Interviews: Proving You’re a Teammate Worth Hiring

Wondering what it takes to thrive in the workplace?

You’re the perfect job candidate. Your resume is chock full of keywords and metrics showing you know what you’re doing. Perhaps you’ve increased ROI by 40%, averaged seventy words-per-minute, or mastered a certain software program.

These are all hard skills, abilities and experiences you may frequently see as job requirements. Measurable skills you can test for. You’re probably thinking, “if hard skills exist, soft skills must exist too, right?”

You’re 100% correct. Soft skills are about working well with others in a workplace environment. Being able to deal with difficult co-workers or knowing how to cooperate with multiple team members to reach a deadline—all are considered soft skills.

Soft skills are important because you must have them to succeed. Hard skills can get you in the door, but they’re just a baseline—soft skills are what allow you to move up the ladder by collaborating with others.

These include:

Communication Skills

The capability to not only express yourself in multiple ways, but also to listen and persuade others.

Being a Team Player

The capacity to work well with others through an understanding of the big picture.

Having a Strong Work Ethic

The ability to work hard and meet deadlines without sacrificing quality.

Being Flexible

Being able and willing to change course on the fly as the situation calls for.

Having a Positive Attitude

Keep your conversation and attitude optimistic and light to inspire and help others.

In the following video, provided by Express Employment Professionals, here’s a look at the top soft skills employers look for.


What are your questions about soft skills in your workplace? Let us know in the comments below!

On the Job Podcast – Forget the Big City … It’s the Country Life for Me

In this week’s episode of On the Job, we hear from Katelyn and Brendan Foley, a husband and wife team who had enough of the corporate rat-race in New York City, so they packed up and headed for the Hudson Valley to begin new lives as farmers. In just two short years, they started their own business, the Hoofprint Cheese Company, while still working day jobs to pay the bills. Listen to the full episode to hear more about this young couple working to turn the Hoofprint Cheese Company into their full-time dream.

Jobs give us a connection to our communities and the ability to provide for ourselves and our families. Your work may be your passion or it could just be the way you make ends meet. Each week, On the Job will share stories about the pursuit of work by delving into the employment situations people from all walks of life face each day.Don’t miss an episode!
Download the On the Job podcast on iTunes or anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts. And, be sure to check back next week for the next episode!

How to Impress a Recruiter

Top tips from working recruiters

Many job applicants express frustration with the post-interview process due to not receiving any follow up. They want to know what they can do to improve future interview performance. However, interviewers are unable to provide this information, often because of potential legal issues or simply not having the time to write personalized letters for each applicant.

At Express Employment Professionals, our recruiters interview numerous job seekers every day. They know what works and what doesn’t, at both the staffing agency and client levels. We asked our top recruiters to tell us what they look for in job candidates, as well as characteristics job seekers should avoid.

What Makes a Great Job Candidate?

Preparation

A promising candidate is one who arrives to an interview (either by phone or at the worksite) fully prepared.

“They come with a resume, references, and any supporting documents or credentials that could potentially give them a step up in the hiring process,” said Shannon Jacoby, a recruiter at the Bellingham, WA, Express office. “They know what they are applying for, they have done research on the company, and they know how they could fit into the organization.”

Attitude

A candidate should also be friendly and personable. This is your chance to make a good impression.

“I like candidates that have friendly, personable attitudes,” said Carlos Delafuente from the Portland, OR, Express office. “I should be able to tell that they are reliable, punctual, and dependable. They can impress me by showing that they can hold a normal conversation, that they have a sense of humor, and optimism.”

Honesty

“Ideally, a great job candidate should have a relatively stable work history,” said Desiree Stevens of the Littleton, CO, Express office. “However, we understand that there may be mitigating circumstances as to why a position ended. Be honest about those reasons.”

If you’re looking to contact a staffing company, be truthful with what you know and what you want.

“Being honest about your skills is huge,” Stevens said. “That helps us market the candidate to clients. If the candidate lies about the level of proficiency in a particular program and they’re placed in a position that requires it, it not only makes us look bad, but the candidate as well.”

What Makes a Poor Job Candidate?

Not Being Prepared

There is no way to hide a lack of preparation. And if you aren’t prepared for the interview, then why would a recruiter think you would be prepared on the job?

“An unprepared candidate is more difficult to place,” said Lee Cox from the Woodbury, MN, office. “If a job candidate has no idea what they want to do, or has done little or no research about the field or position, I have no reason to expect them to perform well on the job. A candidate should know the company inside and out—their job duties, distance they are willing to travel, their minimum required wage, etc.”

