interview practice

Your Job Search Treasure Map 0

Job Search Treasure map by Joel QuassDream job seem out of reach? One of the biggest reasons people don’t get where they want to be is they don’t know where there is. Yogi Berra said it best:

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up somewhere else”

If you have the map, landing the job of your dreams is actually simple. You start by not “spraying and praying.” Focus on a specific industry, company, and position. Then focus your plan even further.

Use your focus to identify traits of successful people already doing the job you want. Search LinkedIn and job postings for key words, skills and successful outcomes of people in the position.

Finally, make sure to find the employers ‘pain point” and sell the fit, not yourself. Showing how you can solve the employer’s problem is the best way to stand out. In the end, it’s not about you.

The majority of your competition is not going to do everything necessary to land their dream job. They won’t put enough energy into focusing their job search. They won’t do the research and digging to figure out how they can solve the employer’s problem. They won’t have a map where X marks the spot, showing the path to their dream job.

So grab your treasure map and do these three things. Before you know it, you will hear “you’re hired.”

Three Reasons You Have Job Search Stress 0

Joel Quass, Professional Resume Writer, offers clients reasons why their job search should be focused, making it less stressful.You are busy applying for jobs, you are checking out job postings and you have practiced answering interview questions you found on-line. Then why are you feeling so stressed?

Here are three things that create stress and how to fix them.

  1. You don’t have a plan. You know you want (or need) a job, but you are not clear what you want to do. If you have an “I’ll take any job” attitude, you make it harder. If you do not know what job you should have, how will a future employer?
  2. You are not focused. You are “Spraying and Praying,” hoping if you send out enough resumes, someone will want you. Spending time researching specific industries and specific companies in areas you want to work will yield faster results. Learning about the companies will give you confidence and questions you can ask during the interview. The more focused you are, the easier it is for an employer to see you in their company.
  3. You live in the moment. Finding work is work. You get overly excited when you get a call.  You are on a high because “you know you’ll get the job.” You stop all job search efforts. When the phone interview doesn’t result in an in-person interview, you crash down and have to begin all over again. Staying the course and setting daily, weekly and even monthly goals help keep the highs and lows in check.

Reduce job search stress now by developing a plan, focusing on your target companies, and conducting your job search for the long haul.  The more you do this, the sooner you will hear “you’re hired.”

Never say “hard working, motivated, or team player” during the interview 0

Team PlayerWhat Job Candidate says - “Hard working, Motivated, Team Player Seeking Dream Job with Big Salary”

What Hiring Manager hears - “Limited skills, brown-nosing, seeking a paycheck working as little as possible”

It still amazes me that job candidate’s think the way to get a job is to say things about themselves. Hiring Managers aren’t interested in you telling them you are a “hard worker”, they are interested in you showing them. What situation did you face in the past, what action did you take to correct the situation and what was the outcome?

Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior

Demonstrating through a specific example, a story, lets the future employer see how you worked in the past. They can take that specific story and visualize you solving their problem, their reason for wanting to hire you. They will also use it to remember you.  Here’s a true Customer Service example I gave during an interview:

I was the Store Manager for Best Products in Hopewell Virginia. It was 8 PM on Christmas Eve when I got a phone call from a customer who had bought a ride-on car for his 8-year-old son. The father was putting the car together after his son went to bed when he found the battery for the car was missing from the package. The father had called me to ask what I was going to do about it.

I told the man I would meet him at the store. I called my Assistant Manager  just in case it was a set-up (it wasn’t) and we drove to the store. We found the battery the man was missing and his 8 year-old son’s Christmas was saved.

Now I could have said “I’m a people person” when asked about my customer service skills or I could have said “I love people.” As Jay Block famously said “My dog’s a people person, but I would never hire her.” The story, specific to the job, was a key to landing the job.

By setting up situations similar to the ones you will face with the new company, your specific examples will demonstrate that you are “hard working, motivated, and a team player” without ever saying it.

This often leads to the employer saying “you’re hired.”

To Ace The Interview, Blow-up The Job Description 0

Successful job seekers spend time rehearsing interview questions. I’ve written about ways to make that fun and productive (think and speak on your feet)  and (think and speak on your feet, part 2). Recently, I discovered a new way to prepare answers to key interview questions.

As I was researching a job posting looking for key words, I spread the list of core competencies apart so I could see them better. As I put white space between each line, it hit me.

Before "Blow-up"

Before “Blow-up”

Job Description "Blown-Up"

Job Description “Blown-Up”

Blowing-up the space between the lines can be used to write accomplishments with specific examples (STARS); situations; the action you took, and the result.

Use the space to make notes for yourself to use during the interview.

Now you have a “cheat-sheet” for all the major questions you will be asked.

