Posts

Think About it: What if Interviews are Like Dating and the Job Offer is like Marriage. . What’s the Difference between the Two?

Think About it:  What if Interviews are Like Dating and the Job Offer is like Marriage. .

What’s the Difference between the Two?

You are in your best clothes. You took extra time getting ready for this outing, paid attention to every detail. This is not an average day. You are sitting across from someone that you have either never met or know very little about. But you do know one thing; they hold your very future in their hands. You are sizing each other up, on every imaginable level. You are both on your best behavior, determined to make an impression. So, is this a date or a job interview? Do you see the similarities? Interesting perspective, let’s compare further.

First Impressions

As you have heard over and over, the value of a great first impression cannot be stressed enough. It matters! Going back to our idea about interviews being a lot like dating, we can see the similarities. We take extra time to get ready and select our clothing, we look our best, we come prepared with our A game. We should be using this strategy with interviews as well.

Check into Your “Date/Interviewer”

Just as we wouldn’t head into a date with absolutely no information about that person, we shouldn’t head into an interview without doing a decent amount of homework. We need to know about the position, the company and even the interviewer if possible. While there may be “blind” dates, there shouldn’t ever be a “blind” interview. Both are highly likely to fail.

Good Conversation

One of the best outcomes of a first date is being able to say that there was great conversation! You want this to be part of your interview as well. You want to be able to be yourself and communicate your thoughts just as you would hope to be able to do on a date. Just remember that the motivations of many interview questions aren’t as innocent as on a date. The interviewer is constantly playing a game of hide-and-seek. There is an additional question that hides behind nearly each initial question asked. You need to stay aware of what they are really trying to determine and then keep your cool. Not to say that questions on a date aren’t the same, but hopefully you are able to loosen up and relax a little bit more in that setting.

Saying Goodnight/Goodbye

Whether it is the end of a date or an interview, the way you say goodbye is very important. I will leave you to decide how to end a date properly and will discuss how to end an interview on the best terms possible, although, you may find they truly are similar. You want to leave with a positive impression. You want to interviewer to have felt your good energy and enthusiasm for the position as well as good information on your work history and skills. You want them to be thinking about you after the interview is over. They should be thinking about what you could bring to the table and that you could be what they have been looking for all along (still sounds a little like a date, right?).

Marriage/Job Offer

While this may seem like a bit of a stretch, it actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it. To hire you, means to bring you into the interviewer’s life and their business. This involves a lot of trust in you. They need to feel certain that what they have felt about and learned about you is the truth and will serve them well in the future. They are looking for commitment. No one wants somebody to come in full of hopes and dreams only to get bored or be under-qualified and have to leave without seeing things through. As a marriage takes two, so does a work relationship. You must be ready to jump in with both feet and say I do!

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Resume Writing Prepares you for your Next Interview

Resume Writing Prepares You for Your Next Interview

Comprehensive resume development is great prep for your next interview.

If you have spent any time at all looking into the best interview strategies, then surely you have come across the all-too-familiar “four P’s of interviewing:”

  1. Preparation.
  2. Practice.
  3. Personal presentation.
  4. Pertinent questions.

These are all important for different reasons. However, I would like to plead a case for the one that I feel is the crucial piece of the puzzle, the “glue” so to speak, that will hold all the other components in a nice straight line, PREPARATION.

Preparation is the Key

The best way to prepare for an interview is through comprehensive resume preparation, something you need to do at the start of your job search, anyway! Using your resume to prepare for your interviews is an amazing way to accomplish two things at once and ultimately save time in the process. We all want to be as productive as possible, especially when dealing with finding new employment.