Unprofessionalism

An interview is a chance to impress. Regardless of how casual the interview is, what you may see as overdressing could show how serious you are as a candidate.

“Just the other day, I had an administrative candidate come to her interview in see-through leggings, a baggy sweatshirt and gym shoes,” Stevens said. “I expect, at the very least, dress slacks, a blouse or blazer, and dress shoes. Shirt and tie aren’t necessary, but are a good indicator that the candidate cares about first impressions.”

Never talk over your interviewer or insult a previous employer.

“Talking over me while I’m asking a question is an indicator that the candidate has passive listening skills or thinks they already know what I have to say and has no reason to listen to what I am saying or asking,” Stevens said. “And as for bashing employers, there’s a way to tactfully state why you left a positon. Instead of saying ‘My boss was a jerk,’ note that management didn’t see eye-to-eye with you on your vision for the position or the company.”

Oversharing

Showing the interviewer why you’re right for the position is important. A great job applicant understands how to do this quickly and succinctly.

“Don’t take 20 minutes to answer the first interview question,” Jacoby said. “Focus on how your experience applies to the job, not on covering everything you’ve ever done. Answer each question quickly and succinctly.”

“Try not to bring personal issues into the interview,” Delafuente said. “Instead of talking about your personal life, focus on the professional.”

Know What You Want

Getting a job isn’t easy. Applicants know that. But the key to a successful interview is knowing as much as you can. Know the company’s history and culture. Know what you want, both in terms of your career and your monetary requirements. Know yourself and your personality, and how that plays in an interview.

Questions for our recruiters? Ask them in the comments below!

Go-to Words to Get Your Resume Noticed

Retool your resume with these witty words

Your resume is the first thing HR looks at, and unfortunately, you don’t get a chance to talk to them or show them who you are as a person before the interview. All you have are the words on the page. Which is why it’s so important to make sure you use the right ones.

Resumes can be frustrating. You’re spending hours working on a document when you know that if you could just meet your interviewer, you’d land the job. But it’s something we all must deal with. It’s not possible to interview every single applicant, so companies need to have some way to narrow down the competition. That’s why they have software that picks out certain words as more pertinent to the job than others.

Here’s how to make sure you don’t get thrown out of consideration.

Employ Metrics-Focused Verbs

Your resume should be full of accomplishments. When you list what you’ve successfully done (number of reports sent, projects completed in a finite time-span, etc), use action verbs:

  • established
  • secured
  • maintained
  • created
  • reviewed
  • achieved
  • accomplished
  • produced
  • identified
  • pitched
  • successfully converted

Use Team Player Words

Instead of saying you’re a team player, show you directed a team and achieved results:

  • collaborated
  • coordinated
  • cooperated

Opt for Management Words

Instead of saying you “led” a team, show you went above and beyond with these words:

  • managed
  • directed
  • coached
  • oversaw

What NOT to Write

In addition to the words you should use, there are some words and concepts you’re better off staying away from.

  • Don’t use the wrong tense. If it’s your current job, use the present tense. If it’s about a previous job, use the past tense. Realize that not all words are going to be right for every situation. If you were never a team leader or a manager, you probably shouldn’t use something like “oversaw” or “orchestrated.” The perfect words will vary depending on your industry and position.
  • Don’t use mundane words like ‘did,’ ‘saw’ or ‘typed.’ Instead of focusing on something you can find in a job description, list out your accomplishments.
  • Don’t talk about soft skills, like being a “people person,” a “team player,” “responsible,” or “kind.” These qualities are expected of a qualified candidate. This type of information is more well-suited to a cover letter or interview.
  • Don’t mention that you “met deadlines.” Instead, you “achieved ___ in a deadline-driven environment.”
  • Don’t use the first person. It’s unprofessional and can be confusing for the HR person because first person refers to them as they read it.

Any other words you love to use in your resume? Questions about the perfect term for a given situation? Let us know in the comments below!

See Also: 

Lucky Words for Your Resume

 

 

 

On the Job Podcast – Mazel Tov: Stories from a Late-In-Life Rabbi

In this week’s episode of On the Job, we hear the story of Jay Shupack, who has worn many hats throughout the course of his professional lifeactor, door-to-door insurance salesman, psychologist, and more. But nothing prepared him for his latest and greatest career move: becoming a Rabbi. After years of soul-searching and some unexpected twists and turns, Rabbi Shupack now believes he’s performing his life-long mission where the synagogue is his stage and the sermons his monologue.

Jobs give us a connection to our communities and the ability to provide for ourselves and our families. Your work may be your passion or it could just be the way you make ends meet. Each week, On the Job will share stories about the pursuit of work by delving into the employment situations people from all walks of life face each day.

