Corporate culture can determine whether the company is the right fit for your next career move.

Corporate Culture Fit vs. Personal Values

Corporate Culture Fit vs. Personal Values

Workplace culture is not just about one aspect of the job but also encompasses the environment, the dress, the attitude, goals, and communication of the business. This culture extends beyond the physical building of the business and reaches out to the customers as well as the employees. What if the job is great, but the culture is damaging? The dynamic cultural aspects that can form in the workplace can either be uplifting or damaging. Culture can make or break a job on a personal level. While the job might be perfect for you, you have to consider the culture of the place when making decisions.

Importance of Corporate Culture

Culture strength determines the performance of the organization. As an employee, culture can either drive you to work harder and with more confidence or not. The surrounding environment should be engaging and make you want to come to work every day. From an employer standpoint, a strong, positive culture attracts applicants that are the right fit for the environment. Clearly defined goals, policies, and strong communication all create a workplace that employees want to be involved with.

Corporate culture can determine whether the company is the right fit for your next career move.

Corporate culture can determine whether the company is the right fit for your next career move.

Aspects of Corporate Culture

In short, everything about a place creates the culture. From leadership to communication, every detail matters. If the establishment lacks leadership, has a poor management system, or workplace practices don’t match workplace policies then you might be in a damaging workplace culture situation. Consider the following:

  • Leadership reflects employee performance. The way leaders communicate and interact, what they emphasize, vision, recognition, expectations, decisions, trust, and perception amount to their ability to lead. Making the mission, values, and vision clear shows the signs of an inspiring leader.
  • Management – how the organization is managed – shows how the leadership empowers employees in their decision making and interactions. Great management is consistent. Whether the workplace is tightly managed or allows for flexibility, understanding the management team and fitting in with that structure is essential to blending with the culture.
  • Recruiting, compensation, benefits, recognition, training, etc. that contribute to workplace practices also form the culture. Employees react to proper training and recognition when appropriate to the situation and, hopefully, it is a positive reaction.
  • Established policies such as a dress code, conduct, and internal processes create boundaries and expectations for both employer and employee.
  • A diverse population of both managers and employees allows for many opportunities of communication and collaboration. The culture of the establishment should be instilled in employees as soon as they walk in the door for the first time. They should be able to recognize a well-established management system, strong leadership, and opportunities for improvement from the culture they are welcomed into.
  • The physical environment of the office sets the first impression for employees and clients. Furniture, wall decorations, allocation of space, color, and common area use all display what kind of culture has been established and how it feels.

Reflection of Corporate Culture

What culture exists in your place of work? Not every workplace will have a perfect culture – it is a fluid and evolving entity of every establishment. You need to understand that whether you have the perfect job, you may be in an environment that isn’t perfect for you. Every company tries to have a great, positive, and welcoming culture, but it isn’t always possible. There are methods of “getting things done” that don’t create a healthy culture – threats, insults, and leveraging are all unhealthy ways managers or other employees influence others to complete projects. As an individual employee, you have to determine what kind of culture is acceptable for you to complete work. Do your personal values fall in line with the culture and morals of the company?

Culture can affect you in ways you would never think about until you experience it. The perfect job doesn’t make the perfect environment and everyone reacts to every situation differently. Consider every aspect of the environment before making a commitment to a company and what it would mean to your career to stay if the environment is damaging. A positive environment could give you the opportunity to advance your career and find the position you are passionate about.

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

Informational Interview: Questions and Successful Strategies

Informational Interview: Questions and Successful Strategies

The informational interview… this may be uncharted territory for you. What is it? An informational interview is a meeting where a job seeker searches out advice on their career or the entire industry of a potential workplace; while a currently employed professional learns about the job seeker and determines their potential or fit in that workplace, and by so doing increases their candidate pool for future hires. It can be tricky to get your foot in the door and schedule an Informal Interview with a perspective employer; however it can prove to be time well spent.

Strategies for Requesting the Interview

Requesting the interview may not be as difficult as you originally thought. People generally love to talk about themselves and you need to take advantage of that. Warm them up. Be friendly and inquisitive about what skills they have and what is required to get a foot in the door. Get a conversation going with questions like, how did they get their start in this field and what is an average day like. Then move onto the reason you would like to meet with them. Using phrases such as, “would you be able to help me with this?” may prove to be powerful as most people generally do like to help one another. It is harder to tell someone that you can’t help them, right?