Your Career Inventory

Resume Writing Prepares you for your Next Interview

Resume Writing Prepares you for your Next Interview

Part of compiling or updating your resume is doing an extensive career inventory. First, compare what the employer is seeking to your qualifications, experience, and accomplishments. Through deeply exploring your past work experience and responsibilities you will actually be preparing for your interview. Think about these critical questions:

  • What was expected of you in each position?
  • What did you learn?
  • Did you find solutions to issues in the workplace that improved your situation?
  • How can the knowledge gained be used in a new position?
  • In what ways are you a better candidate because of your previous experience?

The answers to these questions could appear in any job interview. Studying them in the context of your ideal role will help you to build a detailed, informative resume as well as be prepared for the questions that will undoubtedly come in almost any interview. If this feels like a daunting task and you would prefer to have some guidance to tackle the most current trends in the job market you could go through an executive resume writing service. As experts in resume writing, we will develop the in-depth questions and information that will narrow the gap between your experience and your hiring executives’ requirements, thus putting you ahead of the competition!

Which Path Do You Want to Take?

Take an extensive look at the types of roles you have previously filled and compare them with where you would like to be in the future. Through doing this you are able to deeply analyze where you have been and where you are going. As the Cheshire cat told Alice, “if you don’t know where you are going, it doesn’t matter what path you take.” That is not the way that we want to approach the future. We want you to have a clear direction—a career search plan that succeeds. In short, we want to be prepared in every way possible.

Put Your Mind at Ease: Know How Your Resume Connects to Your Interview Strategy

Think about how at ease you would feel as the interview approaches if you have fresh in your mind a comprehensive view of your work history. Rather than having your resume be a vaguely familiar piece of paper that is printed off in a rush on your way out the door to the interview, use this tool as a preparatory strategy that supports your interview technique. Your resume is an important tool that is refined, accurate, and serves the right purpose in attaining the position you are interviewing for.

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Job Search Research on Target Companies: Prepare for Your Interview Success

Job Search Research on Target Companies: Prepare for Your Interview Success

You’ve done a lot of work preparing and searching for a job and now it is time to research the company prior to the interview. Researching a company is critical to having a successful encounter with the hiring agent. You want to be able to walk into the interview with confidence.

Research the Company BroadlyResearch Your Target Companies for Interview Success

  • Check the website-you can discover a tremendous about of useful information about a company’s financial health, recent news and community involvement.
  • Check with your network-see what your partners know about the company-both pros and cons.
  • If possible talk to current and past employees-check out the work environment.
  • Learn who the competitors are and what impact they have on the company.
  • Research local business journals, national news, databases, and more. Learn whether the company is growing or contracting, if it has recently launched new products, or if it has received an influx of investment money—this can tell you a great deal about the company’s current trajectory.
  • Research the company’s top employees on LinkedIn.

As you prepare for the interview, keep in mind that you are not just learning about the company and its culture, you are learning about the type of people that they hire. Through this type of research you are developing your own presentation plan on how to handle the interview itself.

Narrow Your Research to Prepare for Your Interview

  • Review your information and target key areas that you may want to discuss during the interview.
  • Determine how your strengths can help the company move forward and achieve its goals.
  • Create talking points that you will be able to use to discuss the company’s unique values.
  • Be prepared to explain how hiring you will benefit the company.
  • Develop questions to ask during the interview. Show your interest in the company. Don’t be afraid to ask about future goals of the company.
  • Use LinkedIn and Google to look up the name of the interviewer. Learning names and titles can help you feel more comfortable during the interview. Check to see if you have any common interests.

The more that you learn about a company prior to an interview, the more confident you will be going into the interview itself. You will have an idea ahead of time if you are a good fit for the company culture.

4 Easy Steps to Preparing for Your Interview

4 Easy Steps to Preparing for Your Interview

Congratulations! All of your hard work has paid off—you got the call for the interview! Now you need to prepare for a successful interview with the person or team who makes the hiring decisions. There are several steps that you can take to maximize the value of this meeting for you and for your future manager and to make your interview go smoothly. Follow these 4 steps to preparing for your interview to put yourself on track.

Go to your interview proud and prepared for success with these 4 tips.

