Top 5 Interview Mistakes: #3 Is A Deal Killer

Have you ever had the feeling that you are shooting yourself in the foot? I have and a time or two it felt like I was shooting myself repeatedly. When you are job searching and getting invitations to interview but never getting the job, you may wonder what you aren’t doing well enough to receive an offer.

Here are the top 5 blunders that can sink your chances.

First up, Seeming distracted or disinterested in the interview, interviewer or the job. Sometimes when we are nervous and thinking we want to be anywhere but here, an attitude can come across to those around us. Try to appear confident even though you aren’t. Prepare for the interview as if you were going to have a conversation with a new acquaintance. Often interviewers are nervous,too. They have to find the best person for the open role and can face consequences if they don’t choose wisely. You help them and help yourself by appearing relaxed. Show interest in the company, the position, the interviewer, so that you can help your interviewer do her best.

Next no-no is talking negatively about a past employer. Even though you worked at a place that was disorganized, where they asked you to do too much for too little compensation; where the people were horrible and you couldn’t wait to leave: don’t mention it! Don’t bring your grudges to interviews. No matter how justified your feelings, speaking of them makes you appear to be a complainer, a disrupter, not someone that would be a good fit. Truth be told, the person hired may not be the most qualified for the job but the person the interviewer felt most comfortable with. If you are likeable and someone that he might enjoy having a conversation with over lunch you have an advantage.

Don’t whine. Put a positive spin on why you left (even if you were fired). You can say you maxed out the potential to grow the job. You can say that it became clear that the company culture wasn’t one where you felt comfortable. You can say you wanted to explore other opportunities. Whatever you say, keep it positive!

Number 3, the Deal Killer Appearing uninformed about the company or the role. Actually this probably should have been at the very top of the list. If you want the job you have to do the research. Even in a two-person shop you want to be armed with information. Use google, company websites, professional publications, competitors’ website, industry forums, conference agendas and presenters, bios and CVs to sus out details. You should know about the industry. Even if you’ve been working in this one for a while, read up on trends and projections, innovation, potential growth and who the players are. Read about the executives, see what is being said about them in the press, how they are viewed across the industry, their hobbies and habits, where they volunteer and to whom they donate. Get a snapshot of company culture. This list could go on forever.

You could be asked what you would prioritize if you were hired. You need to have context and a specific problem to address in your answer. To do that you have know what challenges the role, company and industry is faced with. If you don’t know, you will drop from contention.

The information requirement pertains to the person looking for a position selling greeting cards as well as an executive coach. If you are planning to work in a mall it would be handy to know if the mall has enough traffic to keep the store open or if there is a potential for taking the business online. Be sure you can demonstrate your engagement.

The fourth mistake is not having specific examples of your accomplishments that relate to the new role. This is where you have a few short stories to tell. If you’re asked about a particular item on your resume use the PAR (Problem, Action, Result) formula or the STAR (Situation, Task Action, Result) format. Give a brief description of what needed attention, your role in addressing it, what you did and the results. Use numbers where applicable to quantify the extent of the problem as well as any needed in your actions and finally in the result.

Here’s what I mean: ” We had invited 150 industry executives to a lunch meeting to discuss a supply problem. The caterer had a flood and cancelled at 10Am; I was asked to find lunch for all 150 people on a budget of $1000. I contacted few restaurants and found a deli that could put together box lunches including cookies decorated with our industry logo. I set up tables in the courtyard where we had a picnic. I received kudos for the unusual lunch and coming in $50 under budget”.

Prepare examples of your accomplishments that are flexible enough to serve for more than one kind of question. You’ll be glad you did!

Last but not least important is not asking good questions. If you don’t have any it will be assumed that you have no interest or aren’t paying attention. The most effective way to bring up questions is to do it in the course of the discussion. Ask for details, ask the speaker to tell you more. Keep the conversation going.

At the end of the interview you will want to ask about next steps, timing. You want to know if there is anything about you or your experience that they want more information on. Even better, ask if they have any concerns about your ability to do the job. If they do, you will be able to address their doubts before you leave the room.

Summary: An interview is a conversation in which you and the interviewer are trying to figure out if you can do the job and if hired will do the job. You both want to know if you like each other. Do you want to work for this company? Does the interviewer find you interesting and personable enough to fit into the company? Do you home work so that you are knowledgeable and bring your A-game. Make sure the interviewer feels she knows you, likes you and can trust you because her job may be on the line if she doesn’t hire the right person. The right person should be you!

