Tag Archives: College

Does Modality Matter?

networking

How many online applications have you filled out and submitted recently? Of those how many have you heard back from?

Is it rocket science?

Do you get a higher return rate from:

  • Online applications?
  • Applying in person?
  • Your personal network?
  • Your professional network?

Yes, I placed them in that order for a reason. Most folks spend the majority of their time performing activities from the top of this list, when in fact, you get the best return off the activities from the bottom. In your jo search as well as in business, in general, it really is often who you know.

In my world of finding jobs for graduates, the simple fact is, having someone in your corner ALWAYS get you better results than going it alone. Submitting 100 online applications will take longer and yeild fewer results than walking in and dropping off 20 applications in person. Even networking through friends and colleagues; vendors and clients can yield you 50% higher results, (aka interviews) than just dropping off applications/resumes.

Do the math, should you spend your time submitting appications into the black hole of the internet hoping they may reach a nameless, faceless person or should you spend your time leveraging the people you know?

The answer is clear; companies and organizations have yet to find the silver bullet of successful online recruitment. Yet more and more companies pop up each day clamining they have the answer, but they don’t. Nothing beats personal contact. Why do you think organizations spend literally billions each year on retention, recruitmet and onboarding programs? Because finding the right fit is hard, doing it over the internet is even harder. They may have a greater number of applicants, but are they the right applicants? No one has found an effective way to measure this.

If you leave this article with one pearl of wisdom, I hope it’s this; make it personal! Get others to speak on your behalf, let your personality shine, be memorable and don’t expect the internet to care about your job search results, because it won’t. Your friends, your connections, your network will care.

So to answer my initial question, yes modality matters. The internet is wonderful modality for making initial connections, however it won’t be as effective with your job search as will as a few connections and a sprinkle of personal contact.

For more interviewing tips, resume writing help, job search and career advice come back again to; “Connectthedotblog”.

Pay Attention to What You’re Applying For…Please?

dos and donts

Yes I am on a hiring frenzy again and can I just say, I really wish people would just pay attention. There is a reason that we list required skills, required education and required experience. If you don’t even come close, don’t waste your time or the employer’s time. Yes there is something to be said for stretching yourself and looking to make a career change. I would never want to discourage that, however sending through an application that looks like you applied by mistake it not the way to accomplish that goal. Call the employer ask about the experience required, what they are looking for and how you skills may or may not transfer, yes I’m telling you to conduct an informational interview.

Here are some simple Do’s and Do Not’s when applying for jobs:

  • Do customize your application, resume, objective statement (if you use one) and cover letter for each job.
  • Do Not assume they’ll overlook it when your cover letter is for a teaching position and you are applying for a Management role.
  • Do take the time to fill out the application completely.
  • Do Not put “see resume” in the application sections asking for your duties and skills.
  • Do have an objective party review your resume for edits and errors you may have overlooked (a second pair of eyes is always good).
  • Do not rush through your resume and just send it to get it in. You may as well not have sent it at all.

You will hear lots of people say that finding a job is a full-time job. This is absolutely correct. It takes time, effort, creativity, determination and a dash of gumption (yes I just used that word). To land the interview, let alone the job. If you aren’t willing to put your best foot forward during the research and application process, you might as well forget getting the interview.

Working with students and graduates I make the analogy, if you aren’t willing to put in at least as much time into your resume and application process as you put into figuring out your interview outfit; then you are wasting your time. You may as well be sending your applications/resumes out into the dark hole of the internet, because no one is going to see it. You will not get a phone interview, you will not get an in person interview, you will not pass go and you will not collect $200.

A little time and effort on the front end, is going to make your job search so much more productive. Take the time, personalize, preview and perform.

For more interviewing tips, resume writing help, job search and career advice come back again to; “Connectthedotblog”.

All Soft Skills Boil Down to Customer Service

soft skills

I arrived at the airport on Wednesday for a very long flight home only to find that my flight was over an hour delayed, this meant I would miss my cutoff for my final leg of my journey home. It was the last flight out and I was going to have to spend an additional night where I was. For those of you who are frequent travelers, this is not that uncommon an occurence. I received great service at the airport that night as they set me back up in my original hotel and provided for a taxi to take me to the hotel and return me to the airport the next morning. Again, not an unusual story.

The next morning once I made it to my first desitnation I went to check in on my upgrade and was met with complete disregard, as if going to the customer service desk was the biggest inconvenience in the world. I was bothering this woman who was there to assist me, how dare I! It occured to me at that moment what the practical application of ‘soft skills’ is and why employers spend so much time and money tring to identify employess that have it.

