The Job Search

An Intern at Any Age

Is a later-in-life internship right for you?

Remember the movie The Intern? It wasn’t full of superheroes throwing trucks or giant dinosaurs eating people, but it was a great flick nonetheless.

Robert De Niro plays a retired executive who has trouble adjusting to his empty schedule and decides to join a senior citizen intern program. The film is hilarious, but has plenty of heart, too.

Ok, enough with the film review (although, yeah, you should absolutely see it). The interesting bit here is that The Intern is not too far off the mark. Plenty of people, not just seniors, are looking to get back into the workforce. In fact, many of those over the age of 40 have chosen to explore internships (or returnships, as some folks call them).

Why?

Here’s what Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO of iRelaunch, an organization dedicated to assisting people with re-entry into the workforce, had to say on Today.

“These are a great vehicle for people returning to work. The word ‘internship’ is just a label, but it really covers any kind of short-term, non-binding work arrangement.”

Not convinced? It’s true that not getting any sort of payor compensation can make the concept hard to swallow. However, here are a few reasons you might want to try a later-in-life internship.

Experience

When you spend years out of the workforce, the world keeps on moving. Industries change, new technology is created, and cultural values shift. The workplace is constantly evolving, and the place you left behind could be completely different in just a few short years.

An internship allows you to learn about all of these changes without being overwhelmed by a full-time job. You can continue to learn and develop as you practice your craft.

Networking

Although there is a trend of older interns popping up here and there, they are still relatively rare on a per company basis. That makes you stand out as someone unique. Which makes you memorable, which makes the connections you form at your internship all the more valuable. If there isn’t a full-time position available at the end of your internship and that’s something you’re interested in, these individuals could help you find something at a different company.

There are also professional organizations available for aspiring interns to join. National Intern Today has a great list!

Freedom to Explore

Maybe you don’t know what you want to do. You’ve had kids, watched them grow, and now you’re ready for that next step. You didn’t hate the job you had before kids but it would be great to try something new. Internships allow you to do that.

You can start an internship in a completely different field. Or start in something you know fairly well and branch out.

In an article on Stuff, Lorna Hendry, a graphic designer, talks about her experience as an intern for a children’s publisher after traveling around Australia with her family for three years.

“The internship was annoying initially because the publisher was keen to use my design and art skills, which I was trying to leave behind. I was getting really grumpy because I felt that was not what I was there for. I whinged to the staff member who organised the internship and she encouraged me to stick it out. Within a week the publisher asked me if I’d like to write a book for them about penguins. And who wouldn’t want to do that? How good are penguins!?”

Have you ever held a later-in-life internship position? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments section below!

So, You Left a Toxic Work Culture – How Do You Explain That in an Interview?

Where do you even start?

Sometimes a good company goes bad. This can be for a range of reasons: from sketchy financial situations and harassment issues to nepotism and endless gossip. The possibilities are practically endless. Regardless, the result is the same—you probably leave.

But while interviewing with new companies several of them ask why you left your previous job (especially if you weren’t there for very long).

How are you supposed to respond? Should you tell the truth? Or do you need to dress it up as something else? The answer is a mix of both.

Tell the Truth (But Maybe Not Every Detail)

Being honest about why you left a job is a good thing. But try to keep your emotions and the specific details out of it. For instance, if you left because of nepotism, stay away from saying “I left because the CEO only promoted friends and family members into leadership positions.” This makes it sound like you were bitter about the promotion landscape, and might have been coming up for excuses why you weren’t promoted.

Instead, go with something along the lines of: “I was ready to take on more responsibilities and enter a management position, but the company decided to go in another direction. While I respect that decision, I believe I’m ready for a position like [name of position you’re interviewing for], and am excited to take that next step.”

This way you’re staying truthful, but keeping the focus on you as a productive individual and your own career hopes and dreams.

Keep the Focus on You

Don’t spend too much time talking about the culture and misdeeds of your last company. Your interviewer wants to know more about you as a job candidate not about how your last company was run. Keep emotion out of the interview, give a quick soundbite about why you left that job, and continue to keep the light on yourself and why you’re perfect for the position you’re interviewing for.

If you spend too much time talking about how bad your last job was, your potential employer might think that’s how you’ll talk about their company in the future.

Show What You Learned

Try not to place all the blame on that old company. What was it that finally made you leave? Focus on that element, and turn your leaving the company into a learning experience.

For instance, perhaps there was uncontrollable gossip in the office due to a lack of clarity from management regarding the future of the company. Instead of saying that you left because “people wouldn’t stop talking about me behind my back,” opt for something positive:

“There was a lack of clear vision for the company going into the future, and this trickled down into discontent among employees.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure where things were going either. However, I eventually realized that sitting around wondering about things wasn’t going to do anything to change my circumstances. I researched ways for the company to improve, and brought them to my supervisor to forward up the chain. When no action was taken regarding those concerns, I decided to leave the company. I wish them all the best, but I think for me, personally, it’s time for a change.”

