure to get all the basic information such as the date, time, and location of the interview.  There are, however, a couple of other questions to ask that might not be so obvious.  Specifically, who will be interviewing you? Will it be an HR representative, the hiring manager, or a cross functional panel of people?  Knowing this might give you a clue about the type of interview to expect and the questions you’ll want to have ready. Something else you’ll want to find out is how much time will be required for the interview.  Some interviews can be squeezed into a lunch break.  Others take days to carry out because they involve being flown halfway across the country.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s say you have an interview here in town with the hiring manager of a nationally known company.  Here are the steps you should take to prepare.

(1)  Research the company.  Between library resources, internet, magazines, and news reports, most large companies have a plethora of information accessible for a hopeful candidate.  If the company is small, check local resources such as the newspaper, the Better Business Bureau, and regional magazines.

(2)  Research the industry.  This may not seem like an especially good use of your time, but this step can prove to be valuable.  Look for information like the top competitors in the market, the general health of the industry, major changes or innovations that have affected business, etc.  Your probing may spark some intelligent questions that you can ask the interviewer.

(3)  Know how your skills and experience compare to the job requirements.  Think about how your particular strengths could be used in that role.  What are some areas of your professional training or knowledge that you’ve not yet mastered?  How will you deal with those shortcomings in the context of your new job?

(4)  Write a list of questions to ask your interviewer.  Once you’ve completed the first three steps, this part should be easy.

(5)  Study or practice.  You know the job for which you’re applying.  Might you be given a typing test, a help desk ticket, a sight-reading piece, a complex math algorithm?  Be ready to show what you can do by brushing up on your skills, reviewing materials, or practicing at home.

(6)  Have someone drill you with questions.  There’s nothing like one-on-one interaction to take your preparation to the next level.  The person you’re working with might be able to provide constructive criticism.

(7)  Last, here are the kind of old-fashioned, common sense things my grandmother would tell you to do a day or so ahead of time.

*  Confirm the location of your interview by using an internet mapping tool or driving to the site.
*  Select and prepare your outfit.
*  Forget the keg party and get some good rest.

Being properly prepared will boost your confidence and show that you’re serious about the job and your career.

Thank you Francine for your insight and no doubt many of our followers will benefit from your comments
.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
Education Career Services: www.educationcs.com
Career Services International: www.careersi.com

September 16, 2009

Initial Interview 101… an interviewee’s helpful advice

The following was submitted by Caroline and I would now like to share with you.

September 16Your resumes have gone out, the phone calls have come in and finally… you’re gearing up for your first interview.  Now’s the time for you to bring your qualifications to life and put a smiling, eager, confident face to the name you so proudly displayed in the header of your cover letter.

You might be thinking as long as you look ironed, cleaned and well-kempt, the interview will be cake. Think again, my friend!

First interviews are critical for establishing the possibility of your future with the company in question. As such, they should be taken seriously and prepared for intentionally.  Interview 101 boils down to common sense: be on time. It’s hard to stress the importance of this cardinal rule; but equally difficult to emphasize the damage that an oversight in this arena can create. Timeliness is not only an indication of your level of responsibility and capacity to meet deadlines; it is also a sign of respect. The interviewer has a schedule to keep. You are but a single part in his or her very full day. Do what you can to show them that you realize the demands they are under and that, starting now, you can be a positive part of helping them meet every one of them.

Timeliness is important, but just step one in this initial interview phase. You should take this opportunity to showcase that you not only know your own talents, skills and experience, but you are well aware of the company’s accomplishments, goals, and trends. Research the history of the company; brush up on any recent developments or additions and make yourself aware of the company’s overall philosophy. By doing so, you will be better prepared to link your own aspirations and qualifications to the needs of the open position. Be specific! Know enough to be able to converse beyond generalities.

Part two of your research should include preparing questions to ask the interviewer. It’s sadly unimpressive when it comes to the time for your own questions and you have none. Think through the position—what do you want or need to know in order to perform the proposed responsibilities? What are the expectations from your potential superiors? What are the possibilities for development and growth?

Remember—these questions aren’t just for show or to impress. This interview is as much about you getting to know the company as it is a chance for them to size you up. Regardless of the salary, benefits or other perks that this job may bring your way, if you walk into a situation blindly or without fully understanding the role you will play or the environment you will be in, chances are, the working relationship may be short-lived or, at best, frustrating and unsatisfying (And you didn’t just get through all those eight-o-clock classes to be frustrated and unsatisfied!).

Finally, when you are preparing for your initial interview, remember to dress and present yourself in a way that is impressive, complimentary to the company’s culture, but also representative of who you are. Your professional ventures should not be a masquerade. You need to be honest about where you come from, your past experiences and your personality. Too much of your life is spent in the work place to make it an arena for a façade.