All soft skills, at their very basic level boil down to some form of customer service. While doing some research this morning on soft skills I came across an article titled Top 10 Soft Skills for Job Hunters . This is by no means an all inclusive list but I think it’s pretty close.

  • Strong work ethic. Will you arrive on time and do your job to the best of your ability with honesty and integrity?
  • Positive attitude. Will you approach your job with a smile and genuine joy for what you are doing?
  • Good communication skills. Will you interact with internal and external customers in a manner that best befits the organizations image?
  • Time management abilities. Will you treat others time (including your organization’s time) with the same respect you would like others to give you?
  • Problem solving skills. Will you approach challenges in a way that provides objective judgement focused on the needs of our customers and organization?
  • Acting as a team player. Will you work collaboratively with members of your group to provide superior results?
  • Self confidence. Will you lead by example and provide assistance where and when needed?
  • Abiliy to accept and learn from criticism. Will you listen and heed the counsel of those around you in a professional and positive manner?
  • Flexibility/Adaptability. Will you accept that sometimes objectives change with little to no warning and it is your job to continue to provide the best support of those objectives?
  • Working well under pressure. In times of difficulty will you continue to act in the manner above to smile, be positive and approach the task at hand?

At the most base level all soft skills are your ability to put the needs of your internal and external customers first, provide service with a smile, regardless of the task at hand, and the desire (it is a choice) to enjoy what you are doing. If you can master these few things then the list above will be taken care of. Soft skills, cultural fit, customer service are the same thing.

Your challenge is to be able to demonstrate that you possess these traits in your resume and in the interview. Make sure to tell stories about your experience that demonstrate your willingness to go out of your way to help your customers, co-workers, department and organization. Doing that will put you head and shoulders above the rest.

For more interviewing tips, resume writing help or job search advice check back again to; “Connectthedotblog”.

Why Do They Ask That?

imagesCAZDDIOR

Yesterday I received an instant message from a student who was asked a question during an interview she wasn’t sure how to answer. She was interviewing for a Medical Billing position and the hiring manager asked “What would you do if the computer system went down?” She was confused by the question and after the interview called to ask me why they asked that question and what the right answer should have been.

I asked her how she responded and she told me that she said “I would do other activities like filing and returning calls.” they asked the follow up question, “So you wouldn’t do any billing the whole day?” Ouch!

Ok let’s think about this. No this wasn’t a question designed to catch you off guard, although that was probably how it felt. This was a question to get to the root of your critical thinking skills, how would you behave under pressure, or if you had to improvise to still achieve your goal. In other words can you call an audible at the line of scrimmage?

Ok you’re at the line and you can read the defense is going to blitz to your left and your play is leaving you vulnerable on that side. So you have to call an audible, make a play change on the line to still move the ball toward the goal. Are you decisive enough to change direction when you see the line collapsing in?

Once she understood the reason for the question, she then asked me what I would have said. I would have asked if they have resources in place for a paper only process in the event this happens. If they do not, I would probably make it a priority to help devise a process to accomplish the daily tasks with a manual or paper process in the event of a power outage or computer crisis. What I would want to make sure is that all my daily tasks were able to be completed in a timely manner regardless of computer issues.

Understanding the question goes a long way to making sure you’re providing the best answer. The questions hiring managers ask are purposeful, to see if you are a good fit culturally, skillfully, experientially and professionally. A good way to think of those, not so obvious questions, is to just think what would you want to hear as an employer? You would want to know that the individual you are hiring will be dependable (there on time for their scheduled shift), professional (able to express to your customers the image you want), adaptable (able to change priorities as needed by the organization), and decisive (able to make decisions for the benefit of the organization). This is not an all-encompassing list; but you can’t just come out and as a candidate, so will you be here every day, on time? You know what that answer would be, true or not.

Think about what kind of employee you would want to hire, what would you want to know about them and answer the question accordingly.

For more interviewing tips, resume writing help or job search advice check back again to; “Connectthedotblog

Help A Shark Ate My Resume!

interview etiquett

I had to put a catchy title out to get your attention. The truth is, everyone has an opinion about interviewing etiquette, which do you follow. I had an extraordinary high school social studies teacher and my junior year he gave me a great piece of advice. “Betsy”, he said, “the world is full of people with opinions. One thing you have to understand, opinions are like butt holes (sorry couldn’t use the real word), everyone has one and they usually all stink.” Dressing for an interview is not rocket science, nor is behaving like a professional. However several of my colleagues felt this was an area that may need further discussion so here we go.

