When you apply for a new job, any prospective employer is going to ask for at least one or two PROFESSIONAL references. No, not personal. Your performance at the interview remains critical in the process of selecting the best candidate, but having strong references can just help seal the deal.
1.It’s about quality AND quantity
When it comes to references, it pays to give yourself plenty of options. If you depend on only one or two people to vouch for you, you could end up stuck if one of them doesn’t return calls or leaves the company where you worked. Aim to build a positive relationship with at least four or five key professionals in every job you work at. This allows you to choose the right people for the role you’re applying for. It’s possible, for example, that one reference may have more experience relevant to the job you’re seeking, which would mean that person could provide a more informed referral.
2. Get the details right
It may seem basic, but make sure you give your prospective employer the right details for your references. At a minimum, provide email address, phone number, company you worked with them at and their job title. People prefer to give a reference orally rather than in writing. Many recruiters prefer this form of contact, too, so don’t be surprised if you are asked for a telephone number.
3. Get permission
Your references should always be aware that they are going to be contacted in order to give you a good referral. Out of courtesy, when you intend to name someone as a reference, contact the person to ask permission. Over time, some people might tell you that you can always list them on your resume, but you should still let them know you’re doing so. A heads-up works to your advantage. It means that your references won’t be surprised by a prospective employer’s phone call and that they will be on the lookout to quickly return a call asking about you. No wants the person to be taken off guard and not able to recall who you are while the new potential employer is asking about you.
4. Avoid surprises and plan ahead
When you arrange for someone to act as your reference, ensure that he or she understands what he should tell your prospective employer. It goes without saying that you want to ensure the reference is positive, but you can improve the referral by asking your reference to highlight certain capabilities or attributes you know the employer is interested in. Have a conversation with your reference to establish some key things she could say about you.
5. Remember to show appreciation
You never know when you will want to ask someone for a reference, so make sure you always thank those who speak on your behalf. You can do this orally or a nice email. A glowing reference could be the difference between you and another candidate, so investing time in your references could have a significant impact on your career. Let your references know how the job hunt played out, then continue to involve them as your career progresses. It’s important to remember and keep in touch with those who have vouched for you. In addition, you also may find these former colleagues and/or supervisors useful to you as your career progresses.
If you are having trouble getting contact information of a reference try checking out Linkedin to connect with them and other previous employers.
Happy job hunting!
I can’t tell you how often I get asked, what do I wear for the interview? Employers do notice this, it is talked about. Did they come professionally dressed? Did they take our time seriously? Here are some simple steps to help you prepare.
An interview is your chance to show an employer that you’re the candidate who has the skills, personality and judgment to work within an organization and represent the brand. When choosing the right clothes for the interview, your goal is to display your professionalism and a little personality without overshadowing your qualifications. If you follow these simple guidelines, you won’t have to spend time worrying about your wardrobe, and instead, you can focus on preparing your answers that will land you the job.
1. Get the best fit
Most job seekers are trying to look professional for their interviews, but sometimes a few simple missteps can harm their image and make the wrong impression.
• Men typically confuse comfortable clothing with items that are oversized and additional tailoring may be needed to achieve just the right fit. I recommend asking if the store offers tailoring or checking with your local dry cleaner.
2. Look polished
Tailored clothes help your professional image, but they’re pointless if you’re going to show up looking like you just pulled your suit out of the bottom of the hamper. Always make sure your clothes are clean a few days before your interview so you’re not actually pulling your suit out of the bottom of the hamper.
• Non-iron, wrinkle-free shirts and pants are also good for job seekers who don’t always have the time to drop their clothes at the cleaners.
3. Keep it subtle
As a rule of thumb, what you wear should not be more memorable than what you say during the interview. In some fields, such as interior design, fashion and hair styling, it’s often acceptable – and in some cases, preferred – to show attention to trends and take risks with your wardrobe. But most employers prefer their workers to dress on the side of caution.
• Basic black or blue suits and skirts are safe bets for an interview, as they’re unlikely to raise any eyebrows. That doesn’t mean your wardrobe must be devoid of personality, just keep it understated.