In short, heed the clock, know what you’re walking into, prepare questions that will help you evaluate the fit and be yourself. Of course, the most polished, professional version of yourself… but yourself nonetheless. Interviews are a two-way street. Do your part to contribute to the process honestly and thoroughly. And then, engage in the process. Remember… regardless of the outcome, no interview is a wasted opportunity. You will always learn more about yourself, how you relate to others and your personal and professional goals.

So congratulations on the call-back… and get to work! This is just the beginning!

Again, thank you Caroline for your insight and no doubt many of our followers will benefit from your comments.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
Education Career Services: www.educationcs.com
Career Services International: www.careersi.com

September 15, 2009

Job Interview…an interviewee’s reply

The following was submitted by Barbara and I would now like to share with you.

September 15As someone who has interviewed prospective employees, I’d like to add a couple of thoughts to “Job Interview – An Employer’s Experience”.

I agree with your recommendations that an interviewee be on time, be as prepared as possible, dress appropriately, and follow up with a note.  These are basic courtesies.

However, though I know prospective hires tend to blur after you’ve interviewed quite a few, I’m not entirely sure that encouraging a candidate to reiterate his or her strengths in a follow-up note is the best advice.  I’d even go so far as to say it’s not his or her responsibility.  In my experience, self-promotion in a follow-up note can come across as pushy and perhaps even transparent.

I submit that it is the interviewer’s task not only to probe a prospective employee’s strengths during an interview but also to jot down notes afterwards, to help you remember what distinguishes one candidate from another, to help trigger your recollection of something unique about the person.  That might be something as simple as a passing remark or an observation while you were chatting informally, or as focused as a “war story” told to illustrate a point.  It could be something as unconscious (but important) as body language.

That said, on to some things for the candidate to keep in mind.

Remember that the person interviewing you is trying to gather information that will help him or her make a decision, to determine things that may not be apparent on your resume:  Are you articulate?  What is your professional style?  Are you supportive and tactful or driven and confrontational?  Are you naturally energetic and enthusiastic or ho-hum?  These traits can be just as important as your past work history.

It’s also important to remember that an interview is a two-way street, a reciprocal process.  That is, besides enabling the interviewer to learn more about you, there are also some things you should know when you leave the building.

You might ask for information about the company and its direction, beyond what your job would entail (if you’re hired).  What does the company consider its core strength or business and who are the primary target audiences or clients or customers?  You can hardly know whether or not you’d like to be a part of an organization – particularly a small one, not quite yet in the Fortune 100 – unless you know more about it than what appears in an ad or even what you read on a website.

There’s nothing wrong with asking a question or two about what led your interviewer to join (or form) the company.  This isn’t to pry into a life history; it’s to gain an appreciation for what makes the company special for him or her. These things could be tangibles or intangibles.  Are they the same things you want for yourself in your new business environment?

Don’t be embarrassed to say “I don’t know” if you’re asked something you can’t answer.  Don’t try to bluff.  Similarly, if you’re asked about a certain skill and you’ve never had experience with it but believe that, with some coaching, you could master it, say so.  Don’t despair over what may at first blush look like the kiss of death. 

In short, be authentic and real.

These thoughts may be self-evident.  But in case they’re not, and particularly if you have most if not all of the necessary qualifications for the job but are new to the interview process, take a deep breath and relax.  The person sitting across from you probably wants you to be just what he or she has been looking for, so the search won’t go on for weeks or months.  Instead of worrying about how you’re doing, trust in yourself and what you have to offer.  This, you’ll find, will take you a long way towards completing a mutually rewarding interview.

Again, thank you Barbara for your insight and no doubt many of our followers will benefit from your comments.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
dhuffman@careersi.com
Education Career Services: www.educationcs.com
Career Services International: www.careersi.com

September 14, 2009

Job Interview…an employer’s experience (day one)

Recognizing what an employer goes through when searching for qualified candidates places the job seeker in a distinct advantage.  With this in mind, spend a few minutes to get inside the mind of an employer.

September 14The final days of reviewing job applications and responses to my job posting has come and gone.  I have been swamped with great applicants throughout a five day period…can you believe the responses.  As a result, keep active in your job seeking and do not hesitate or delay action.  There are too many qualified candidates waiting for their chance.

With this in mind and a handful of very qualified candidates, it’s on to the next phase of the process.  In so many ways, this is the least enjoyable (at least from my perspective) phase to endure.  Holding initial job interviews can be taxing not only by the amount of time required, but by the opportunity cost of not being able to perform my daily functions.  Thus, keep in mind the importance of being at an interview a good ten to five minutes early.  Need I mention the effect of being late?