  • Always arrive 15 minutes early.
  • Always leave your cell phone in the car not in your purse/pocket/portfolio.
  • Only 1 in 4 job seekers bring a portfolio to an interview. If you don’t’ have one, get one.
  • Smile!
  • Look everyone you meet in the eye, shake their hands firmly and speak clearly.
  • You have never had a bad boss, co-worker, customer, company or experience with a previous employer.

If you have spent more time figuring out your outfit than you’ve spent researching the company, you’re already in trouble. Make sure you google the organization, look up their mission and vision and any recent news about them. Never go into an interview with out at least three very thoughtful questions to ask the hiring manager that aren’t, salary, schedule or vacation centric. Always, always have a way to relate a personal connection you have to their organization.

  • There is a difference between interview shoes and Friday night shoes. Please differentiate!
  • When you look in the mirror after you’ve dressed for the interview and think, “dang I look cute”, it’s probably not the right outfit.
  • Sensible shoes, minimal jewelry and make up, hair out of your face, teeth brushed, deodorant on and no perfume.
  • If you think your skirt may be too short, it is.
  • If you think your shirt may be too low cut, it is.
  • If you question any part of your ensemble, there is a reason, listen to your inner self and make the right decision.

An interview is a time to shine. You want the hiring manager to see you for the diamond that you are; you also want them to be able to visualize you actually doing the job. If any part of what you say or what you wear makes them question how you will fit into their world, game over. No matter how casual the interview may feel, never let your guard down for a minute. Reframe all questions in a positive way. Only wear an outfit your mother would approve of and don’t say anything you wouldn’t want your father to hear come out of your mouth.

Again, it’s not rocket science, its common sense. Say please, and thank you, yes ma’am and yes sir. Shake hands, smile and follow up with a thank you note within 3-days. If you can take just these few tips with you to the interview, then you will be playing head and shoulders above your competition.

For more interviewing tips, resume writing help or job search advice check back again to; “Connectthedotblog

Power of Positivity

positivity

In your last interview were you asked any of the following questions?

  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Tell me about the worst supervisor you ever had?
  • Why do you want to leave your current position?
  • Tell me about the most challenging co-worker you’ve ever delt with?
  • Have you ever delt with a difficult customer, what did you do and what was the result?

Do you know why hiring managers ask these questions? Well let me tell you. They want to see if you are a positive or negative person. Yes it really is that simple, and yes we ask those questions on purpose. We know if you are going to talk bad about a previous, supervisor, co-worker or company; you’ll talk bad about us as well. If you speak about yourself in negative terms, it’ likely you’ll do the same about the people around you.

These questions, for the most part, are not about finding out if you had a bad boss or co-worker so we can find out how to manage you better. These are questions designed to see how you will communicate with and about the organization you desire to join. These are questions designed to see if you are going to be a positive or negative force with our organizational culture.

So to answer your question, yes they are trick questions; however they are not tricky to answer in a way that will make you shine.

  • When asked about your weaknesses, your response should be about your greatest areas of opportunity. After all a weakness is just an area in our life we have not developed as fully as we would like. It’s not a weakness, is an opportunity for us to grow in areas we are not as strong.
  • When asked about your worst supervisor/boss or co-worker or customer; again you need to reframe the answer. You haven’t had bad anything; you may have had challenges with communication, direction or understanding but in each case you were able to overcome these challenges to create a satisfactory work environment or experience.

It’s not rocket science! It does however, take practice. Reframing comments to maintain a positive style of communication is a skill that must be honed. Hiring managers will continually throw questions at you to coax you into a feigned level of comfort to get you to provide them with a negative response. Don’t fall for it! Organizations are drowning with applicants and they are looking for reasons to disqualify candidates and get down to the gems. This is one of the ways they will accomplish their goal.

If you want to stand out; be smart, thoughtful, professional, and always, positive. I can’t stress this enough! Hiring managers want to bring productive, professional and positive individuals to their organization. It’s up to you to show them you are the best choice.

For more interviewing tips, resume writing help or job search advice check back again to; “Connectthedotblog

Charming Can Only Get You So Far

strike three

I was interviewing a candidate the other day for a Director level position in my organization. Now to be fair, the candidate wasn’t really qualified for the job but I could play connect the dots from his job experience to the skills needed for someone in this position to be successful. Plus he seemed like a colorful character from his background so I thought, why not! I scheduled him for a Skype interview and set to work.

First there were multiple technical difficulties. He tried to take the interview on his tablet, while at work, surrounded by people. Strike one!