Have you ever left a toxic work culture? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments section below!

Helping Your Significant Other Find a Job

Help your partner get back to work without taking over

The job search can be incredibly difficult. That’s why people give up; they’re tired of getting their hopes up only to ultimately be rejected.

This is especially difficult when the person in question is your significant other. You want to help them land a great job, but where do you start?

Listen

If your partner has been job searching for quite some time, it can be tempting to take over the job search process. You might even want to start calling companies or submitting resumes.

Even though you have the best of intentions, telling your partner how to job search isn’t the best idea. The legwork and idea generation need to come from the person trying to get a job. If your significant other just does what you tell them, it’s easy to blame you for a failed job opportunity. And you wouldn’t want them to get a job offer for a position you applied for that they end up hating.

So instead of telling, listen. This covers everything from letting them vent their frustrations to celebrating successes, however minor.

Realize that Job Searching IS a Fulltime Job

Although it might seem your loved one has more free time on their hands and can therefore handle more household chores, this isn’t the case. Job searching should be a 30-hour a week job.

Being unemployed is not necessarily something they chose—they’re most likely not staying at home because they enjoy the free time. Usually, they’re even more stressed than you are about the situation. So never ask if they’ll get a job “soon.” Your guess is as good as theirs.

Offer to Proof Their Cover Letters and Resume

Constructive feedback is always helpful, so why not offer it to your partner? Keeping an eye out for grammatical mistakes or offering your opinion on a cover letter is not only helpful, but also shows that you value the time your partner has spent job searching.

Celebrate Milestones

You can’t be the one submitting resumes or interviewing, so how can you help? By celebrating the little things. Tom Washington of CareerEmpowering.com has a few alternate definitions of success for job hunters:

Success is writing a tailored cover letter which may help get an interview when the standard cover letter would not have. Success is talking to someone who provides a lead. Success is a positive meeting with a person who may have a job in the near future. Success is obtaining useful insights from a friend or a person at the library.”

In short, you can help your loved one set achievable and empowering goals. These can be things as small as revamping a resume or getting coffee with a new contact. Job offers might be few and far between, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own version of success.

Network

Your significant other has a lot on their plate. With job searching consuming so much of their time, it can be hard to get out into the world and network. While you should absolutely encourage them to join professional groups or volunteer associations, you can’t really attend such functions yourself.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage your own network to further their job search. Contact friends and family and see what they have to say. And even though it may seem like your network is completely different from that of your partner, you never know where that next job might come from.

See Also: 

Do’s and Don’ts of Helping Your Adult Child or Grandchild Get a Job

Have you ever helped your significant other look for a job? Tell us how it went in the comments below!

How to Follow Up After an Interview

You’ve got your foot in the door, but how do you make sure they let you in?

We’ve all been there. The interview is over, and you feel great. You breezed past every question, provided solid references, and you know you’re the right person for the job.

But three weeks go by and you don’t hear anything. Weeks turn into months. Did you do something wrong? Is there anything you didn’t cover in your interview?

You want to touch base with your interviewer to see if you’re still in the running, but how do you do that?

Believe it or not, it all starts mere minutes after your interview ends.

Step 1: Write a Thank You Note

As soon as you get home from an interview, start drafting a handwritten thank you note. This should be brief, but powerful. Mention something new you learned about the organization, like what a typical day is like or what you learned about their workforce. That shows you’re not only interested in the company as a place to work, but in the people and culture as well.

Companies interview many, many applicants. Sending a great thank you letter is a wonderful way to stand out and help them remember you. Making yourself memorable means they’ll be more likely to get in contact with you in the future about the interview process.

Step 2: Send an Email Inquiry

The best way to get in touch about next steps is to send an email. Wondering how to make that email stand out? As noted by CareerSidekick, reply to an existing conversation. You’ve already talked to your interviewer by email (or someone in HR), so replying to that same email chain makes it easier to remember who you are.

Change the subject line to something specific regarding your interview. This can be something like RE: Last Monday’s Interview or RE: John Smith’s Interview Status. Something that catches the eye and gets straight to the point.

Step 3: Write the Email

A great follow up email should be short and sweet, but packed with specifics. Start off by using their first name, and then mention the exact position you’re applying for. Sprinkle in a few details about why you’re the best person for this position. Then tell them you enjoyed the interview and are excited to learn more about the company.

Finish up by asking about next steps and when you might hear something about the position.

Not quite sure what to say? Here’s a basic template! Feel free to adjust it to your needs, but try to keep it short and simple.

“Hi Edward,

It was wonderful interviewing with you last week regarding the Administrative Assistant position. I enjoyed learning about your company culture and hope to get started with Company Name soon! With over ___ years of experience, I’m excited to start working with Company Name.