Blow-up each bullet point in the job description and you will be that much closer to sitting in your new hire orientation

Are you making your own weather? 0

A fire crew works on a back-fire to prevent the wildfire from crossing Ferretti Rd. on Thursday August 22, 2013, as the Rim Fire has grown to over 36,000 acres in Groveland, Calif. Photo: Michael Macor, San Francisco Chronicle

A fire crew works on a back-fire to prevent the wildfire from crossing Ferretti Rd. on Thursday August 22, 2013, as the Rim Fire has grown to over 36,000 acres in Groveland, Calif. Photo: Michael Macor, San Francisco Chronicle

After speaking with a client this morning, I was reading a news article about the Yosemite wildfire. The TV interviewer was asking about the latest conditions. Lee Bentley of the US Forest Service said “This fire is making its own weather.”

This struck a nerve for me. In speaking with my client, she was concerned that her total employment history wasn’t long enough to justify the position she was applying for. Yet, as I reviewed her resume, she had progressed exactly the way others had done who held that position. The fact that she had done it sooner was a stumbling block for her, not an achievement. She was “making her own weather.”

As a Certified Employment Interview Professional, my job is to help my clients to believe in themselves and their value to a future (or current) employer. The first job is always to get the client to make “positive weather.” If they don’t believe in their value, it’s hard to get someone else to take a chance.

Luckily, we control how we think about things and can change our attitude. I’m sure the US Forest Service wishes they could do that.

Three reasons not to “wing it” during the interview 0

Don't wing it instead of preparing for a job interviewDespite the well-known fact that a résumé’s purpose is to land the interview and the interview’s purpose is to land the job, many people focus almost entirely on the résumé. Then when the call comes in for an interview, they wing it. Here are three reasons this is not the best approach:

  1. Sticking points – If there is something in your work history that you are uncomfortable about, it is natural to be apprehensive when it comes up. If you haven’t scripted and practiced your response, you may stumble over your words and not say what you want to say.
  2. Why should I hire you? – Knowing your strengths and skills is not enough. Without practice and rehearsal, getting the answer to come out during the interview is tough. Understanding what the answer should be requires research and preparation about the company, its challenges and the specific position.
  3. It’s about you is not the answer – Focusing on you and your skills alone is not what an employer wants to hear. Focusing on how your skills will solve their problem is the answer. Most people who wing it aren’t prepared to demonstrate this during the interview.

Take the time to prepare before the phone rings for the interview. Commit to doing the research, practicing answers and scripting your responses to the questions you are uncomfortable with. Know what the company needs so you can demonstrate that when asked why they should hire you.

Investment in your future by doing the work now so you don’t wing it during the interview. The payoff  is  you will find yourself in your new hire orientation much sooner!

Three job seeker truths you may not want to hear 0

Pick-MeTradition has it that getting a job is about “me getting a job.” The fact that it involves an employer, someone who will give me a job, is secondary.

Here are three truths you must understand or you will not land the job:

  1. It’s not about you – In reality, the job search is about solving the problem an employer has. It doesn’t matter that you want the job, it matters if they want you. Qualified is different from desirable. The employer must see you as part of their team, as one of them. Unless you understand the culture, they will not see you fitting in.
  2. You are saying too much – Listing job titles and descriptions is a sure way to land your resume in the circular file cabinet. Starting with a career objective statement will produce yawns. Responsible for, duties included and managed… fill the page without saying anything to capture the imagination of the reader.
  3. You are not saying enough - Not having an attention grabbing, brand/value proposition at the top of your resume gives no reason to go on. Not giving specific, measurable examples of success leave the reader wondering what you actually do. Not knowing the employers needs and not tying the solution to you makes the interviewer say “next.”

Job search success today is more than “spray and pray.” Getting the right information with the right specifics to the right people can take weeks or months off a job search. Simply addressing these three truths will set you apart from the cookie cutter, on-line free resume template crowd.

Not facing these truths will make it hard to hear “you’re hired.”

You sent the résumé – five questions to ask before answering the phone 0

  1. Have I researched the company? Are you ready for the phone interview, asks Joel Quass
  2. Are my notes available when the phone rings?
  3. Have I thought about what they might ask in a phone interview?
  4. Do I know why they should hire me?
  5. Do I have stories of success I can share?

“You only get one chance to make a first impression.” Still, I hear candidates say their phone rang before they had a chance to learn more about the job. Instead of hearing “you’re hired”, they got  ”we are interviewing many people for this position, don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

If this job is the one, take the time to do your homework. Then have a system for keeping your notes about each company.

A winning  résumé demonstrates to the reader why you should be hired. When the phone rings, be ready to build on the résumé with stories of success. Practicing those stories in front of a mirror or with someone will make you more comfortable.

Taking the time to prepare before sending your résumé will build your confidence. Confidence during the phone interview leads to an in-person interview which leads to those magical words “you’re hired”.

