Category: General

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Do You Have Good Questions Prepared for Your Interview?

By Betsy Thayer

Everyone knows you must have questions prepared in advance of your interview.  If you do not have questions you will most likely not be considered for the job. The questions you ask give the interviewer insight into your intellectual level, your interest level in the position, and can give you more insight regarding what would be expected of you once you start. 

You have already researched the company, and the major players, so what should you ask? 

  • Is this a new position?  If not, please explain the evolution of the position up to now.  What happened to the last person who held this position? This question will give you insight on growth opportunities within the company.  If it is a new position ask for the reasons for creation. 
  • What is the management style of my direct report?  What kind of person will be successful in this position?  What are the personality traits of someone that will excel in this position?
  •  What are the immediate challenges of this position that need to be addressed right away? Within the first 3 months?  6 months?
  • What do you see in the next 5 years for your company?  This will give you a barometer for the growth of the company and where you will fit in with the long term plans.
  • Do you have any hesitations about me as a candidate?  Are there any qualities you have seen in other candidates that you do not see in me?  This is an excellent opportunity to find out if there are any misconceptions or hesitations about your skill set.  This also conveys your confidence level.  Confidence will propel you to the top of the resume pile. 
  • What are the next steps?  You need to know when to follow up, if they will call you, and if there might be a second interview.

Remember you are interviewing the company as well.  Long term relationships are a two-way street that need to fit for both parties.  Do NOT ask about salary or benefits in the first interview unless the hiring manager brings up the issue (this is a subject best left to the second interview).  Make sure you get all of your questions answered before you sign that offer letter! 

Tips for Interviewing

By Betsy Thayer

Interviews can be stressful.  Here are some things to remember that will help your chances.

  1. Be early, but not too early.  5-10 minutes is perfect.
  2. Wear a suit.
  3. Turn your phone OFF.
  4. Do not give a limp handshake.  Make eye contact.
  5. Do your research on the company and have good questions prepared in advance.
  6. Know what you bring to the table.  Be able to explain how hiring you will benefit the company.
  7. Do not bad mouth a previous employer or co-worker.
  8. Do bring copies of your resume.
  9. Be confident.
  10. Don’t regurgitate your resume.  They have this information already.  Use specific examples of success stories to answer questions.
  11. Don’t lie.
  12. Be aware of what information you have on social networks.  Pictures of you on Facebook doing a keg stand will most likely eliminate you from the candidate pool.
  13. At the end ask if they have any concerns about your resume. This is a great time to find out if there are any misunderstandings and a great barometer of how things went.
  14. Send a thank you note after the interview.  If you don’t have email addresses hand write and mail a thank you.

Optimism? In This Job Market?

by Betsy Thayer

 

It is a difficult time to be optimistic.  If you are unemployed, trying to find a job can be a maddening endeavor.  It seems the longer you have been without a job, the harder it is to find one.  How do you escape the endless cycle?

You might be daunting to think there are so many people for so few open positions.  Why apply if 100 others are doing the same?  Even if you do score an interview what good is it if you never hear back from them?

Confidence is key in every interaction.  Interviews are no exception.  If you walk into the interview with the mindset that you will get the job it can only be to your benefit.  Make eye contact, sit up straight, and shake that hand like you mean it.  Another important tool is having prepared questions in advance.  Show the interviewer that you are well-versed in the subject and care about this potential opportunity.

Attire is another import component to the confidence.  Dress to impress and show the interviewer that you cared enough about the meeting to get dressed up.  Imagine if you walked into an interview wearing a wrinkled shirt and a tie with a mustard stain?  Now imagine walking into the interview with a pressed suit and a winning smile.  Which outfit would give you more confidence?

Giving yourself the necessary tools to be successful can help you get the job you want.

Broadcast Letter

by Betsy Thayer

The broadcast letter is a hybrid of a resume and a cover letter.   It can be used in various situations depending on your circumstances.   If you do not have a resume that is applicable to the job you can submit a broadcast letter explaining how your current skills could be transformed into your desired position.  You can submit a broadcast letter when a company is not advertising for an open position, but you would like to make contact.  A broadcast letter is an excellent tool to get the communication ball rolling.  Once you are in contact with the desired company you can then submit a resume.

Typically when you are networking, you send a broadcast letter before a resume.  This is a perfect time to demonstrate your writing ability.  You should be succinct and concise.  A broadcast letter should never be more than one page long.   (Hint: Always address the letter to a specific person.  Call the company directly if necessary).