50% of All Workers Are Part of The Gig Economy. Should You Be, Too?

The gig economy, also known as  portfolio work, is the way many people are earring a great living.  They work for themselves, lining up sequential jobs or multiple small jobs at the same time.

Many workers want full time gig work to create a balance between work and other aspects of their lives and many more earn extra money doing something they love.

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Make Your Own Schedule

Here are 10 ways that young workers can benefit from this lucrative segment of the economy.

  1. Your work hours can be flexible.  If you’re a night owl you can shift your work hours to match your biorhythms or use time off for interviews.
  2. You may be able to work from anywhere.
  3. The jobs you take on can be different from each other, allowing you to gain experience in a variety of aspects of your trade.
  4. Many jobs are short term or could be one project long.  If you don’t like an employer or a task, you know that there is a defined end to the job.
  5. Gig work is an opportunity to try out a career that you’re not certain is the one for you.
  6. Within industry standards, you get to set your own fees.  As you gain experience your income can rise rapidly.
  7. Think of  gigs as a paid internship.
  8. You can vary the kind of job you look for to round out your portfolio and create great resume material.
  9. Gigging builds a network. Each contact and person hiring you is a potential recommender and reference.
  10. Portfolio work forces you to learn how to promote yourself and sell your skills to anyone hiring.  You need  to understand how to do this even more when ready to work full time for one company or individual.


Questions?
 Call or text 610-212-6679; stephanie@accessguidance.com

Study Abroad: Make The Most Of Your Experience

Greek Orthodox Church
Greek Orthodox Church

You can learn a lot about the world by living for a time in another country.  Employers like to see cultural experience on a resume, especially if they do business with executives who were raised and educated abroad or have contracts with companies in other countries.

When you interview for an internship or job, talk about your time abroad in terms that highlight the value you bring to the position.

Academics: Plan ahead so that you will be able to take courses that meet your graduation requirements.  That might mean saving your electives and completing most of the courses in your major before you leave.  A little investigation may yield study abroad programs that will enhance your major field of study better than others.  When you return, find intersections between your studies and living abroad.

Cultural Exposure: Don’t spend your time with your room- or housemates.  Explore the town or city.  Get to know some of the locals by greeting and beginning conversations however limited your grasp of the language.  Unless advised otherwise, take public transportation or walk.  Make adults your target because they will have a broader perspective and a wider range or experience.  Take note of particular people or events that you will want to share with employers.

Just spending time outside the US isn’t enough to qualify for cultural literacy.  It’s necessary to actually experience the other culture as though it was going to become your own.

Here are some ways to make use of time spent living and learning to “Walk like an Egyptian“.

  1. Visit museums and locally important placesPunakha, Bhutan
  2. Attend festivals, services at the place of worship you favor, public events
  3. If its the custom in the country where you will be studying, learn to haggle and bargain
  4. Speak the language as often as possible.  It makes you look smart and friendly.
  5. Become familiar with customs and laws

Playing it Safe: The laws and customs vary from country to country.  Be respectful of the dress codes for work, school, and casual occasions so that you don’t embarrass yourself or you hosts.  In many places the short shorts and midriff baring tops worn at home are considered inappropriate.

Likewise, the law and customs regarding alcohol, pot and other drugs are different.  As a non-resident you may be judged harshly if you break a law that would earn you a warning if done at home.  Assume that you will not be able to get away with violations that a “townie” (local resident) teenager can slip under the radar.  In most countries you do not have the same rights-an attorney, presumption of innocence, lenience toward young adults- that Americans at home have.  The embassy may not be able to assist you if you get into legal trouble.

In Europe, teenagers may be permitted to drink beer and wine in public establishments.  Being 7 or 8 hours from home will not increase your tolerance for alcohol,  or reduce the likelihood of doing something you wouldn’t do sober.

Bottom Line:  Bring your most mature behavior with you.  Have a good time, meet lots of great people, prepare to use what you experience to help you in the job market.

elephant-241624_640If you are looking for a Gap Year experience outside the US or want to lean how to turn you Study Abroad into a job attracting tool, text or call Stephanie 610-212-6679; the email is stephaine@accessguidance.com.

Tuition Insurance?