Interviewing began last Friday and I met three very wonderful and unique individuals.  It’s truly hard to imagine the process without sitting across the table (that of the one actually interviewing).  This is your opportunity to allow the interviewer quality time to get to know you, your contributions, and your goals…don’t blow it by being late or unprepared.  As an employer, what do I look for in a candidate?  So glad you asked.

As mentioned a few lines ago, I am looking for individuals who are prepared and ready from minute-one.  If an applicant is new to the city or is worried about traffic and as a result being late; do your homework, make a trip to the office/location the day before, estimate and give yourself plenty of time to make it on time.  I have this strong belief that a person’s character and ethic is confirmed not by what is said, but by what is done.  No doubt about it, during interviews, actions definitely say more than words.  For the individual who is going to be late, you must call and let the interviewer know. 

Many applicants may not belief this, especially students new to the workforce, but the interviewer will be interviewing more than one person and he or she designates a certain amount of time to conduct the interview.  For the late arrivers, know the interviewer will now be crunched for time and this will upset the remainder of the day.  For example, I planned on interviewing a new candidate every 1 and ½ hour for the next three or four days.  If an applicant is late, that disallows me to adequately interview or prepare for the next scheduled interviewee. 

On a side note, understand that by the end of the day many of the applicants blend into faceless pieces of paper.  In other words, I often do not recall all the wonderful values an applicant will bring to the company.  As a result, I encourage each interviewer to send a hard copy follow-up letter immediately after the formal interview.  At this time, don’t simply state how meeting was wonderful and I am more eager than ever to become part of the company…blah, blah, blah.  Take this opportunity to express the true value and contributions you will bring (and base the follow-up letter on what was mentioned during the interview—by using those cues, you are letting the possible employer you listened to the needs and are offering solutions).  No doubt it does not warrant a side note but will do one anyway:

No grammar issues or misspelled words on your resume or follow up letter!

Enough for now, tomorrow we will go over more interviewing tips and what employers are seeking during the initial stage.  Before we go, I encourage each one of you to share an interviewing experience and perhaps our blog audience can benefit from your knowledge.

I will keep you up to date as this saga continues…

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
dhuffman@careersi.com
Education Career Services: www.educationcs.com
Career Services International: www.careersi.com

September 11, 2009

Job Postings…an employer’s dilemma / Day 2

Recognizing what an employer goes through when searching for qualified candidates places the job seeker in a distinct advantage.  With this in mind, spend a few minutes to get inside the mind of an employer

September 11Yesterday was a day of mixed results, and I remain unsure as to the path to find qualified individuals who are seeking more than a temporary job.  As discussed previously, I was leaning to creating a post in the local newspaper…

I wanted to place an advertisement for no more than two weeks, specifically for Sunday.  But first, a quick slice of a background.  Our Sunday classified occupies (at most lately) two full pages and is getting thinner by the week (almost to the point of being comical—in a very sad way).  When my bookkeeper informed me of the cost, I no longer wondered why two pages seem to be the maximum.  You guessed it!  The cost of a posting in this section was way out of my expectations.  True enough, prices have gone up since the last time I placed an order but placing a tag over $1,000 is a bit wasteful (to me).  Without further encouragement, the Orlando Sentinel lost me as a potential customer (at least for now).

With the newspaper no longer in the picture, I had Tania check out the prices for an Internet job posting site—at this point and to be politically correct, all I can say is OUCH.  Without doubt, no wonder the unadvertised job market attracts most job positions…the lesson to learn for job seekers at this point is the potential power of networking, door-to-door knocking, and contacting companies directly (even if there are no job postings listed).  Perhaps less said is the path I shall take and will go on to my next step.

What’s my next step?  You guessed it, I went on LinkedIn and am contacting my network of “friends” in hopes they will lend a helping hand.  Thus far, I have received several good prospects.  But I did not stop at LinkedIn, I went to several other sites, artists-saure.com (this is a new site developed for artists and writers—a nice place to check out), and also contacted the Workforce office.  Another avenue (suggested by a fellow resume writer) was to post an ad on Craigs List.  Being new to this, I submitted with a bit of reserve.  Needless to say, this free site has produced a good number of potential candidates. 

I plan on using my network of friends and free sites for another week and will let you know how it goes Monday. 

In the interim, for student or person seeking a job change or are in a career transition, do not simply rely on the advertised market.  Make contacts by going to your career services department and other job assistance programs. 

Think of it this way, if you were an employer on a limited budget, how would you attract qualified candidates?  Do yourself and your potential employer a favor, take an initiative and take the first step.  Send introductory letters and follow up on regular intervals.  Employers want good candidates but do not want the expense in finding them.  If you can take the expense out of the element, you are head and shoulders above the competition.

Gotta go for now as several more resumes from free and networking sources are pouring in.

I will keep you up to date as this saga continues…

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
dhuffman@careersi.com
Education Career Services: www.educationcs.com
Career Services International: www.careersi.com

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