Informational interviews can help speed your knowledge of new industries and positions, helping you with your job search.

Informational interviews can help speed your knowledge of new industries and positions, helping you with your job search.

You should also be prepared to talk about yourself, your experience and goals right from the get go. You never know when they are going to turn the tables and start asking you questions to ensure that it is worth their time to meet with you. Go into this conversation well prepared. This is a great chance to make a positive first impression.

Worthwhile Questions for the Informational Interview

Upon arriving at your Informational Interview, don’t forget to thank the Interviewee again for their willingness to take the time to meet with you. They are doing you a favor; it’s as simple as that. Be gracious and thankful. It wouldn’t hurt to also remind them that you are hoping to gather all the information you can about this industry and career field, remember to be informal.

As the interview begins, don’t forget that time will fly, you won’t have the time to ask all the questions that you have. Try to keep the conversation focused, however, use every minute wisely. As you prepared for this interview you should have organized your questions by priority and importance. Make sure to get at least the most helpful and pressing questions answered first.

Example Informational Interview Questions:

  • How did you become interested in this line of work?
  • How did you get started?
  • What other employment or past experience proved helpful to get into your current position?
  • What are the skills you find to be the most important in this field?
  • What made you choose this particular company?
  • What is your typical day like?
  • What types of responsibilities and duties do you have?
  • What kind of problems do you deal with on a day to day basis?
  • What are the best parts?
  • What are the worst?
  • Approximately what is the range of salary for a similar position?
  • Is the work steady and consistent or does it vary from time to time?
  • What is the most satisfying part of your job? Do you find it fulfilling and challenging?
  • What types of hours or time constraints are involved?
  • What demands are placed on your time outside of the average work week?
  • Is there any flexibility with scheduling, dress, vacation times, etc.?
  • Are there opportunities for advancement and growth? What are your long term goals?
  • What types of opportunities for professional development does the company provide?
  • Does the future of the company look bright?
  • What is the atmosphere like in the company? Is it friendly or cut-throat, etc?
  • What is the average length of time that people stay with this company?
  • Are there incentives for staying long-term?
  • With the information you have about me, what other fields or positions would do you recommend I research further before making a final decision?
  • Do you have any information about possible future job openings?
  • What types of benefits are offered by your company? Is that above or below normal for this industry as far as you are aware?
  • If you could do it all over again, is this still the path that you would take? What would you change?
  • What advice would you give someone looking into this profession or field?

Wrapping Up Your Informational Interview

As you can see, the questions could go on and on. You need to keep them focused on what is important to you. What stage of life are you in? Are you a student just trying to get that first important position right out of college or are you attempting to make a career change years after entering the work force. You know what matters the most to you personally and those are the areas that you need to focus on. Don’t make the mistake of just assuming that the conversation will flow once you are there and then hoping to remember all that was discussed. Be PREPARED with your questions, take notes, and tune in. This type of opportunity doesn’t come around often, make it count. And, of course, don’t forget to follow your informational interview with a kindly worded, heartfelt thank you note!

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor
clock showing 10 o'clock

10 Things to Do on LinkedIn Right Now, All in Less than 1 Hour

Do these 10 things on LinkedIn Right Now, All in Less than 1 Hour

You’re thinking, “I definitely have an hour to spend, but I don’t know how to use LinkedIn properly.” The interface is complicated, and it’s always changing, which makes keeping up even harder. I will tell you, however, that most executive job seekers don’t know how to use LinkedIn well. Learning the best way to work with LinkedIn’s various tools and capabilities definitely will move your executive job search forward.

Learning how to use LinkedIn well can advance your job search to success.To complicate things, if you don’t keep up with all of the different functions that LinkedIn offers, you might find yourself behind your competition to connect with the right people to find the right executive role.

If you’re stressed about how use LinkedIn for your job search presence, follow these 10 simple daily strategies to target your talents and expertise to your executive ideal job search goal.