Every now and then someone acts on an idea that we’ve been wondering about. tuition insurance may be a good purchase this year as colleges’ plans are up in the air and Covid-19 is spreading again. Here’s the article from Higher ED about GradGuard.

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/07/01/pandemic-related-uncertainty-leads-some-students-consider-tuition-insurance?utm_source=Inside+Higher+Ed&utm_campaign=4be655a9dc-DNU_2020_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1fcbc04421-4be655a9dc-198164661&mc_cid=4be655a9dc&mc_eid=6b286e8797

7 Good Questions To Ask The Interviewer

Some good questions to ask at the end of an interview include the following:

  1. What are the most important skills and qualities required to succeed in this job?
  2. What is a typical day or week for someone working on this job?
  3. What new innovations, changes, processes, systems, ideas or improvements do you expect the new staff to bring to this position?
  4. Is this a new position or a replacement?
  5. Who does this job report to and what is the preferred management style of the Supervisor?
  6. What do you like the most about this Company?
  7. What is the biggest challenge that someone in this position faces?
  8. How is performance evaluated or measured for this position?
  9. What is the biggest challenge that this organization is facing?
  10. Describe the company’s culture.
  11. What are the main goals or key priorities for the company for the next 5 years?
  12. What is the top priority or task that the new staff would have to accomplish within the first 30, 60 or 90 days?

Finally, also listen carefully during the course of an interview. Take some key notes and be able to comment or ask a question about something specific or important that the interviewer had mentioned earlier. This would show your attentiveness and attention to detail.

At the very end of an interview, close by saying that you are definitely interested in the job and then ask – What are the next steps in the interviewing pr

When Should Your Resume Be Longer Than One Page?

As you undoubtedly already know, a resume gets 5-6 seconds of attention while the reader decides to pursue the candidate.  Or not.   Your resume needs to make the most of that brief time so make your document easy to read and easy to scan for important information.

When you have enough experience that the only way to cover the relevant details is to reduce the font or squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, its time to add a second page.  This may take 10 years of  relevant work.

To make the most of your resume real estate, check the list of your accomplishments to be certain that you’ve eliminated all but those that are needed for the position.  Choose your format: chronological or functional.  You may find that one allows you to include more data than the other.

Choose a basic font like Verdana or Times New Roman in 10-12 point.  Bullets will make the document more readable and scanable.

For those with a short employment history, internship experiences can highlight skills as effectively as those gained through pay-check.  Add projects or research done for college course work if it relates to the job you’re going for.  For instance, if you were a business major and took the marketing role on team projects, show what you did and the outcome.

Sometimes you have more than enough data to fill one page but not much for the second page.  Unless you have about 1/3 of the second page covered, try reworking your entries.  You might be able to expand on one or two to fill more space on page 2.

Perhaps you have a longer work history or your experience is with the government or higher education.  Instead of a resume you may be expected to produce a Curriculum Vitae, or CV.  You will include your publications and presentations, and projects along with work experience.

Length is less important than clarity and the ability of the reader to identify the details that match up with the requirements of the role on offer.

When you’re ready for a resume or CV, let me help you put your best foot forward.  Once you learn how to create the document, you’ll be able to update and make new resumes as needed.  stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.

Before You answer An Interview Question Do This

Imagine you’re sitting in an interview for your dream job.
The interviewer asks you a big question, and your answer will make or break your chances of getting the job.
Everything’s on the line.
What’s the best way to answer so that you create a strong impression?
Not the way most people answer. Most folks list every reason they believe qualifies them for the job.
Why is that a bad strategy?
Shouldn’t you lay out all the reasons why you’re perfect the job?
Actually, no.
Consider this:
If I asked you to remember a nine-digit number, chances are you’d have a hard time recalling them all later. But if I asked you to remember a three-digit number, you’d have no problem.
So it goes with interviews.
If you lay all your cards on the table at once, it’s too much information. At the end of the day, an exhausted interviewer may have a few notes from your interview, but may not be able to remember much of what was actually said.
The key to giving memorable answers is ONLY responding with one or two clear points that directly answer the question and make a strong impression they won’t soon forget.
That’s where the “3-Second Rule” comes in:
Next time an interviewer asks you a question, resist the urge to share everything you think they need to hear. Instead, take three seconds and think to yourself: “What is the one big point I need to make to answer this question?”
After you’ve decided which card to play, then make your clear, compelling point and stop right there.
Your answer will be MUCH more memorable, and this will dramatically increase your chances of acing the interview.
How do you know which card to play?
It may sound obvious, but the key is crafting solid points ahead of time, and practicing your answers.
When you rehearse your answers before the interview, you’ll be able to stay cool under pressure. You’ll be able to take advantage of the “3-Second Rule” and choose your best, most succinct answer. And you’ll be able to make your one (or two at most) big points with confidence.