Then his tablet and his phone cut out, not once, not twice, but three times. Ball one!

Next he did NOT research my organization or even read the job description so he could not speak intelligently about either. Strike two!

He borrowed a phone from a co-worker, called back and apologized, while at the same time asking his co-workers to keep it down while he was on this call. Ball two!

I asked him, “When you reviewed the job description, which areas did you feel would be the most challenging for you?” He replied, “None of them, I don’t think I’ll have any challenges at all.” Ball three!

It’s a full count…needless to say; I’ve known pretty much from the beginning that this is not someone that I’m going to move forward with. However I wanted to get to the final question, because I was really curious as to how he would answer it. He’s labeled himself a ‘talker’ and that he can motivate and coach anyone, and that there are no challenges he can’t overcome. I’m trying to decide if he is charming in an overconfident kind of way or completely arrogant in a really annoying way.

“So why should I consider you for this position?”

His reply, “because I’m me, and no one is going to be better than me.” Strike three, you’re outta there!

One of the best things about a full count, there’s only one pitch left. You have one more chance to hit it out of the park, walk to first base or fail miserably. (And yes, for my baseball fans, I know they can hit a foul ball and it remains a full count; however for the purpose of the argument let’s assume one more pitch.)

Having a powerful personality, the ability to converse easily with people combined with a charismatic energy will get you much farther in life than those who don’t possess such characteristics; however it will only get you so far. I would choose someone with a strong skill set, who understands the work that needs to be done and the qualities of leadership necessary to succeed over someone who is relying solely on their personality to move them forward.

This candidate was one question away from a bottom of the 9th walk off home run; but he came to the plate swinging a twig at a fastball, he didn’t even make contact.

  • He didn’t research the company or the specific job.
  • He didn’t research the industry.
  • He wasn’t prepared to answer real questions about any specifics; e.g. his experience and how that related to the job requirements.
  • He actually said his personality gets him what he wants, and I think he believed it.
  • He certainly didn’t seek any assistance with how to appropriately answer interview questions

When given the opportunity to redeem an incredibly lack luster ‘at bat’ performance he had no idea what to say other than “I’m me”. Well you’re obviously not Babe Ruth, but perhaps this approach to interviewing has worked for him in the past. As far as this interview went, it was like watching my 10 year old son try to hit off Randy Johnson; painful to watch, but I love rooting for the underdog.

For more interviewing tips, resume writing help or job search advice check back again to; “Connectthedotblog

You Said What in the Interview?

Dont

Have you ever been in an interview and said something you almost immediately wish you hadn’t? Worse yet did you say something you shouldn’t have and didn’t even realize it, only to find out later that was the deciding factor for you not being chosen for a position?

I have read several articles this week revolving around the kind of questions job seekers ask that they probably shouldn’t have.

Last week I was sitting in my office when a colleague shared that she was just interviewing a candidate for one of her open positions. The candidate asked about the work schedule and when she was informed it was 8am to 5pm her response was, “Oh, I can’t get up that early.” WHAT?

Then a friend of mine forwarded me an article she had just read titled, “ 8 of the Strangest Interview Questions Job Candidates Have Asked ” This highlighted yet again the type of career limiting questions that folks ask in an interview.

Words of advice:

  • Think before you speak. The question might seem benign to you, however how may it be received by the hiring manager looking for their next rock star?
  • Words have power and meaning. If you are unsure how a comment may be received, rephrase, reframe or refrain. Once it’s out there you can’t take it back, and yes they will remember it.
  • Know your audience. Take a moment to try and size up your interviewer; are they outgoing and gregarious or are they reserved and calculating? Whatever their demeanor, you should mimic the energy level. Don’t come out the gate with a crazy joke for someone who has a hard time smiling or shaking hands; you may turn them off when you want to impress them.
  • Exercise sound judgment. Don’t tell the interviewer that you can’t get up early enough to work the schedule they are hiring for. Don’t ask if Mom can come too. Don’t ask if the boss is single or how quickly you can put in for a raise or transfer.

The main purpose of an interview is to showcase your skills, experience and cultural fit. The best way to accomplish that is to have the hiring manager be able to visualize you doing the job. If you are asking questions during that first encounter that will cause them to take pause…your chances of getting the call back are slim.

For more interviewing tips, resume writing help or job search advice check back again to; “Connectthedotblog

If you were a Muppet which would you be? The Strangest Interview Question I’ve Been Asked

kermit-the-frog-the-muppets

I’ve been working with students and graduates on mock interviews. The one question I always get asked is, “What is the strangest quetion you’ve ever been asked in an interview?”