Don’t miss an episode!
Download the On the Job podcast on iTunes or anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts. And, be sure to check back next week for the next episode!

Job Searching Past Retirement Age

Changing careers isn’t easy

You’ve worked for one company for the better part of a decade and were laid off yesterday.

Now it’s time to look for a new job. Competition is fierce, so you’re happy to accept a lower ranking position if need be.

Age is only a number, and you know that your experience is valuable. How do you show that to interviewers?

Stay Up to Date with New Technologies

Employers expect recent grads to be knowledgeable on the latest technologies. You must prove you’re just as tech-savvy. You’ll need to know your way around a computer, have an idea of how to use the Microsoft Office suite, Google documents, and email. Acquaint yourself with the major social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn), and create accounts to prove you understand how they work.

Research any specific technologies or methods popular in your industry and become familiar with those tools as well. Don’t be afraid of taking online or in-person classes to stay informed. Be aware of how to access email on your mobile phone or tablet.

Leverage Your Experience but Be Willing to Learn

Employers sometimes equate youth and lack of experience to a willingness to learn. You need to prove that you are just as hungry for new knowledge and experiences.

However, you also must leverage your experience to beat the competition. This is a fine line to walk. Show you already know quite a bit, but are willing to learn even more.

To prove your experience, come to the interview prepared with several specific examples of your knowledge. You’ve been in the industry for years, and have seen both lean and prosperous times. You know how to prepare for those eventualities. Let a potential employer know you are willing to share this knowledge with others, so they will be prepared for whatever the future might bring.

To prove a willingness to learn, speak about what you want to do with your career. Why do you want this job? Where do you see yourself in a few years? What in your past proves you’re a curious person ready to learn new things?

Utilize Your Network

If you’ve been in the industry for a while, you’ve probably made a few contacts. Contact friends or previous co-workers to see what they are doing and what positions they are hiring for. Provide as much information as possible to show that you’re a serious candidate, not a desperate job seeker. A personal relationship can go a long way in getting a job.

Have you had to compete with younger candidates in the job search? Let us know how it went in the comments below!

 

 

 

Poll Results: Achieving Your Career Dreams in 2018

Last month we conducted a Movin’ On Up poll asking readers which part of their career they plan to focus on this year. Check out the results below!

Getting Hired

Just over 18% of respondents indicated they want to get hired in 2018. How do you get the job? Hard work and dedication.

If you are not currently employed, the job search should become your new full-time job. First, create a career development plan to organize your thoughts about the job search and where you want your career to go. Next, update your resume. Then, contact anyone in your network who might be able to help. Attend professional groups in your area that are related to your industry.

Once you prepare all your tools and leverage your network, start the job search. Remember, you are one of many applicants. Your goal is to stand out above the rest. When you have interviews, ask pertinent questions to show interest. Do your research and know who the company is and what they stand for. Find out how you fit into the company culture. After the interview, write a handwritten thank you note. Not everyone does, and it makes you stand out.

Getting a Raise

Coming in second place with 17% of the vote was aiming to get a raise.

The hardest part of getting a raise you feel you deserve is figuring out when and how to ask for one. To eliminate the ‘when’ part of that equation, think about a raise the second you walk in the door. Set goals and track your progress toward those goals. Have metrics handy. Once you’ve met your major goals (and made sure the company isn’t floundering and the economy isn’t spiraling), ask. Odds are, given your incredible work history, your boss expects you to pop the question anyway.

And as for the how? Be confident. Know what you want, and have a presentation planned that shows why you deserve it. Be kind and smile, but also get your point across. Bring visual aids that prove your success.

Updating My Resume

Coming in third with 16% of the vote, “Updating My Resume” was another top choice.

Everything starts with your resume. Do the words on the page paint an accurate picture of your experiences as they apply to the specific position and company you’re applying for? If not, it’s time to make some adjustments.

Focus on meaningful accomplishments rather than a list of what you did. How did you benefit the company? Did you increase ROI? Cause a surge in viewers? Free up time in your managers schedule so they could make their deadline? If you don’t have any relevant experience, share your accomplishments and how they apply to the position.

The Rest

“Getting a promotion” came in fourth with just under 14% of the vote, while “More interviews,” “Quitting my job,” and “Other” all tied for fifth with 9.5% of the vote. “Updating my cover letter” rounded out the group with just over 6% of the vote. “Other” included responses such as “Improving my results in total,” “Gracefully retiring,” and “Training.”

Anything else you plan to accomplish in 2018? How do you plan on doing it? Let us know in the comments section below!