Preparing For The Interview

During my early days of job searching, I would send out or drop off my resume and wait for someone to call me to interview.  I never prepared for an interview. I have no idea what those interviews were like or why I was selected, especially when I had little or no experience in the fields I chose.

Today is a brand new day. Preparation is on the upswing of interviewing.  I have listed six suggestions which won’t guarantee you the job but can put you ahead of the talent once you have been invited to interview.

1. Research the company.  Today, most companies have a company website on the internet with information about their organization (i.e. company history,  products or services which the company provides, etc.). A brief review of the company is all that is needed.  Know what the company sells. If there is more than one location know how many and if possible know where some of them are.   The more you can remember the better but there is no need for an extensive search.  Something to say you were interested enough to learn about the organization.

2. Join an association in your field.  You can’t go wrong by joining an association in the field which you are in.  Check out their forum.  It can be a wealth of recent information about the industry.  This can help you to be more comfortable talking about the industry and showing your industry knowledge. For example, I recently went on an interview. I just happened to join one of the largest industry associations and attended a meeting of legal updates not knowing that I would be asked about the updates. In the interview, I was asked about a couple of specific updates.  I am sure, by the look on the managers’ face, she was very surprised that I knew about the updates and had some input.  This had never happened to me in an interview.

3. Study interview questions.  I cannot impress upon you how helpful this will be.  There are interview questions and answers (or how best to answer a question) on the internet that touches upon all kinds of industries.  Some questions are generic regardless of the industry  Be and you will still need to have a good response to those questions as well.  All I can say is practice your responses so you know your answers, and so they will flow naturally.

4. Always check Linkedin to check out the profiles of those who will be interviewing you.  More people have profiles on Linkedin.  If the profile does not exist dig a little to see if there is anything you can find on the net about the person(s) or ask people in your network if there is anyone who can give you a little information about the person(s) who will be interviewing you.

5. Be Genuine and personable. Your first contact in an organization is generally the receptionist.  Believe me, regardless of what your impression of the receptionist is, you want to become her/his friend by becoming personable without overdoing it.  This person may have more input in the selection.  You do not want to cross him or her. Since I believe in being kind to all that I meet, interviewing is no different. I know this from experience. If the decision is tough and the hiring manager solicits the input of the receptionist it will make a difference.

6. Remain calm, and be confident, not arrogant.  This is the time to shine and be confident in your knowledge and expertise, your skills, and why you are no longer in the organization or is leaving the company.  Telling your potential employer that you are desperate or really need this job is not a good idea.

 

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Work-Life Balance v Work-Life Blend

I read an article which said Life Balance is out Life Blend is in. I say “Right”. There seems to be a big push for the work-life blend (it used to be work-life balance but that was not working).  When one thing doesn’t work we tend to want to rename it and hope no one notices.  And so it is with the work-life blend.

Work life blend is a fancy way for employers to make people feel they can accomplish seeing an end to the insurmountable stack of work that has been thrust upon them.

You wake up and rush to get dressed so you can rush out of the house, barely with something edible for breakfast. You dash over to Starbucks to stand in line for a cup of coffee or tea…maybe?. Then you jump in your car make a mad dash for the office and find you are held up in traffic. And although it’s illegal to use your cell phone while in the process of driving, you decide that while waiting for this traffic to move over for you and get out of YOUR way, you will “just” answer a few quick emails, which is never quick.  So, you end up having a full on dialogue about your simple email. Nothing accomplished there. The stress begins to build up and you sit nervously in your car fidgeting, waiting for this traffic light to change so traffic can start to move again because they need to understand that you need to get to work! Already your life feels out of control but you continue to push forward.

Finally, you arrive in the parking lot at work with a million things to do going through your mind. And that’s not what’s been written in your planner.  Oh, the planner…you mean the one that you use when you are more overwhelmed than now?

So you rush to get into the office and to your desk so you can start your day that really started before you left the day before. It’s a continuous cycle. Almost like the superhighway. You are pulled in what seems like a thousand directions that you do not make time to check in with your family. Eight to 12 hour days in an office is a long time to be away from your support system (no not the one at work they support you working until they bleed you dry…until you develop a tick and become catatonic).  And why are you allowing the boss to decide the best plan of action for your Work-Life Blend? After all, if you crash that support system, the one which is your biggest cheerleader, your biggest fan, is the one who will be standing by waiting to put you back together.