  • Well, it’s not, “If you were an animial what would you be?” (A Lion by the way.)
  • “Which cheesy 80’s song do you listen to the most?” (Anything Richard Marx.)
  • “Which Muppet do you most closely identify with?” (This is a toss up between Kermit the Frog and Fozzy Bear, and is a constant souce of disagreement between my mother an myself.)

The strangest interview question I ever received came from a man I never thought would hire me, at a company I didn’t think I was qualified to work for, at the first interview I thought I’d blown. One question threw me into such a tail spin, I didn’t know if I was coming or going.

“So, I’m going to give you three minutes to ask me anything you want to ask, then you get 60-seconds to tell me what you’ve learned.”

I spent three minutes shooting off questions trying to discover family, home, hobbies, education, religious, and political information about my interviewer.

“Time’s up,” he said. “What did you learn?”

My response? “Well, did you want me to find out about you personally or professionally?

His response? “You probably should have asked that question first, shouldn’t you?”

OUCH! I began to shot off all my Holmesian conclusions and with a look of sheepish satisfaction, craving a fatherly approval, he looked at me and replied, “Thank you. We’ll be intouch.”

I forgot to mention this was my last interview of a day-long round robin of interviews for what I thought was a dream job and I just blew it, or so I thought.

I believe all stories should have a happy ending. Needless to say, I did get the job, and within 2-years, he was my direct supervisor. He promoted me to my first department head position and became my best, most infuential and beloved mentor. One day I got the gumption up to ask him about the question.

“Jim, what was the point of that question? What were you looking for in an answer?”

“Bets, there is no right or wrong answer. It is a question to see how you can communicate in a stressful or uncomfortable situation with executive level leaders. You did great. You didn’t stop. You fully used your time. Your answer was full of humor and insight, and you spoke articulately.”

It’s not alway about the right answer. but the right attitude. Be positive, be confident, and take risks. You never know where they can lead you. Mine lead me to a career path that, if I had hesitated trying to find the right answer, I might have missed out on.

For more interviewing tips, resume writing help or job search advice check back again to; “Connectthedotblog

Their nose Knows if you’re a good fit – Sensory Part 2

pignose

You’re in the perfect well thought out ensemble. You’re groomed, ironed, smiling and confident…but how do you smell? Seems like a silly question but let me pose this to you?

Did you…

  • Drink coffee or soda prior to your interview?
  • Light up to ease your nerves?
  • Sprayed perfume or cologne?
  • Used a ton of hairspray?
  • Have you brushed your teeth?
  • Applied deodorant?
  • What do your shoes smell like?
  • Are you a gum chewer?
  • Are you a mint chomper?
  • Did you have you a drinking binge last night?

All of these can affect your interview.

Did you know that smell is one of the strongest senses and one of the easiest to cause discomfort?

Have you ever walked up to shake someone’s hand and their breath made you want to take a step back? Have you walked by someone you know was just smoking because the cloud followed them into the building? Did you go out to celebrate the night before your interview? You know that the smell of alcohol can exude from your pores for up to 12-hours after you finished drinking, right?

It may seem obvious; in reality it is obviously overlooked.
My husband was in the process of hiring a new student worker. He had met with several candidates and was on his final interview walking in the door when he experienced an extremely offensive smell. Now before you get carried away, he has one smell aversion and that is watermelon. I can’t even have the stuff in the house, unfortunate for me because I love it. The student walking in the door had just been chewing on a piece of watermelon gum and had disposed of it before she came in. However, the smell was so strong that he couldn’t even make it through the interview. He asked all the required questions, thanked her for her time and sent her on her way. Did she get the job, no, was that fair, maybe not. However, this speaks exactly to what we’ve been talking about. You need to present a clean, neat, professional slate that an employer can see in the job. My husband just saw watermelon pink and green coming in the door with that smell every day. It wasn’t going to happen.

Before you leave your house make a check list.

  • Shower!
  • Did I brush my teeth (after the coffee)?
  • Did I apply deodorant?
  • Don’t apply cologne or perfume.
  • Don’t smoke before your interview!
  • Don’t chew strong smelling gum or candy.
  • Don’t party the night before; your cosmo will come seeping through your pores.

    You never know who you are going to interview with, what preconceptions, hang ups and prejudices they are bringing to the table. Your best chance is to come in as a neutral palate they feel they can write on. Check yourself, and be yourself…the very best version of yourself.

    Check back on Wednesday, August 14 to hear more about how sound can affect your interview.