  1. Connect with someone you don’t know personally on LinkedIn, and customize your connection request so they understand exactly why you’ve reached out to them.
  2. Write a LinkedIn recommendation for someone else.
  3. Call up a LinkedIn connection with whom you have not spoken in at least 6 months.
  4. Look on LinkedIn’s job board for interesting positions open right now.
  5. Review several colleagues’ profiles to see what they have been up to.
  6. Join a LinkedIn group and post one question—or comment on someone else’s question.
  7. Take those business cards you collected from your last networking event and connect with each of them on LinkedIn.
  8. Write a long-form blog post and publish it on LinkedIn.
  9. Look at a LinkedIn company page to see when their next industry event or webinar will be held, then make time to participate.
  10. Read an article in a publication related to your industry or job function. Then update your LinkedIn status with a link to it and a question or insight about it to your connections.

Can you do all of these in less than 60 minutes? Time yourself—you’ll be surprised at how fast you can complete these 10 tips. Know how to use LinkedIn well with these 10 tips, and you’ll master your executive job search.

Updated January 2017

Video: The Difference between Bragging and Leveling in Your Executive Job Search

Video: The Difference between Bragging and Leveling in Your Executive Job Search

Amy L. Adler describes how humble people level and braggarts brag. Learn how to use leveling in your job search.

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Click the image to download the video!

 

Video file: 1 minute 41 seconds, 62.2mb

How Do You Know It’s Time to Leave Your Job?

How Do You Know It’s Time to Leave Your Job? When Should You Stay?

The majority of us spend more valuable waking hours at work than anywhere else. However, we have all had those times during work when we start to wonder if we are pursuing the correct path. But, if those weeks of doubt turn into months with no light at the end of the tunnel, it may be time to start to think reasons to leave your job for a better one.

Now, we all know that to leave your job is easier said than done! Change it scary! Even if your current employment is less than desirable at least it is comfortable and you know what to expect, right? No! Not good enough! Occasional dissatisfaction is one thing, but months of unhappiness in the work place are another. How do you know when it is time to get out? When do we dare to take that leap? How do you leave your job gracefully?

Here are several points to ponder:

  1. You dread going to work…EVERY DAY.

Sunday night… or Monday Eve as we have all called it. How do you feel about the upcoming week? Prior to making such a life changing decision, it is imperative to tune into your feelings and determine how you are truly feeling and why? While it is normal to have a sense of apprehension about a new week getting under way and handling all that is expected of us, we should not have a horrific sense of dread. We know the difference. Think about it.

  1. You suffer from boredom and monotony.

Routine can be a great thing; in fact, most of us thrive on it. However, if “routine” becomes “boredom”, there is a problem and chances are it is not going to get better. We like to feel safe and know what to plan on… to a point. We also need some spontaneity and excitement in our daily lives. Finding that balance in the workplace is not an easy task. If you find yourself not doing anything more productive than watching the minutes of your life tick by on a slow moving clock, than it may be time for a change. We all have to decide what quality of life we want to have. Where is your passion for the work? Don’t we all deserve some happiness, not just a paycheck?

Image courtesy of aechan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of aechan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  1. Your personal life is suffering.

Work can be a great place to meet people with similar interests, make friends and expand your social circle. While your number of work relationships is not important to everyone, the quality of the relationships that can be found on the job should be. Let’s face it; we spend a lot of time with these people. If you have nothing in common with any of your fellow employees and would turn down the wrong isle in the grocery store just to avoid any one of them, you are missing out on an opportunity to enjoy work more fully, by enjoying the people around you!

  1. There’s no room for advancement and you don’t want your boss’s job.

If you have been in the same position for a significant amount of time and there is no talk of advancement, raises, promotions, or even learning opportunities, you may truly be in a dead-end job. If you don’t feel challenged and think that you have learned all there is to learn about your position, it may be time to make a move in a more positive direction.

Comfort doesn’t equal happiness, not for the majority of us. Make sure that you are not confusing the two. Every job should increase your skills and add to your value. You should be able to see the path and know that there is a road ahead that will secure a meaningful future. Don’t simply get stuck.

  1. Your company is shrinking.

Have you seen others with their head on the chopping block only to think, “thank goodness it’s not me?” Well, if there is a lot of downsizing going on, don’t get over-confident in thinking that it could never happen to you, because it could. If your company seems to be heading in a bad direction and you are not seeing future plans and growth, you need to be weighing your options and looking elsewhere. Don’t be caught waiting around for the ax to fall.