In the equation Work-Life Balance/Work-Life Blend, I only see work. I see no life and that blend? That’s the work taking over your life only to be disguised as Work-Life Blend. While families and friends are put on hold you are still trying to figure out your Work-Life Blend with the promise that things will get better and then you will spend some time.  All the while the clock is ticking your life balance/life blend away.

Five Mistakes Job Seekers Make

  1. Sending in an Incomplete application and unclear resume

Many recruiters will do a quick run through of your resume and application.  If they see something that interests them they will look in more detail.  An incomplete resume and/or application will not get the same attention of the recruiter that other clear and well put together applications and/or resumes will get and deserve.

Recruiters do not want to figure out the puzzle before they can move forward on your documents.  We are impatient and do not like to be held up by someone’s sloppiness.

  1. Constantly calling a company about your application status

Once a company has provided information on their hiring process don’t continue to call.  It looks bad for you.  It says you were not paying attention, don’t care about the process and are desperate to get a job and no one will hire you under those circumstances. It also says you were not listening or interested in what the recruiter explained to you about their process.

  1. Showing up at an organization with a bad attitude

Showing up in an organization with the intent of getting in front of the recruiter to give the recruiter a piece of your mind, rolling your eyes, angry and/or using your demanding voice as well as insisting that your application get the attention you think it deserves is not a win for you. You want to tread lightly, show some respect and humility. It’s amazing how far you can go by being humble and respectful.

  1. Constantly calling a company about the status of the hiring managers’ selection

Once the recruiter has communicated to you that you will hear from them one way or the other (i.e don’t call us, we’ll call you) don’t keep calling to see if a selection has been made.  Constant calling looks like you are harassing the recruiter. This is the person who communicates to all hiring managers.  You may have very well decided your own fate by harassing the recruiter.  At this point, you can’t hope to get that job.  This is a red flag as to what your behavior will be like with the organization.  Although pushy, may be ok for some roles it’s not ok in most office environments. No one wants the pushy, stalker, harassment candidate or employee.

  1. Having a closed mind to alternative job routes

Many job seekers have heard horror stories about working for staffing agencies.  My question to you is who is telling the story and what did they do to create such a bad experience?

Staffing agencies pay a price to promote you and your talents. They are also a bridge to getting your foot in the door (sometimes to the organization you insist on working for and sometimes in an area where you had no idea existed).

You want to always keep an open mind to your options.

 

Why Should Anyone Consider Staffing Agencies As Part of The Job Search

There is a flood of staffing agencies out there. They are like churches. There’s one on every corner. Not really, but it seems like it. As a recruiter who has worked with plenty of staffing agencies, I’ve been inundated with requests from staffing agencies to use their services.  It’s not a bad idea. As a matter-of-fact, it’s a great idea.

I have used staffing agencies during my own career transitions.  They have always been an extension of my job search.  So, if you are undecided about utilizing staffing agencies (or a staffing agency) you could be missing out on a golden opportunity.

What I tell job seekers, especially if they are having a difficult time landing a job (not just any job, a good job), a staffing agency is a way to go. They are the eyes and ears of hiring managers around the nation.  Sometimes they know of opportunities before they are posted.

Staffing agencies are trained to know what’s out there, who’s out there, which companies are the best and worse to work for.  As they get to know you as their candidate/associate, they have a better idea which organization you will best fit and with which manager. This is a big plus.

I have heard from people on occasions who do not want to work as a temp because “it’s not a real job”, they say.  You better believe it’s a real job. And what you do when you are working for a company on a temporary assignment can make the difference in whether you land a good job with a good solid organization or whether you shoot yourself in the foot and have to be escorted out the door because you did not take that job seriously and you acted irresponsibly. By the way, staffing agencies have zero tolerance for this type of behavior.

On the flipside?  A person who is open to working temporary assignments has a better chance and opportunity to getting hired full time once the staffing agency has placed the person with the company and the company has selected him/her as their candidate of choice.