Go to your interview proud and prepared for success with these 4 tips.

4 Easy Steps to Preparing for Your Interview

1. Research the company prior to going to your interview—Your research on the company is the foundation for your questions for the interviewer about the needs and experiences of the company. Learn what the company’s values, missions, and goals are, and be prepared to ask interesting questions about the company’s position in the marketplace. Good sources of company information, beyond the company’s own web site, include Indeed.com, Glassdoor.com, regional business journals, and publications by industry associations.

2. Put yourself in control by being prepared and showing your positive attitude. Your insightful self-knowledge about your experiences and expertise will help to open career doors for you during your job search. Study your own resume, and practice your answers in front of a mirror or camera, so that you can retell key points of your career history that are relevant to the position you’re seeking. Practice answering the hard questions: “Why were you terminated” and “Tell me about yourself” are perhaps the two most difficult, but these can be interview killers if you do not prepare ahead of time with answers that succinctly address the question and focus on the future.

3. Clean up your social media—Many companies will search your social media prior to hiring to look for red flags. Items that can cause you to lose that spot in the hiring lineup. Apps such as Social Sweepster can help eliminate posts to your social media that may cause concern to potential hiring managers.

4. Look the part—You need to be perceived as a member of the team and as someone who can fit in with the company’s culture. Whether the environment is business casual or office professional, you need to know how to present yourself. This having been said, you will not go wrong by dressing “up,” even for a casual environment; you can always hang your jacket on the back of your chair if everyone else is in t-shirts, but you will not ever be able to dress up a golf shirt if everyone else is in suits and ties.

4 Reasons Your Name Keeps You from Getting Called for the Interview

4 Reasons Your Name Keeps You from Getting Called for the Interview

Your name might be the most important piece of identifying information, but it might be getting in your way as you apply for jobs. Read on to learn how to fix the top 5 ways your name could be preventing you from getting interviews for the career you want.

1. Your Name Is Common

When you look in the phone book for your name, are there a dozen other John Smiths before and after your own John Smith? You are unique among your colleagues, company, and industry, but your name might be so common that a quick search of LinkedIn for your name does not immediately bring your profile to the top of the list. Thus, new networking contacts do not know how to learn anything about you via your LinkedIn or other social media profiles.

The Quick Fix: Start using your middle name or middle initial to differentiate yourself.

2. Some Unsavory Character Has Your Name, Too

Does a quick search of your name bring up a mug shot–that is not yours (if it brings up your mug shot, that’s a different question, of course). Do people believe that the mug shot or court case record might be yours, just because you happen to have the same name as someone with less integrity than you? Certainly, a purported criminal or civil case history, the records for which are all available online, can interfere with your ability to get proper attention from hiring executives, if the mix-up between names is easy to make.No calls?

The Quick Fix: Use your first initial and last name, plus your credentials, in every instance of social media, across all uses and profiles on the Internet. Also use this name configuration on your resume, business cards, phone messages, and voice mail. Do not use it on job applications, as you will need to use your full legal name for those documents.

3. Your Name Is Unusual

Recently, I learned of a client of a fellow resume writer whose complex hyphenated name, matched with her given name, had an unintended and humorous meaning. You might know that your name is perfectly normal, but if you have a suspicion that the words or syllables of your name have an unintended humor to them, you might not be receiving interview offers due to this subtlety.

The Quick Fix: If your name provokes an inadvertent response, perhaps using only part of your hyphenated name, adding your middle name or initial, or using your first and middle initial plus last name only will help your audience focus on your expertise rather than your name proper.

4. Your Name Is MISSING

If your resume starts with the word “Resume” on the first line, then this quick fix is for you. Applicant tracking systems–called ATSs or online application systems–require you to upload your resume online for job postings. If the word “Resume” is at the top of your document, the word “resume” will populate the name field or fields of the system. Thus, to the company to which you are applying, your name will be “resume”–just like the rest of those whose resumes did not start with their names and addresses.