If it’s not too much trouble, could you provide me with information regarding next steps and when I might hear back about the position?

Thank You,

Bobby Schmidt”

Call

You should only call as a last resort. If you’ve emailed and still not heard anything after a month or more, then it’s alright to pick up the phone. Politely ask about the status of the position. If they tell you it has been filled, thank them for their time and tell them you’ll be sure to apply for another position in the future. Just because this job wasn’t right for you doesn’t mean the next one won’t be perfect!

Do you have any more questions about following up after an interview? Let us know in the comments section below!

Get Your Dream Job with These Online Resources

We’re living in a technological age. These days if you can think it, there’s probably a website for it.

So why not embrace that technology and employ these tools in your job search journey? A recent Forbes article listed several of these online job-search power boosters. Here are our favorites, as well as a suggestion of our own.

Resume Help

Ever felt like your resume lacked a certain something? Resumake and Resume.io exist to make that a non-issue. The sites are full of templates that come pre-arranged, so you don’t have to worry about typefaces or whether to bold or underline something.

Both sites offer free and paid options. All you have to do is select a template and then input your information. The app will do the rest, and you’ll end up with a resume you’re proud of.

And if you’re looking for great words to use in your resume, check out one of the blogs in our resume writing series:

Keep Track of Where You Applied

When you’re job search efforts are on fire, the number of positions you’ve applied to can really pile up. Multiple applications can make it difficult to remember what you’ve applied for and who you’ve applied with. And nothing’s more awkward than a phone interview where you don’t even remember what you applied for.

Get rid of those issues with Rake, what Forbes describes as a “personal job tracker.” It’s available both as an app for your phone and as a chrome extension (for use with the Google Chrome web browser). All you have to do is click and the job description gets saved to the app. And you don’t have to pay a dime.

And applying with Express solves this problem as well. One application with us gets sent out to multiple local businesses. And it’s free.

Interview Prep

We all dread getting an interview question we don’t know the answer to.

It could be anything from “what are your top five strengths and weaknesses?” to “what about our company interests you?”

Sure, you could make flashcards and study them before the interview. But what if you lose one, don’t prepare for it, and that’s the question you end up being asked in an interview?

Cram is a site that allows you to do just what it states: cram information as fast as possible.

You can create online flashcards or use others already prepared by savvy jobseekers.

And it’s free!

Job Genius

Job Genius is Express Employment Professionals’ educational job program and web series. We cover everything from the job market forecast and job opportunities, to the resumes, the interview process, and more. It’s stuff we learned from jobseekers just like you. And since we put nearly 550,000 people to work each year, we know what works and what doesn’t. And it’s free, too!

Do you have any favorite online job resources? Let us know in the comments section below!

 

 

Body Language: When You Ruin Your Interview Without Opening Your Mouth

In an ideal world, interviews would purely be about your skills and accomplishments. An interview would consist of placing your resume in a machine and watching it match you to the perfect position.

But we aren’t just our resumes. We’re people. Each one of us has our own personality, culture, and worldview. Those differences are what make successful teams.

However, your personal quirks are being reviewed in an interview just as much as your resume. An interviewer wants to know who you are as a person and how that fits into their particular team dynamic.

Unfortunately, there are certain habits or body language that can immediately dissuade an interviewer from hiring you. And you’ll never know what they are without someone to tell you. Luckily we’re here to do just that, using information from a CareerBuilder study.

Failure to Make Eye Contact

This was number one on CareerBuilder’s list of the biggest body language mistakes. And it makes sense—failure to make eye contact means three things to interviewers:

  1. You’re not confident in your skills. You might be meek or afraid to take on challenges.
  2. You aren’t a people person. Most jobs require some degree of human interaction, and not being able to handle an interviewer’s gaze doesn’t bode well for interacting with customers or other employees.
  3. You might be easily distracted. Lack of eye contact can sometimes come across as not paying attention.

Here’s how to know if you struggle with eye contact:

  • Go somewhere with someone in authority. It might a meeting with a professor, dinner with the in-lawws, or an appointment with your doctor. Challenge yourself to maintain eye contact with them during an entire interaction. If you can’t, you might have a problem.
  • Hold mock interviews with your friends or family. Have them ask hard questions, and try not to look away too often.
  • It’s important to note here that good eye contact is not constant eye contact. You don’t want to make your interviewer uncomfortable by staring at them constantly.

Failure to Smile

Here we have number two on CareerBuilder’s list. It’s easy to tell why this one is a problem. Your interviewer might think:

  1. You don’t like interacting with others and might be a problem on team projects or in customer service positions.
  2. You don’t really want the job in the first place. (Why are you here?)
  3. You dislike your interviewer.

