The Job Search

Researching A Potential Employer Before the First Interview

Before your first interview at a company or organization you should research your potential employer and be fully prepared. You don’t want to miss out on a job because you didn’t research your prospective employer. But do you know where to look for important information regarding your potential employer or even what to look for? 

Most of the company’s information is readily available to you. First, check out the employer’s website and their competitors’ sites to learn about the industry.  Read the About Us, Facts, and Media Center sections. Find journals, magazines, and newspapers that contain articles about the company, and learn as much as you can so that you will be familiar with the company’s successes and latest ventures. You can search the Internet or visit your local library to access these resources. This will show the interviewer that you care enough about the company to familiarize yourself about it ahead of time.

If you know someone at the company, give them a call and ask them a few questions before your interview. They can give you a personal view on the company, its culture and employees, but make sure to double-check their information. You don’t want to look unprepared by misquoting a fact during your interview.

Here are some key items to research:
• The year the company was established
• Products or services provided
• Mission statement and goals
• Industry
• Business Model
• Profitability of the company and potential for growth
• Corporate culture
• Organizational structure
• Key employees
• Locations, if more than one

Are you going to be prepared with an answer if an interviewer asks, “What do you know about my company?” or “Why are you interested in this position?” These are popular questions, so make sure you know your facts. Remember, research can be time consuming and should not be put off until the night before the interview. Collect as much information as you can about the company, prepare a few questions for the interviewer, and don’t be afraid to ask the questions you prepared. Asking thoughtful questions will show that you have done your research.

Researching the company before your interview can mean the difference between getting the job and not receiving an offer. Research is an important step to increase your chances of landing the job you want. So, take the time to research the company, and you will be ready to tackle your next interview.

Are you prepared for your next interview? What tips or suggestions do you have for others preparing for their first interview?

Changing Jobs during the Holidays

The holidays tend to be a busy and expensive time of year. If you’re in the process of changing employment, you already know the added stress job hunting brings. To make searching for and switching jobs around the holidays easier, follow these tips.

1. Understand that the hiring process may be slower due to personnel managers being out of the office. Be patient, and don’t get discouraged if it takes longer than usual to hear back from employers.

2. Since it can often take a month or more before you receive your first paycheck at a new job, keep costs down this holiday season. To save on gifts, consider playing Dirty Santa or drawing names with a group of family and friends instead of purchasing gifts for each individual.

3. Accept that as the “workplace newbie,” you may have last dibs on requesting time off. To make up for this, try to schedule a few days off between jobs. That way, you’ll get a few days away from work without having to request time off.

4. Consider taking a seasonal or temporary position to keep a paycheck coming your way while you’re searching for a more permanent position. Remember, both seasonal and temporary positions can be an excellent way to get your foot in the door and land a full-time job.

While changing jobs during the holidays can be stressful, it can also be a great time of year to start a new job. For example, workloads are often lighter toward the end of the year as major projects have already been wrapped up. This downtime can make learning the ropes of a new position easier. Additionally, the holidays are also a time for frequent food and festivities. These “lighter moments” can present an excellent opportunity for getting to know your new co-workers and discovering company culture first hand.

Have you ever changed jobs during the holidays? If so, what tips can you offer to others?

Professional Crossroads – How to Choose the Right Career Path for You

Professional CrossroadsHave you reached a point in your career when you know it’s time for a change, but you’re not quite sure what your next move should be? When you come to a professional crossroads, it’s important to look at where you’ve been to determine where you want to go in the future. Your past successes and even failures can provide excellent insight into what direction will ultimately be right for you.

1. To begin, make a list of all the responsibilities you’ve had through current and past jobs, volunteer activities and hobbies. Label the responsibilities you enjoyed and excelled at with stars or smiley faces. Then put a line or an x through the tasks you disliked, as well as those you didn’t excel at.

2. If you’re not sure whether you excelled at something, think back to the type of feedback you received on that particular task. Also, consider the level of accuracy and speed with which you completed the responsibility. If you consistently received positive feedback and were able to fulfill the role in a timely and error-free manner, you excelled.

3. Once you’ve organized your past and current responsibilities by category, take inventory of the tasks that you enjoyed and excelled at. These items are your road map to finding the career path that’s right for you.

4. Now that you have a clear understanding both of what you like to do and what you’re good at, you can look for careers that rely heavily on these skills. Of course, most jobs will probably still require you to spend some time on tasks you don’t find 100% exciting, but the important thing is to acquire a position where the majority of your time will be spent on tasks that you really enjoy and excel at.

When you’re working in a career that plays on your strengths and stimulates your mind, you’ll find that you’re more professionally fulfilled, productive and satisfied.

How to Close the Interview with Confidence

Interviewing for a job is a challenging task. If you’ve done things the right way and thought in advance about how to talk about your qualifications, researched the company, practiced answering difficult questions with a friend, dressed to match the company culture, and arrived promptly, you may already feel pretty confident by the time you shake hands with the interviewer. After you’ve answered the questions, demonstrated your industry and company knowledge, shown you are a good fit for their team, and made the connection with everyone in the room, you may feel you’re on the homestretch to landing the job.

But there’s one last thing you can do to seal the deal before you walk out the door. And it will really set you apart from other candidates. It’s a technique called closing the interview.

In most scenarios, at the end of an interview, if things have gone well, the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions. There are many good ones to choose from. And, even if you think you know everything about the job and the people sitting before you, you should still ask a few questions, because doing so demonstrates your interest in the position as well as your enthusiasm and curiosity to know more.