The Quick Fix: Take the word “Resume” off your resume–even if you never plan to upload your resume online. It is poor practice regardless.

Executives, There Is No Such Thing as “Not Part of the Interview”

Executives, “There is no such thing as ‘not part of the interview’.”

In just the last week, we heard on the news two stories about high-profile people and their inadvertent publicizing of more or less private information. In the case of Duchess Kate Middleton, compromising photos of her were leaked to the media. Clearly she must have thought she was completely alone when these photos were shot. She could not have believed that her very public persona would go unnoticed no matter where she was or what she was doing. Similarly, the campaign of presidential candidate Mitt Romney discovered that a speech he gave was recorded when it should not have been. Whether you agree with his conservative approach or not does not discount the fact that as a public person, he should have been aware that he is always under scrutiny. And whether you believe that a newlywed can or should behave any way she wants privately doesn’t discount the fact that the Duchess should be aware of what she’s doing all the time due to her high profile.

The same is true in the executive interview. Let me tell you another story, a very personal one. Two decades ago, when I had just finished a master’s degree program, I was in job search mode. I had achieved an interview for a job that I was interested in, and was sitting before the hiring executive. He asked me all of the usual interview questions, which I answered to the best of my ability. He also asked me something tangential, I believe about my thesis and the way I did the data analysis. He post-scripted this question with “This is not part of the interview.” Without thinking I knee-jerk responded with, “There is no such thing as ‘not part of the interview.'” I suppose I also answered the question about the data analysis. I didn’t get that job–in fact I got another one that I was much better suited for. But I never did forget, and I have repeated many times, that there is no such thing as not part of the interview.

When you are applying for an executive position, you will have to go through many interviews. You’ll interview with executive boards, CEOs, CTOs, CMOs, potential colleagues, and even subordinates. You walk through the company’s hallways, you’ll sit at desks, in conference rooms, in lobbies, and maybe even in restaurants. None of these locations are private, and none of the people with whom you interview are obligated to remain quiet about your conversations. Even if your executive interviewer suggests that your conversation will remain private, he or she has no obligation to remain circumspect about what you say. In fact, the more inflammatory your comments are the more likely someone will repeat them in the form of gossip about your level of professionalism or in the form of a polite letter declining to evaluate your candidacy further.

Thus, it makes sense for you to measure every word and sentence that you utter not only from the perspective of your executive accomplishments and your executive role, but also by the dimensions of whether you are comfortable with your words being repeated by people you don’t know well to people you don’t know at all. Here are a few guidelines for you as you move through your executive interview:

  • Treat everyone you meet professionally, including administrative personnel. You might even earn some goodwill points by writing a quick e-mail to the receptionist to thank him or her for the kindness shown to you on the day of your interview.
  • Do not let your guard down during your interview, no matter how comfortable you feel with the interviewer. This might be especially true if you know one of the panel members well. That person is not your friend in this context: That person is evaluating you the same way he or she is evaluating every other candidate that walks into similar interviews.
  • If you are asked and uncomfortable for even the legal question, be prepared either a) to answer the question as asked, or b) respectfully decline to answer it based on its level of appropriateness. Do know, that if you answer an illegal question you open up a tremendous can of worms and the opportunity for your interviewer to probe the issue more deeply.

In conclusion, remember that as an executive in an executive interview you are as famous as Mitt Romney and Kate Middleton. You are on stage and being evaluated at every turn. Anything you do can and certainly will be used against you. By monitoring your behavior and behaving like the professional executive that you are, you can avoid being caught saying something you can’t defend or doing something you wish you hadn’t. Remember: There is no such thing as “not part of the interview.”

Ask for the Interview: Effective Strategies for Your Cover Letter

You Won’t Get What You Don’t Ask For

You’ve heard this phrase: “You get what you ask for.” Usually, it’s a tongue-in-cheek way of telling listeners they did something thoughtless.