Companies often have openings that they are not advertising for, creating an opportunity for you to make yourself available before they let the public know.  If you know someone that works for the company, this is the time to name drop.  Today’s job market is really who you know.  Make sure to address who you are, what you do and why you are exactly what this particular company is looking for.  Let your skills and achievements shine for you.

Resume Objective?

by Betsy Thayer

When deciding whether to include an objective in your resume there are a few things to consider.   You can have a well written statement within your resume describing your targeted job or specific duties that you desire or another possibility is to use your cover letter as your objective.  Your cover letter can address the points of your objective while clearly stating the job that you are looking for.

Eliminating the objective from the body of your resume could put you at an advantage.  Having a general job objective forces you to be too broad, narrowing your focus.   Hiring managers could disqualify you from a potential position based on a narrow objective.   The cover letter provides more space to be detailed about what you are looking for.  You can then specifically tailor each cover letter for the specific job you are applying.

Some professions typically do not use an objective.  Highly competitive positions such as mass communication or journalism require a different style thereby eliminating the need for typical formats.  You can research which resume style is appropriate or a resume professional can suggest proper formats.

The additional benefit of outlining specific job objectives in the cover letter is the opportunity to show that you have done your research on the company and you are serious candidate.  (Hint: While researching the company for KEYWORDS and job details, jot down questions for interview).

How to Increase Morale After Layoffs

By Jeff Martin

Without question the last several months have been a bit overwhelming. Many of my friends and closest companions have felt the effects of a tightening economy. Each day my inbox and voicemail are inundated with messages from recently laid off contacts that are desperately hoping I can point them in the right direction. Last week as I was diligently dialing through my list of clients, doing my best to drum up new positions I was taken aback while speaking with one of my HR Directors. This particular contact is working for one of my largest clients and her company recently laid off several employees nationally. After we got past our usual small talk I asked my friend how she was coping with all the organizational changes. My friend told me that she was relieved to still have her job but was fairly distraught about losing so many of her colleagues. As an HR manager she had to perform all the exit interviews so it made it all the more difficult for her. She asked me if I knew of any HR openings she might qualify for as there was still a high degree of uncertainty in regard to future terminations. She also made the comment that it was very difficult to stay motivated and perform her current responsibilities because she missed interacting with her colleagues that had been let go. Later in the day as I was thinking back on my conversation with the HR manager I realized how easy it is to simply focus on the unfortunate people that get laid off. Seldom however do I ever hear anything pertaining to the remaining employees of companies that underwent major workforce reductions. Surely these employees have a sense of relief but how do you restore company morale after such layoffs?

The Hayes Group International suggests a five-pronged approach to keeping survivors afloat:

  1. Plan: Figure out how the layoff will be communicated and how to assist survivors. Work out reassigned tasks and responsibilities ahead of time. Communicate why the changes were necessary and how roles will change.
  2. Communicate: Explain how the organization plans to recover, what role the employees will play, and why the changes had to happen.
  3. Listen empathetically: Most survivors will likely go through a period of grieving and guilt. A manager who’s able to console his team can help improve morale. When your employees air their feelings, listen more and talk less. Postpone responses and judgments until you’ve heard the person out. Use positive body language: make eye contact, nod as appropriate, and show you are listening and that you care.
  4. Maintain trust: Many survivors will feel at least disappointed; some will feel betrayed. To try to maintain trust, observe three important elements — demonstrate concern, act with integrity, and achieve results.
  5. Develop survivors’ skills: With reassigned responsibilities, some employees may need additional training. Anticipate this and have plans in place; talk with your team as time passes to see if they need more support.

John Shepler offers some additional tips for managers to cope with layoffs:

  • Understand the need for a mourning period among remaining employees. Help provide time and, if necessary, counseling.
  • Assess which employees are neither apathetic or hostile to the change. These positive employees will make the best leaders during the transition.
  • Try to exude optimism; minimize criticism; acknowledge and celebrate successes.
  • Build teamwork by creating a sense of “we’re all in this together and need each other to make it.”
  • Foster camaraderie and encourage group discussions and input. Encourage humor, even if it’s gallows humor.
  • Don’t over promise; be honest. If you swear the layoffs are over and more occur, it’ll be almost impossible to regain trust.