  1. You want to leave your job because you have a direction in mind.

Now, if you are reading this article and feeling inspired, don’t get ahead of yourself and empty your desk today! Know the risks. Make a plan. Bring your resume and your network current. Have jobs leads, renew contacts and business relationships. Invest in your own professional development. Changing is a process and it takes planning to handle it properly. Be sure to talk to a spouse or family if it will affect them as well. They may also be a good guide to be sure your motives are just.

If possible, have another job lined up. Don’t just assume that you will be able to “get by” for a while. In today’s economy this move will be tougher than you think unless you have a substantial savings account that you are willing to dip into.

  1. Don’t leave your job on a negative note.

No matter the circumstances of your departure, it will do you a dis-service to exit in any other way than a professional manner. Remember, you may need references in the future, don’t burn bridges. Word also travels quickly, especially in some industries. The business world can be smaller than you think. You don’t want to get the reputation for being some one that can’t land or be counted on. You don’t want a legacy as a “quitter.” Wrap up loose ends, complete assignments and tasks and even assist in finding a replacement where possible. Leave in a friendly and polite manner. This will ensure that fellow employees have no room to speak ill of you.

Once you have departed, do not speak negatively of your past employer or company. It will serve no purpose and my even damage your prospects with future employers.

Image courtesy of 89studio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are you ready to leave your job? These 10 tips can help you decide whether now is the right time to leave your job. Image courtesy of 89studio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  1. Leave your job, but don’t stand in your own way.

When you are ready, you will know. Don’t continue to promise yourself that you will quit day after day. Be brave, be bold and make the change. If you are not working to your full potential, if you are unhappy, stressed and underappreciated or simply not living your best life, what do you truly have to lose? Focus on the fact that you have everything to gain! Making the decision to leave can be gut-wrenching but with proper planning and hard work, it can be the best move you ever make. Don’t become paralyzed in your current reality, believe in yourself and work for the happiness you deserve.

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor

5 Software Tools to Jump Start Your Job Search

5 Software Tools for Job Search

“Jumping in” can be the hardest part of your Job Search. Motivation can be difficult to harness when you don’t know where to begin. This article will spotlight some great software products that you can use either free of charge or close to it. Having the proper tools available can make all the difference in your job search from the beginning to the successful ending.

Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  1. CRM

Customer Relationship Management (CRM), if this is something new to you, refers to systems that companies use to manage and/or analyze customer data with the goal of improving relationships, studying customer retention and initiating sales growth.

CRM systems are built to organize information about customers including websites, telephone, live chat, direct mail, marketing materials and social media. They can also provide detailed information on customers’ personal information, purchase history, buying preferences and their concerns.

There are several open source options, such as SugarCRM. Open source CRM systems allow you to add data links to social media. This aids companies looking to improve social CRM practices.

Using any of the above mentioned CRM methods varies depending on a company’s business needs, goals and resources. This software can prove to be very beneficial in organizing your networking, sales and contacts. An organized job search is bound to be a successful one.

  1. Office Software

We are all familiar with Microsoft Office, and have probably used it in the past or maybe are even using it currently. It is a great program with applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, email and so on. However, it can be an expensive program. We all need to be aware that these types of office applications are also available in free and open source formats.

Open source office software has come a long way in the past several years making it a great choice for your work productivity software. You won’t even lose most features or support. These free software options have countless tools and also provide all the features you need and expect.

Most of these alternatives to Microsoft Office have the basic applications to help you be productive in the office, such as: word processing, spreadsheets and presentations. Several of the alternatives provide even more options, including drawing, database tools and storage.

Below are some great options you may want to consider: Apache OpenOffice, LibreOffice, NeoOffice, Google Docs, and KOffice.

  1. WordPress

WordPress is free web software that you can use to create an awesome website, blog, or even an app. The software has been created by hundreds of volunteers. When you are familiar with the countless ways the software works and want to move onto more than the basics, there are innumerable plugins, customizations and themes available to transform your site into anything you can imagine. Over 60 million people use WordPress; numbers don’t lie!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  1. Slideshare

If you haven’t heard of SlideShare, you are one of the few! SlideShare is one of the top 100 most-visited websites in the world. SlideShare provides you with the ability to learn not only faster, but smarter as well.