Working for an organization as a temporary will also help with gaining knowledge and experience, and it will help you in your own decision making. You can decide to continue working for the organization if they are inviting you to, or you can decide if the organization is not for you after all. It’s an ideal way of walking away from an organization on good terms.

I will never forget my first temporary assignment. I was on assignment for two weeks when the Assistant Branch Manager of the company started asking me if I was interested in coming on full time. I was a little skeptical but decided to go with it.  Turns out, I was at that company for 10 years. It also turned out to be one of the biggest most financially sound organizations I ever worked for.

So you ask, “Why did you leave?” I had to find my passion. At the time, I did not know what that would be, and although I really enjoyed what I was doing, I knew it was not my passion and I had to grow up a little.

Although I’m not done growing, the good news is, I have found my passion, which is recruiting. Employee relations and employee engagement are added bonuses. My goal as a recruiter is to help place qualified people, who are hardworking (strong work ethic), who are honest, who are humble, who have a good sense of humor, and who have a good sense of compassion.  Working with staffing agencies only enhance my efforts. They look for the same qualities in their candidates/associates.

As an extension to your job search, staffing agencies are there to coach you and support you in your job search by helping you hone your interviewing skills, as well as helping you to know how to highlight your skills for a better opportunity to be in front of an employer.

Keep in mind, once you, the candidate reach out to the staffing agency, it’s not a ticket to sit back and expect them to do all the work.  They are there to help you find a place that you will be happy to work at.  But you must do your part by being open to what makes sense for you and continue to be active in your search. Until you have landed your job, it’s imperative that you stay in contact with the staffing agency.

Another thing to keep in mind, staffing agencies have your best interest in mind.  It’s also in their best interest to find something for you and share that information when it comes along. If there is nothing which you qualify for, they are not going to be dishonest and tell you they have something.  They will refer you out to another agency that fits your experience. Don’t get angry with them, you will have to be patient with them as well as yourself.

 

Ask The Expert

Once you have your resume ready you may begin to apply for jobs which you qualify for. Some companies will ask for a cover letter and others may not care. Best practice is to send a cover letter with your resume. On your application, you should “always” be honest. If you don’t want to say why you were terminated from a job you can say “will explain”. Some companies will fire you on the spot if they have hired you and discover you lied on your application. Your application should be legible to read and understand. Chronological order is best in descending order (starting with the most recent employer/previous employer).

The interview process: Upon receiving a call for an interview please don’t try to work their schedule around yours by saying something like “I work until five Monday through Friday. Can you interview me after that time?” This sends the message that your time is more valuable than the company and you expect that they work around you. It most likely ain’t gonna happen. You knew you worked those hours when you applied so either figure it out and meet the company’s interview schedule or decline and stop applying if you feel you cannot interview. Assuming you have agreed to interview always dress professionally (especially if you are a CPA, a Manager, Director, etc.). Many times support staff can get away with business attire (not necessarily professional). You should take pride in your appearance and hygiene. Be neat and clean. Do not wear perfume, or cologne some people are sensitive to fragrances and/or allergic (this is not going to work in your favor). Please do not show up for an interview smelling of cigarette or other substances. This can really put the interviewer(s) in angry/annoyed mode. If you are going to wear an ankle bracelet provided by the judicial system you might want to rethink that attire. Always be professional, and courteous. Arrogance and having a know it all attitude won’t get your foot in the door. Pay attention to the question(s) being asked and be honest with your answers (don’t give them more than they are asking for unless it will benefit you). They don’t want to hear about the drama going on in your life. Know something about the company. You don’t have to know everything but know enough so that the interviewer(s) will know you were interested enough to check them out. Please don’t beg for a job. It’s unattractive. Name dropping is just as unattractive so don’t do that either. Ladies, leave the boyfriend, husband, children at home.

Try to come up with three really good questions about the company or job to ask at the end but pay attention during the interview that they have not already answered a question you were going to ask. When you ask good questions it can only reflect you in a good light. Sometimes you may not get that job but sometimes the interviewer(s) may see you in another role that may be coming up so if they ask you to come to an interview for a different position you may want to pay attention. There’s still no guarantee but that shows you have their attention. Be more prepared if this happens.

The Application and Resume

Once you have your resume ready you may begin to apply for jobs which you qualify for. Some companies will ask for a cover letter and others may not care. The best practice is to send a cover letter with your resume.

