Posts Tagged ‘candidate’

Getting Real in the Job Interview

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

You’ve likely seen someone who was great in the interview, but turned out to be a jerk under day-to-day interactions. And the opposite also happens – the stress of the interview makes someone tongue-tied or goofy, when they would be a good asset to the team.

By the time you are asked to interview (F2F or video) the employer has already determined you have the qualifications for the job.  The interview to see if you are good “fit” with the organization and the team.

Work experience still trumps all other qualifications in the recruiting process. Personality and fit with the culture ranked ahead of such factors as leadership experience in a 2014 survey of more than 2,300 chief executive officers, human-resource managers and other executives in 18 countries. The study, by Universum, a consulting firm for employer branding, found nearly half of respondents rate personality profile as one of the most important hiring considerations and about 40% cite culture fit.

Picking the wrong personality is expensive for both employee and employer. The individual will be unhappy and ultimately unemployed, while the employer will have wasted thousands of dollars on recruiting and training.

Getting real in the interview does not mean you should wing it, nor should you recite a script. But you should be able to pull your thoughts together to both answer and ask questions to determine if this is a good fit you.

  • Practice what you want to say for the basic interview questions (search on “commonly asked interviewing questions”).
  • Know the examples you want to talk about. Make sure they are relevant to the organization’s needs.
  • If you don’t have a response to a question, say so, and ask to come back to it later in the conversation.
  • Ask a career coach or trusted colleague to do a mock interview with you and tell you how you comredshoese across.

Everyone knows you’re a bit nervous about the interview.  Remember, this is a business conversation. Focus on understanding their needs and how your experience can help them. Let your natural personality show them who you are.

Strategies for Extended Unemployment

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

What are they thinking?! Why are companies shunning people who have been out of work six months or more? Unemployment biases stem from employers desire to avoid making hiring mistakes. This avoidance leads to making assumptions that may or may not be based in fact. Four assumptions I’ve heard are:

  1. “If others don’t hire you, why should I?”
  2. “If you haven’t been working, your skills are probably out-of-date.”
  3. “If you can’t get a job you have lost the discipline of a work routine, or are lazy.”
  4. “If you can’t don’t follow application instructions, you won’t follow directions on the job.”

I bet those got you angry! So let’s use that angry energy to change those assumptions!

  1. Many people lose precious time because they don’t know how to effectively find their next job. Finding a job is “project management” which starts with a clear goal (the right job, not just any job) and strategies for appropriately connecting with people to let them know what you offer. There are many resources online, in your library or a career coach can help you map your job search project.
  2. You may have made family care-taking or other responsibilities your priority while not working in the traditional manner.  Think about the many skills and knowledge you’ve developed that can be of value to an employer such as patience, research, organizing, logistics, attention to detail, creativity, prioritizing, communication, and more.
  3. Get clear on your skills, knowledge and expertise and be able to talk about what you can do for an employer.  What problems can you solve? How can you save them time and money? What ideas and perspectives do you add that can help grow the organization and contribute to its mission?
  4. Keep your skills fresh.  Take free online courses, webinars, etc. Volunteer with community organizations to keep your skills in practice, and to stay in a “work” routine. Offer your expertise through consulting, temporary or project relationships.
  5. Re-skill yourself to do the type of work you will find rewarding and meaningful.
  6. Don’t let your desperation show. Stay positive when talking with people outside your intimate circle. Have 2-3 people who can encourage and keep you on track that you talk with on at least a weekly scheduled basis.

Address the time gap by describing what you have learned and accomplished and, most importantly, how it can be of value to the employer.

What long-term unemployment assumptions have you encountered and what are your strategies?


The Black Hole of Job Boards

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

black holeThe odds of getting a job by simply applying to online boards are slim.  It does happen happen occasionally. But the biggest complaint I hear is, “I’ve submitted hundreds of applications and never heard a thing.” Well, maybe not” hundreds.”

Job boards or Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are designed to screen out, not in.  Now that a job posting receives hundreds of applications, hiring managers need a way to find the most qualified candidates to interview.  Too many people apply for jobs for which they are not qualified.

Based on these facts, here is what you can do:

(1) Research your targeted organizations to learn about their recent developments. This could be a success in their market, new leaders, or how they handled something difficult.

(2) Make contact.  Do you know someone who works in the organization that would present you as an employee referral?  Good employees tend to know other good potential employees. Use your social media and references to help you find people to talk with in your targeted organizations.

(3) Send a letter or call them. Don’t ask if they have job openings, ask about organization and big problems they are working on.  Briefly describe how you have successfully handled similar problems or can contribute to finding solutions and ask if they would like to talk further. Make your resume a leave behind after a conversation or attach it with your email thank you.

(4) Ask for one or two others you could talk with and if they would introduce you to them. That way when you call, they are more likely to recognize your name. Be sure to let them know who made the referral.

(5) If there is not a job opening, you are creating the potential for a new role that only you possess the skills to fill. And now you have plenty of new information to make your application rise to the top.