Certainly there are several additional ways in which companies can increase morale. These are but a few of the simple techniques I found that made sense to me. My hope is that companies will recognize the concerns of existing employees and address those concerns in a timely manner. The sooner these companies can get back to normal the better off everyone will be.

Don’t Throw in the Towel, Just Pick Another Recruiter

by Will Gowin

Not all recruiters are created equal.  Sometimes when you work with a staffing firm you get that recruiter that makes all kinds of promises and never delivers and sometimes, never even calls you back.  Don’t sweat it.  Just call back the staffing firm and ask for a new recruiter and have your information transferred over to them.  If asked why, don’t throw the bad recruiter under the bus, but just state that you feel there wasn’t a connection and you wanted a fresh start.  Keep in mind, this does not mean that all of a sudden you will get tons of job opportunities thrown your way.  It just means that you are hopefully working with a new recruiter that under promises and over delivers.  Still you need to manage your expectations.

When I recruit, I always tell each job seeker that I “might call you tomorrow with three job opportunities; next week with one; or you might not hear from me in six months.  It is to my best interest to place you with one of my clients.  That’s how I make a living.”  Recruiters talk to hundreds of people that are looking each week and there is no way they can stay in touch with everyone.  Just be patient and let your recruiter work for you and do their best to match you with an opportunity.  Also, don’t put all your “eggs in that recruiter’s basket.”  They should only one of several staffing firms that you are working with, let alone other resources you should be using to obtain job opportunities like: job boards, networking, targeting companies and more.

Don’t Just Be Another Number With Recruiters

By Will Gowin

 

So many job seekers overlook a superb additional tool to aid in their active or passive search for a new career opportunity… recruiters or what some people call headhunters.  Even though there are some great recruiters out there, there are definitely some bad ones too.  Here is a tip when working with these guys.

 

Don’t just be another number.  A lot of recruiters are “just doing the numbers.”  That means they are filling their databases with candidates for the next job opening they might be trying to fill.  Sometimes staffing firms put general “job openings” on their website or other job boards just so their recruiters can collect people and fill their databases with individuals they typically place.  So, how do you deal with this?  You politely ask if they are filling a specific opening or are they looking to gather candidates for the next possible job requirement.  Ask them to be honest with you because they expect you to be honest in return.  This just helps to manage your expectations as well as let the recruiter know that you know what’s “going on.”

 

Being a recruiter for so long myself, it was refreshing to work with people that understood our industry, where you did not have to explain everything and field calls from individuals everyday asking, “you got a job for me”?  If the recruiter has a position that is a fit for you, it is to their benefit to contact you and go over the particulars.  That recruiter makes money if he or she gets you placed.

 

If a recruiter is just filling their database, it’s alright, give them the information they are asking for and make sure the recruiter has your updated resume, if they don’t already have it.  Be precise to what you kind of opportunity you are looking for, what kind of commute you can handle and what salary you would like to obtain.  Be completely honest about everything in your background and work history.  It’s going to come out in a background check or interview anyway and you might just burn a bridge with the staffing firm/ recruiter or a potential employer if you are not forthcoming.  If the recruiter knows everything upfront they can do a better job in matching you with a job opportunity and get you hired.

Write Your Resume For The Job You Want

by Betsy Thayer

The first thing to consider when looking for a job is what your resume projects in terms of ability, focus, and objective.  Your resume is the first example of your ability to do work, it should be PERFECT.  If you have any misspellings, the person reading your resume will know you are not thorough.

If you have limited experience in the area you want to pursue, try adding experience (Hint: for example, you don’t have to get paid to do something in order to include it on your resume.  It is about experience.  Take a class, start a blog, create a project, etc.).

Focus your resume so you get what you ask for.  If you generalize, you could miss out on an important opportunity.  If you have done your homework you already have specific KEYWORDS in place and have an idea of what HR managers are looking for.  Check out job descriptions and resumes for people in the position(s) you want.

The objective is not just a heading on your resume.  The objective is the overall tone, what your resume implies about you.  If you have a creative format and you avoided cliches you will stand out as a potential employee.  Keep the wording concise and driven.

It is difficult to write your own resume for a couple of reasons.  First, you need to step back and look at yourself objectively; this can be hard for some (this is where a professional resume writer can help).  You need to remember your achievements; these are much more enticing than duties.  This is where the big picture is helpful.   If you have less content with just achievements, rather than a 2-page resume with duties and mundane details, you have a more powerful resume.