But if things have gone well and you have connected with the interviewers, there’s one question that should be your final choice for the meeting. It’s a closing question, and it puts you in control, demonstrates your self-confidence, and is a memorable final impression to make.

“At this point, what would keep you from hiring me?”

Most interviewers will be honest with you, and at the very least, you will get some good feedback on how you’ve presented yourself. At the best, the interviewer’s answer to this question will stick in their mind and solidify you as a top choice. Asking this question may be one of the most challenging things you’ve ever done, but having the confidence to close an interview is one of the best ways to stand apart from a sea of applicants and demonstrate that you know you are right for the job.

‘Tis the Season for Seasonal Jobs

It’s the time of year when companies everywhere are hiring workers to ramp up for the holiday season. In fact, retailers say they plan to add up to 600,000 workers in November and December this year.

But, did you know that retail stores aren’t the only places to add temporary workers to their staff as the year ends? There’s an increased demand for products in retail stores. More people are shopping online than the rest of the year. People tend to travel and eat out more than normal.

That’s why customer service, shipping, clerical, hospitality, manufacturing and e-commerce are just some areas that are looking for good employees to help them get through the crunch of the holidays. So, with that in mind, now’s a great time to look for a job.

Age Discrimination – Does This Affect You?

Age discrimination in the workforce is an issue that is not often addressed; however, there are ways to get your foot in the door if you’re a seasoned employee. According to a survey of 168 executives with a median age of 50 conducted by Execunet, a referral network, 74% surveyed are concerned they will be discriminated against because of their age, and 58% believe they have experienced age discrimination in the past. Although age discrimination does exist, it is one of the hardest discriminations to prove, according to research by AARP.

If you find yourself struggling to find a job and think that your age might be a factor, here are a few tips to aide you in your job search.

Start with your résumé. When searching for a job, make sure your résumé offers the most recent and relevant information. Experts advise mature job applicants to reference only the last 10 or 15 years of your job experience. Often times, candidates are overlooked because they have too much experience. Try taking some classes that educate you on the latest technology or trends in your industry, and make sure to list them on your résumé. Also, avoid listing dates such as high school or college graduation, as these can reveal your age.

Update your wardrobe. In an AARP survey, nearly half of the respondents surveyed felt that older workers cannot adapt to change. When you go in for an interview, make sure that not only your résumé reflects your knowledge of current work trends, but your attire reflects current styles as well. This doesn’t mean you have to dress in the latest trends or fashion, but ensuring your wardrobe and hairstyle aren’t aging you unnecessarily is always helpful when searching for a job. This boosts your self confidence, and allows the employer to see that you are up-to-date with what is going on around you.

Sell yourself. Don’t let the age factor get you down. If you show you’re confident and skilled, potential employers will be less likely to consider your age a factor when making hiring decisions. You may feel that younger people are hired to replace older workers, but keep in mind that younger workers feel most jobs are held by people with experience. Instead of focusing on this remember to sell your skills and abilities. Let the interviewer know you are open to training and learning new things. Make sure they know why you’re there and why you’re qualified for the position. Research the company before you interview so you can offer insight on how your past experience can benefit their company. Show enthusiasm and eagerness to learn, but don’t sound desperate.

Network with peers in your industry. You might feel as though you’re too old to network, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Find a local organization that specializes in your desired industry. Get involved within your community and make contacts with individuals that can help you get your foot in the door with companies. By getting your name and face out there with people in your industry, you will not only increase your chances of getting a job, but you will develop valuable and up-to-date information on what is going on in the field.

Age doesn’t have to be a negative factor when searching for a job. It can actually work for you if you follow these tips. Mature workers have confidence and knowledge in a time when we need it the most. With so many workers reaching retirement age, there is a gap in the knowledge between seasoned workers and younger workers just entering the workforce. Utilize your expertise and show how you can be an added value to the company.

Personal Discovery: Find a Job You’ll Love

Love Your JobWhat gets you excited? What are you best at? When do you really feel “in your element?” The answers to these questions can help you discover a lot about your strengths and what makes you happiest. Knowing what you enjoy and what you’re good at are two of the most important factors in finding a job you love.

To really feel fulfilled by what you do everyday, you must first examine your values, interests and talents. Once you’ve evaluated these areas of your life, compare them to what you’re doing now. If you discover that most of your working hours are spent on activities that conflict with who you are at your core, it’s time to find a new job. Life’s too short to spend hours working at a job that makes you feel bad about yourself.

To find a job you’ll love, think about what’s important to you. Are there particular causes that inspire and motivate you? If so, you might enjoy working at a non-profit or government agency that focuses on issues you feel strongly about.

Your hobbies are another place to look for clues about what jobs might suit you best. For example, if you enjoy scrapbooking, you might like working at a craft store or teaching scrapbooking classes.

Let’s say your passion is spending time with animals. While you probably can’t make a living by hanging out at home with your cat, more than likely you could find a job as a dog walker, pet sitter, animal shelter worker, veterinary technician, pet store clerk or groomer that would allow you to spend time working with animals.

Finally, think about what you naturally excel at, not necessarily what you’ve been trained to do well. These in-born strengths are your talents. If you’re not sure what your talents are, look back to a time when a task was particularly easy for you or you exceeded expectations on a project. Often times, your strengths and interests are connected. That’s because people usually enjoy things they’re good at – which is all the more reason you should try to find a job that utilizes your natural talents.

Do you work in a job you love? What do you love about it? Or, are you still looking for your dream job? What do you think it would take to make you love a job?