Don’t Post That! Manage Your Online Reputation to Get That Job 0

Two People are shocked before learning  from Joel Quass, professional speaker and branding expert

 

As a recruiting specialist for some high-profile companies, I have waded through more laughable job candidates than there are pigeons in Times Square. According to a survey by the social media monitoring service Reppler, up to 91 percent of companies use social networks to screen potential employees, and a whopping 69 percent of them have rejected candidates because of something they posted on a social media site.

With statistics like these, you would think that more applicants would think before they post, or at least make sure their on and offline behavior is congruent. This simply isn’t the case. I have seen impressive interviewees tweet about how stupid I (the interviewer) am moments after they leave my office, and worse. If you want to leverage social media to your professional advantage, these tricks of the trade are worth taking into consideration.

Build Your Backbone Smart

Dan Schwabel, author of “Me 2.0″ and founder of the personal branding agency Millennial Branding, believes people don’t get jobs through computers; people get jobs by connecting with other people. All of your social media outreach should take this into consideration. Use sites like linkedin.com and monster.com to connect with people you may already know. Don’t hesitate to drop the name of a respected professor who gave you a good grade, or ask one of your parents’ well-known friends for a recommendation.

Learn How To Post Right

There are entire blogs dedicated to the terrible things people post on social media sites: too much personal information, blatant examples of their stupidity, etc. If you’re reading this article, then you’re probably not one of them—but that doesn’t mean you aren’t guilty of breaking unofficial social media etiquette rules. Forbes reputation expert Davia Temin reminds us of some rookie professional mistakes:

  • Don’t eat and tell. No one cares about what you ate or who you had lunch with.
  • Be wary of anything emotional. Social media is not a place to share private feelings, sadness or outrage. Unless you are a professional political commentator, comedian or someone who is paid for your point of view, it probably isn’t very insightful and it doesn’t reflect well on you.
  • Don’t brag about anything. It’s always obvious or drug/alcohol related.

Back It Up in the Real World

Once you’ve populated your social networks with an honest resume and profile and mastered the art of the relevant post, it’s time to brave the real world. Spend some time putting together professional materials and perfecting your elevator pitch and handshake for the in-person meeting.

  • Business cards: They still matter a lot. A business card can leave a more memorable imprint than click-away digital content. Companies like PrintingForLess.com offer professional promotional material for a bargain price.
  • Appearance: You won’t be judged on what you look like, but you will be judged on what you did wrong. Iron your shirt. Brush your hair. Don’t have chipped nails, and don’t pretend like we didn’t already scope you out online.

Guest Post Jennifer Jones

Jennifer is a recent graduate who majored in finance. Next stop, the Wall Street Journal, Perth edition.

Can an employer make a left turn from your résumé? 0

All I wanted to do was pick up my new sport coat. I had ordered it on Sunday and was told it would be ready Wednesday morning. My route took me a different way than I traveled on Sunday as I was dropping off some printing down the street.

Joel Quass, Professional Speaker and Author, speaks on management and leadership topics trys to get to Ocean County Mall

Traveling north on Hooper Avenue, I saw the signs for Ocean County Mall. It seemed to be telling me to make a right before the Bay Avenue exit, taking me down an exit ramp.

Arriving at the bottom of the ramp, I noticed a very large concrete barrier between me and my intended route. I could not make the left turn into the Mall.

Forced to continue on Bay Avenue, my next thought was to make a right into the entrance of Pier One and then cross Bay Avenue into the Mall.

Incredibly, there was that concrete barrier again. Now I am forced to make another right, continuing once again down Bay Avenue. The next cross street is Oak Avenue. Oak crosses Bay with large NO-U-TURN signs plastered around the intersection. So I made a left and turned up Oak Street. Now I can see the mall again in the distance.

The first entrance into the Mall from Oak is guarded by a large No Left Turn sign, propelling me forward to the next intersection with a traffic light. Once on the Mall property, I must now traverse their outer perimeter roadway to get to my final destination. Had I not needed the jacket for a conference presentation Friday morning, I would have abandoned my effort several turns ago and headed home.

After picking up my jacket, it dawned on me that I having read hundreds of cover letters and résumés that follow a similar path. I know where the author wants to end up, but I can’t get there from what they have written. Just like the first sign instructing me to turn right to get to the mall, the next transferable skill is hidden in the résumé  behind a concrete barricade.

Make your résumé and cover letter easy to navigate. Do not hide the good stuff behind No-U-Turn signs and concrete restraining walls. Arriving at the store was necessary for me. An employer thwarted by a hard to follow résumé will likely toss it and move on.

Organize and clearly mark the directions. Keep the employer from turning around and taking another road, another résumé, that is easier to follow. If an employer can follow your résumé’s traffic pattern and make that left turn easily into how your skills will benefit their problems, then it has done its job.