• Solid, muted colors are always best for interview apparel and can be punched up with a bright necklace, tie or even belt.
• Use those accessories to personalize your attire and show that you have attention to detail and good judgment. Yes, an interviewer will certainly remember the interviewee who wears a paisley suit, but she is probably more likely to hire the job seeker who wore the black suit with the paisley tie.
4. Keep the skin to a minimum
There are no universal rules for workplace wardrobes, but you can usually assume that employers don’t want you to bare too much skin at the office. Even before you’re hired, employers want to know you have good judgment, which means dressing like you’re already on the job. Or at least dressing cautiously until you know how lax the company’s dress code is.
• Some office environments are of course more casual than others, but the general rule of thumb is never to show too much skin. If you’re sporting a shorter hemline, be conscious of proportions, and wear a higher neck or long-sleeve blouse, and if you’re going sleeveless keep your hemlines on the lengthier side.
• For men, most interview attire doesn’t lend itself to showing too much skin. Still, wearing jeans, shorts and tank tops are too casual for most workplaces and are more suitable for a visit to the beach, not an interview.
Some good stores to look at are H&M, Banana Republic, JCREW, Express Womens and Men, New York and Company, and The Limited.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday and it is one that I look forward to every year! This blog is to also remind people to stay positive, so feeling a little festive for the holidays (blame the Christmas music I’m listening to) I wanted to remind people of a few things to be thankful for this year.
Giving thanks is a wonderful tradition and I wanted to remind everyone of this. Regardless if you are out of work and feeling a little down right now, here are a few things to remember to be thankful for.
All are important. All are blessings. I am happy there are so many reasons to be thankful. Have a very Happy Thanksgiving. May yours be blessed!
1. Think about all the things you’ve learned this last year and thus far in your life and be thankful for those lessons.
2. Be grateful for your family. Nobody loves you more, even if they drive you crazy. Look at the people around you and be thankful that you are not spending Thanksgiving alone.
3. Be thankful for growing older. Not everyone gets this opportunity. Aging with health and grace is a rare and beautiful gift.
4. Be thankful for your friends- new and old. How boring and quiet life would be without them.
5. Be thankful you’re alive – Be thankful you can talk and see,sing, do yoga, laugh, listen, eat, sleep!
6. If you have to get up early to get to work, be thankful that you get to see another sunrise and have a job to go to.
7. Be thankful you have shelter- Perhaps your house is not a fancy mansion, but it has a roof to keep you dry, walls to keep the wind away, and windows to keep the rain from you. Some in this world have no or little shelter at all.
8. When the kids are screaming at each other, be thankful that you have children to love and who love you.
9. Be grateful that you have opportunities- We live where opportunities offer themselves every day. Grab an opportunity when it is presented to you, and be thankful it was offered.
10. Be thankful for having love in your life and someone to grow old with. A life partner is something that less than half the population has. Having your partner is a blessing that needs to be counted several times.
Sheew. You finally have an offer on the table, and you’re so excited you could just scream. (YAY, happy dance) But now that you’ve jumped through the hoops to get to this point, the real work is still ahead of you. It’s time for negotiations. I think there are two types of people, those who love to intellectually fight and those who would rather play it safe instead.
Luckily, you can overcome that hesitation to negotiating by preparing yourself for what becomes crucial to you in a new job and what becomes more of a “nice to have.” You get what you negotiate for, not what you deserve. If you don’t have a third-party (recruiter) fighting for your interests, you must muster up the courage to enter into negotiations ready to go!
Today, negotiation skills are an absolute necessity for successful career management. Most of us go through the “postoffer honeymoon” where we’re so ecstatic that we just blindly accept the offer without knowing that we have every right to review it and negotiate it. The truth is that you are in your strongest bargaining position during the time between when a job is offered and when you accept it.
However, you need to determine your list of desirable characteristics from the job in order to effectively negotiate. If you have unrealistic expectations, you can mess things up quite a bit. You can’t always get what you want, try listing out ALL of your top requirements and then categorizing them equally between the groups of “must-haves,” “like to have” and “can live without.”
Some people also make the mistake of playing this card too soon in the interview process. If you go in saying that you need to make a certain dollar amount or work from home two days a week, an employer may see you as more hassle than what you’re worth. The key is to go in and let the interviewer see your value. If you’re offered the position, THEN you can negotiate. Once you’ve wowed the interviewer, he or she will be much more willing to compromise to satisfy your needs. If there are certain things that are crucial for you and are automatic deal-breakers, casually ask about them during the interview process (such as the work-life balance, work at home, travel requirements questions).
If you are working with a recruiter, we might ask you flat out what you would like to make, be honest. The more we can get you the better for us so we WILL try our best to get you that amount. But be honest upfront and we will let you know if it is realistic or not. For contract positions, we have pay ranges to stay in so negotiating for more later on will only hurt you more because the nature of a contract position, they move quick so pay negotiations should already be done before your resume is sent.
Tips for Negotiations:
- Don’t turn down a job before it’s offered: Titles, salary levels and review increases can all be negotiated, so don’t turn down interviews for certain positions if you think they’re “below” you.
- Get an offer in writing before you do anything drastic: Don’t announce your resignation until you have your hands on this letter. Read it over carefully and measure it up against your list of “must-haves.”
- Don’t haggle over everything (PTO, vacation time, bonus) Go back to your list of things that you can do without and concede on those gracefully.
- Don’t forget you’re only human: In interviews, you usually try to knock the socks off of the interviewer and your potential employer, but once you go into negotiations, don’t let your head get too big. You want to always set yourself up to underpromise and overdeliver.
Best case scenario, everyone walks away happy and ready to start working together.
Here is an interesting article I’ve read from Forbes about Women and Negotiating salaries. I’ll never not negotiate again!
Having only been a company looking for job seekers at career fairs, job fairs are in one word, crazy. There can be hundreds of people within the same profession or industry all in one place waiting in long lines just to get a chance for face time and a resume passed along.
Career fairs can be a daunting task. Crowds of hopeful candidates flowing around company booths while hiring managers and representatives shake hands and converse with every individual that steps up to their table.
Given the rapid, assembly line nature of career fairs it may seem useless to spend time and effort creating a strategy…after all, you’ll just be shaking hands, exchanging greetings then being shuffled along, right? Wrong! Don’t talk yourself out of ignoring a perfect opportunity to stand out among your peers and grab the attention of potential employers who really do genuinely want to meet you.
With a small change in mindset and some pre-planning, job fairs can be used to gain exposure, make a contact, and make an impactful first impression with a variety of employers.
Here are 9 helpful tips:
- Making job fairs more effective begins with being picky about which events to attend. Narrow your employer hunt to those events within your specialty and those for jobs where you’d prefer working in. Select the handful of companies that are the best fit for your goals and focus on making initial contacts with these firms first. Look at the companies attending the fair job postings prior so you can reference those. Afterwards, you may look into other employers as time permits.
- Check out the Recruiting companies as well! Although not being an actual company you would work at, I have placed so many great candidates after meeting them at a career fair that made a great impression and followed up after the event. There are a lot of different jobs open from recruiting companies than other companies there so you might find you have better luck with an end result.
- Time spent with an employer at a job fair is brief but that doesn’t mean it is insignificant. The best approach may be to treat this type of event as you would a traditional job interview.
- Dress in a formal/ professional style appropriate for an interview setting and bring several versions of your resume that fit each company’s goals and focus.
- Create a brief, personal sales pitch. Let the potential employers know who you are, what you specialize, and what you can do for each business. However you don’t want to come across too memorized, and please, try to allow it to be a conversation rather than just a sales speech towards the company representative.
- Getting the best results from a job fair can be as simple as knowing how, and how not, to act at a job fair. For example, while it may help calm your nerves, avoid attending job fairs with a squad of friends. Also, you will unavoidably see some desperate job seekers running around like it’s a mad dash to the last job …please, refrain from imitating this type of behavior. Hiring managers are watching. Take it slow, be confident. Who would you rather hire: Someone calm and collected, or someone who looks frantic?
- Introduce yourself to people around you whether they are hiring or looking for a job. Practice your pitch, get to know other stories, and build your network. Network, network, network!
- Lay off the swag. Sure, collecting a bunch of neat corporate-branded freebies may be fun, but walking around loading up like a tourist at Disney World may just look unprofessional.
- At the end of the event, use your new contacts to your advantage. Reach out to these contacts, send them a thank-you email and don’t be afraid to repeat your sales pitch and recap the benefits you have to offer their company. Also attach your resume electronically since the hard copies might (will) get lost.
This is a gentle push….ok maybe a strong push to always remember to write a follow up thank you letter after your interview.
Hiring managers want to hire people who genuinely want to work for their company. Also be sure to send the thank you out to EACH person you met with. Change it up a little to go over the different topics you talked about with each person. Don’t forget about HR if you met with them as well. You don’t want to offend anyone at any level of the team.
What does the thank you letter say to the Employer?
- Shows your appreciation for the employer’s interest in you.
- Reiterates your interest in the position and in the organization.
- Reviews or reminds the employer about your qualifications for the position. If you thought of something you forgot to mention in the interview, mention it in your follow-up / thank-you letter. (short and sweet)
- It shows that you have good manners and know to write a thank-you letter.
- It allows you to follow up with any information the employer may have asked you to provide after the interview.
What to write:
Simply writing a thank-you note puts you in the top 10 percent of job seekers, since most applicants don’t bother. But here are five things that should be in the letter that follows a job interview:
- Format: You can e-mail it or snail mail. Whether typed or handwritten, it is too tempting and too easy to do a copy/paste thing , this letter should be personal and direct. It should also be perfectly done, use correct spelling.
- Basics: Thank the interviewer for their time and consideration for the job. Be specific about the job to prove you were listening and absorbing the information.
- Show you listened: At some point during the interview, you probably heard something you most likely did not know about the job or company. Mention that briefly.
- One more time: During your interview, you should have focused your answers on what you can do for the company. Either refresh their memory about this or even better, give them one more thing. “I have been thinking about this position and I know I can help because I can do A, B and C.”
- Closing: Let the interviewer know you are ready to begin. And give your contact information, don’t make them look for your resume in the pile to find your E-mail or phone numbers.
Hand written vs. E-mail argument?
There is something particularly heartwarming about a handwritten note and that shows how much you respect and appreciated the interviewer’s time. However, an email sent within 24 hours of your interview may help hammer home that you’re organized, motivated and on top of your game (traits most employers want.) Which do you want to portray more?
- It may take three days to get your snail mail letter to the company mailroom, let alone the intended recipient. By then, an offer may have been extended to someone else.
- However, there is also that great feeling of receiving a letter/ thank you card in the mail and most people want to be associated with that feeling.
Here’s a thought….I’ve had a great candidate that after the interview wrote her thank you note in the company’s lobby and had the receptionist give it to the person she interviewed with right after she left. He was impressed to already see that card sitting on his desk. (Eager, impressed, driven, humble, resourceful and creative…all thoughts that went through my head)
**If you are not a good writer or have really poor handwriting please take your time, proof read or seek out help.
Example Thank You Letter: (Remember, don’t copy/paste…make it personalized)
Dear Mr./Ms. Contact,
I want to thank you for the opportunity to interview with you yesterday. I am very impressed with the operations/ technologies/ business plan at Company, Inc and I am excited about projects/ job duties (example of projects talked about/ job title)
In addition to my qualifications and experience, I will bring excellent work habits and judgment to this position. I am intelligent and a quick learner regarding new techniques/ skills. My productivity is evident in my previous experience . I am one who often goes the extra mile reaching goals and getting things done properly. I respect and work well with my colleagues and have excellent work ethics.
Again, I appreciate your time and effort to meet with me, discuss the position, and answer my questions. With my background and experience, I believe I can make a significant contribution to company name.
I look forward to hearing from you regarding your hiring decision. Again, thank you for your time and consideration.
Your Contact Information
Everyone knows you should come prepared to an interview with a list of questions for the interviewer. Asking questions (when the timing is right) can be very helpful to show your interest in the position and that you are prepared and take the interview seriously.
Ok, ready? Here we go…
When you receive the first call before the in-person interview:
1: Whom will I be interviewing with?
The best way to effectively prepare for an interview is to know who you’ll be speaking with. You’ll likely have different questions for the hiring manager than you would for the entire team or the HR Manager. You’ll also want to do some research on the interviewers so you can ask them personalized, insightful questions.
During the interview:
2: What are your short-term and long-term goals for the position?
Employers will probably ask about your career goals, but you should ask them what they want the person in this position to accomplish. Are they concerned with increasing revenue, visibility, leads, improving morale or something else?
3: What does this company value the most? Or go even a step further… ask the interviewer “What makes you stay with this company?”
Asking about the company’s values serves two purposes: It allows you to determine whether those values align with yours and it also gives the interviewer the chance to reveal something to you about the company that you may not know yet.
This question also works on a psychological level. It is such an unusual question that it will probably serve to make you look far more comfortable, confident and less nervous than other applicants. It helps bridge the professional and personal gap between you and the interviewer.
4: What do you think is the biggest challenge of this role?
(No position is perfect.) In fact, some jobs are created to address a problem that needs to be solved. That could very well be what attracted you to the job. An honest employer will tell you what struggles lie ahead. That’s your opportunity to turn the answer around as a challenge you’re happy to accept and present some ideas of how you would tackle the obstacles. If the employer makes it sound too good to be true, it probably is.
5: Can you tell me why the last person left this job?
They might not tell you, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. If the person got promoted or took a better job elsewhere, that’s a sign that the position is a good way to advance a career. You might also learn something about the position that triggers some red flags (Hey, better to know sooner than later?) Perhaps the company is growing and it’s a new position, which is even better to know that you are getting your foot in the door with a growing company.
6: Do you have any concerns about my fit for the position? I’d be glad to clear anything up for you.
Not all interviewers ask direct questions or are even very good at interviewing, so you might have to prompt them to tell you what their concerns are. Now is the only chance you have to clarify anything, so make sure you leave no question unanswered.
7: What is the timeline for filling the position?
You deserve to know when a decision might be made and what the next steps are. Hiring managers have a ballpark idea of how long the interviewing process will take, whether candidates will have to come back for another interview, and when a decision will be made. It might not be exact, but at least you have an idea of what to expect. You always want to know how you should follow up after an interviewer, you don’t want them waiting on you for references or a thank you letter to gauge your level of interest. You want to provide all that information to them shortly after the interview.
8. What are the opportunities for advancement and promotion?
Showing that you are interested in advancement and promotion is an imperative part of any interview process. Don’t allow yourself to forget this question just because it seems so obvious. You might be surprised by some answers.
9. What is the salary range?
Brace yourself….this is a long one….
Of course you want to know. Not on the first initial interview but the second interview is appropriate to ask so you can make sure this is position is lining up with your salary requirements.
But first be sure you have researched the position, most companies list the salary range online on a job board posting on (think CareerBuilder or Monster…wherever it was you originally saw the posting) so you should know before applying if it meets your required range or not. You don’t want the information to already be out there and have to seem like you missed that important detail.
I strongly believe this question is contingent on the type of position you will be filling. For example, if you’re in a sales position, you might be looked down on if you do not ask about the salary and pay structure on the first interview. Employers want to see a sales employee that is “money motivated”.
If you are working with a recruiter on a position, we can help negotiate for you and we will try to get you the most we can (within reason to the companies range). This information will be given to you before even getting your resume over to the client so you shouldn’t need to ask during the actual interview.
After the interview:
10: Have you made a decision? (If the given deadline has passed)
If the hiring manager says it will be a week before you hear back, wait an extra day or two (or even three). Then follow up to see if a decision has been made. Don’t pester them and don’t show up at the office (that won’t win you any points). A quick email to ask how the process is going and to let them know that you are still interested is perfectly fine
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Staying positive during your job search is critical (insert cheesy “positivity” quote here)….
Ok so the hardest part of being out of work for an extended period of time will be keeping a positive attitude when a job search turns from weeks into months to years. It really sucks, I’ve been there too. It’s imperative that you keep a positive attitude, both for your own sanity as well as for the impression you give to potential employers and others. Know that term, Debbie Downer? No one likes her/ him.
You need to attract the right people to network with so that the right opportunities that will be shared with you, and ultimately, this positive attitude will be evident when you are interviewing for that job!
So what are some ways to stay positive?
- Take the time to do things you don’t have time to do while you’re working: (you know, ALLLL those things you wished you could be doing rather than being stuck at work?)….. Spending time with your kids, not setting an alarm and sleeping in, watching Ellen, running errands, lying out in the sun with a good book, working out during the non-busy gym hours. (Ok, you got me, this is obviously what I daydream of doing.)
- Self Care: This means getting exercise every day and getting the endorphins going! Keeping yourself looking good and getting dressed each day, even if you are staying home. Staying in your PJs and watching TV all day will spiral you down to somewhere you don’t want to go.
- Keep a Daily Schedule: You need to put aside 3 – 6 hours per day for your job search. So keep your calendar scheduled for this amount of time every day. Do other things, but do not let those other things take time away from this very important effort. You are unemployed, but you do have a job: it’s to find a job.
- Get in touch with a Recruiter: (Of course I’m going to say this.) Use recruiters as an additional resource. It’s free and recruiters have so many opportunities that aren’t posted on our client’s websites. Clients reach out to recruiters first for certain positions and if you have your current resume in their hands you will be getting calls for more opportunities!
- Network: This is critical. Networking is not about asking for a job. Networking is about creating mutually beneficial long term relationships of give and take! Have a natural curiosity for everyone you meet – ask them how they got into their professions.
- Meet friends for lunch: This is a great way to re-connect with pals and keep you social life spirits up.
- Read/Stay Current: Read the latest information about your profession – stay current with what is happening around you. This includes your trade journals, the papers, and you should do a “google alert” which will bring all information about any topic directly to your email. This will impress people during interviews.
- Volunteer: No matter how bad it can get during a job search, there are always people less fortunate than you are and helping them will make you feel better. So volunteer and help others out that are not doing anywhere near as well as you!
- Driving Directions- Go old school, print them out in case your phone breaks / battery dies/or the company is in a dead zone (those are real!) Driving is preferred for interviews because public transportation can be so unpredictable (can’t tell you how many times there are delays which add stress right before the interview).
- Your Resume- Obviously? No if’s and’s or but’s, bring it, and bring multiple copies in case you meet more members of the team.
- Professional References- How you present this information says a lot about you, do not present crumbled/ folded/ stained documents. This says more about you than you may think.
- Notebook/ Folder. Invest in an inexpensive (walmart/ target shout out) two-pocket folder in blue or black, theses color appeals to both men and women. Put your document in the folder and use the notepad for note taking. The more prepared you come across the more respectful you look.
- Paper and Pen: Taking a few notes during your interview (while being careful not to stare at your notepad the whole time) is another sign of respect and that you are listening.
- Or not to bring?- Cellphone: You can always leave this bit of modern life in your car, but if you must take it with you, make sure it stays turned off / silent. It’s a huge sign of disrespect to be interrupted during an interview or give the appearance you’ll be interrupted.
- Company Research: In almost every interview, you’ll be asked what you know about the company. How awkward is it when you don’t know anything or haven’t prepared? If you’re serious about this job, you will know more about the company rather than the “about us” on the home page. Try browsing the “Recent News” section or the “Products” or “Pipeline” these are all good sections to learn more about what a company is about.
- A Smile: It may sound sappy, ok it is, but this nonverbal cue is an immediate rapport-builder. Interviewers are often nervous, too so this helps.