If you’re a person who doesn’t smile very often, you’re probably aware of it. Friends might bring it up from time to time, saying you need to smile more often. And honestly? It’s ok if you’re not a super smiler. Some of us just aren’t.

But in an interview, you do need to smile. For all of the reasons stated above. Remember, your interviewer doesn’t know who you are as a person. They’re basing their entire approximation of who you are based on a 40 to 60-minute interview. So, you need to do everything you can to show them you’re right for the job.

Playing with Something on the Table/Fidgeting Too Much in His/Her Seat

These came in at third and fourth, respectively, on CareerBuilder’s list. We’re including them in the same section since they’re similar types of behavior.

An interviewer is here to speak with you. They expect to be your main point of focus. You should answer questions promptly and succinctly. If you’re engaging in the behaviors outlined above they might think:

  1. You’re bored and don’t want to be in the interview.
  2. You won’t be able to focus on projects if they hire you.
  3. You won’t be able to handle the pressure of the job in general.

Also, you shouldn’t touch anything on the desk unless prompted by your interviewer.

This is another behavior you might not be aware of. Next time you’re watching TV or talking to someone that outranks you, check how long you can stay completely still. If it’s an issue, take a few moments each day to meditate or sit still.

Not Quite Sure How to Up Your Interview Game?

Express Employment Professionals can help.

We have a video about interviewing in our Job Genius educational program.

And, if you’re looking for a job and more interviews in general, call your local office. Our recruiters will work with you to figure out your interview strengths and weaknesses.

Check out our online office locator to find a location near you and schedule an in-person visit, or apply online.

 

Ask a Recruiter: How Much Should You Share About Your Past Job in an Interview?

Are you telling too much? Or not enough?

You got past the phone interview and now you’re sitting in front of someone who could be your boss in the very near future. Then they ask the dreaded question: “Why did you leave your previous position?”

You have so much to say. Maybe your boss was a control freak who was impossible to work for. Perhaps you wanted a promotion that was never in the cards. It’s even possible you just wanted a change of pace.

But does your interviewer need to hear all that stuff? How much info is too much?

We asked our Express Employment Professionals expert recruiters to find out.

Avoid Negative Emotions

If you left a job because you hated your boss, it can be tempting to say so. But bringing that up in an interview is unprofessional. Keep the discussion to the job and any duties you were responsible for and leave your boss out of it.

“I always advise my candidates to keep anything negative about a previous job unemotional. If it was not a good experience, highlight what experience that you gained and stick to specific job duties. I’m against saying anything negative about previous bosses or coworkers. Most companies take that as you, the interviewee, being hard to please or get along with.”— Carlos DeLaFuente, Portland, OR

Be Honest

Obviously, you don’t want to lie during any stage of the interview process. But when it comes to interviews, being honest means answering questions truthfully but appropriately. For instance, if you’re asked why you left a previous position, don’t say, “The work was boring.” Instead, say something along the lines of, “There was a mismatch between the company’s work culture and my own way of handling job responsibilities.” The truth about the work is still there, but saying it in an impartial way is professional. Plus, you’ll avoid looking like a potential problem employee with a chip on your shoulder.

And if you were let go? Admit it. Just be purposeful with how you say it.

“I think people have to tread a fine line with being honest, but not oversharing the emotional side of it. I find a lot of people trying to skirt the issue or not being honest as to why they are no longer with an employer. I think it is good to be honest with why the employment ended and if they were terminated as to why they believe this happened and what they learned.” —Shannon Jacoby, Bellingham, WA

“Use phrases like ‘parted ways’ instead of quit or fired. Something like ‘the company was going in a different direction from my work goals.’ Most interviewers will understand that wording and realize that you are being professional and ultimately that is what a company is looking for, people that can maintain a professional demeanor during adversity.”— Carlos DeLaFuente, Portland, OR

Embrace Positivity

When it comes to talking about previous jobs, you want to show that you learned something. An interviewer doesn’t want to hire someone who was employed for four years and didn’t come out of the experience with any extra knowledge.

When you’re talking about your previous job, focus on what you learned and how exciting it was to learn those things. Interviewers love to see applicants who are passionate about their work.

“Instead of sharing how much you dislike a position and why it didn’t work out, flip it around and tell the interviewer what you learned while working in your last role and what your greatest accomplishment was during your time there. NEVER trash talk your previous supervisor or company! I have had situations were applicants have cried at my desk or talked negatively about their life or previous job. All that being said, keep it positive and professional!” — Kim Vargas, Howell, NJ

“Showing excitement about what you did is very appealing to an interviewer. Speaking highly of coworkers or ex-bosses is perfectly fine as long as it is kept to work relations. Avoid talking about personal time away from work with coworkers. An interviewer might read this as potentially bringing drama to a team.” — Carlos DeLaFuente, Portland, OR

Any more questions about how much to share about a previous job in an interview? Let us know in the comments section below!