Rather than scrolling through endless pages of text, you can look through a SlideShare deck and obtain the same information in half the time. You have the ability to learn about any topic you can imagine. You can also share information and insight through many different types of media. SlideShare has endless possibilities that will be sure to send you into any job search well prepared.

  1. LinkedIn

I am confident that you are familiar with LinkedIn, especially if you are in the process of job searching, but just to be sure you are up to speed, LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking service. LinkedIn offers many different services including: Groups, Job listings, Online recruiting, Skills, a Publishing Platform, Influencers, Advertising and for-pay Research.

LinkedIn is also free of charge. This service can be instrumental in job networking as it works like a gigantic web with many connections that you wouldn’t likely find otherwise. Job recruiters, and personnel HR often use LinkedIn as a source for finding potential candidates, more so than ever before. LinkedIn also allows users to research companies that they may be interested in working for. As a potential employee you are able to apply for various jobs right through your LinkedIn profile, using it as a resume. In addition, all of your job applications will be saved for you to use in the future.

Closing Remarks about Software Tools for Job Search

Each of these services could prove to be a valuable asset in preparing for and carrying out your job search. The best part is with most of the options being free of charge they will not add any overhead in a time that may already be proving to be stressful. There are so many tools at our fingertips. We need to be sure to get out there, do our research and put all the best options to good use.

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor

Creative Compensation Suggestions: Five Things to Negotiate for Compensation

Five Things to Negotiate for Creative Compensation

Salary can be a tricky thing to negotiate. When walking into a new job, or even re-evaluating your current contract with a company, an increase in salary may not be an option. However, there are several things you could request in place of a raise. It never hurts to ask and the worst thing your employer can say is ‘no.’

Reimbursements

Daycare

Paying someone to take care of your child while you work is not inexpensive. Ask about what childcare options your company offers. Some of the time there will be an on-site facility or an allotted amount that employees with young children have access to. If those aren’t already in place, make the request for company reimbursement for at least a partial amount of your daycare costs.

Five Things to Negotiate for Creative Compensation Image by Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Five Things to Negotiate for Creative Compensation
Image by Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Transportation

Commuting can be expensive. Some companies already pay for business travel so this may not be something you can add to your compensation. However, day-to-day travel is probably not part of that agreement. To inquire about this, you should calculate your monthly travel expenses and propose a stipend that will ease the expense.

Tuition

Not everyone starts a job with multiple degrees already under their belt. You should feel comfortable asking about reimbursement for bettering your education. Not only will you gain the knowledge, but your company will be making an investment in you. The education could be things as small as workshops and seminars, but as large as an associate, bachelor, or master degrees. Education equals career enhancement. Many companies already have these programs in place and if your company does not already offer this, sell it to them.

 A New Title

‘Secretary’ is just a general title for someone who does all the administrative work in the office. In this example, ‘administrative/corporate executive assistant’ says more about what you do as a ‘secretary.’ Asking for a title that accurately reflects your work will help you feel more content in your current position, but will also display your talents when you are looking for another position in the future.

Flexible Schedule

This is a great thing to ask for as far as a non-salary related perk is concerned. If you’re a morning person, you could negotiate to work from 7:00AM – 3:00PM instead of the typical 9:00AM – 5:00PM. You can also look into telecommuting as an option. It probably won’t work out so that you work full-time from home, but part-time telecommuting can cut down on your drive time and your travel spending. Hopefully, that balance – having a more relaxed schedule and not commuting every single day – will make up for the lack in increased salary.

Guaranteed Severance Package

There is no guarantee that the job you currently have or are being hired for will still exist a year or several years from now. Establishing a severance package in your contract will add extra security should the company go out of business. With this severance package, you company will think twice about the possibility of laying you off or removing your position.

More Vacation Time

Whatever vacation time the company offers, you can ask for things that will sweeten the deal. One thing to address, if you don’t have it already, is paid vacation time. You could also see if the vacation time can be doubled. Having more vacation days, whether you take days to rest at home or travel to relax on a beach, could be worth not having a higher salary.

You will never know the answer if you don’t ask and again, the worst thing your employer can say is ‘no.’ Increasing your salary may be out of the question, but there are other things that can fulfill your compensation needs. When working on your contract, initial or renewal, with your employer or human resource manager keep non-salary related compensation options in the back of your mind.