Two Key Questions for Your Next Job

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

“Why are you interested in this job?”  This is a standard interviewer’s question, or should be. The hiring manager is wise to ask about your motivations to determine if you’ll be a good fit with the team and organization.

In looking for your next job, your first step is having a good idea of why we want a new job. It generally falls into categories of more money, better schedule or commute, and meaningful tasks. To ensure your next job is a “better” one, think through what a “ideal” job will be for yourself:Door to sky

1)  What salary and benefits address your work-life balance needs?

2) What experiences and skills do you want to use and develop?

3) You also need to be able to describe the type of work environment where you will be most productive and happy. This could be  to work on a larger scale, supervise a larger team, or master a new skill. Maybe you want the prestige of working for a particular organization, or in a consulting role, or the pleasure of being having a larger role and responsibilities in a smaller organization.

Knowing these things helps answer the interview question, “Why are you interested in this job?”

But don’t leave the conversation one-sided.  Balance the table by turning the question back to the interviewer, “Why would a top performer want to work in this job?” You’ll learn so much by asking that question. Is this a role that will meet your desires? You can probe deeper into the organization’s culture and values by asking the hiring manager, “What do you need in an ideal candidate that we haven’t talked about?”

You may not be the exact skill match right now, but with this information you can demonstrate your abilities to be successful in the position. Be ready to talk about how you took a similar risk and had a successful result.

I’ve made better decisions based on knowing the potential of meeting both my needs and the hiring manager’s needs by asking questions like these.

What questions have gotten you deeper understanding and greater satisfaction in career decisions?

Adaptability & Flexibilty are Top Workplace Skills

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

The international staffing agency Randstad issued a report in August detailing the results of their ongoing surveys that are part of the Randstad Engagement Index.

In this report, respondents show increased optimism and security in their jobs. Among the many data points I’m intrigued by the skills needed for continued success.  Respondents rated “flexibility” and “adaptability” as top skills needed to succeed in the workplace, followed by “knowledge of technology” and “teamwork” respectively.

How have you demonstrated “adaptability” in the past few weeks?  Consider your responses to proposed changes in your work.  Has there been a situation where you stepped up to help someone else in addition to your own work? Have you relinquished control over something? Perhaps you shared your knowledge or a cultivated resource to further a project. Being adaptable is not just about being compliant; it includes the  sincere desire to make or do things better. Often it means being in a very uncomfortable stage – consider adaptations in nature when plants and animals must adapt to changes in their environment or to keep from becoming a delectable food source.

If you are in job search mode, how have you adapted this new environment? Consider the work habits you’ve transferred to your job search. You have likely stretched outside your comfort zone to make new contacts and to learn new skills – social networking, preparing for interviews, writing and delivering accomplishments, job search strategies, etc.

What does “flexibility” look like?  Often its just the willingness to re-schedule time commitments. It is also the willing to consider and try a different solution that isn’t comfortable to you.  Could it be reserving “right” or ‘wrong” judgements to consider another viewpoint? Thank about the creative approaches you have taken…or could take.

I’d like to hear your examples of these.

21st Century Skills for Boomers

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Employers are managing costs by hiring people as contingent, temporary or project-based work. So they look to people who have both a breadth and depth of skills.

Boomers bring judgment and knowledge of how to get things done…especially when the computers are down.  But what Boomers may not have is the skills to be the most attractive contingent, or contract worker, to the employer. Much like being self-employed, the contingent candidate must have:

1) Excellent Customer Service Mindset and Skills.  As a contingent worker, your employer is your customer, as well as any of the internal functions and the service/product buying customers.  This comes through in how you respond, the initiative you take and how you resolve (or prevent) problems.

2) Contracting Savvy.  This is the business end of a good working relationship.  One key is to make explicit the expectations and boundaries without making demands.  Effective and good spirited negotiating and flexibility will help get the relationship off to a good start.  Determine who will be handling taxes (1099 or W-2?) and what company-provided perks are available to you.  Often they are very different than what employees have come to expect. ( Don’t assume you are invited to office social functions.)  It is up to you to have the required insurances and licenses.  Your state SBA or Tax/License offices can assist.

3) Courageous Communication. You must speak up to effectively provide feedback on meeting the expectations of your working relationship. Conversely, you must willingly receive feedback, no matter how badly it may be delivered, i.e., complaints, sarcasm, etc. Ask questions to clarify, not defend, then make the necessary corrections to stop, change, or start doing what’s needed from your Customer.

4) Time Management.  This is not only showing up on time and meeting deadlines, but also availability for handling the unexpected.  If you are juggling more than one project, it is ensuring that you’ve budgeted enough time that they don’t encroach on each other.

5) Integrity and Honesty. You are only as employable as your Customer trusts you.  Don’t skimp, take short cuts or do anything your employer can construe as unethical.  Be sure you know the workplace rules and policies. Then rise above the minimum expectation.

These things apply to many of the professions and 21st Labor needs. Whether you’re looking at the “hot” fields of  Health Care, Energy, Infra-Structure, Manufacturing, IT or Agriculture, boosting these skills can help you create and develop a stellar reputation.