On your application you should “always” be honest. If you don’t want to say why you were terminated from a job you can say “will explain”. Some companies will fire you on the spot if they have hired you and discover you lied on your application.

Your application should be complete, as well as legible to read and understand. Chronological order is best in descending order (starting with the most recent employer). Your application should match your resume and if you have your resume on social media your application should match that as well.

The interview process: Upon receiving a call for an interview please don’t try to work their schedule around yours by saying something like “I work until five Monday through Friday. Can you interview me after that time?” This sends the message that your time is more valuable than the company and you expect them to work around you. It most likely ain’t gonna happen. You knew you worked those hours when you applied so either figure it out and meet the company’s interview schedule or decline and stop applying if you feel you cannot interview.

Assuming you have agreed to interview always dress professionally (especially if you are a CPA, Manager, Director, etc.). Many times support staff can get away with business attire (not necessarily professional). You should take pride in your appearance and hygiene. Be neat and clean. Do not wear perfume, or cologne some people are sensitive to fragrances and/or allergic (this is not going to work in your favor).

Please do not show up for an interview smelling of cigarettes or other substances. This can really put the interviewer(s) in angry/annoyed mode. If you are going to wear an ankle bracelet provided by the judicial system you might want to rethink that attire. Always be professional, and courteous.

Arrogance and having a know it all attitude won’t get your foot in the door. Pay attention to the question(s) being asked and be honest with your answers (don’t give them more than they are asking for unless it will benefit you). They don’t want to hear about the drama going on in your personal life.

Know something about the company. You don’t have to know everything but know enough so that the interviewer(s) will know you were interested enough to check them out.

Please don’t beg for a job. It’s unattractive. Name dropping is just as unattractive so don’t do that either. Ladies, leave boyfriend, husband and children at home.

Try to come up with three really good questions about the company or job to ask at the end but pay attention during the interview that they have not already answered a question you were going to ask. When you ask good questions it can only reflect you in a good light.

Sometimes you may not get that job but sometimes the interviewer(s) may see you in another role that may be coming up so if they ask you to come and interview for a different position you may want to pay attention. There’s still no guarantee but that shows you have their attention. Be more prepared if this happens.

Following up is good so long as it is not brinking on harassment. We had someone who kept calling us to follow up on a job. The receptionist counted 19 calls in one day. One of our Chiefs had to tell her not to call him again. This did not help her at all. So if they say they will get back to you in a couple of days or a week, or whatever the time. Follow up a few days after the time they give you. If no selection for support positions have been made give them another week or so they will generally have made a selection or will be about to.

For professional levels like the CEO, directors, doctor’s, lawyers, upper management it could take longer so you will have to be patient. After your Initial call give them a few weeks before calling again. At this level second and third interviews are highly possible.

I hope this will help someone. Good luck in your job search.

The Resume

Recently someone posted this on my Facebook page:  As an HR expert, we’d love to hear your advice on interview etiquette, how to follow up after the interview and what do you look for in a resume.

I was pretty excited to answer this question so now I will post some of my answer here. I may post more a little later. I’ll start with the resume.

You have about eight to 10 seconds for a recruiter to look at your resume and make a decision as to whether she/he will pass it on to the hiring manager. Your resume should always reflect the job which you are applying for. You should meet all requirements. Have someone else look at your resume and help you with any grammatical errors and typos. I am flexible with a couple but if a resume has a lot of errors it won’t get far. There is a website: grammarly.com which you can cut and paste your information and it will check grammar and spelling for you.

You still need to have a fresh set of eyes look at your resume after that because some words are spelled differently but sound the same (remember that in school). Your resume should always be legible and easy to read (no larger than 12 and no smaller than 10 font size).

Although a lot of people seem to read the resume should be no longer than a page, don’t stress about that. If you have been in the workforce for a while it’s difficult to keep that to a page. I think trying to keep it to three pages is good if you have to. One page is generally for people just starting out. You do not have to put “references upon request”. The company will ask for references and in most cases the application will have a place for references. Only provide professional references (NOT RELATIVES AND NOT FRIENDS, unless you have worked with them, worked for them, or the company ask for them).