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

Fitting Back In: Rebounding Back to Corporate After Entrepreneurship

Fitting Back In: Rebounding Back to Corporate After Entrepreneurship

 

Owning your own business is hard work. It is definitely not something everyone can do — even the best business ideas don’t come through. Going back to a corporate job after owning your own business can feel like you’re giving up, but there are also advantages to making that change. When trying to fit back into the corporate puzzle, make sure you think through all of your options and determine exactly what you want.

THINGS TO CONSIDER FOR JOB SEARCH FOR ENTREPRENEURS

ONE: Many business owners quit entrepreneurship because they are tired of wearing all the hats from CEO to janitor. Entrepreneurs work longer and harder hours because they must fulfill every job role for the company unless they are able to hire other employees. As an entrepreneur, you aren’t just implementing someone else’s business model. You:

  • Create the business model
  • Network with clients
  • Make and take the phone calls
  • Implement plans
  • Take out the trash

Corporate jobs offer stability and direction of position. Many factors can play into leaving a self-started business such as a drastic life change or just simply not wanting to do it anymore.

TWO: When you do decide to go back to corporate, know how your skills translate to the job you want. More than likely you will try to go back to a desk job at the level or position title previously held. While that is well and good, you need to make sure all of your new skills from owning your own business are also applied to your repertoire. Prepare your resume with those skills, be proud of your accomplishments, and any knowledge you have gained. Don’t promote yourself as the ‘CEO’ but use a title that best describes your position — what you actually did during your business.

THREE: Make sure you address the pink elephant — the question that needs to be answered, not ignored. Why did you leave your business? You should be thinking about this long before your first interview. It should be a well prepared explanation and make the company feel at ease instead of worrying about how long you will be with them. You want to prove that you can and will be an asset and a member of their team. Make them realize you do have value, skills they need, and are not just looking for a rebound job. Don’t be overly detailed in explaining why you are leaving entrepreneurship, but give enough information to indicate your current and future intentions. If the business failed, own up to it, you tried, you put yourself on the line and did the best you could have done. State accomplishments and take what you have learned from the crash and use it to better yourself and the company you want to work for.

FOUR: Do your research. When you go back to corporate, you don’t want just any job. There was a reason you decided to pursue an entrepreneurship and you should follow the path you are passionate about.

  • Fitting Back In Rebounding Back to Corporate After Entrepreneurship Image by iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Fitting Back In Rebounding Back to Corporate After Entrepreneurship
    Image by iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Take advantage of networking opportunities with former colleagues and supervisors.

  • Find companies of interest and reach out to people who work there.
  • Schedule informational meetings and interviews.
  • Have a concise description of what you are looking for.

FIVE: You may encounter the grief roadblock — feel like you’re ‘selling out’ or ashamed of leaving your own business. Try your best to be positive and focus on your accomplishments, not your failures. Plan for a change in environment and adjust accordingly.

SIX: You need to learn as must as you can. Don’t walk into the job thinking that you already know everything about the position. There will be things you need to learn and things you have never heard of before. Pay attention to things that will give you an edge and how you can effectively cooperate in this new job. Conversely, you may be able to teach them something from your own experiences owning your business. Offer creative and constructive suggestions in a way that doesn’t make you sound like you know better than the boss.

Navigating back to a corporate job is challenging. You need to re-market yourself, rework your resume, and present yourself in a way that fits into a corporate lifestyle. You’ve gotten used to working for yourself — being laid back about some things and taking your time on projects but a corporation does not operate that way. You need to figure out how to work effectively on a 9-to-5 schedule and leave work knowing you were productive and worked hard. Knowing the culture of the company you are moving into can help you adjust more easily as well as let the company know your motives align with theirs. Once you have worked through all of the details, you will be able to see how every piece fits together and your function as one part of the corporate picture.

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

Really Hard C-Suite Interview Questions

Really Hard C-Suite Interview Questions

Will you really ever be asked them?