Practice These Behaviors To Be Ready For A Promotion

Nine Behaviors of Highly Promotable People

Gloria was a thirty-something member of the wait staff at a local restaurant.  She had experience gained while in college and was now picking up extra money on the early morning shift.

It wasn’t long before she was asked to become shift manager which was timely when her “day job” had been eliminated.  Within six months Gloria was working the busiest shifts, managing the other wait staff and substituting for the general manager as needed.

Here are the behaviors that made Gloria valuable.

She treated the restaurant as her own business, paying attention to the bottom line and her opportunities to add to it. She didn’t wait to be asked to do something but jumped in when she saw a job that needed doing; she also offered to help others when they were slammed with customers.

Gloria also listened to the customers, getting feed back on service, menu items and preferences.  By watching food production and service, Gloria learned to identify when a miscue was about to produce a delay in prep or timely service.  She was able to divert difficulties before they became bigger snafus.

Gloria’s flexibility led directly to the smooth running of the front of the house in harmony with the rhythms of the kitchen.

Solid employees bring positive energy to the job.  Their commitment to the success of the business distinguishes them from clock-in-and-get-a-paycheck Janes and Joes and elevates them to highly-promotable status.

 

Looking For A Job? Low GPA? Try This

From the National Association of Colleges and Employers

Emmit from ITESM asked:

“At the beginning of my studies I had some personal problems that affected my performance, at the end I did very good on my courses but I have a bad GPA. How should I handle this situation on an interview?”

Hello Emmit. I am sure many other students can relate to your challenge of having a personal issue that affected their grades in college. You may be surprised to know that you are not alone and also relieved to hear that having a low GPA is not the end of the world for your job search.

According to a Fall 2016 National College Health Assessment, 50% of undergraduate students and close to 40% of graduate students in U.S. colleges found it traumatic or very difficult to handle academics in the past year. Many students have difficulty adjusting to college academic work and sometimes have added personal stresses

How Do I Find Employers that Don’t Screen for GPA When Hiring?

Although 70% of larger companies often screen for GPA when hiring (according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2017 Report) the good news is that many smaller employers do not screen for GPA when hiring. How do you find thITESM, ese employers?

  • Look at job postings to see what the application requires. If the application form requires a GPA or transcripts, that may be an indication that GPA matters (not necessarily in all cases).
  • Create a list of employers of interest and check in with your career service office at Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores (ITESM) to see which ones may not require a high GPA. Having worked in a college career service office for over 10 years, I had close relationships with many of the employers and their hiring requirements.
  • Conduct informational interviews (brief 20-30 minute conversations with people who work at companies that interest you) and ask them how important was GPA in the application and interview process.

If I am Required to Disclose My GPA in My Application, What Can I Do to Offset This?

Show that you were balancing multiple activities outside of coursework. If you worked in addition to taking classes, specify how many hours/ week you were working. If you served as a leader of a student organization, be sure to include these additional activities and highlight any achievements on your resume. Relevant experience in your field can often be more important than a high GPA. Be sure to highlight any internships, relevant coursework, academic projects and volunteer work that may demonstrate relevant skills in your field.

If I Do Get Asked About My GPA During an Interview, What Should I Say?

While it is unlikely that you will get asked to explain your GPA in an interview (especially if your GPA is not required for your application), it could happen. Think about what happened and how you can frame it into a positive story. Leave out any deeply personal issues that may be awkward and hard to explain or that might raise a red flag.

As a hypothetical example, you might say that your family’s financial circumstances changed and you ended up having to work two jobs while taking a full load of classes to help cover your tuition and that your grades suffered. Be sure to add that you were able to work hard and pick your grades back up in your final year. Employers like to hear that you can bounce back from adversity.

Best of luck to you with your job search Emmit!

Lisa

There are many problems that we can solve together!   stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679