The flip side is also true. You won’t get what you don’t ask for, particularly in the context of the interview. In that sense, your cover letter, your initial communication with a hiring manager, should clearly ask for a meeting during which you can elaborate on your unique skills sets.

Cover Letter Templates Fail

I am constantly amazed by the cover letter templates on sites purporting to deliver expert advice. I did a quick Google search for “free cover letter sample.” The sample letters I dug up miss major opportunities to rise to the top of the stack. Primarily, they’re extremely generic. They don’t set the focus outward onto ways the applicant can solve the hiring manager’s pain. And they don’t ask for the interview.

Ask for the interview.

Ask for the interview in your cover letter.

When you present unassuming, generic language in your letter to a hiring manager, you’re presenting yourself as unfocused and unsure of your goal. In the current economy, where unemployment rates drive up applications for coveted spots, the hiring manager isn’t going to take the time to figure out what you have to offer. It’s up to you to clearly state your expertise—and your desire to meet this hiring manager for this position. You’ll sound educated about the potential role and focused about your ambitions.

Don’t Miss an Opportunity to Use Your Cover Letter Effectively

Every word on your resume counts—it’s the same for your cover letter. Don’t miss the opportunity to ask for what you want. Don’t expect the reader to assume that you’re the most eager, the best qualified, and the most likely to succeed in the position. Give them what they need to draw your resume out the stack: a sharply presented, clearly stated request for the interview. After all, this is the point of your resume/cover letter package—to get you in for a face-to-face, so you can show the hiring manager that you will succeed in your target role.

 

Personal Branding Countdown: 5 Steps to Success

Have you looked at your personal brand recently? Here is a simple system you can use to make sure that your branding is hit-the-ground-running ready for your job search.

Grab your paper and pencil, and make these lists:

Five contacts

with whom you’d like to renew your network.

Jobseekers’ networks are their #1 source for referrals, notices of prime job openings, and internal recommendations. Don’t lose the opportunity to increase your sphere of influence by losing touch with important contacts you’ve not connected with in a while.

Four projects

you’ve worked on in the last two years that showcase your expertise and winning contributions to your company.

Your next hiring manager is going to want to know how you can solve his or her pain starting… now. By having a clear understanding of the contributions you have made, and thus the contributions you can make immediately, will help you organize your thoughts for your resume and your interview.

Three reasons

your skills have changed or grown in your current position that support a promotion.

If you can’t identify in thirty seconds or less how your skill set has improved since you started your current role, you need to do some serious thinking. These are exactly the types of skills that you will showcase on your resume and, ultimately, in your interview. Think of them as pre-on-the-job training, which now your future employer won’t have to ensure that you get, as you’re already there!

Two challenges

you’ve recently discovered about your work.

You’ve changed and upgraded your skill set in response to . . . something. Identify which projects impelled you to work harder, smarter, better, or with different resources. Take the time to identify not only what you did but how you did it. Demonstrate how you have already taken steps to tackle the types of situations your new hiring manager is expecting you to manage in the future. In addition, utilize these job upgrades to show why you’re the only one for the job you’re seeking (and why you merit a significant pay increase, too!).

One skill set or new challenge

that you have yet to incorporate into your professional toolbox.

Want to know why they need a specific line item broken out in Accounting? Ask the manager. Is that program manager handling a project with new technology? Go ask her about it. Heard about a great webinar that will add something new and different to your already diverse skill set? Sign on, and improve your marketing pitch to include your new abilities.

Now take a step back and read what you have written. All of these together contribute to the branding and image that you want to project to your future manager. Your next challenge is to distill all of what makes you great, hirable, and worthy of a fabulous salary. Put these features of your professional self into your elevator pitch, your resume, your cover letter, and your interview. You’ve got the goods, now go get the job!

Related Links

Market Your Professional Branding Message

Indispensability + Findability = Employability