You have received the phone call. Your prospective employer would like to meet with you for an interview. Nice work! But then, before you are even done with the happy dance you were doing around your living room, the fear sets in… an INTERVIEW! Your mind starts swirling through all of the variables. What should you wear? Are they friendly? And most importantly, what kinds of different questions will they ask you? How can you nail this interview, even the really tough questions? Read on, and I assure you, you will be well prepared!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Preparation is the Key for Hard C-Suite Interview Questions

I know, you have heard this phrase so many times. But, I would like to remind you that any situation that we face becomes easier if we are prepared. It is those moments (or questions) that catch us completely unaware that cause us to falter. We are valuable, we are assets to the company and are worthy of the time they are taking out of their busy schedules to meet with us. Now, all we have to do is convince them of that. Review possible questions. You should focus on appearing prepared but not seeming to be rehearsed. Study the company. Talk to other employees where possible. If you are given the name of the Interviewer, see what you can find out about them. Don’t assume that just because they are doing the interview they are good at interviewing. Be prepared to own the conversation and keep it focused in your direction, shining on your accomplishments. Be confident and do the work necessary to gain the reward you seek.

Below are some of the tough questions you are likely to be asked along with some advice on how to answer them.

Tell me about yourself.

Here is the often heard, sometimes dreaded, opening question…It’s tricky, open ended and an easy question to handle incorrectly. They are looking for a quick, two or three-minute summary about you, your history and why you would be a good match for the position. Don’t go any further than that! Save it for the remainder of the interview. The famous “Tell me about yourself” question isn’t an invitation to tell your life story… just tell them what makes you the best candidate.

What do you know about our company and why do you want to be a part of it?

This is where they are checking you out to ensure that you have done your homework. Make sure you have! Have as much information as possible about the company and position that you are applying for. Demonstrate your knowledge and use what you have learned to show the amount of respect for and interest in their company you truly have. This is a great place to show how well your experience will add to and blend in with their needs.

What is your greatest strength? What is your greatest weakness?

These are such unfair questions! Who likes to revel or even discuss their weaknesses—or brag about their strengths? It may play well to come up with a somewhat clever answer for these questions, such as,” I can’t think of any reasons not to hire me, but I have many reasons why you should!”
Give them those reasons! As far as addressing the weakness aspect, be honest. Maybe let them know about an area that you have been working on and improving in, perhaps something that you turned into a strength.

Don’t present the often advised trick of turning a strength into a weakness, such as working too much. This is a tired response; they have heard it countless times before. It also misses the point of the question.

Talk about a time you failed. What happened? What would you do differently?

We tend to make this question harder than it really is. You know where you have been and what you have experienced. As long as you have an event in your mind that you have reviewed, thought through, and are prepared to discuss in your interview, you will be fine. Think of a situation that went differently than planned, that is all it really is. It needn’t be a catastrophe. People make mistakes, everyone knows that so don’t pretend that you never have. Own it, discuss the solutions and lessons learned and move on. It shows experience and demonstrates that you would not make the same mistake in the future.

 Why we should choose you over the other applicants that we have interviewed?

Don’t let this be your undoing. This is a very common question. Re-visit your strengths with added enthusiasm. Show them that you are professional yet personable and friendly. They want to know that you are dependable and competent.

They will undoubtedly ask, “Do you have any questions for me?”

Of course you do! They are not the only one trying to determine if this position is a good fit for you. You need to be doing the same. These questions should be important to you. There are things that you really need to know, such as:

  • What type of candidate are you looking for?
  • Why did this position become available?
  • How would you define success for this person who receives this position?
  • What are the most important skills needed to be successful in this position?
  • What would my first several months be like if I were offered this position?
  • Is there opportunity for growth and advancement in this company?
  • Are you aware of any major changes coming that I may need to be informed of?
  • How do you see this company growing, changing, etc. in the next five years?

    Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Negotiating Compensation

Before the interview be sure to do your research into possible, realistic compensation for the position. You won’t know ahead of time if you will reach this level of discussion, but in case you do, be ready. Be aware of your “walk-away number.” You may not realize it, but the income of top executive’s is often public information. Try checking Salary.com or Glassdoor.com.

What NOT to do…

There are, of course, some guaranteed ways to make a negative impression on these important decision makers. Let’s be sure to avoid the following mistakes:

  • Don’t be arrogant. Acting as if you are better than any lower level candidates, assistants, receptionists, etc. will be certain to leave a negative impression. Instead, impress them as well, with your kindness and genuine interest in them.
  • Don’t “dress down;” be dressed and groomed appropriately for the position.
  • Don’t be negative in general but especially about the economy, the company, or even the competition. A positive attitude will always leave a better impression.
  • Don’t exaggerate or over-sell your skills, work history or abilities. Be honest.
  • Be direct and decisive. Don’t give long, rambling answers to questions. Every minute counts.
  • Let them know that you are genuinely interested in the job. Playing hard to get doesn’t usually pay off in the end.