Free Resources to Learn/Upgrade a Skill

Monday, April 18th, 2011

No matter what your role in the organization – executive or candidate – many people are finding that they need to learn a new version of a technology, or a greater proficiency in a another language in order to enhance their careers. Using the resources below you don’t have to attend a ‘class’ or reveal that you don’t know how to do something. You can make your work easier,  be more productive and able to take on more interesting assignments! Look under Open Courseware, Free Courses for business, technology, science, liberal arts (languages). This site also includes helpful job search tips. Over 650 free tutorials for IT and other technology. Need to learn Excel or update other MicroSoft tools?  Find links to learn Word, PowerPoint, Access, Project, SharePoint and more. For anyone who wants to improve your technology, literacy and math skills.

Abundance in the job search?

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Now that sounds like I’m in my own la-la land.  But Jason Alba started me thinking with his blog:

The concept of abundance has been around in many forms throughout many civilizations. Some may know it as ‘living with intention’ or ‘positive thinking.’

When it comes to job search, our emotional strength is critical to maintain endurance and mental health. With so much competition  making the job search even more challenging, its easy to fall into a mindset of scrambling for scraps.

I challenge you to stop. Stop your rat race for a few minutes.  Change your physical environment (if inside, go outside) to find something different to see, hear, and smell.  Take a really deep, slow breath.  Take a few more: slow and deep.  This should get you feeling a little more energized and clear-headed.

If you weren’t anxiously looking for a job, what else could you do with your skills and knowledge? Who needs the talents and perspective you offer?  What do others come to you for over and over again?  Dissect your skills and, like a word jumble puzzle, see what new ways you can combine them. An objective person can help with this. Next look around at the world to see what other groups or organizations could use the various combination of your talents. Use your down-time to keep these talents sharp (or sharpen others) with volunteer activities.  It will also help you answer the question, “What have you been doing since your last job?” but also might help make new connections and leads.

I Just Want A Job – Part 3 of 6 – Translation, please

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

I have experience and skills – why can’t they see that and just hire me?

Think of yourself as a shoe.  Are you a running shoe, a fashion boot or a rugged sandal?  What size are you? Employers see resumes and candidates and they have to have a way to determine if they are the right “fit” for the organizations.  How often do the shoes you order online fit well if you’ve never worn them before?  Why should an employer pick you off the shelf?  We have to let the employer know why we are the best “fit” for their organization.

The basic need is for us to be able to tell a potential employer why they should hire us.  We need to turn around what we want (“opportunity to use my experience and skills,” salary and benefits, “challenge”) and concentrate on what we can do for them.  Your resume and conversations need to clearly show how your skills, knowledge and experience is a benefit for them.  Don’t make them try to guess.

Organizations, professions and fields have their own internal language for job titles and roles.  We have to translate our accomplishments and expertise into a way that they can easily see what a great asset we will be for them.  Too often opportunities are missed because we weren’t speaking the same language, especially when it comes to job titles and responsibilities. This is a big challenge for folks making military to civilian transitions, private to public sector changes, and across industries. You don’t need to ‘dumb down’ your resume or descriptions, just be ready with examples. There are some helpful websites starting with and Then look at the niche (profession) website job descriptions and begin to match your knowledge and skills with their terms.

If you want them to hire you (buy you) you have to show you are a good fit.

ISO:Purple Squirrel – Resume Breadth & Depth

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Does your resume broadcast breadth or depth of your skills and and experience.  Your years of work experience – do you highlight doing the same thing for a long time (stamina and perseverance) or illustrate being able to use your skills and knowledge in a variety of situations and settings?  Employers read your work history to see your progression of responsibilities, often by promotions. They are looking for your depth of knowledge and experience in a particular area or competency. Yet, you may have spent years in one role, but had many opportunities to broaden your capabilities by working across functional areas of your company, working on projects, taking on additional responsibilities, solving problems and accomplishing things beyond what is usually considered part of your job title.  Does your resume easily show that?

HR specialists say employers who increasingly need multi-skilled employees aren’t willing to settle for less. They’d rather wait and hold jobs vacant. They even have a nickname for the highly sought but elusive job candidate whose skills and experiences precisely match an employer’s needs: the “purple squirrel.” “There are lots of requests for purple squirrels nowadays,” said Joe Yesulaitis, chief executive of Aavalar Consulting, an IT staffing firm.

Many companies have combined roles and responsibilities during the recession.  They have streamlined processes and are now looking for people to be able to do a variety of tasks and handle a wider assortment of responsibilities.  These include both managing your own work tasks and often supporting or managing people or processes.  Here are some examples:

+Everyone is a customer service specialist – whether for paying customers, or those within your company that require your work products/service.

+We must have a minimum level of computer and information processing capabilities.

+You must be able to be both an entrepreneur (finding cost savings or revenue opportunities even within your own area) and a team player (collaborating, not being the hero).

Having a combination of deep knowledge of a process or field of expertise and the ability to augment and distribute it along with effective communication and relationships building abilities helps you be the elusive “purple squirrel.”