Thursday, December 23, 2010

Three Job Search Mistakes to Avoid

Is your job search going nowhere? You can blame the economy or the seasonal hiring slump. You'll have lots of company if you do. Or you can look to yourself. Are you secretly sabotaging your job search? You might be…

Let me tell you the story of "Tommy" (not his real name), who is managing to do almost everything WRONG in his job search. Learn from three of his career-killing mistakes, which can rob you of the salary and satisfaction you deserve!

Tommy first called me three weeks ago, asking if I could help him write a resume. He said he wanted a pharmaceutical sales job because his aunt and a cousin made good money at it, and he heard it was interesting work. But he said nothing about actually WANTING to do this job. When I asked, he replied: "Everyone says I should give pharmaceutical sales a shot."
Lesson #1: Find a job you WANT to do.
Tommy is setting himself up for misery by pursuing a job based on the "helpful" advice of others. Unless you're passionately committed to the job you seek, you won't pursue it with enough gusto to be successful in the long run.  Tommy wanted a new resume to apply for jobs he'd seen posted on the Internet. When I asked if he were also networking for a job, he answered: "Networking? How do you do that?"

Lesson #2: The best jobs are never advertised in the classified ads or online. They're filled by word of mouth -- people talking to other people.

Tell every single person you know about the job you're after. Then ask them this magic question: "Who else do you know that I should be talking to?" This can double or triple the size of your network almost overnight. Try it!

After asking for my email address and promising to send his resume to me that afternoon for review, he hung up. Six days later, his resume arrived by email. I sent him a reply and thought I might hear back from him in a day or two. Another week passed.

Yesterday, Tommy called again and left a rambling message on my answering machine, asking nearly the same questions he had asked in our first conversation two weeks before.

Lesson #3: Take action in your job search. Now.

Tommy wasted two weeks emailing and calling me with vague questions that we could have settled in five minutes. If this is how he's pursuing his next job ... he's in for a long, painful struggle. You can supercharge your job search by learning what NOT to do. This will help you pursue a job you really want, uncover the hidden job market through networking, and take action -- now.

by Kevin Donlin
Kevin Donlin owns and operates Guaranteed Resumes. Since 1995, he has provided resumes, cover letters and online job-search assistance to clients. He is the author of The last guide to cover letter & resume writing you’ll ever need a do-it-yourself manual with sample cover letters and resumes.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Q• What interests you about this job?
A great way to prepare for this question is to connect the job posting with your skills and background. The employer wants to see whether or not you have the qualifications to do the job and if you really know about the job you are being interviewed for. For example, if you are being interviewed for an HR job and the position requires you to be responsible for recruiting, orientation and training, you should discuss how you were responsible for the functions in your past positions and why you are interested to develop your background in HR management.
Q• What applicable attributes / experience do you have?
You have to answer this question with relevant experience which qualifies you for the job so be very specific about your skills and background. Describe your background in detail and connect them to the job you are interviewing for.  Show how your background matches the job description for the position you are applying for. You have to show the employer you have the qualifications need for the job.
A word of caution that do not embellish the truth! Almost all hiring officers will check with your references and you don’t want to make a bad impression.
Q• why should we hire you?
The best way to answer this question is to provide examples of how your accomplishments make you the best candidate for the job.  For example, if you had implemented a new system which helped your employer save money, feel free to mention it as an accomplishment. You don’t want to embellish the truth in this question either because the employer will find out through reference checks if you were telling the truth! This is a very good question to prepare for ahead of time so that you can take a few moments to remember past accomplishments in mind and compare them with the job description. Don’t forget to reiterate your interest in the company and the position!
Q• What do you know about this company?
It is very important to do some research on the employer you may eventually be working for. Most organizations have a website these days so do some research online. The best place to go to once you are on the company’s website is the “About Us” section. If you are a recent graduate, you can even check with the career office at your school for a list of alumni who work for the company. Take the information you have gathered and make bulleted notes which you can easily remember during the interview.
Q• Are you willing to travel?
Avoid answering this question head-on with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Check with the employer exactly what type of travel is involved. Perhaps, you can make a proper decision that fits in with your lifestyle. Do you have to travel overseas for months on end? Or, do you have to travel to the sister location in the neighboring town once every week?
Q• Is there anything I haven't told you about the job or company that you would like to know?
Feel free to ask any of the following questions to learn more about the company or the position being advertised:
•How would you describe the responsibilities of the position?
•How would you describe a typical week/day in this position?
•Is this a new position? If not, what did the previous employee go on to do?
•Who does this position report to? If I am offered the position, can I meet him/her?
•How many people work in this office/department?
•How much travel is expected?
•Is relocation a possibility?
•What is the typical work week? Is overtime expected?
•What are the prospects for growth and advancement?
•How does one advance in the company?
•What do you like about working here?
•What don't you like about working here and what would you change?
•Would you like a list of references?
•If I am extended a job offer, how soon would you like me to start?
•When can I expect to hear from you?
•Are there any other questions I can answer for you?
Following is a list of questions NOT to ask:
•What does this company do? (Do your research ahead of time!)
•If I get the job when can I take time off for vacation? (Wait until you get the offer to mention prior commitments)
•Can I change my schedule if I get the job? (If you need to figure out the logistics of getting to work don't mention it now)
•Did I get the job? (Don't be impatient. The employer will let you know)
Q• How did you handle a challenge?
Your best approach is to discuss, through example, of how you handled a particular difficult situation; you may want to discuss how you researched the issue and contributed to finding a solution. For example: a long term client was about to take their business to a competitor. I arranged a meeting with them and managed to change how we handled the account on a day-to-day basis and kept their business.
Q• What was most rewarding/least rewarding about your last job?
Answer this interview question very carefully. You want to make sure the things which you say are least rewarding are not part of the job requirements which you are applying for. For example, if the last job you had required extensive telephone work, which you hated, and if being on the phone for long periods is even a minor part of the job you are applying for, don’t mention it. In fact, it is best to mention the tasks which were most rewarding first.
A general rule when attending an interview is to be completely aware of the job you are being interviewed for and construct your responses accordingly. Always think positively as best you can because you don’t want to be mistaken for someone who is negative about work in general.
Q• How was it like working with your supervisor at…?
The interviewer is asking this question to find out if you got along with your boss. Do not go into a long story, or any story for that matter, about how awful it was working with your old boss. Employers do not want to hear this because they feel you may be talking like this about a supervisor/manager from their company next time around. Instead, discuss the strengths your past supervisors had and how that helped you succeed in your positions.
Q• Why did you leave your job?
This question is quickly becoming a popular one amongst hiring officers. Don’t badmouth your boss. Whatever your reason for leaving are, don’t ever speak badly about your employer, supervisor, manager or co-workers. Prepare your answer in a positive light and be clear about your circumstances and focus on your future goals.