Final Thoughts about Hard C-Suite Interview Questions

The only guaranteed way to make an interview harder is to not be prepared. Interview questions are not hard if you have anticipated what they may be asking and prepared sincere answers. Know detailed information about the company, the position and most of all yourself! Be relaxed and articulate. Even though there are really no wrong or right answers, there are definitely memorable answers that leave a positive impression.  Demonstrate you vision, your drive and your complete confidence in your abilities. They are sure to be impressed!

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor

Smart Services to Pay for in your Job Search

Smart Services to Pay for in your Job Search

Smart Services to Pay for in your Job Search

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When it is time to find a new job, no matter the circumstances, it can feel like a daunting task.  Even when you are tied into career networking and know the direction in which you would like to go, you can often feel very overwhelmed. Let’s talk about some often overlooked tools that you may not be utilizing.  These tools can prove to be instrumental in directing your job search and making it nearly painless.

  1. Job Boards

There are almost too many online job boards to count. So how do you know which job boards will not prove to be a waste of time? The truth is, this will take some work on your part.  You will want to stick with the familiar, large, more established sites that have been around and successful for a significant amount of time. Also you may want to start with those that are local if you are hoping to stay in the same geographical location. You may find that there is a minimal cost for access to some of these boards; however, many of them are free to use.

Hint:  Always use the advanced search options when searching for jobs on these sites.  By doing so you will significantly narrow down extra information and jobs that do not relate to your needs. This will help your search to be much more efficient.

  1. LinkedIn

If you aren’t already a member of LinkedIn it may be time to become one.  This network can be a valuable asset in your job search.  Rather than spending countless hours doing research or pounding the pavement looking for the perfect career opportunity, let others help you! By using career networking sites such as LinkedIn, you are sending out information about your job needs to a variety of people in many different types of work environments.  It is just like having a team of job recruiters on your payroll.  Don’t forget to give as much as, or even more, than you get—the more you help others, the more likely you are to receive the help you need as well.

  1. Background Checking Services

Have you ever wondered what a former employer would say about you?  You may not even be aware of this, but there are companies that will provide discreet calls to your last boss or supervisor to determine if they will give you a good reference.  One such company is Allison and Taylor, but there are also others.  These companies will help you to feel secure in knowing what potential employers will be told about you. They can also help you with background check reports and other personal areas that may come up as you search for that perfect job.  These services are not free, of course.  However, if you are serious about landing that position that you are qualified to have and just need to be given the chance, this route may be a helpful option for you.

  1. Resume Distribution Services

Resume distribution services are another excellent option that you may be failing to take advantage of.   These distribution companies can help make the most challenging job searches easy and efficient. They help you to reduce the time you would spend on a traditional job search.  These companies are able to maximize your exposure to extraordinary opportunities across the globe by distributing your resume to recruiters and companies that are actively filling positions in your area of expertise. Do a little homework (or ask Amy L. Adler at Five Strengths), find a reputable company and get your information out there!

  1. Resume Writing Services

The final service that is definitely worth mentioning is a resume writing service.  If you aren’t familiar with exactly how these work, let me give you the details.  You submit your relevant information such as: education, previous employers and work experience, additional skills, locations and fields that you are interested in, etc. You will probably also want to submit some form of a resume that you have used in the past.  Once they have all of the information that they need, they compile it into a simply amazing resume! Obviously this saves you both time and frustration!  Let’s face it, writing an attention getting, professional looking resume that will stand out above the rest is not an easy thing to do.  We are not all equipped with the skills or the time necessary to create an exceptional resume. Call Amy L. Adler at Five Strengths Career Transition Experts to talk about your current career goals and resume writing requirements.

And Remember….

No two job searches are the same.  You must personalize your journey.  Make choices that you have completely thought through and feel good about.  Be patient, it may take time.  There are countless “tools” available to help you, let that be a comfort.  Having many options and strategies to choose from is a great thing. Move forward with confidence!

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor